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Manfred Mann's Earth Band

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Manfred Mann's Earth Band Somewhere In Afrika album cover
3.04 | 127 ratings | 10 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tribal Statistics (4:12)
2. Eyes Of Nostradamus (3:27)
3. Third World Service (3:24)
4. Demolition man (3:40)
5. Brothers And Sisters Of Azania (2:46)
6. Africa Suite (8:33) :
- a) Brothers And Sisters Of Africa 3:03
- b) To Bantustan? 2:34
- c) Koze kobenini? (How long must we wait?) 1:24
- d) Lalela 1:32
7. Redemption Song (No Kwazulu) (4:11)
8. Somewhere In Africa (1:35)

Total Time: 31:48

Bonus tracks on 1999 remaster:
9. War Dream (3:08)
10. Holiday's Dream (2:40)
11. Redemption Song (Single version) (4:14)
12. Eyes Of Nostradamus (12" Single Version) (4:41)
13. Demolition Man (Single version/alt mix) (3:44)

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Hamlet Thompson / vocals
- Shona Laing / vocals
- Steve Waller / vocals
- Manfred Mann / keyboards, producer
- Matt Irving / bass, guitar, MC4 programming
- John Lingwood / drums, percussion

- Trevor Rabin / guitar solo (7)
- Chief Dawethi / vocals
- Rufus Sefothuma / vocals
- Fats Mothya / vocals
- Jabu Mbalu / vocals
- Zanty Lekau / vocals

- Jimmy Copley / vocals ?
- Vicki Brown / backing vocals ?
- Stevie Lange / backing vocals ?
- Robbie McIntosh / guitar ?
- Mick Rogers / guitar ?
- Geoff Whitehorn / guitar ?

Note: The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Martin Poole with Paul Baker (modelmaking)

LP Bronze ‎- 205 077-320 (1982, Europe)

CD Bronze ‎- 255 077 (1987, Europe) Different track running order
CD Cohesion - MANN 013 (1999, Europe) Remastered by Mike Brown & Robert M Corich with 5 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Somewhere In Afrika Music

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Somewhere In Afrika ratings distribution

(127 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(21%)
Good, but non-essential (52%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Somewhere In Afrika reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars MM is gaining awareness against apartheid and is forbidden to come back home (so was the rumour of the times) so he made sure that the message on this album was loud and clear. This is definitely better than Chance but I am not sure this is prog.
Review by Proghead
4 stars I would have given up long ago with the EARTH BAND had not my dad bought "Somewhere in Afrika" on cassette just as it was released here in America. This is the version with the hit "Runner". I couldn't be more surprised with this album. The EARTH BAND released way too many albums that were too commercial for my liking after "The Roaring Silence". And while the music on "Somewhere in Afrika" still sticks to the 3-4 minute song format meant for radio airplay, the band now incorporated African music with pop. Think of a precursor to Peter GABRIEL's "So" or Paul SIMON's "Graceland" (both from 1986). But the major difference is "Somewhere in Afrika" has a much more darker and serious tone than "Graceland" ever did.

The reason is it's partially a concept album against Apartheid-ran South Africa (MANN had left South Africa in the early '60s to England because of Apartheid, as had many other South African born musicians, like Trevor Rabin or Duncan MacKay). Here you get a version of the POLICE's "Demolition Man". Here Steve Waller is the one singing the vocals. This version is trimmed down quite a bit from the original off "Ghost in the Machine", making it easier for radio stations to play it than the original. Plus there's no horns as in the original. "Runner", found on the American version actually became a minor hit. There's also a cover of Al STEWART's "Nostradamus", called "Eyes of Nostradamus" here, again, trimmed down and shortned, but still a well-produced and well-played song. "Third World Service" is another great piece where the band combined African music with pop.

The second half of the album consists of everything from full-blown African music, to a cover of Bob MARLEY's "Redemption Song" to a suite that is basically a collection of songs protesting Apartheid. Having just the cassette, the thing bothering me is no mention of who was in the band, but I do know that Steve Waller is there, playing guitar and singing. Mann even at this point is still playing his Minimoog! But I also assume the band also had some African musicians helping out as well. Certainly, as far as African/'80s pop hybrids went, it certainly did not have the success of Peter GABRIEL's "So" and Paul SIMON's "Graceland" from a few years later, it's still recommended if you like that style of music.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Politically active for sure but with that one would have expected a harder edge to it maybe.I find the first four songs very mundane and bland and sadly MMEB did not do well with Police's ' Demolition Man' nor the legendary Bob Marley's ' Redemption song'. However the Africa suite and ' Brother and sisters of azania' are great and details the segregation of a people very well in terms of enforced ' homelands' or ' bantustans'. It sadly portrays what the horrendous aparheid regime was doing to a majority force. It still though was not hard edged or millitant enough for me. I know cos I was living in Afrika de Suid at the time!
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom"

As the title suggests, African rhythms are predominant on this album. Side two of the LP is occupied by the "Africa suite", which, while nominally occupying about 10 minutes, effectively lasts for the whole side. The highlight of the side is the interpretation of BOB MARLEY's "Redemption song", a rousing modern day hymn, full of optimism and hope. Chris Thompson's vocals are perfect for the track, sitting comfortably on top of the tribal "No Kwazulu" backing vocals.

Elsewhere on the album, there is a cover version of the vastly underrated Al Stewart's "Eyes of Nostradamus". While the version here does full justice to an excellent song, it does not add anything to Stewart's definitive original (his live version on the "Indian summer" album is also superb).

I never particularly rated STING'S "Demolition man" in the first place, and the disappointingly faithful rendition included here does little to change that. MMEB have come up with many fine cover versions, especially of songs written by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen (and now of course Bob Marley), but "Demolition man" falls into the notable exception category.

The three "conventional" MMEB tracks on the first side (which include the two cover versions mentioned above) sit slightly uneasily with the overt African influences of all the remaining tracks. They are sandwiched between the synth backed chanting of "Tribal statistics" and the first appearance of the recurring theme "Brothers and sisters of Anzaia". The band do however successfully blend together their own melodic rock sound with the ethnic African sounds which dominate much of this album.

Over the last couple of decades, the trek to Africa for inspiration has become a well worn path for many artists. Manfred Mann's South African heritage however probably offers greater credibility to his venture than that of some of his peers.

In all, a rather inconsistent, but ultimately enjoyable album by MMEB, with a couple of excellent tracks, and some good instrumental work.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a powerful pop-rock album with some thematically linked songs, but it's definitely not a work of progressive rock. There are some real duds like Demolition Man and Rebel, but they are outnumbered by the killer hook-laden songs like Third World Service, Runner, the ethnic Somewhere In Arika and a joyful cover of Al Stewart's Eyes Of Nostradamus.

One important contribution that gives this record its stature is the beautiful Africa Suite which is an extended piece that is preceeded by a superb (and thematically linked) cover of Bob Marley's Redemption Song. It contains some gripping original material like Brothers And Sisters Of Africa and blends ethnic music with the odd burst of vintage synth in a majestic manner. Mann, himself a South African exile, made an impassioned statement about the then prevalent apartheid system that was operating in his home country, and vast portions of this epic song still give me chills. "No Kwazulu! No Boputatswana! Amandla Awethu!"

I think Somewhere In Afrika is well worth a listen, and is arguably one of the most resilient albums of the 80s, but I must repeat that the "prog" moments are few and far between. I should point out that I own the "Arista" version of the album. ... 53% on the MPV scale

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars Somewhere in Afrika is another album of the early 1980's in which an established band seems to be struggling to find a theme, or at least a consistent one. Overall, this album is clearly intended to be an indictment of the abhorrent policy of apartheid that was being practiced in Mann's homeland of South Africa. In that respect, it falls somewhat short on both the scales of weight and of intensity. When considered purely for its musical value though, it is a decent record. It is not at all a progressive album, but I suppose 'Art Rock' isn't too far off.

There are two very distinct albums packaged into Somewhere in Africa - a mildly ambitious pop record, and a 'world-music' collection predating but something along the lines of the Paul Simon's Graceland. The pop portion includes Sting's "Demolition Man" from the Police's Ghost in the Machine album; "Runner", a kind of commercial jingle that appeared in heavy rotation on both MTV and in 1984's Los Angeles Olympics television coverage; the modest hit single "Rebel" written by British journeyman musician Reg Laws; the early 70's European hit "Eyes of Nostradamus" by Al Stewart; and the odd early techno tune "Third World Service" from Anthony Moore. The world-music portion includes the instrumental-plus- chanting "Somewhere in Africa" and "Lalela", along with a cover of Bob Marley's well-known "Redemption Song", plus the "Africa Suite", a composition by Manfred Mann himself.

I should mention that all references here are to the original North American Arista release of 1983. As with many Mann albums, Somewhere in Afrika was released with different song layouts, versions, even musicians, in different markets, so your own copy may vary. The album was re-mastered in 1999, and also re-released in 2005, and both these versions are also different from the 1983 Arista album.

Manfred Mann has been fairly astute during his 40-plus year career in judging the marketability of his various works, so I imagine he packaged the Arista version of this one with the intent of providing enough commercially interesting songs to get the record into the mass mainstream. In that respect he succeeded somewhat, as "Demolition Man" and "Rebel" both enjoyed modest success as singles. Unfortunately, the real 'meat' of the album is contained on the reverse side of the vinyl version in the "Africa Suite" and in "Redemption Song" (which was released on a 12" single, but I don't believe ever charted in the States), and neither of these live up to their potential.

As far as pop music goes, "Demolition Man" is a very good composition, with a much more driving pace than the Police version, but I suspect it was much more popular with the George Thorogood and Ted Nugent crowd than with the folks who were listening to progressive music in the early 80's. Steve Waller's guitar work combines with a young John Lithgow's percussion to form a steady pulse, and the child New Zealand prodigy Shona Laing, at that time in her late twenties, adds a very appealing vocal background track. The repetitive sounds of breaking glass are very cheesy though, and detract from the work overall.

As I said before, "Runner" yielded a throwaway 80's-style MTV video, but I suppose Mann and the song's author Mark Cain made out very well on rotation royalties both from MTV and from the numerous Olympic Games commercials that the song appeared on over the couple of years following its release.

"Rebel" is clearly an attempt to garner a radio hit from the album, and it was in fact a modest-selling single. I'm actually surprised some of the proto-hair bands like Triumph, Whitesnake, or April Wine didn't pick this one up and add some power chords - any of them could have easily yielded a hit single from the tune. On this album it seems out of place.

I had never heard of "Eyes of Nostradamus" before this album was released, but it was apparently something of a hit for Eurostar Al Stewart in the 70's. The song is pretty much what the title states - a first-person testimony of Nostradamus, the creepy visionary of apocalyptic prediction fame ("at night they will think they have seen the sun when the see the mad half pig man"). Waller delivers more great guitar work, and Laing's backing vocals are again very appealing, but this is really just another pop tune.

I really don't get "Third World Service" at all. The lyrics are something about being in a ballroom during a monsoon storm with the power out and some sort of problem with a short-wave radio. Whatever. The music is early techno pop written by Anthony Moore, who I think is the same guy who did some work for Pink Floyd in the late 80's. This is just filler, although I think maybe the fadeout with an overdub from a Third-World Radio Service news recording was intended to act as a kind of transition to the more interesting African-inspired music that fills the remainder of the album.

"Somewhere in Africa" is a short instrumental, heavy with African percussion and native chanting that transitions into "Tribal Statistics", which is itself an odd native-percussion-meets-Moog tune that speaks to the method in which African natives were being classified and institutionalized under apartheid. "Lalela" follows, which is another very short instrumental similar to "Somewhere in Africa".

"Redemption Song" is the last track on the album that follows any kind of traditional pattern. Bob Marley penned this one at the beginning of the 80's as a kind of protest rallying cry for oppressed people of color. As a reggae song it is both powerful and spiritual, and has been reworked by many artists over the years to mixed effect. The African backing vocals and occasional percussion add a bit of authenticity here, but the 80's European touch is a distraction. Chris Thompson is not the right voice to be telling Africans to "emancipate yourselves from mental slavery", and Trevor Rabin's guitar solo, though inspired, is totally out-of-place.

The "Africa Suite", an eight minute lukewarm rant against apartheid and oppression, closes the album. This frankly should have been greatly expanded to consume the whole record. It probably would have made a much stronger statement against the practice of apartheid, but was heavily diluted by the inclusion of all of the western pop songs.

When I first bought this album it was largely because the narrative on the back cover of the vinyl jacket made such a powerful social and political statement (by the way, 'Bantustans' were the pejorative name of the 'native settlements' in which the white South African government segregated black women and children while their husband's served white landowners in the cities under apartheid. The back of the album includes a map of South Africa marking these 'settlements'):

The City: Joseph tends the garden of the Malan's house; On Friday evening, Mr. Malan smokes his pipe and hands Joseph his pay packet. They discuss the roses. Mrs. Malan has a parcel of nearly new clothes for him and his family. The Malan's children play around the pool. Joseph's wife and child are five hundred miles away in Kwazulu. Joseph makes a cup of tea in the kitchen. He takes it out to his concrete shed at the back of the house. He sits on his steel bed. It is the weekend. Tonight he will get drunk in a sheeban. It will be many months until he sees his family. It has been many months.

Bantustan: Nelson, the son of Joseph, plays football with his friends; Sometimes he pauses and gazes down the dirt road. Today the bus will come? Today his father will come? Outside their hut, his mother pauses at her washing; Raw, calloused hands on hips, she gazes at her son. She knows it will be many months until Joseph returns. Nelson kicks the football, the bus forgotten for a while.

I'm not certain what Manfred Mann's agenda was in making this album. If it was to produce a marketable pop album he was mildly successful, as there were modest hit singles, as well as music videos and commercial jingles that undoubtedly still generate income for him and the other band members. If his intent was to raise awareness of the criminal practice of apartheid in late 20th century Africa, I contend he failed miserably. The closest the album came was in the written and visual statements on the back cover.

Paul Simon would come much closer with his Graceland album a few years later, but in reality it fell to the international community, NGO's, and the South African people themselves to raise enough awareness to free Nelson Mandela, end the official government practice of apartheid, and cause Johannesburg to become integrated with free people of all colors in the 1990's. Somewhere in Afrika, at best, acknowledged the kinds of practices which white people in 'civilized' countries were willing to engage in, even late into the 20th century. Although there are some songs on this album that I would have liked otherwise, I have to say that the album overall should best be relegated to the back pages of music history. It serves no useful purpose in any progressive music collection, although it may be of interest to ardent Manfred Mann fans, so I give it two stars.


Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars A politically incorrect album for Mann. A tribute to Africa. Why not after all?

Some world music "avant la lettre" or at least in its early days if we consider its rock implication..

The integration of these African sounds (percussions, vocals) is made to the detriment of prog elements. But it has been quite a while already that Mann didn't sound really prog. This project was a way for him to show his roots and stand as one of the white South African artists fighting against apartheid (there weren't many in those remote times). Only therefore, his courage needs to be underlined.

The album opens on the synth pop "Tribal Statistics". Combined with "African" backing vocals. The result is not really encouraging. These ethnic influences combined with the most boring electro pop are present as well in "Demolition Man" (a cover) which follows another uninspired "Eyes Of Nostradamus". The nadir of this album IMO. Press nextT.

A heavier rock style has also its place, and even if it is somewhat repetitive "Third World Service" is one of the best song from this work. One of my fave is the short "Brothers And Sisters Of Azania". It could have been a little longer and instrumental. Vocals shouldn't have been added IMO. The music was so pleasant before they entered the scene.

In terms of music, I can't get thrilled with the "Africa Suite" either. A heavy tribal rock song with little inspiration. I guess that the higher you praise world music, the higher you would rate this album. This genre has never been my cup of tea, so in terms of rating.

This album (almost) ends with a cover song. This time, Mann revisits Marley's repertoire and totally re- write the average original (from the album Uprising - 1980) into a more vibrant hymn, with lots of African influences. The best one from this album (but this is not difficult). Once again, his interpretation has nothing to do with the original. Much, much better (especially the long version).

And the useless and closing "Somewhere In Afrika" (very short, fortunately) is not a good choice for a closing number but at this stage you can't press nextT.

A very average album. Two stars.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Manfred Mann in the early '80's, pop adventure with some progressive leanings hereand there on this album. If for some of the reviewers this album is better than Chance - the previous one, to me is weaker in every way. Chance has some very good key passages, has some prog leanings on entire album, has some very good vocal parts, in one word much better than this one. So, Somewhere in Afrika is a good album in my opinion, the prog elements are sporadic but they are, The Police cover Demolation man sound pretty good in this context. The music here has some influence from african ethnic music on some pieces that gives to the listner a new dimension of Mann's music, but i might say not excellent or very intristing, at least for me. Not much to add, some fine moments are Runner and Tribal statistics, the rest are ok, pleasetn and nothing more While i'm a big fan of his music i can't give more than 3 stars for Somewhere in Afrika, the next releases sounds in the same manner with this one - polished pop, but good all the way.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Now this is different. There a few resemblences to their 70's albums, but this is still very progessive, just in different ways. Mann tackles an important subject in a very creative way. Where some artists would have brought the South African elements to the forefront and set the music to e ... (read more)

Report this review (#483233) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Friday, July 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Pop-rock dominates this release and the theme is the Apartheid regime ruling South Africa. As Manfred Mann's homeland is South Africa, this album was very significant. It consists of a mix of poppier songs such as "Demolition Man", "Rebel" and "Runner" with African-based pop/world music songs ... (read more)

Report this review (#442274) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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