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Manfred Mann's Earth Band - 20 Years of M.M.E.B.  CD (album) cover

20 YEARS OF M.M.E.B.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band

 

Eclectic Prog

3.17 | 4 ratings

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Trotsky
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Manfred Mann's Earth Band is actually one of those rare prog bands that could benefit from a nice single CD "Best Of" treatment, particularly as a number of the group's albums are quite uneven. I have two such compilations, Blindin' being the other, and it's rather a pity that neither album gets it quite right. This collection is far more pop- orientated (it has four songs from MMEB's best pop-rock album Somewhere In Africa), than Blindin', and I'm not sure most proggers will get enough out of it.

Take the superb Blinded By The Light for starters. The version here is the castrated one (3 minutes have been lopped off) without the epic Dave Flett guitar solos that make the song so memorable. California is a folk-pop song with a beautiful extended solo from Mann, which thankfully has been left in. Come to think of it, exactly the same description could be applied to Joybringer which is another awesome MMEB single. Somewhere In Afrika is an unexpected and pleasing detour into the folk music of Mann's native South Africa.

Runner, Angels At The Gate (which again has some great keyboard solos from Mann) and the Bob Dylan covers You Angel You and The Mighty Quinn (present in a live version which at one point seems to turn into Deep Purple's Highway Star!) are some of the group's best pop songs ever, and while I don't think every progger will dig 'em, I certainly do. There's also Questions, a relatively unappreciated gem from The Roaring Silence album which has a lyrical theme that breaks my heart.

Unfortunately some of MMEB's most trite material has also made its way on to this album. The electronics-heavy Tribal Stastistics and the Sting cover Demolition Man are rather poor tracks. The cheesy glam-rock Davy's On The Road Again isn't that impressive either, but has the excuse of being one of the band's biggest hit singles. I'm still not quite decided on For You, which I can't forgive for using the same piano chords as Supertramp's incomparable Crime Of The Century as well as some unnecessarily muscular guitar (that strays into Survivor territory!), yet has some more stellar keyboard work from the old Mann.

As an overview of MMEB's entire career, this album doesn't make the grade. (for a start ... of the first five albums, only Solar Fire is represented!). I guess ultimately, I'd only recommend this to fans who've got the classic prog albums from Solar Fire to The Roaring Silence and who want a sample of the band's quality pop-rock material. ... 50% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |

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