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

GLORIFIED MAGNIFIED

Manfred Mann's Earth Band

 

Eclectic Prog

3.03 | 106 ratings

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Malkie
5 stars Glorified Magnified was, for my money, the ultimate pinnacle of the Earth Band's achievements. An extraordinary range of styles are in evidence and the band play with fluidity and a great deal more confidence than on their earlier eponymous debut. In truth the subsequent Messin' and Solar Fire albums were more overtly prog than Glorified Magnified, each boasting longer tracks than we find here but there are moments throughout when Rogers' and Mann's exchanges hint strongly of spacier things to come.

Meat kicks the album off superbly with a beat which wouldn't have been out of place on a Sweet hit single (where did Mick Tucker get the rhythm for Ballroom Blitz from anyway?). Duck calls and processed vocals abound as the band hit a groove with Rogers excelling on guitar. Manfred feeds us some of his extraordinary keyboards during the fade-out, leaving the listener hungry for more.

The second track, Take A Look Around, has a heavier feel and a slower rhythm. The high-point of the track starts at the two minute mark and builds into a glorious crescendo as Rogers breaks into a superb solo with Pattenden and Slade holding the foundations of the track together.

One Way Glass follows and it's a rather melancholically beautiful thing, played with restraint and some reverence...a very different treatment from the version on the first Chapter Three album. Mann plays another superbly melodic solo as the track fades out.

Another up-tempo number closes the first side. I'm Gonna Have You All is a blistering pop song featuring yet another trademark epic Mick Rogers solo and a wonderful jangling keyboard break at the track's conclusion. Bearing in mind that, at 5.19, this is the longest tune on the album, we can appreciate the quality of material that the band had at their disposal in 1972: there are just too many good songs here for any to be sacrificed. Sooner an eclectic mix of scintillating shorter songs that an overly-bloated 20-minute concept piece taking up half an album seems to have been the philosophy here.

The quality continues on side two. First up is a blues number with a broad grin on its face. Down Home features a great vocal performance from Mick Rogers. Manfred switches to acoustic piano to deliver a superbly slack solo (with pig grunt) which just adds to the fun. Cracking stuff indeed.

Our Friend George, and there's sarcasm in the title, is a bilious attack on the afore-mentioned George. Pinned together with a snaking riff and an air of real menace, this is a bitter personal attack. Hey George, I don't know who you are but Manfred doesn't think much of you!

Next we have another gentler, slow track. Ashes To The Wind is quite simply beautiful. Invoking feelings of both loss and optimistic recovery this 2.14 gem still manages to feature a typical Mick Rogers guitar solo or two. The fact that Mick hits a bum vocal note at the track's conclusion does not detract from its charm in the slightest. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Wind follows on with an equally slow tempo and an absolutely sensational duet on the keyboards. I've always had a very soft spot for Mann's style of playing and this seemingly throwaway track slots in very nicely indeed, thank you.

Of course at this stage of his career, Manfred included a Bob Dylan track at every opportunity and this reading of It's All Over Now, Baby Blue is, as usual, excellent. The most commercial track on the album, it was released in edited form as a single (the 7 version is included as a bonus track on the remastered CD).

The clincher though, and the track that perpetually cements the Earth Band high in my estimation, is the title track. Best Manfred Mann track ever? Glorified Magnified gets my vote hands down every time. Let's not pussyfoot around...it's the best prog track ever. Hell, let's have no half measures....it's the best TRACK ever. By anyone. There, I've said it! I love all manner of music from classical to dub to electronica to jazz to glam to hardcore punk to Van Der Graaf Generator. However, this tune takes not just the biscuit but the whole damned packet. And the teapot as well. And whatever else is in the pantry. A gentle cymbal opening takes the best part of a minute to kick into a groove that's so massive that it rudely pushes whatever else is in your head to one side for the duration of the track. Then the body begins to nod, twitch and sway involuntarily as this truly glorious piece takes hold. An insidious riff kicks in at the halfway marker followed a drum-dominated passage which explodes with as much energy as Chris Slade can expend before a choir bursts into the mix and Rogers sprays divine guitar notes around as the whole magnificent thing builds to an immense crescendo, leaving the listener dazed and ecstatic. If you've got the remastered CD, leave the bonus tracks off your playlist. This is where the album finishes and you'll need a minute or two to gather your thoughts.

Whatever I may think of the style of Manfred Mann's Earth Bands later albums, this particular disc has a very special place in my heart. Of the first six Earth Band LPs (and they're the only ones you need), this one stands proudly at the top of the pile, not just because of the magnificent title track but because there's an air of effortless quality sprinkled liberally over its many styles. Superb.

Malkie | 5/5 |

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