Friday, November 5, 2010

The Exciters: Do Wah Diddy Diddy

Popularized by Manfred Mann in 1964, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” was a minor hit the previous year by the New York vocal group The Exciters. The husband and wife songwriting team Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, part of the Brill Building songwriting factory in New York City, penned this 60s classic in 1963.

It was the fourth single by The Exciters; however, it would never come close to their largest hit from 1963, “Tell Him,” that charted at #4. “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” only made it to #78.

Manfred Mann’s Version

One of my radio buddies from WMUL, WAMX, and WCIR, Ron Hill, had a favorite trivia question that he and I used to argue about the correct answer. The question was, “What was the name of the first album by Manfred Mann?” His answer was “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann.” I argued that it was titled "The Manfred Mann Album." Was he correct? Well, sort of. “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann” was the name of the first album by the band in the UK and internationally, but not in North America.

“Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” the classic anthem of the mid sixties, was a number one record in the UK and US for British Invasion rockers Manfred Mann. Like with a number of UK single releases, Manfred Mann's biggest hit record did not originally appear on their first UK LP “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann.” Yes I did say their. Even though Manfred Mann was a member of the band, his name was also used for the name of the band; hence, “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann.”

My understanding was that British record companies released single-less LPs in order to sell singles in addition to LPs and EPs. British audiences were often prone to buy albums in spite of or in addition to the single release. While not on the UK release, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” appeared on “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann” elsewhere in the world.

In the US, the labels found that singles sold well, but they also increased album sales. Although labels had experimented with EPs in the 50s and early 60s, they were not as popular in the US and few labels issued them in the mid 60s. Ascot Records, their American record label, did as many of the labels licensed to release British artists in North America – they altered the albums.

The United Artist subsidiary took Manfred Mann’s first album and renamed it “The Manfred Mann Album featuring Do Wah Diddy Diddy.” They also changed the cover design, reduced the number of cuts from 14 to 12, and replaced one of the album cuts with the single “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.” The album number was ALM/ALS 13015.

The US release named “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann” was a completely different album that included two cuts removed from the US version of the first album: “I’m Your Kingpin” and “You’ve got to Take It.” It also contains cuts from the British EPs “Groovin’ with Manfred Mann” and “The One in the Middle” and several non album singles and their flips. The number of this Ascot release was ALM/ALS 13018.

Well Ron, I guess we were both right.

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