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Manfred Mann's Earth Band

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Manfred Mann's Earth Band Watch album cover
3.76 | 245 ratings | 20 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Circles (4:48)
2. Drowning on Dry Land / Fish Soup (6:15)
3. Chicago Institute (5:44)
4. California (5:10)
5. Davy's on the Road Again (live) (5:52)
6. Martha's Madman (4:50)
7. Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) (live) (6:15)

Total Time 38:54

Bonus tracks on 1998 remaster:
8. California (single edit) (3:36)
9. Davy's on the Road Again (single edit) (3:43)
10. Bouillabaisse (single edit) (3:59)
11. The Mighty Quinn (single edit) (3:36)

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Hamlet Thompson / lead vocals, guitar
- Dave Flett / lead & acoustic guitars
- Manfred Mann / keyboards, backing vocals, co-producer
- Pat King / bass, backing vocals
- Chris Slade / drums, percussion

- Doreen Chanter / backing vocals
- Irene Chanter / backing vocals
- Kim Goody / backing vocals
- Stevie Lange / backing vocals
- Victy Silva / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: based on a Michael Sanz painting

LP Bronze ‎- BRON 507 (1978, UK)

CD Bronze ‎- 610 588-222 (1985, Europe
CD Cohesion - MANN 010 (1998, Europe) Remastered by Mike Brown & Robert M Corich with 4 bonus tracks
CD Creature Music ‎- MMCD10 (2014, Europe) Remastered by Peter J. Reynolds

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Watch ratings distribution

(245 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars My favourite also as MMEB continues with covers of great songwriters who are not arrangers (Dylan and Springsteen). Did not get the credits it deserves as the times-they-were-changin. The art work is very dreamy and fits well the music on here. Chicago Institute and Drowning are my fave on here but Quinn is rather irksome to me. This is the Eighth album in a row where MMEB does some impressive rock with progressive leanings and this will come to an abrupt end after Angel Station.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is very accessible pop prog hard rock. The songs are very catchy. There are often rythmic acoustic guitar parts, the vocals take a big place in the songs. There is also electric guitar with impressive solos. The keyboards are more in the music itself here, despite there are some wonderful explorations. Definitely an interesting album. Good sound.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Davy's on the fish soup again!

By 1978, MMEB were round about their peak in terms of success. Creatively, they appeared to have stalled, if anything moving back towards a more commercial sound. That said, they were still producing excellent albums.

"Davy's on the road again" is the (rightly) the best known track on "Watch". It was a huge hit in the singles chart, but don't let that put you off, it's still a great song. The album version is somewhat longer, including as it does a keyboard solo omitted from the single. Like "Blinded by the light" before it, the song is a great piece of pop prog.

"Drowning on dry land/Fish soup" has some good guitar work, backed by mellotron. "California" was also released as a single, but enjoyed far less success. It's a much softer track, with some beautiful vocals by Chris Thompson. The song makes for a fine album track, but was clearly not strong enough in a pop context for singles success.

"Martha's madman" has become something of a live standard over the years. The album track here is probably the nearest to true prog the album gets, with Dave Flett once again contributing some admirable guitar.

The inclusion of the Dylan composed Manfred Mann classic "Mighty Quinn" is for me, a bit of a waste of space. The song, which was a huge hit for Manfred Mann's eponymous 60's combo, already sounded dated by the time this album was released, and is now little more than a fun sing-a-long.

The bonus tracks on the remastered CD are all just alternative edits of tracks on the album, there's nothing new (even Bouillabaisse" is just "Fish Soup" by another name). An enjoyable album with some find instrumental work, but in all just a little too commercial.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ' Circles' has to be one of MMEB's best songs ever. ' Drowning on Dry Land' aint bad either nor is 'Chicago Institute' and the dreamy ' California'. Side one for me is great and side 2 gets off with a bang with ' Davey's on the road again' and ' Marta's madman'. The only weakness for me being Dylan's ' Mighty Quinn' It just doesn't fit on Watch which is a pity cos the album is a real scorcher.In case people wonder why I refer to side one and two on the vinyl release. As a prog concept album it did make a difference to the overall feel of an album's layout. This a compact disc cannot capture.
Review by Chris H
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.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars As the reviewers from above mention this is another good pop prog album By Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Maybe not as good as the previous two but worth investigate. Their 8th studio album and a very catchy one. The best pieces are Drowning on dry land / Fish soup and Martha's madman, the rest are OK, another cover of Dylan The mighty Quinn, but quite irritating some time. So this blend of AOR, spacy keys and even pop, made this album to be 3 stars, among the best they ever done, but with all that kinda easy to listen, not very comercial, but less intristing than for ex. Nightingale & Bombers, anyway from this one you get the idea how will sound the future releases of them.
Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars If ever you have read some of my reviews of the Mann's work, you know that my absolute love goes to "Solar Fire".

There are little albums that are even closer to that great one (five stars IMO, and you know that I scarcely use this rating).

A fine opening number, but more than anything, a great return to some fabulous guitar breaks During "Drowning On Dry LandFish Soup" (what a title). This song really reverts with the greatest ones from the band : spacey, hard-rocking and very well inspired. My fave here.

Unfortunately, when you listen to the first part of "Chicago Institute", it is VERY difficult to bear. Actually, only a fantastic guitar break during the middle part is convincing. The rest only deserves to be trashed. I wonder how some eminent colleagues can praised this effort so much. But all taste are nature, right?

Of course, if you are into syrupy melodies, "California" is definitely for you. Needless to say that I just can consider this one as a "Press Next"T song. Again, the great guitar solo prevents this song from being a complete disaster.

And when I listen to "Davy's On The Road Again" I am just confirmed in my opinion. A hard/bluesy but uninspired number is the only "reward" you get after having listened to this track. One of the poorest of this offering.

To cut a long story short, this album is not really pleasant. The awful and popish "Martha's Madman" has NOTHING to do with the prog moments of this band. Not bad but not at all appealing.

The closing number (and another Dylan song) "Mighty Queen" is not the type of covers I can really cope with. On the contrary of "Father Of Days" of course but there are no such tunes in here.

This is not a bad album, but I really can't go over the two star rating for this work. Below average, that's it. Do not bother with this album. If ever you would need ONE "MMEB" album, I can only recommend you the great "Solar Fire".

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
3 stars Non-progressive, but real rock album this is!

Although there are a lot of bands who have excellent original songs, I consider that very few bands can play covered songs as original ones. I'm sure Manfred Mann's Earth Band (MMEB) is exactly it. The important key is Chris Thompson's guitar. Very wonderful as we can say the rigid but so winding guitar sound is all. Especially, in teh song Carifornia the weeping guitar sound is exploded. Added a hard rhythm section and Mann's lyrical keyboard, the work is soaring higher. From the first track Circles to the last Mighty Quinn, we can't take only one breath. There's no progressive element but all are strict rock. I want to recommend this album as a rocked rock one, not a prog one, so should give this album 3 stars.

But I love it much of course!

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Watch? Don't you mean listen?

Watch is one of those half live/half studio albums. I generally don't like this type of album, much preferring fully studio albums and fully live albums over these half measures. Manfred Mann's Earth Band's Watch is no exception to the rule. The studio tracks are similar to those we find on the previous, and much better, The Roaring Silence album. On a positive note, the live tracks are all 'new' songs in the sense that they had not at this point been on any other Manfred Mann's Earth Band album, studio or live. However, the Bob Dylan cover Mighty Quinn was recorded by Manfred Mann already in the 60's. Were they perhaps running out of inspiration here?

There were always cover songs on Manfred Mann's Earth Band's albums and most of their biggest hits and live favourites were actually written by other people. Watch is an extreme example of this tendency with most of the material being other people's songs. Only Drowning On Dry Land/Fish Soup and Chicago Institute were co-written by Mann. All the other songs are credited to other people, though I don't know most of the original versions of these songs.

I don't know why they decided to record these songs live for the album, but these songs have ever since been live favourites for the band.

Another problem I have with Watch is that some of these songs are a bit too commercial and too catchy for my taste, sometimes reminding me of the style of the first two Manfred Mann's Earth Band albums, before they started to experiment with their sound. Still, the first half (the studio half) is good.

I would have preferred them to either make a full live album or a full studio album. It would actually have been a perfect time for them to record an official live album at the time when Watch came out. After such a consistent string of albums that started with Solar Fire and ended with The Roaring Silence they could have made an excellent double live album featuring songs from Solar Fire, The Good Earth, Nightingales & Bombers, The Roaring Silence and the present one.

Watch is still very well worth having, but not essential.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Manfred Mann's Earth Band's eighth studio album was a strange affair, coming nearly a year and a half after the release of their mega-hit breakthrough record 'The Roaring Silence'. For one thing bassist Colin Pattenden had followed Mick Rogers out the door and would soon be followed by drummer Chris Slade, leaving Mann himself as the only remaining original member. Pattenden was replaced by Pat King, another relative unknown like guitarist Dave Flett and vocalist Chris Thompson who had previously replaced Rogers. The band had also trimmed its supporting cast and featured little more support than backing vocals on this record. Flett would hoist an acoustic guitar for the first time of any note on this album, and along with Mann's restrained keyboard work resulted in an overall sound that was somewhat more casual and passive than most of 'The Roaring Silence' or even the following album 'Angel Station'. The band had spent considerable time touring and making other public appearances over the prior year in support of their hit album and lengthy chart run of "Blinded by the Light", which perhaps explains why there was virtually no original material on this record, and why a handful of live tracks were used to flesh out the track list. In fact the only purely original Earth Band tune would be the medley "Drowning on Dry Land/Fish Soup", the latter half of which would be released as a single titled "Bouillabaisse" that resurfaced as a bonus track on the CD reissue of the album.

The album opens with Thompson's quavering falsetto crooning out the lyrics to the Alan Mark tune "Circles", a typically cryptic Mann cover about the long touring road, or maybe the breakup of a relationship, not really sure. In any case this is a pretty pop-leaning tune pleasant enough but not exactly the definitive follow-up to 'Blinded' casual fans were probably expecting. The following acoustic opening to the 'Drowning' medley wasn't a promising introduction to the rest of the album either, although Flett's scaling guitar solo well into the track at least hints at the power of his debut less than two years before.

"Chicago Institute" would become one of the more popular Earth Band tunes with fans, and it almost qualifies as a band original with longtime Mann collaborator Peter Thomas pairing up with Mann and Flett to add lyrics to the arrangement. Flett once again dominates with a lively though somewhat turgid guitar solo that would have sounded better had it not come so unexpectedly in the middle of what was otherwise a jaunty pop tune. Thompson's vocals are warm and comfortable and carry the song despite its relatively shallow arrangement.

"California" manages to evoke the southern California easy-going mood which was kind of a new sound for the band, and although this isn't in the Earth Band vein at all it did fit with the glut of easy-listening pop rock that was filling the airwaves in the latter seventies.

In an unusual twist Mann managed to include a cover that for once was not superior to the original. "Davy's on the Road Again", another cover often mistaken as an Earth Band original was actually written by John Simon and Robbie Robertson of The Band and first appeared on Simon's debut solo record. Mann applied his customary rollicking melodic rock treatment to the song but for anyone who'd heard the Simon version this one lost a bit of its bite in translation.

Yet another cover came from the same obscure late sixties Jerry Hahn Brotherhood album that yielded "Captain Bobby Stout" from the Earth Band's debut album, and in fact this version sounds an awful lot like the mostly straightforward rocking type of music which characterized that album. Mann applies some adept fingering on synths midway through; otherwise this is just a bit more upbeat but similar to the original.

And finally Mann dredges back up a live version of Dylan's "The Mighty Quinn" titled "Quinn the Eskimo", a good rendition but once again a cover and one that he had already charted nearly a decade prior.

This is a decent album but nowhere near as ambitious, well-produced or innovative as 'The Roaring Silence', and not even as solid of a rocking album as the following 'Angel Station'. Three stars I suppose, but I'm among those Earth Band fans that was slightly disappointed by 'Watch' and can't say as I recommend it very highly. Check it out if you want but don't go out of your way.


Latest members reviews

5 stars 1. Circles du du du di says the note, for the start, intro prog that makes you want to prick up your ears; great drums from Chris, I love it, a bit of violin and you're propelled into a thick prog with the most beautiful voice of the MMEB, I named Chris.. the other; violin again and the solo magnifi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2577085) | Posted by alainPP | Wednesday, July 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For me 'Watch' more or less ties with Manfred Mann's classic 'Roaring Silence' with its just as consistently vibrant and dynamic songs. It did sometimes get fewer raves than its predecessor, and unjustly so. It is indeed a much more commercial sounding effort with songs that are easy to get in ... (read more)

Report this review (#795458) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Friday, July 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my favorite one from the Chris Hamlet Thompson era. While there are some things on The Roaring Silence that they never did again, this album is overall more consistant, and has a more cohesive feel. There are some absolutely stunning Dave Flett guitar solos and Thompson vocal parts, ... (read more)

Report this review (#478976) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the first of the mostly mainstream Manfred Mann rock albums, following those great Mann prog albums, Nightingales and Bombers and The Roaring Silence, but its not nearly as commercial as the albums to follow, and it contains a string of great tracks. If you like Mann this is absolutely a mu ... (read more)

Report this review (#352231) | Posted by tamijo | Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars five stars clearly. Although I agree it's not a typical prog album, I deem it one of the best rock albums ever made. There's hardly anyone able to cover songs as well as good old Manfred. And his own stuff is remarkable too! Manfred Mann is just THE synthesizer wizard and he's found his own styl ... (read more)

Report this review (#215691) | Posted by snark13 | Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Among the best MMEB's albums in the non-progressive era. I don't know but these are more up my alley than the earlier, more progressive ones. When I think progressive I think Rush, early Genesis etc first but MMEB's music simply speaks directly to ME with its sad/dark/super-synth-solo works al ... (read more)

Report this review (#69083) | Posted by | Saturday, February 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A very good album, but not essential by any means. The sound here is pretty slick and more in line with classic AOR rock bands like The Eagles etc. Very good and pleasant to listen to, but otherwise not very interesting from a progressive point of view. ... (read more)

Report this review (#27933) | Posted by | Monday, April 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This eight' Earthband album is to be said as one of the best and the most commercial albums. For me, it's the best album since the tribute in 1972. A masterpiece? Well, some songs of it, yes! But some not. I give it "excellent addition"... ... (read more)

Report this review (#27929) | Posted by | Sunday, May 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The first song, " Circles" , begins with a keyboard section with the vocals, then, a crescent arrangement with the band. A great song, but too short . in " Drowning on dry land/Fish soup" the criativity continues, a little bit more well worked than the first, with great work of bass and guitar ... (read more)

Report this review (#27928) | Posted by | Saturday, May 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The album has a slightly more commercial feel on the back of Blinded by the Light's success, but is a superb effort in its own right. Yielded a UK hit with Davy's On the Road Again. I love 'Drowning on Dry Land/Fish Soup'. For me, the last really good album by MMEB. ... (read more)

Report this review (#27925) | Posted by | Sunday, February 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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