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Manfred Mann's Earth Band

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Manfred Mann's Earth Band Masque - Songs And Planets album cover
2.37 | 80 ratings | 10 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Joybringer (From Jupiter) (2:25)
2. Billies Orno Bounce (Including Billies Bounce) (3:12)
3. What You Give Is What You Get (Start) (2:32)
4. Rivers Run Dry (3:02)
5. Planets Schmanets (2:40)
6. Geronimos Cadillac (4:42)
7. Sister Billy's Bounce (Including Sister Sadie & Billies Bounce) (2:14)
8. Telegram To Monica (5:36)
9. A Couple Of Mates (From Mars & Jupiter) (3:20)
10. Neptune (Icebringer) (1:05)
11. The Hymn (From Jupiter) (3:56)
12. We're Going Wrong (3:58)

Total time 38:42

Bonus Tracks on 1999 remaster:
13. Telegram To Monica (3:09)
14. Joybringer (extended version) (3:15)
15. Geronimo's Cadillac (7" single) (2:54)
16. Geronimo's Cadillac (extended version) (5:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- Denny Newman / vocals, bass (8,13)
- Maggie Ryder / vocals
- Mick Rogers / guitar, vocals
- Manfred Mann / keyboards, Trumpeton, co-producer
- Frank Mead / saxophones
- John Lingwood / drums

- Linda Taylor / vocals
- Tommy Willis / guitar
- Guy Barker / trumpet (2,7)
- Chris Batchelor / trumpet (2,7)
- Mark Feltham / harmonica
- Byron Byrd / sax?
- Andy Pask / bass
- Durban Betancourt-Laverde / bass
- Ian Porter / emulator
- Anthony Moore / programming (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Hills Archer Studios

LP Virgin ‎- 208 632-630 (1987, Europe)

CD 10 Records ‎- DIX CD69 (1987, Europe) Different track running order
CD Cohesion - MANN 016 (1999, Europe) Remastered by Mike Brown & Robert M Corich with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to easy livin for the last updates
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MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Masque - Songs And Planets ratings distribution

(80 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(11%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (41%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Masque - Songs And Planets reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Planets schmanets

The official Manfred Mann's Earthband website describes "Masque" as the sequel to the 1973 album "Solar Fire". Quite how this definition is arrived at is not explained. There were some eight albums in between and there is little musically to tie the two together. Whereas "Solar fire" was a very complete album with a clear concept and all the tracks knitting together, "Masque" is a diverse collection of styles and sounds. Mick Rogers, who sang on "Solar fire", is firmly back in the lead vocal role here, having shared the duties on the previous "Criminal tango" with Chris Thomson.

There is certainly an enjoyable vocal reworking of "Joybringer", a piece which appeared on some but not all versions of "Solar fire", to kick things off. We also have some variations on "Planets" themes, but these are interspersed with songs which are quite at odds with any such concept. The rather jarring diversity of styles is immediately apparent on the following instrumental "Sister Billies bounce", an out and out jazz piece with brass lead. This is one of a pair of tracks, Charlie Parker's "Billies bounce" theme reappearing later on "Billies orno bounce", another jazz workout with a swing flavour and big band style.

While there are none of the customary Dylan or Springsteen covers we are instead treated to a radical interpretation of The Jam's "Start", re-titled "What you give is what you get". Maggie Ryder guests on lead vocals for this fine but woefully brief rendition which inexplicably fades midway through the instrumental section. Cream's "We're going wrong" is the second of the covers, Rogers vocal delivery being uncannily like that of Jack Bruce. The final cover closes the album. Michael Martin Murphey's "Geronimo's Cadillac" is probably best known through Cher's version, Maggie Ryder doing a passable impersonation of the ex Mrs Bono. The song tells the tale of how the native Indians were misled by false promises and broken treaties.

"Telegram to Monica" is a basic power ballad, written and sung by another guest vocalist Danny Newman. Mick Rogers offers a similar ballad with "Rivers run dry", his pleasant vocals giving the track an appeal on a pop level.

Apart from "Joybringer", the planets themes are located in the latter half of the album, "A couple of mates" bringing together "Mars" and "Jupiter" in a jazz styled improvisation. The brief "Neptune" which follows is a very soft, largely superfluous vocal piece. "Hymn (from "Jupiter") is recognisable as the "World in union" theme from the Rugby Union world cup, this instrumental rendition finally allowing Mann to take centre stage on keyboards. "Planets Schmanets" (silly title) is a gentle improvisation which once again fades far too soon, remaining substantially under-developed.

At under 40 minutes, the album is very short for a CD era release, reflecting the under-developed nature of many of the tracks. This would be MMEB's last album for almost 10 years. In retrospect, it describes a band desperately searching for a direction they feel comfortable with, and which will suit the mood of the times. In the end, it has to be said that they did not accomplish that objective.

Review by ZowieZiggy

This is the last album of the Mann's second incarnation. And actually, they should better have called it quit before this one.

It is a very painful and useless work full of pop-rock-easy-listening music (well not that easy to listen to actually). Mann offers a bit of everything here (except great or even good songs).

Some orchestrations with "Hymn", some pure jazzy and fifties oriented song ("Sister Billies Bounce"- one of the weakest of the whole - and its counterpart "Billies Orno Bounce"), some syrupy ballads "We're Going Wrong" (which I confirm) and "What You Give Is What You Get" (considering this, I'm afraid that they won't get a lot.), and the third one "Rivers Run Dry" is just as insipid as the other two.

What else? An inconsistent and ambient brass instrumental track: "Planets Schmanets" (even if the spacey short second part is a little better), boring electro beat tunes like "Geronimo's Cadillac" (this one is particularly unbearable). And "A Couple of Mates" doesn't go anywhere (sax part is hard to digest).

So what's left? Very little, I'm afraid. I like moderately the opener "Joybringer" (which was apparently available on some versions of the great "Solar Fire", but not on my old vinyl copy). Pleasant rock ballad with some good synth work.

The longest track of this work is just average. At least "Telegram To Monica" features some good vocals and the melody is catchy. But it is not very much in line with their best material. But this was a loooooong time ago.

Sorry, Mann. I don't like this album at all. Your weakest effort. By far: one star.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This Manfred Mann's EB album is last in line of his active period, his last work in eighties as well. Next album will be recorded almost after decade, but they would never return to form for few decades after.

The album contains strange mix of light jazzy pop, rock and r'n'b songs, with slight world touch in moments. Vocals (male and female) both are not bad at all, and some arrangements sound pleasant. Many sunny jazzy winds, keyboards, slightly African drumming... Many compositions are influenced by pop-rock from 60-s or even earlier pop-songs. Almost everywhere you can find short pleasant music there.

But the main problem is the album in whole is bulky, has no direction and in fact is a collection of raw, unfinished songs. Production is terrible as well, so during the listening you feel like some demo versions or raw musical ideas are demonstrated.

I believe that musical material on this album is better than the final product. But in the form it was released the album can hardly attract even band's fan. And it's pity, but extensive later releases will be even worse.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Masque is a very unnoticed and unfairly underrated Manfred Mann's Earh Band album, realy, at least for me. Released in 1987 as 13th studio album, Masque got the reputation over the years as the worst MMEB album they ever done, a thing that I'm not agree at all. Ok I understand that they embrace the pop elements for somne couple of years back, but Masque is not a bad album at all. If anyone will search on their official web site, they will see that Masque is considered a continuation or It represents the completion of the original project started back in 1973 with Solar fire album. These two album are hardly compare to each other even by die hard fans, I'm a big fan of MM and I got to say that this is indeed a continuation of Solar fire but in diffren manner, ok the atmosphere , the songs, arrangements are diffrent and more on pop side because between the albums almost 15 years, musicaly the direction is changed , is a natural thing after all. Some cover versions again featuring here, but this time no Dylan or Spreingsteen, among other the best to me is Cream's - We're going wrong - very fone and well done cover version. The pieces that are written by the members are ok, even great, pop elements interluded very ok with some jazzy and spacey keybords the define MM sound, quite progressive moves apper here and there , I like the keybords how run on the scale, very fine moments for me. I considered Masque better then Criminal tango, both had same atmosphere almost, is more diverse and has some moments of greatness, realy I don't find anything unpleasent here only maybe Masque is more a collection of songs then Solar fire who has a very solid concept behind, diffrent decades diffrent musical views by the musicians. 3 stars for sure, to me was a pleasent ride this album, realy.
Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars This album was certainly not a return to form or even a new direction for the Earth Band, coming as it did near the end of the active recording period of the group's existence. And really this wasn't much of a band anymore. Even though Mick Rogers had returned to the fold with the prior year's 'Criminal Tango' release, there were no other remaining original members save Manfred Mann himself. Drummer John Lingwood was still around since joining the band in the late seventies, but otherwise the lineup consists almost exclusively of friends, acquaintances and studio musicians.

On the positive side the sound here is at least somewhat different than the bland 80s tripe Mann had been pushing out for the past decade. There is a recurring jazz theme interwoven with Holst-inspired space themed tunes that hearken back to the band's excellent 'Solar Fire' release from the early seventies, and even the more staid numbers are at least bolstered by professional and sometimes even mildly interesting musicianship. Vocalist Maggie Ryder and a host of brass players give some depth and range to what would otherwise have been little more than another synth/guitar dominated album.

There are a few different track listings depending on which release of the album you get your hands on. The most common is the original CD issue which opens with a redone version of the old Earth Band tune "Joybringer", one of the original 'Solar Fire' Holst- inspired songs and the closest the album would come to anything resembling classic Earth Band. The instrumental "Hymn" provides another example of the sort of spacey, keyboard-driven sound that made 'Solar Fire' so appealing, although the overall mood is much more subdued here and this is actually one of the shorter songs on the album.

Other than "Joybringer" and the Charlie Parker jazz tunes the other songs worth noting include a nostalgic and moody remake of the Cream song "We're Going Wrong" and another Paul Weller tune "What You Give is What you Get (Start)", originally titled simply "Start!" when Weller wrote it for the Jam in the late seventies. The only other interesting oddity is a decent but somewhat out-of-place version of the Michael Murphy Native American tribute "Geronimo's Cadillac", made famous by Cher (Bono) but interestingly enough also resurrected by the Europop band Modern Talking who turned it into Top-10 single throughout much of Europe around the same time 'Masque' was recorded.

This isn't much of an improvement over the three previous Earth Band albums but at least it was a bit more interesting and the three remaining members do appear to have at least tried to do something more than crank out yet another glossy soft-rock album. For that I'm going to be a bit generous and slap three (out of five) stars on this one, but expectations should be tempered for anyone who is familiar with the band from their seventies heyday. Worth a listen but certainly not something that reflects a Renaissance of the Earth Band sound.


Review by historian9
3 stars Maybe I'm crazy but I like this one; keep in mind that I can be sucker for 80's music so take the 3 star rating as very generous. The link between "Masque" and the album "Solar Fire" isnt't made up and it does exist; it is serious reworking of some older material that was conceived at that time but shelved for later. "Masque" is a lot of stuff, jazzy, pop, r'n'b, but even some light space rock repackaged for the more commercial market, instrumental like "Hymn" for example. As MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND goes, I can see how this one can be a major disappointment and very different style but I think that if it were some other maybe crossover artist it would be rated higher. I really don't have that need to trash this album even though it's not rock like we were used to, it's still a very decent pop rock album. Which reminds me, some point of comparison to actual music can be instrumentals that PHIL COLLINS made on his early solo albums, and there is plenty of world music elements (percussion mostly). Also, "Joybringer " is a very nice rendition of one of their earlier songs, if only a little too short. Not really for the fans who like only the classic period but decent pop rock for anyone who is looking for it.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Wow. Reading the reviews makes me sad. MMEB is one of those groups constantly reinventing music. One would expext that progrock-enthousiasts would embrace these kinds of experimental pop-records. I think this album is very good and even consistent poprock-album. A lot happens here, there's ... (read more)

Report this review (#1164110) | Posted by Kingsnake | Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Let me set this straight: Neither am I one of those who think that Manfred Mann's Earthband "need" Chris Thompson in order to make me ( or any other listener ) happy, nor am I holding an aversion against anything that's "POP". I think that - live in Concert at least - MMEB were truly best with Noel ... (read more)

Report this review (#634894) | Posted by rupert | Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Well at some stage I have to agree here with Curry69's review, and even go as far to say that this is MMEB's worst album to date. According to the MMEB's website, they dubbed this album as Solar Fire MK2. Well I can honestly say that's the biggest over statement, I have ever heard from any ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#125369) | Posted by intruder369 | Sunday, June 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is the 13th Earthband Album. I have to say, I don't like it very much. Chris Thomson is not the problem, but this album is far too soft and has a lack of interesting songwriting components too be voted "good"... ... (read more)

Report this review (#27981) | Posted by | Sunday, May 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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