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Pretty Flamingo
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  • Pretty Flamingo marked the end of an era for Manfred Mann, though few American listeners, relatively oblivious to the affairs of this most underrated of all major British Invasion bands, knew it -- Paul Jones was to leave soon after, as would Mike Vickers, a pair of events that would radically alter the group's sound and cause them to be abandoned by their label, EMI. But if it was a swansong for the original band, what a way to go, showing off just how subversive this band's American albums, in particular, were. As was the custom here (as opposed to England), the producers put the group's current pop hit single on the LP as a lure to boost sales, but as with their other releases, the rest of the album is loaded up with hard R&B, soul, and blues, and delivered all of the music that white middle-class parents were scared to death their kids would hear. Jones was one of the best white soul shouters in England -- at his best, he sings like a god -- and in his final body of work for the group he goes out in superb style, appealing to decidedly older-than-teen listeners on the bluesy "Let's Go Get Stoned" and assuming a more ominous cast on "I Put a Spell on You." He then detours into Swinging London on the ebullient group original "It's Getting Late." He also, for a moment, sound uncannily like Sam Cooke on the album's soul version of "Tennessee Waltz." He doesn't let up on the Oscar Brown, Jr. number "Driva Man," and closes on his own bluesy original "Did You Have to Do That." In this company, the title track, a catchy pop hit dominated by Jones' voice, a flute, and a thick acoustic guitar, is almost the least interesting song on the album. ~ Bruce Eder
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