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01. Spirits In The Night 4.30
02. Demolition Man 5.55
03. For You 4.15
04. Davey's On The Road Again 6.37
05. Lies 4.38
06. Blinded By The Light 7.38
07. Redemption Song 3.23
08. Mighty Quinn 4.01
Manfred Mann's Earth Band
|Rock, Jazz-rock, Blues-rock, Progressive rock, Jazz|
|Bronze, Island, Warner Bros. (US), Kaz, Cohesion|
The Earth Band's direction was very different from that of Mann's previous group, known simply as Manfred Mann. Mann made a conscious decision to move away from the pop-oriented three-minute format of his former group. The Earth Band was, from a pop perspective, almost deliberately contrary, but combined the stylistic approach of progressive rock with Mann's jazz-influenced Moog synthesizer playing and keen ear for melody.
Mann's interest in English 20th century classical music saw him adapt Gustav Holst's Planets Suite, garnering an unlikely UK hit with a version of the "Jupiter" movement, with lyrics added, entitled "Joybringer". 1973's The Good Earth album tapped into ecological concerns, a recurring theme in Mann's music in later years, giving away a free gift of a piece of land in Wales with each album sold.
The membership of the Earth Band was stable through their first six albums before becoming relatively informal; Mick Rogers originally performed lead guitar and lead vocal duties before being replaced by Chris Thompson on vocals and Dave Flett on guitar. Drumming duties were fulfilled by Chris Slade, who was later to be a member of AC/DC and Asia. Bass player Colin Pattenden, after leaving the Earth Band, became a sound consultant, running his own company designing and installing sound systems. There was much about the Earth Band that was potentially successful, but the contrariness of the band's approach and Mann's perfectionism meant that albums frequently came out with different track listings in different territories, or in alternative versions.
The breakthrough for the band in the US came when they had a No. 1 pop charts hit in early 1977 with Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light." While the Springsteen original from 1973's Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. album has a folky, acoustic sound, the Manfred Mann's Earth Band version is driving rock, combining Mann's Moog synthesizer and organ work with Flett's guitar. Manfred can be heard singing at the end of "Blinded by the Light", in counterpoint, with Thompson - it was this feature of the song that initially attracted him. The band took advantage of the publicity and re-released another Springsteen song, "Spirit in the Night", which had been recorded the previous year on Nightingales and Bombers, originally with Rogers on vocals although for some territories it was re-recorded with a vocal from Thompson.
Nightingales and Bombers, The Roaring Silence, and Watch are considered the highlight of the Earth Band's achievement. Watch produced another hit single in "Davy's on the Road Again", and the albums were innovative and original despite the dependence on covers of other artists' songs. Nightingales and Bombers took its title from a World War II naturalist's recording of a nightingale singing in a garden as warplanes flew overhead; the recording appears in a track on the album. Roaring Silence featured a guest appearance by jazz saxophonist Barbara Thompson, and Watch included two stand-out recordings from the band's live performances of "Davy's on the Road Again" and "Mighty Quinn."
There is an equal argument to be made for the inclusion of Angel Station in the roll call of the band's peaks. Dylan cover versions have been a second string mainstay of the band's success (after Springsteen) and Angel Station's "You Angel You" blends the power of Dylan's song-writing with Mann's extraordinary talent as an arranger and orchestrator. Unremarked by most critics at the time, Angel Station is unique in featuring a six-note descending theme in most of the songs on the album, woven skillfully into the context of each song in a different way. Another conceptual first on the album was the pair of songs "Hollywood Town" and "You Are, I Am" which shared a common tune and basic arrangement but worked as mirror images of each other. Some of the impact of the pairing is lost on CD editions of the album; on vinyl, they occupied almost identical positions on either side of the LP. The entire album has the air of an emotional and musical crossword puzzle, or has affinities with the work of M. C. Escher, whose art is alluded to on the cover illustration.
Flett left before 1979's Angel Station to be replaced by Steve Waller, sharing the vocal duties with Thompson who was also intent on pursuing a solo career. 1980's Chance showed a move towards a more electronic approach, and produced several cuts that were hits in the UK and/or saw significant airplay in both the US and UK. The songs "Lies (All Through The 80's)," "Stranded," and "For You" (another Springsteen song) still receive significant airplay over 25 years since their release.
By the late 70's and early 80's Mann had become very active in the international anti-apartheidSouth Africa, the country in which he had been born. Undeterred, members of the band made journeys to South Africa to record African musicians for the album Somewhere in Afrika, pre-figuring Paul Simon's Graceland. The album included a cover of The Police's "Demolition Man" and a well-received version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," which remains in the band's set today. American versions of the album also included Ian Thomas' "The Runner," whose music video had images of the MunichMontreal Olympic Games, and which enjoyed much airtime in the lead-up to the Los Angeles Olympics. movement and was subsequently banned from entering and
Manfred Mann's Earth Band has continued recording to the present day, covering tracks by artists as varied as Paul Weller, Robert Cray, Del Amitri, and The Lovin' Spoonful. Mann has also released a solo project, Plains Music, based on Native American music, and his latest album 2006 includes collaborations with the German rapper Thomas D and tracks featuring the music of, amongst others, the Super Furry Animals. The Earth Band remain active in live performances in Europe, with a line up that includes both Manfred Mann and Mick Rogers.
Most of the band's albums have been re-released in recent years and a 4-CD set (Odds & Sods - Mis-takes & Out-takes) featuring many previously unissued versions of tracks was released in August 2005. This includes material from the unreleased (and thought to be lost) Manfred Mann Chapter III Volume 3 album and the first Earth Band album, Stepping Sideways. The fourth CD in the package includes both unreleased studio material and live performances.
December 2006 saw the release of the best-of DVD Unearthed 1973-2005 The Best of Manfred Mann's Earth Band. This features twenty tracks ranging from three recorded in Sweden in 1973 ("Father of Day," "Captain Bobby Stout," and "Black & Blue"), to a 2005 performance of "Mighty Quinn." Also included are animations used during the band's live performances of the late 1970s and early 1980s and promo films including two tracks from the Plains Music album.
In 2007, two separate dance remixes of Bruce Springsteen songs as performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band entered the Austrian Charts. The first was a remix of "Blinded by the Light", which was credited to Michael Mind featuring Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The second was a remix of "For You", credited to The Disco Boys featuring Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The 1983 Budapest concert, released at the time was made available in DVD format with footage from the show available for the first time - this includes tracks not previously available. 2008 saw the release of the 'Watch' DVD which includes as a bonus footage from a 1979 Austrian concert.
In 2008, Manfred Mann's Earth Band supported Status Quo on their UK tour. 2009 Manfred Mann's Earth Band will be on touring in Germany, UK,USA,Sweden, Switzerland and so on.
Use of classical music themes
Mann trained as a classical musician, and his love of classical music surfaces in references within songs. The most obvious is the use of "Jupiter" from Holst's The Planets in Masque's "Joybringer". However there are other less well-known examples:
- "Starbird" from The Roaring Silence uses a theme from Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird.
- "Questions" from The Roaring Silence uses the main theme of Schubert's Impromptu in G flat major.
- The riff in "Fat Nelly" from Nightingales and Bombers uses the opening phrase of the String Quartet No. 1 by Janáček.
- Blinded by the Light uses the motif from Chopsticks by Euphemia Allen
- Manfred Mann – keyboards and vocals (founding member)
- Mick Rogers – guitar and vocals (founding member)
- Noel McCalla – vocals
- Jimmy Copley – drums and percussion
- Steve Kinch – bass guitar
- Chris Thompson – vocals and guitar
- Chris Slade – drums (founding member)
- Colin Pattenden – bass (founding member)
- Steve Waller – guitar and vocals
- John Lingwood – drums
- Pat King – bass
- Dave Flett – guitar
- Cecil Jorgensen - slide guitar, pedal steel
- Matt Irving – bass
- Clive Bunker – drums
- John Trotter – drums
- Pete May – drums
- Shona Laing – vocals
- Richard Marcangelo – drums
- Geoff Britton – drums
- Geoff Dunn – drums ((on loan from Epic))