From The Philadelphia City Paper:
The scene: Philly, 1976. The city's most noted poet-rockers, Marty Watt and Kenn Kweder, were moving from Dylan to the punk verse of Jim Carroll and Patti Smith. Springsteen was still almost cool, having proved you could have bad hair and still be edgy.
Alan Mann entered gracefully. He released two albums, two EPs and three singles of jarring, sax-driven, new wave-ish ska and rock filled with dire poetry that Rimbaud would love. He topped it off with a nervous vocal take on Lou Reed's monotone and released the vinyl on his own or through tiny local independent labels.
He died not so gracefully, in October 1987, during a fire in his South Philly apartment.
He fell out a window. Or jumped. Some blamed his rumored heroin habit. Others pointed to his nihilism. And was it prescience or paranoia that led him to write a song about falling out a window years before?
That's the jerky version of things. The scene and its supposed saints of that time are long forgotten by most, long felt by others and unknown by anyone after.
You can hardly find Alan Mann on Google. Auctions at eBay are devoid of his musical legacy -- such as 1976's eponymous LP; No Deal No Sleep, a 1981 EP released by then-manager (and now TLA Video GM) Rich Wolff on Contender Records; and early-'80s WMMR-rotation singles like "Christmas tn the Block" or "Fear of Heights."
"Alan was concerned with language and the power of music for change, a very serious cat," says Kweder. "We'd talk alliteration, the rhythm of words within lyrics, symbolism, metaphor. I rarely talked that type of "shop' with other songwriters. And he was recording and releasing his own music during a time when hardly anybody did those things."
Because, in an era of fakes who put on shows for the press, Mann was not Mr. Congeniality.