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Manfred Mann's Plains Music picture
Manfred Mann's Plains Music biography
Manfred Lubowitz - Born October 21, 1940 (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Manfred Mann first found worldwide fame as a member of the 60's pop band which bore his name. He subsequently formed the long running Manfred Mann's Earth Band (also featured on this site). In the late 1980's he took time off from the Earth Band to record a one off solo album under the name of "Manfred Mann's Plains Music". The sole (eponymous) album recorded under that name was released in 1991, four years after MMEB's "Masque".

The songs of "Plains Music" are derived from the traditional music of the North American Plains Indians. Mann's interpretation of their melodies was based on the sheet music only, he has stated in subsequent interviews that he was not trying to recreate an authentic North American Indian "sound". Indeed, due to his limited abilities to read sheet music, he typed the documented notes (contained in an old book which he had purchased on North American Indians) into his PC, and listened to the melodies for the first time as they were played back on the PC. He then developed the themes on piano, bringing in musicians he felt would be able to provided sounds (including that of the African Hunting Bow) which were sympathetic to the moods he wished to create. The album was brought together by Mann during a stay is his native South Africa, and since a number of the musicians he used were from that part of the world, the influences of the rhythms of Africa are strong. Plains Music thus has much in common with the World Music of artists such as Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel.

"Sikelele" (which was based on "South African Xhosa Stick Fighting Song") is the only track not based on the Plains Indians melodies. This was a deliberate attempt by Mann to include a track which might be suitable for release as a single.

Although he has no plans for a follow up, Manfred Mann is often quoted as saying that "Plains Music" is his favourite album.

Vocalist Noel McKella who appears on the album subsequently joined Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

: : : Bob McBeath, SCOTLAND : : :

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2.77 | 22 ratings
Plains Music

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 Plains Music by MANN'S PLAINS MUSIC, MANFRED album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.77 | 22 ratings

Plains Music
Manfred Mann's Plains Music Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Manfed Mann's Plain Music is a special point in time in Manfred long career, mainly because this time is not a studio album or another project is just an album where songs derived from traditional music from North American Plains indians and is one of Manfred favourite albums aswell. The songs are constructed on piano and then developed as we can listen tot hem today, the musicins involved bringing each one some ideas aswell. All pieces are concentrated about inddians from North America with one exception Sikele who is about South African Xhosa Stick Fighting Song. The musicins involved are almost all from Soth Africa, included Noel Mc Calla on vocals who will find him later on on some Manfed Mann's Earh Band albums from the '90's. the atmosphere and rhythms are very strong releated to african music, maybe is right to say that this album is no progressive almost at all but more world music very musch similar with what peter Gabril done many times or even Paul Simon decades ago. So, overall not much to talk about, is ok , nothing special, I can listening to the album but not very often, is very easy to digest if you can enjoy this music. 3 stars. This is one of the chapters from Manfred career thet I'm not totaly atached about as I'm with Earth Band or his first jazzy band from the '60's, anyway some spins are worth from time to time.

 Plains Music by MANN'S PLAINS MUSIC, MANFRED album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.77 | 22 ratings

Plains Music
Manfred Mann's Plains Music Crossover Prog

Review by Chris S
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars First off if you want to listen to Manfred Mann's Earth Band delivering great African ethnic sounds then get Somewhere In Afrika from 1982 and play side two of the album. Pretty decent music and very appropriate for the times in Southern Africa. Secondly if you want to listen to North American ethnic music then don't listen to Manfred Mann's Plains Music either because I must stress, the majority of the music on this offering is second rate African ethnic music at best.Granted there are some decent tunes like ' Wounded Knee and Kiowa but Sikilele I and Sikilele II are poor versions of something Jaluka or even Savuka may have produced with the great Johnny Clegg.' Medicine Song' has some nice upbeat melody with Noel McCalla on vocals ( He sang on Smallcreep's Day for Mike Rutherford). I guess 'Plains' music could relate to both continents but I am pretty sure the missive of this album was supposed to have focussed on North American Indian themes. The album excluding bonus tracks is about thirty minutes long so I am afraid not much to offer all round. Far better to recommend Manfred Mann's Earth Band for some great progressive works. Confusing review? It is meant to be, I still cannot work this one out. Watch out for the Kenny G type sax too on ' Salmon Fishing'. Keyboard work as always exemplary as one would expect from Manfred Mann.
 Plains Music by MANN'S PLAINS MUSIC, MANFRED album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.77 | 22 ratings

Plains Music
Manfred Mann's Plains Music Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Indian reservation

"Plain's Music" is actually by Manfred Mann's Plain Music, not by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The difference is important, as this album bears no relation to MMEB. The "plains" in question are those of North America, the music being "the melodies of the North American plains Indians". The sleeve notes however also bear the disclaimer "we do not pretend that (the album) is in any way representative of the original ethnic music which was the source material".

So what do we have then? In fact "Plains music" is a sparse, jazz tinged album, of light melodies, and singing which sounds more African tribal than Indian. The nearest vocal comparison I can offer is Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The tracks are however largely instrumental with sax, flute, piano, and what I take to be acoustic guitar being the dominant sounds. I hesitate over the guitar, as no guitarist is actually credited, the nearest being either Mann's keyboards, or "African hunting bows". Manfred Mann had of course dabbled with tribal sounds some nine years or so before, on MMEB's "Somewhere in Afrika", but the results then were somewhat different.

The music throughout is soft, to the point of being understated, but the jazz influence sits reasonably well with the tribal sounds. The tracks are short, and tend to fade rather abruptly without concluding satisfactorily. It did occur to me that had they been joined together to form longer pieces, the overall effect may have been improved. The album as a whole is also very short, lasting around half an hour, if that.

A pleasant, but undemanding album. Fans of MMEB's powerful prog rock sound should however approach with considerable caution.

Thanks to Joren for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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