Keith Mansfield — “Powerhouse Pop”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 4, 2022


599) Keith Mansfield — “Powerhouse Pop”

We have all have heard his music — used by Quentin Tarantino, Danger Mouse, Gnarls Barkley, the NFL, and on and on — but few know his name. He wrote some of the “funkiest, grooviest and memorable orchestral themes” of the ’60’s (Gareth Bramley, Here is one of his best!

Gareth Bramley writes that:

Keith Mansfield[‘s] . . . name may not be familiar at first mention. However, he was a key player in the 60s music scene arranging and conducting for many popular artists of the time . . . . He became [a] prolific composers in the 1960s and 1970s . . . used for Film & TV productions all over the world, and especially in the United States. US sports fans will recognise many of Mansfield’s tunes on NFL Films team highlights and Super Bowl documentaries. . . . [H]e compos[ed] the memorable ‘Grandstand’ theme used by the BBC . . . .

Mansfield loved jazz music . . . . [and at] 16 . . . formed a big band . . . . He . . . moved into professional jobs playing alto sax with big bands in and around London, getting to know band-leaders Joe Loss and Alan Moorhouse. . . . [B]y age 19 he was touring the country with a big band in the major cities . . . . [H]e secured professional arranging assignments that included . . . several ‘ghost’ arrangements for friends and fellow composer . . . Moorhouse . . . . In the mid 1960s he was working as ‘in-house arranger’ with Eddie Kassner’s Publishing Company [which] brought him to the attention of the musical director of CBS Records, Mike Smith, who offered him the job of arranging a batch of new signings to the label . . . . At the end of 1966 he became a staff arranger and producer at CBS . . . working with artists such as Dusty Springfield, Georgie Fame, Brotherhood of Man, Marmalade, Love Affair, Ken Dodd, Vince Hill, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Robert Plant (under the name ‘Listen’) and many others. . . . [H]e recorded two albums with Salena Jones, whom he later married . . . . He also recorded a series of albums for Maynard Ferguson. . . .

Mansfield contributed [“L-Dopa” for Maynard Ferguson in ‘70,] which was also issued as a single and previously recorded [by Mansfield] as ‘Powerhouse Pop’ the same year . . . . Mansfield [recalls]: “[A]t that point I had decided to give up arranging so I could concentrate on composing, in particular for the libraries. Then . . . CBS came along and offered me the job producing artists like Maynard . . . and these were opportunities I couldn’t possibly turn down. . . . Originally I was only supposed to be the producer on the sessions for Maynard’s albums but . . . we had a shortage of material – some people hadn’t come up with tunes as promised. That’s why I ended up re-working things like ‘Powerhouse Pop’ . . . . [which] Maynard . . . re-named . . . as ‘L-Dopa’ . . . the abbreviated name for . . . L-Dopamine. . . . [T]he ‘L-Dopa’ arrangement has sections in it that are funky and sections that are straight-ahead jazz and Maynard moved between these styles so effortlessly . . . . At the time the . . . Ferguson albums came out they didn’t exactly receive very favourable reviews from the British music press. . . . which was a shame as they’re great albums. The reason why some of the brassy, funky library music did much better in America than it did in the UK is that brassy, aggressive music has never really been a part of the UK’s culture like it is in America. People in the US are used to seeing and hearing marching bands everywhere . . . whereas in the UK we’re more likely to say this music sounds too busy or too brash.”

Aneet Nijjar adds that:

Keith Mansfield was responsible for some of the most recognizable TV theme tunes and library music. Mansfield started his journey as a copyist at KPM (Keith Prowse Maurice) in 1964. It was under the guidance of Alan Moorhouse that he got his first break. Moorhouse . . . allowed Mansfield to ghost on several compositions for the label. During this period he also produced tracks for Dusty Springfield’s 1969 album Dusty . . . Definitely. It took the foresight of then KPM boss Robin Phillips to recognize the talent of the young composer. He commissioned Keith to record a selection of Christmas carols and after these were a success in America, Phillips allowed him to record his own compositions with a full orchestra. Composing up to three or four arrangements a day, the late ’60s and ’70s were a fertile period for Mansfield.

And, as to his contribution to EDM and other genres, LastFM says:

Keith Mansfield . . . [also composed] “Light and Tuneful”(the opening theme for the BBC’s coverage of the Wibledon Tennis Championships), “World Champions” (the closing theme for NBC’s coverage of the same tournament) and “World Series” (used for the BBC’s athletics coverage).

[He] is probably best known by American audiences as the composer of the tune “Funky Fanfare” (sampled by Danger Mouse . . .) used for underscoring in the Astro Daters series of snipes produced by the National Screen Service in the late 1960s. . . . The Astro Daters “Our Next Attraction” was featured prominently in two films by Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill and Grindhouse. . . . His work has been sampled by prominent hip-hop producers such as Danger Mouse (‘Funky Fanfare’ on the DANGERDOOM track ‘Old School Rules’ and on ‘Run’ by Gnarls Barkley . . .), Madlib and Fatboy Slim. Mansfield . . . acted as orchestral arranger on some huge hits for The Love Affair (Everlasting Love) and The Marmalade (Reflections of My Life) . . . among others.

Here is the shorter single version of Maynard Ferguson’s “L-Dopa”:

Here is the album version:

Here it is , transformed into “Party House Pop” in 2009:

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