Cover version of the month #66
Love cover Manfred Mann
The genius partnership of composer Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David combined to write My Little Red Book for Manfred Mann and the song featured in the 1965 film What's New Pussycat?
Los Angeles psychedelic pop group Love then covered the song in 1966 for their eponymous debut album (it was also their debut single) and it was through Love that I was introduced to the song many years later.
Love's 3rd album, 1967's Forever Changes was an album that I felt I had to own after reading so many of my favourite groups mention it during interviews. So, from memory, I bought that first and then worked back through their catalogue, helped by the fact that FOPP were selling Love albums on CD for a fiver!
Then, somewhat remarkably, Arthur Lee and a modern day incarnation of Love (the band Baby Lemonade) were announced as playing King Tuts Wah Wah Hut! Arthur was fresh out of prison and thanks to having an incredibly loyal fanbase in the UK (Liverpool and Glasgow in particular) he was on tour. Would he show up? How would he sound after years/decades of substance abuse?
It's safe to say that there was a buzz in King Tuts that night. It wasn't sold out, I recall people sitting on the floor before the band came on stage. Arthur looked strong and tall, he sounded magnificent, within seconds everyone knew they were witnessing something special. You could have heard a pin drop during You Set The Scene, my favourite Love song, I still think of Arthur singing as the band dropped down to a low groove I see your picture, it's in the same old frame ... his voice was wonderful.
Arthur announced that customs had lost their equipment so they were playing with instruments borrowed from Belle and Sebastian. I was transfixed and caught them a number of times over the years at the Liquid Room, Usher Hall, Academy and I'm sure I saw them 3 times at Tuts. Certainly twice.
Love's My Little Red Book is two-and-a-half minutes of garage pop perfection. I love when Arthur hums in the short instrumental. You believe him every time he sings there's just no getting over you, oh no. The whole song aches with passion, regret and soul.
Manfred Mann's version is tame in comparison. It's the same song, but the urgency isn't there, it's more theatrical. It's just not quite right. Bacharach himself has been quoted as saying "It's just a very nervous sounding record. They were uncomfortable with that song." (Record Collector)
I count myself extremely fortunate that I got to see the maestro Burt Bacharach at the Kelvingrove Bandstand in the summer of 2019. He was grateful that Love recorded the song and breathed new life into it and he was impressed by the cheer of the crowd when he mentioned Love.
So although Love's version is a cover, in this case, they most definitely make My Little Red Book their own.
You can check Bacharach's own version along with that of Love's and Manfred Mann's below. They have also been added to my Spotify playlist.
Click (or search for) Everything Flows cool cover versions on Spotify for a playlist of the covers I have blogged about and read on for a full list and links to previous cover of the month blogs.
Previous covers of the month
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
44. Witchi Tai To
45. Our Lips Are Sealed
46. Sunshine Of Your Love
47. Here Comes The Sun
48. I Think We're Alone Now
49. Don't Let Me Down
50. It's Oh So Quiet
52. Summer Holiday
53. Who Do You Think You Are?
54. Head On
55. Nothing Compares 2 U