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

THE GOOD EARTH

Manfred Mann's Earth Band

 

Eclectic Prog

3.56 | 184 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Two steps forward and one step back for Manfred Mann's Earth Band in the mid seventies. Following the ambitious and solidly-executed 'Solar Fire' the band released 'The Good Earth', an uneven effort characterized by more bluesy riffs than prior albums and sometimes lackluster and seemingly improvised jam sessions. The band appeared to have hit a dry spell in terms of arranging and even interpretation, with the entire first side of the vinyl release consisting of rather pedestrian covers from the likes of Gary Wright and the progressive band Spectrum.

The opening "Give Me the Good Earth" is a pretty straightforward bluesy rocker originally penned by Gary Wright for his solo album 'Footprint', recorded while he was still a member of Spooky Tooth and not unlike that band's music from the early seventies. The guitar work here is uninspired compared to the prior 'Solar Fire' and Mann's keyboard work, while plentiful, is also not up to the level of his better work before and after this album.

The next couple of tracks came from the Australian group Spectrum, basically a pub band who achieved some measure of fame in their native country but little exposure anywhere else. I'm not sure where or how Mann stumbled onto them or why he decided to include these songs on the album, other than that they are somewhat in the thematic vein of simple, earthy living that permeates this record. The sound is sort of a mix of the James Gang or Bad Company with a little Grateful Dead mixed in, competent but a far cry from most of the rest of their seventies output.

The back side of the album consists of all original material, most of it credited to Manfred Mann with help from guitarist Mick Rogers and drummer Chris Slade. Rogers distinguishes himself the most on the quietly tense ecology anthem "Earth Hymn" which he interestingly enough did not help write, while he takes a bit of a back seat except for vocals on the jazzy "Sky High" and country-tinged "Be Not Too Hard", both of which he co- authored. The latter of these is much closer in sound to the band's early output, while the former showcases some of the more experimental and ambitious keyboard work from Mann (relatively speaking).

The album ends on "Earth Hymn part 2", musically mostly an extension of "Earth Hymn" and especially the spacey keyboards courtesy of Mann himself.

This is a rather unremarkable album from the band, not poor by any means but a letdown following the much more dynamic 'Solar Fire'. Fortunately the band would get their groove back the following year with the solid 'Nightingales & Bombers', but this one doesn't hold up well over the years and frankly wasn't all that great even when it was new. A three star effort but just barely. Anyone whose only exposure to Manfred Mann's Earth Band was 'The Roaring Silence' is bound to be disappointed by this one, so if that describes you then 'Solar Fire' or maybe even 'Angel Station' might be a better choice to expand your knowledge of the band. This one should be attempted somewhat later.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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