The Phil Manning Band recording is the 29th release of the Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tape Series and is released 1st November.
Blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Phil Manning is the 28th act to throw support behind Support Act’s Roadies Fund through the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA)’s Desk Tape Series.
The Series was created by ARCA to raise funds to provide financial, health, counselling and well-being services for roadies and crew in crisis.
'Phil Manning Band LIVE Around Oz 1975' was recorded by Phil’s sound engineer, the late Dave “Nightowl” Ridoutt (02/01/1950 to 19/12/2021). Dave was the original inspiration for ARCA to put the Desk Tape Series together. He also was the sound engineer for Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons live desk tape from 1976, which was released by ARCA in June 2020.
Dave, like many other roadies, were the glue that kept the Aussie live music industry together at the very start.
Consequently, if the bands did not sound or look good in a live environment, generally, they never went very far.
Roadies, like Dave, were and many still are the backbone of the Australian music industry.
1 Walkin’ Blues
2 Lover Baby
3 I’m Free
4 Angel Surrender
5 Sweet Little Angel
6 Two Of A Kind
7 The Really Man
8 Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me
9 Booze Is Bad News Blues
10 Tend To My Friend
11 Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
12 Take Your Chances
13 Sunset Song
14 Train To Ride
15 Like A Rolling Stone
16 Ramblin’ On My Mind
17 Tax Man
18 Band Intro
'Live Around Oz 1975' is a master lesson on the many shades of blues guitar.
This line-up with Paul Wheeler and Trevor Courtney only lasted a year. But as the performances show, they knew how to come together at just the right time.
Top to bottom (1975):
Phil Manning, Paul Wheeler, Trevor Courtney
Paul Wheeler is now with Icehouse and Trevor Courtney is an organic hops farmer in his native New Zealand.
The impression of the live recording is that there’s a lot of improvisation during the show. But in reality, everything is kept tight and focussed – something Phil Manning learned when he toured with his idol, Muddy Waters, and his band.
Opening track, Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues” gets things off to a sturdy boogie start while “Sweet Little Angel” and “Tend To My Friend” are slices of gorgeous slow blues at the other end of the spectrum.
Many of the songs were written just after his first marriage, so Manning’s skill at catchy melodies work well with lyrical heart-on-the-sleeves love songs as “Angel Surrender”, “Sunset Song” and “Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me”.
The band take Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and the George Harrison-penned Beatles album track “Taxman” and put their stamp on it.
Phil Manning Band on tour
In the psychedelic ‘60s, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton saw a generation of Australian guitar shredders rush out to get wah-wah pedals to add to their arsenal of tones.
Phil Manning was no exception. Live Around Oz, 1975 is sprayed throughout with wah-wah sounds, demonstrating his perfect pitch whether using the sound to drive “Lover Baby”, “I’m Free” and “Taking Your Chances” or using it as a sound effect at the beginning of “Train To Ride”.
“I had a wah-wah by 1970, like every other guitar player,” Phil relates.
“There was the Vox Cry Baby which became the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby. I’ve still got my original one, in fact I use it on this ARCA recording!”
Listening to Phil Manning in full blues blast, it’s hard to believe that at one point his music career could have gone in an entirely different direction.
Born in Devonport, Tasmania in 1948, his grandfather was the leader of the La Trobe Federal (brass) Band.
Like the rest of the family, at six years old he started studying classical piano, until 14.
“My grandfather had an ill-fated experiment trying to get me to play coronet. That lasted a week.
“But I had a dozen or so aunties, all musical, and every Sunday when they’d visit, they’d all be around the piano singing old songs.
“My grandfather never liked the music of Chain. But he was immensely proud of the fact that one of his family was a professional musician AND had a hit (Chain’s “Black And Blue”) on the charts!”
A number of factors conspired to turn Manning into a blues guitarist.
“An American football coach came to our hometown of Davenport, he had all these records he’d brought from Japan… Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, so I got interested in all that music.
“I used to be able to get the radio from Melbourne.
“(The late legendary disc jockey) Stan Rofe had a show on 3UZ on the weekends, where he’d play R&B covers like ‘I’m A Man’ by the Yardbirds and Stones and then play the original versions by Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley.
“Hearing Muddy Waters doing ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ had a real profound effect on me.”
At 17 Manning went to art school in Hobart.
There an American folk aficionado Bill Hicks turned him on to his collection of acoustic folk blues by Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Leadbelly, and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee.
Three records had a profound impact: Buddy Guy’s The First Time I Met The Blues, the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Hey Joe” (“it sounded like it came from another planet”) and the John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton “ it changed the face of guitar playing.”
Phil Manning moved to Melbourne in late 1966 and joined Tony Worsley and The Blue Jays.
He played with a series of bands including Bay City Union, where he met singer Matt Taylor.
The pair later worked closely on Chain, one of the best blues bands to come out of Australia.
Their January 1971 single, "Black and Blue", which Manning helped write, reached the top 20.
They had a second top 40 hit with "Judgement" issued in July.
That year Phil Manning was voted third best guitarist in Australia by the readers of Go-Set magazine.
Chain’s debut album Towards The Blues went Top 10 and certified gold.
Touring American bluesmen like Albert Collins were astounded by the Australian-ness of Chain’s music.
“I know it’s blues but it ain’t anything like the blues I’ve heard!” he said famously.
Phil would go off to do solo projects but would return to Chain to record and perform.
His debut solo album I Wish There Was A Way came out at the end of 1974, after which he formed the Phil Manning Band with an ever-changing line-up.
Through the years came acoustic solo album It's The Blues (1988), cassette-only album Live At The Storey Bridge (1990), Can't Stop (1992), The Back Shed (1995), Two Roads (1997), Take Note (2000), Migrants Dance (2003), The Essential Acoustic Collection (2006) and Checkmate Move (2010).
During the pandemic, he made Out Of My Shed, combining the blues (slide and fingerpicking) with a more recent obsession with Irish music.
He took up painting again, with plans for two exhibitions in 2023,at the Post Industrial Design gallery in late February and at Mario’s in July.
He also built his own Telecaster using wood from his back yard.
He has two daughters, a son McKinley who’s a guitarist, drummer and record engineer, and a number of grown-up stepchildren.
The Phil Manning music dexterity has extended to another generation.
“My grandson Raphael is a hotshot guitarist player, he’s 19 and taught himself, and he scares the shit out of me!”
Thanks to Phil Manning and Dave Ridoutt for the photos, Nprint for the artwork, Phil Dracoulis for the mastering, and especially Phil Manning and the band for their support of roadies and crew in crisis.
Phil Manning Solo Tour Dates - 2022/2023
Saturday 29th October - Arcobar, 8 Arco Lane, Heatherton (03) 9551 1424 PHIL MANNING - Australian Album Launch "Out Of My Shed" -… | arcobar
Saturday 19th November - Railway Hotel, 33Smith St, Macedon 'Blues Guitar Roadshow' Tickets, MACEDON RAILWAY HOTEL, Macedon | TryBooking Australia
Saturday 26th November - P.O.M.E. 267 Swan St, Richmond Phil Manning & Southbound Snake Charmers Tickets | TryBooking Australia
Sunday 4th December - Westwood Hotel, Napier St, Footscray (With Spectrum and Madder Lake) hotelwestwood.com.au
Tuesday 20th December - MBAS Christmas Party, Flemington Bowls Club MBAS
Saturday 18th March - Forth Valley Blues Festival
Chain Tour Dates - 2022/2023
Friday 10th March - Memo Music Hall, Acland St, St Kilda Chain - 55th Anniversary Celebration | Memo Music Hall
Saturday 11th March - Archie's Creek Hotel (Caravan Music Club) ARCHIES CREEK HOTEL & CARAVAN MUSIC CLUB
Monday 13th March - Way Out West Roots Music Club, Newport Bowls Club
Sunday 9th + Monday 10th April Bluesfest, Byron Bay