Philly Christmas Classics: Alan Mann, “Christmas On The Block”

alan mannAlan Mann existed in the strange, incestuous Philly new wave netherworld of the late ’70s/early ’80s where Stephen Starr, Mikey Wild, The Hooters, The Stray Cats and Gary Heidnik all could have been at the same show, awaiting fates about as diverse as they get. In this movie, Mann played the Eddie of Eddie & The Cruisers role: Tortured, difficult genius, moderately dreamy. But there was more: Mann was also a self-styled poet in the Jim Carroll scuzz-tradition, and also a maverick in that he recorded and released his own music. And according to this 2004 City Paper article, after the Hooters and Robert Hazard went to the majors, Alan Mann always a much thornier prospect than those two acts was deemed next, and his ramp-up produced this Philly FM holiday staple:
Alan Mann: “Christmas On The Block” [mp3]
Therein was Mann’s appeal: Streetwise and sentimentally un-sentimental, which was about as close to a formula as Philly new wave got. But Mann’s day in the sun was not to be. In 1987, after a stretch of years spent battling smack, Mann died either falling out or jumping out of his South Street apartment window while a fire raged on inside. It was lost on no one that other than “Christmas On The Block,” his other biggest single was you guessed it “Fear Of Heights.”
Related: MySpace: Alan Mann
YouTube: Alan Mann Band, “Fear Of Heights”

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