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

CRIMINAL TANGO

Manfred Mann's Earth Band

 

Eclectic Prog

2.47 | 45 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars What does the title mean?

A rather up and down offering from the band, at times featuring the strong melodies and inspired cover versions which enhanced previous albums, but sometimes drifting into mundane pop-rock. It is the band's own song writing which appears to be waning most, and thus weakening the album as a whole.

Things get off to a fine start with an excellent cover version of the Jam's "Going underground". The song is slowed down from the original punk anthem and transformed into a Springsteen like power ballad. Since there are no Dylan or Springsteen songs on the album, this track makes a more than adequate substitute, to the extent that it alone makes the album worthy of investigation.

Other covers include an atmospheric version of Joni Mitchell's "Banquet" and a superb version of Eddy and the Hotrods "Do anything you wanna do". While the latter is little more than a slightly slowed down pop based affair, complete with girlie vocals on the chorus, it does boast some excellent guitar work. The weakest of the covers is the Beatles "Bulldog" which is rather mundane.

Of the other tracks, "Rescue" is a reasonable Journey like pop piece, and "Crossfire" ends the album with an instrumental jam along the lines of "Waiter there's a yawn in my ear" from "The roaring silence".

There's little sign of the early prog work of the band here, the songs being almost entirely AOR pop rock. An enjoyable album for those who enjoy the more straightforward MMEB style, but don't go looking here for much in the way of prog.

The album is actually credited to Manfred Mann's Earth Band with Chris Thomson. Whether this was an attempt to entice him to remain with the band, or simply intended to acknowledge his distinctive tones is unclear. What is clear is that his vocals are undoubtedly a highlight of the album. (Thomson actually left the band in 1979, but continued to record and tour with them until this album was released in 1986. Concurrently, he attempted to develop a career with his new band, NIGHT.)

The band appeared to have a Uriah Heep moment during the recording of the album, using no less than three different bass players.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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