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Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Watch CD (album) cover


Manfred Mann's Earth Band


Eclectic Prog

3.74 | 228 ratings

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Chris H
Prog Reviewer
5 stars "When Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody's gonna jump for joy!"

To put it bluntly, the last great album by the Earth Band for their amazing progressive rock turned into a commercial regression. Even though "Watch" is riding on the heels of their most commercial songs ever ("Blinded By The Light"), and even produced a smash single of its own ("Davy's On The Road Again"), it is still a certified masterpiece of progressive rock. That fact is only back up by the album's swirling mellotron solos and catchy acoustic guitars.

The whole album is a high point for me, so song by song is the way it goes. "Circles" is one of my personal favorite Earth band songs, it's just pure lyrical genius. The spacey opening and charming vocals are the perfect combination to get this album's right foot forward. Even though the lyrics tell tales of loneliness and ostracism, it carries a strange sound with it that makes you smile whenever you hear it. The guitar solo at 3:20 is nothing to be messed with, either. "Drowning On Dry Land/Fish Soup" is the perfect example of what I was talking about before, the excellent guitars backed with some powerful yet relaxing mellotron activities.

"Chicago Institute" is another one of my favorite Earth Band songs. The beginning is incredible, what with the powerful vocals turning into a frenzied rhythm section. After the frenzied rhythm section has its go at the song, one of the finest guitar solos that my ears have experienced flies through. By finest I don't necessarily mean the flashiest and most complex, but one that sounds crisp and refreshing to my ears. What can I say about "California"? Nothing bad, for those that asked. An absolutely beautiful track with some incredible vocals, however it must be pointed out that this song couldn't survive as a single release. Although it failed to find a spot on the singles chart, it is a perfect compliment to the album. Soft and mellow, with uplifting vocals.

"Davy's On The Road Again" was their big single hit from the album. Most people consider the best song on the album, but if you asked me I would say it was a seven way tie. Certainly a very strong song, but all of the songs are amazing. Like a reviewer before me said, we are treated to a keyboard solo that was omitted from the single version, and that is a joy as well. The next song, "Martha's Madman" has the traditional and expected Earth Band trademark vocal-only opening, but once the bass and mellotron get cracking it turns into a very rhythm-heavy song. That is until the guitar riffs start, and then it becomes about as frantic as any Earth Band song could ever hope to be. Another excellent track, still no complaints. Finally, we come to the end of an epic voyage with the Dylan-penned "Quinn The Eskimo", which was previously released on one of Manfred Mann's late 60's R&B albums. I believe that it is less of a progressive rock work and more of a karaoke song that was put on the album because everybody and their brother knows the words. Still, it does its job on the album without ruining anything, and that is very key.

So, for some final words, trust me when I say that this is a masterpiece of progressive rock music. Don't believe those who say that "Watch" is the album in which the Earth Band completely sells out, because that is not true, of course. Even though the incredibly commercial "The Roaring Silence" was released directly before "Watch", they maintain their progressive rock roots to churn out their last magnificent album. I like to think of "Watch" as Manfred Mann's Earth Band's final good-bye.

5 stars, the most essential piece in the Earth Band catalogue.

Chris H | 5/5 |


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