Paul Jones
" Interview "
Cream Rises to The Top, Even Decades Later

Paul Jones Interview
As the lead singer in Manfred Mann's band from 1963 to 1966, Paul Jones is one of the best of the British Invasion vocalists. His uncanny ability to vocalize Blues, R&B, and Pop/Rock was, and still is, very appealing. Never starving for work, Jones shifted his focus from records to theatrical performances. He eventually did reconnect with his Blues roots as singer with his Blues Band, as well as with the Manfreds in The Manfred Mann reunion performances. This multitalented musician and great storyteller took some break time with me during his recording sessions for Starting All Over Again on Collectors' Choice.  

Bob Putignano for BluesWax: Hi, Paul. Starting All Over Again is the name of your new disc, but you are not just starting over again, your continuing on.  

Paul Jones: That I am, on and on, some say.   

BW: The new CD is great with lots of great guests. You sparkle throughout on harp and vocals, plus you were telling me that you really like the mix, too.  

PJ: Yes, you can actually hear the vocals, and you know what they say about singers? Vocalists are all the same. They want people to hear them.  

BW: But, of course. You've been at this game a really long time, Paul, and what a diverse history you have!  

PJ: It's been a diverse curriculum. The last time I was in your area I spent a year performing at the Barrymore Theater, plus my previous album was also recorded in New York City some thirty-eight years ago.  

BW: What took you so long [to come back]?  

PJ: Fortunately, there's been a lot of busy work with the [Paul Jones] Blues Band, and through the 1970s I was working almost exclusively in theater. In 1979 I decided it was time to play some Blues again, so I started this band that's just called The Blues Band. During that same time the Manfreds [as in Manfred Mann] reformed, which has been fairly time consuming, especially over the last fifteen years or so. The producer, Saul Davis, was calling me from time to time saying, "You should really does this album." Even Chris Rea asked me to do an album with him, but there's only so much time. Not that I did not want to go back in the studio, but I was endlessly busy. And the only reason that this disc came about was that we had some work cancelled. We were actually supposed to tour the U.S.A. and Canada, so when the whole thing imploded and fell to bits, Saul Davis called me and said, "Your tour is cancelled. Come on, let's do the album."  

BW: Are the musicians on this album the same guys you tour with?  

PJ: No, I wanted to keep it separate, as the Manfreds.

BW: I enjoyed your liner note dedications: Bo Diddley, Freddie Hubbard, Earl Palmer, Levi Stubbs, all who passed on recently and a diverse mix.  Earl Palmer was amazing.  

PJ: You know I do a job similar to yours as a deejay on the BBC, but just one hour. When Earl Palmer passed I just had to do a tribute to him. It was amazing experience digging out stuff I was very familiar with. But when I did the research, I found Sam Cooke's "Shake," which of course is amazing and it's absolutely stunning with Palmer's drumming. I've always been a Cooke fan, still am, but I'd forgotten about Palmer being a part of that. Palmer was extraordinary, original, unique and exciting.   

BW: I enjoy doing the research for my radio shows, too. I'm amazed at how much I forgot or, better yet, how much I don't know. I'm actually doing an hour on Tommy LiPuma this morning; Tommy just turned seventy-three.  

PJ: What a great producer LiPuma was and still is! The research part of what we do is wonderful, as it does dredge things up, much like the mud at the bottom of your brain.  

BW: We can't know and remember it all, Paul.  

PJ: That's for sure, but it sure is fun.  

BW: Always lots of surprises and educational, too, especially for guys like you and I who are musically addicted and afflicted. How did you get Collector's Choice to put out their very first recording of new material? That's a first for them.  

PJ:  It was a surprise to me. I left this all up to Saul Davis, and he came up with Collector's Choice. So all of a sudden, I'm on a reissue label, and I thought, "Oh, dear. [laughs] Even if the music is newly recorded, I'm personally a reissue." [more laughs]  

BW: That is too funny, Paul. I was chatting with the author John Broven a few days ago who noticed I was going to interview you and wanted me to say hi to you.  

PJ: Broven's been on my radio show, too, and he's got sort of history about the promotion of music.  

BW: He sure does, have you heard about John's new book, Record Makers and Breakers?  

PJ: Broven has a new book? 

  BW: It's fabulous; lengthy, too, about six hundred pages. John was just on my radio show talking about the book a few weeks ago.

  PJ: Wow, I must own it! 

  BW: Your affiliation with Clapton goes back to the mid 1960s, correct?

  PJ: Actually, we knew each other before either one of us got anywhere in the business when we were just hopefuls. Then, as we both got busy, we tried to keep in touch as best as we could, and eventually we drifted apart. It was around 1966 when Elektra was putting together a record called What's Shakin'*, which, if you remember, is sort of a compilation of white-boy Blues tracks. Paul Butterfield, Lovin' Spoonful, Al Kooper, and all sorts of people like that. So they asked if they could get some bands from our side of the ocean as they were having problems signing groups they wanted because they were tightly under other recording contracts. I was asked to put together an ad-hoc band just for this project. Of course I wanted to have a go at this, plus there was a rumor going around that I was leaving the Manfreds. n the meantime, Joe Boyd contacted me from Elektra, so the first person I thought of was Clapton and the second was Jack Bruce, as Bruce was actually in the Manfreds with me at that time and also planning to leave. In fact, we left the Manfreds on the very same day. So I rang Jack and asked how he felt about doing this project with me, and he said. "That would be good. Who else do you have in mind?" I said it would be really good to also get Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker on drums. Then, there was this pause from Jack, as he never told me about Cream. So Jack says, "How much do you know about Cream?" I actually knew nothing. It seems I'm the guy who accidentally formed Cream. [laughs] But as Jack did not want to blow the lid off Cream, Ginger did not record with us, and we were titled as The Powerhouse, that included Clapton, Bruce, Steve Winwood, and me. An interesting tidbit is that from that session came Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," which of course later became an anthem for Cream.  

BW: Fascinating. Paul. I can talk with you for hours, and if you ever want to pick this conversation up again, please know the door is always open here.  

PJ: It was great talking with you, too, Bob. Keep enjoying that research work, and let's keep in touch with each other.  

* Note: What's Shakin' is currently available on the same label as Paul Jones' Starting All Over Again, Collector's Choice.

Bob Putignano: