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MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Manfred Mann's Earth Band picture
Manfred Mann's Earth Band biography
As MANFRED MANN (the 60's R & B group) was dwindling down, their leader moved on with drummer Mike Hugg to form Chapter 3 for two albums released on Vertigo label produced by Hiseman of Colosseum fame. The lack of success forced the two to fold and try another formula. The new group will be named EARTH BAND and will at first do average RnR but with each new album, the progressive elements will gain in importance that by SOLAR FIRE they had become an Art-rock band.

But MMEB will always be remembered for their arrangements of SPRINGSTEEN and DYLAN covers than for their own good material. In particular with SPRINGTEEN's first album, MMEB will do three mega-selling cover: "Spirits In The Night", "Blinded By The Light" and "For You". They managed to survive the late 70's by adapting their sound and in the 80's will make strong political statement against Apartheid in Manfred's country of origin, South Africa, where he could not come back. MMEB is still touring nowadays.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

Manfred Mann's Earth Band official website

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The Best of Manfred Mann's Earth BandThe Best of Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Import
Wea Int'l 1996
Audio CD$5.65
$1.86 (used)
ChanceChance
Extra tracks · Import
Creature Music 2011
Audio CD$10.65
$8.78 (used)
Nightingales & BombersNightingales & Bombers
Import · Remastered
Creature Music 2011
Audio CD$10.34
$14.94 (used)
Angel StationAngel Station
Import
Creature Music 1999
Audio CD$9.23
$11.61 (used)
Messin'Messin'
Audio CD$423.34
$14.91 (used)
Good EarthGood Earth
Creature Music 2011
Audio CD$10.67
$16.32 (used)
Glorified MagnifiedGlorified Magnified
Remastered · Extra tracks · Import
Creature Music 2011
Audio CD$10.67
$8.49 (used)
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MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND shows & tickets


  • Manfred Mann's Earth Band at Boerderij, Zoetermeer on 13 Sep 2014
  • Manfred Mann's Earth Band at Fabrik, Hamburg on 9 Oct 2014
  • Manfred Mann's Earth Band at Pumpwerk, Wilhelmshaven on 12 Oct 2014

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 68 ratings
Manfred Mann's Earth Band
1972
2.99 | 70 ratings
Glorified Magnified
1972
3.12 | 93 ratings
Messin'
1973
4.01 | 238 ratings
Solar Fire
1973
3.52 | 115 ratings
The Good Earth
1974
4.06 | 215 ratings
Nightingales & Bombers
1975
3.82 | 183 ratings
The Roaring Silence
1976
3.68 | 147 ratings
Watch
1978
3.41 | 108 ratings
Angel Station
1979
3.25 | 81 ratings
Chance
1980
3.03 | 62 ratings
Somewhere in Afrika
1983
2.47 | 45 ratings
Criminal Tango
1986
2.29 | 44 ratings
Masque
1987
2.63 | 35 ratings
Soft Vengeance
1996
2.52 | 33 ratings
2006
2004

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.85 | 10 ratings
Wired
1977
2.77 | 32 ratings
Budapest Live
1984
3.46 | 13 ratings
Mann Alive
1998

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 7 ratings
Unearthed The Best Of 1973-2005
2006
3.21 | 5 ratings
Budapest Live (DVD)
2007
4.67 | 3 ratings
Watch - The DVD
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Then And Now
2010

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 4 ratings
20 Years of M.M.E.B.
1990
3.97 | 5 ratings
The Very Best Of Vol. 1 & 2
1993
3.36 | 13 ratings
The Best of Manfred Mann's Earth Band
1999
3.25 | 5 ratings
Blindin'
2000
3.04 | 5 ratings
Odds & Sods (Mis-Takes & Out-Takes)
2005
4.15 | 4 ratings
World Of Mann
2006
3.00 | 1 ratings
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Bootleg Archives Vols 1-5
2009

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
Joybringer
1973
2.50 | 2 ratings
Get Your Rocks Off
1973
2.00 | 1 ratings
Be Not Too Hard
1974
4.00 | 3 ratings
Father Of Day, Father Of Night
1974
3.33 | 3 ratings
Spirits in the Night [version 1]
1975
3.20 | 5 ratings
Blinded By The Light
1976
3.00 | 3 ratings
Questions
1976
3.00 | 3 ratings
Spirits In The Night
1977
2.50 | 2 ratings
California
1977
3.00 | 4 ratings
Davy's On The Road Again
1978
2.67 | 3 ratings
Don't Kill It Carol
1979
3.50 | 4 ratings
For You
1980
3.00 | 3 ratings
Lies (Through The 80's)
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
I (Who Have Nothing)
1981
2.00 | 1 ratings
Eyes Of Nostradamus
1981
2.50 | 2 ratings
Redemption Song
1982
3.00 | 2 ratings
Davy's On The Road Again (live)
1984
2.00 | 1 ratings
Going Underground
1986
2.00 | 1 ratings
Do Anything You Wanna Do
1986
2.00 | 1 ratings
Geronimo's Cadillac
1987
2.50 | 2 ratings
Davy's On The Road Again
1990
2.00 | 1 ratings
Nothing Ever Happens
1996
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Ages Of Mann - The Manfred Mann Story Album Sampler
2006

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Masque by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.29 | 44 ratings

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Masque
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by Kingsnake

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 hints of jazz, rock, pop, dance, classical.

Beautifully executed by Manfred Mann, Mick Rogers, John Lingwood en Maggie Ryder.

MMEB once made an album called Solar Fire and a lot of progrock-enthousiasts want Manfred Mann to repeat that album over and over again.

I'm glad he didn't and searched for new musical paths. This Masque is a great addition to any collection of great records. Maybe not the prog-masterpiece, so many people desire, but nonetheless a great album with a superb production and really nice instrumental parts featuring trumpet and sax.

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 Nightingales & Bombers  by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.06 | 215 ratings

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Nightingales & Bombers
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

4 stars I am new to this band, Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Earlier I had only heard a couple of pop songs from the 1960s and I was pleased with what I heard. Now I discover the Earth Band and am also very content with what I heard.

Nightingales & Bombers is the sixth album of the band and it was released in 1975 with a very characteristic cover, black with light blue worms coming closer towards the watcher. On the back cover there're lyrics and information about the band. Of eight songs, four have lyrics and the vocalist Mick Rogers is perfect on that job especially on the song "Visionary Mountains" (10/10) which I hold very high. The vocals here are part of a progressive mixture of greatness. He also sings good on the more ordinary rock track "Spirits in the night"(8/10) which is written by Bruce Springsteen. MMEB does a huge cover hear, bombastic and keyboard oriented. "Time is right"(9/10) is another amazing lyrics filled track, not common at all, but true rock and prog and "Countdown", "Crossfade" and "Nightingale and Bombers" are instrumental travells for the music lovers(8/10). The only track a bit inferior to the others is "Fat Nelly" which is funny but silly(7/10).

I am very pleased with this my introduction to Manfred Mann's Earth Band, I bought for 20 crowns a month ago. Manfred Mann plays organ and synthesizers, Colin Pattenden plays bass, Chris Slade plays drums and Mick Rogers guitar. I recommend the album for both rock and prog fans, and the music of the 70s always has the special feeling hard to get elsewhere.

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 Budapest Live by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Live, 1984
2.77 | 32 ratings

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Budapest Live
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars Isn't it sad that a band with so many 70's classic studio albums like MMEB, never had a worthy live album to show their stage performances. Indeed, buy the time Budapest came out, it was much, much to late, because the band was in its final days, and possibly that this was their last album (to my knowledge anyway), possibly released as contract filler/ender. Indeed, the 80's were not kind to MMEB, despite some encouraging commercial success with their previous Somewhere In Africa and that Chance had spawned two hits. But by 83 and the east European tour behind what was still the Iron Curtain (this was a three night stay in Budapest), but outside the singer Chris Thompson (and Manfred of course), there is no-one else left from the glorious mid-70's line-up. And obviously Manfred probably struggled to keep Thompson in the band, as can be witnessed by useless (for MMEB) rendition of Redemption Song. Of course, the music scene had changed by 83, and the band tried tio adapt, still pulling their success through a series of cover (there isn't one single original MMEB composition on this set), but even the new covers lacked the delicious and meandering arrangements that was the Mann-magic the previous decades: the Police (Demolition Man) and Marley (Redemption Song) songs are all-too 80's and feature straight unrefined arrangements.

OK, MMEB was probably opening a new potential market and wasn't about to take risks in featuring more adventurous material, but this set list downright sucks. But the probably undiscerning (for then) Hungarian crowd seemed to appreciate this basic rundown of the later hits (outside Spirits and Blinded, all others are from 78 and younger). And to be honest, the older stuff re not well played (especially my fave Sprits In The Night, but I always thought Mick Rogers sang it best), and sometimes rushed, if not even botched. It doesn't help either that the poor recording quality, flat production and thin-overall sound are hardly impressive. So you get a bunch of Springsteen songs (Dancer is missing), two Dylan ones (though they did quite a few more throughout the years), etc? But nothing from Solar Fire or Angel station - their two best albums, IMHO. :-((

Soooo, I'd found this album at the bottom of a drawer in a lab I'm newly working in, so I decided that 30 years after hearing it a few times, I'd take it home to listen to it. Guess what??? It's going straight back in that drawer tomorrow morning. BTW, just in case you care, there were another 50 albums in that drawer, and this was no doubt the best in that selection. Gotta find me another lab, where they got better musical tastes. ;o))) (just kidding Burckard) Fortunately, I'll probably be on pension or even dead when it'll be time for another reappraisal in some 30 years. That bad, you ask?? Nope, but I felt incisive and discernant.

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 Solar Fire by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.01 | 238 ratings

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Solar Fire
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars In all Manfred Mann's discography, I think which "Solar Fire" is the really start of his most progressive phase, in spite of "Messin" an even in "Glorified Magnified" already had demonstrated the progressive vein, this progressive rock approach is much more explicit in "Solar Fire". The track 1- "Father Of Day, Father Of Night", is a great example of "how to make" a simple theme turns into a "deep" and "charming" rock ballad, with great introduction, "hypnotic" cadence and wonderful guitar solo. The track 2 - "In The Beginning, Darkness" is a hard (almost heavy) theme with a great female chorus participation and a solo section with drums, synthesizer and guitar "space landscape". another remarkable track is track 5 "Saturn, Lord Of The Ring / Mercury, The Winged Messenger" with 2 distinct movements, the first a lead guitar "bucolic" moment and the secound a type of "jam session" with a keyboard/guitar duets and counterpoints. In a general way all disc is very pleasant, and my rate is 4 stars !!!

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 Solar Fire by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.01 | 238 ratings

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Solar Fire
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Manfred Mann's Earth Band's Solar Fire opening with Father of Day, Father of Night, an example of one of Mann's more notable talents: taking a second-string Bob Dylan song and redeeming it through entirely transforming the musical backing. Taking this decidedly hippified anthem and putting it through a series of symphonic prog filters turns it into a memorable trip and a tasty appetiser for the rest of the album. If what follows often doesn't quite measure up to the brilliant opener, it's still a competent enough release which will appeal to most fans of symphonic prog, and it finds the band's compositional powers on top form, radically scaling back their reliance on cover versions.

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 Wired by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Live, 1977
2.85 | 10 ratings

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Wired
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by BORA

2 stars Rehearsing on stage? That's rather naughty!

A fan of mid-period MMEB, I had high expectations after perusing the track list before obtaining this album. Well, it turned out to be a let down. There is nothing much wrong with the actual performance, except that the same tunes were recorded in much better versions on the studio releases.

Right off, they've ruined an otherwise great tune "Road To Babylon" by almost completely removing the dynamics that made this piece so enjoyable in the first place. The rest of the tracks suffer from similar neglect due to re-working.

I am not immune to variations in a live context, indeed, my preference is for such that contains extended solos, even jamming. Well, this performance is not one of those, leaving me substantially unimpressed.

The tracks here are poor cousins to the originals and in some instances the performance is rather awkward as if the band were only rehearsing. There are some fine moment,s but overall, they don't save the rather uninspired delivery as a whole.

The vocals are generally strong and there is some good guitar work in places, but frankly, I can't imagine that the band were only able to do a mediocre performance on stage. With that in mind, the release of "Wired" doesn't appear to be a wise decision.

I couldn't call it good and if you have the originals, there is no reason to bother with this. In my books, it doesn't quite reach the criteria for 3 stars, so it's a regretful 2, only.

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 Solar Fire by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.01 | 238 ratings

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Solar Fire
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The fourth Earth Band album in a little under two years, 'Solar Fire' is undoubtedly the former Beat group's most ambitious undertaking, a space-themed concept piece featuring nods to classical music, strong instrumental moments and an extraordinary nine-minute version of Bob Dylan's 'Father Of Day, Father Of Night' as the album's opening track. However, whilst this 1973 album was undoubtedly a vast improvement on their blandly-realised debut, the underwhelming follow-up 'Glorified Magnified' and the frankly rather poor third album 'Messin'', there is still much about the Earth Band's style of progressive rock that simply hasn't aged at all well. The haphazard blend of intricate instrumental solos, overly-slick production values and Mann's awkward vocals positions the group as a kind of sub-Alan Parsons outfit, their overall sound featuring a jocular, semi-serious feel that distracts hugely from the music. The lengthy opening cut and the funky-yet-playful moog solo of 'Pluto The Dog' aside, this is a prime example of why the Earth Band have never been taken seriously as a progressive rock group. An overcooked mixture of stodgy pop melodies, over-produced prog theatrics and hokey art-rock ambition, 'Solar Fire' helps explain just why punk-rock came knocking. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Nightingales & Bombers  by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.06 | 215 ratings

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Nightingales & Bombers
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Always the odd cousins to the progressive rock fraternity of the 1970's, Manfred Mann's Earth Band enjoyed a relatively successful career, graduating from humble beat group origins to full-blown art-pop purveyors during the space of a few short years. A prolific outfit led by the South African-born keyboardist Mann, the first Earth Band album arrived in 1972 and was quickly followed by four more full-length studio offerings, all of which were released across the space of just two years. The most notable of these was arguably 1973's ambitious 'Solar Fire', a kind of classically-tinted, space-themed concept yarn, yet the Earth Band would really hit their stride with 'Nightingales & Bombers' from 1975, an album whose title was inspired by a cache of accidental BBC recordings from World War 2 that were supposed to pick up certain ornithological sounds yet ended up catching a major aerial dogfight between British and German forces(the recordings feature in the album's penultimate piece, a live rendition of 'As Above So Below'). Inspired by these extraordinary tapes, Manfred Mann's Earth Band put together what many consider to be one of their defining achievements. Featuring a trio of covers - this time it's a fairly straightforward AOR version of Bruce Springsteen's popular 'Spirits In The Night', a slick reading of Joan Armatrading's 'Visionary Mountains' and a slightly awkward take on 'Quit Your Low Down Ways' by Bob Dylan - 'Nightingales & Bombers' proves both eclectic and accessible, blending progressive aspirations with a slick pop-rock touch that prefigures much of their 1980's output. Unlike 'Solar Fire', it is shorter, sharper tracks that are the meat of 'Nightingales & Bombers', making for an enjoyable if somewhat lightweight album, the atmospheric Springsteen-penned opener - one of the better versions of the oft-copied track - providing an energetic opening, whilst the intricate melodies of 'Time Is Right' and the title- track showcase the group in highly-creative mood with the latter in particular blessed by a dazzling keyboard solo from bandleader Mann. However, whilst many of the classic releases from the Earth Band's fellow progressive icons of the 1970's have generally stood the test of time remarkably well, both 'Solar Fire' and 'Nightingales & Bombers' simply haven't. Listened to now through 21st century ears, its unfortunate to note that virtually all of Manfred Mann's Earth Band albums from this period feature a trite, almost jocular feel, no doubt carried on from their 1960's beat-group past, that distracts the listener from what should be some pretty impressive instrumental moments. As a result, this inability to shake the pop-essence of their past makes for a simplistic brand of what can be best described as progressive pop - no bad style in the right hands, just ask The Alan Parsons Project - with 'Nightingales & Bombers' a prime example. There are still moments here well worth the price of admission, but when compared against the 'Nursery Crymes' and 'Wish You Were Heres', this does feel rather tame. Hats off to excellent production values though; pity the music isn't of the same quality. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Nightingales & Bombers  by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.06 | 215 ratings

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Nightingales & Bombers
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Inspired by a World War II-era tape the band had come across of birdsong rudely interrupted by a flyover of bombers, Nightingales and Bombers leads off with one of the Earth Band's competent prog-pop reworkings of Bruce Springsteen songs (in this case, Spirit in the Night) and follows it up with a range of prog instrumentals and songs. Fat Nelly manages to combine a music hall sense of humour with keyboard-heavy prog performances in a great little match - the sort of combination ELP were always trying (and failing) with their comedy numbers - whilst the instrumentals proved that the Earth Band were a serious prog powerhouse in their own right. A real eye-opener if, like me, you've only heard Manfred Mann's various singles before tuning into this one.

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 Messin' by MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.12 | 93 ratings

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Messin'
Manfred Mann's Earth Band Eclectic Prog

Review by Einsetumadur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 11/15P. This album - like most of the other Earth Band albums - is absolutely strange. This record is the most impenetratable take on blues rock that was likely to come out in 1973.

This album is where Manfred Mann's Earth Band first steadied their distinctive sound - the unisono playing of a fierce Stratocaster and the Moog synthesizer, the rapid jams which start abruptly in the middle of a song and the effective deconstruction of cover versions. But when I listen to this album I always wonder what kind of music this band actually wants to do. There are the spacy synthesizers, the (slight) jazz influences and the moody instrumentals, but the whole thing reminds me more of Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album than of anything else. It's all about tight band interplaying and heavy riffs, but these riffs share similarities both with Robert Johnson's and Gustav Holst's compositions. There are few progressive bands which rely as heavily on riffs, and there is no other progressive rock band which arranges these riffs in such a sophisticated way, eventually making them sound like the title melody to a science fiction movie. This album is really knotty and cold, but nonetheless tremendously exciting.

First of all - I don't own the reissue of this album. The Earth Band reissues by Creature Music Ltd. are by far the worst reissues I've ever seen. Useless bonus tracks, a shabby booklet design without any interesting information and a sometimes shabby sound (especially on the Chapter Three albums). I don't want to know which drunk apprentice was responsible for this stuff. I mean, making typos while copying the original liner notes for an album - that cannot be true!

But all in all, there's just one dull track on the whole record. Get Your Rocks Off is a cover version of one of the many overrated Dylan Basement Tapes songs and is on the same level as the mediocre stuff on the Glorified Magnified album. Ok, they manage to pack a short and sweet multi-tracked guitar bridge into the song at 1:11, and the slide guitar in the chorus is quite alright as well, but they just aren't The Band - and the song itself is pretty forgettable. It's a shame because the MMEB pulled off some nice blues rockers on Glorified Magnified, particularly the stomping I'm Gonna Have You All and Look Around, which itself is based on the American folk song Black Betty.

Cloudy Eyes isn't dull, but simply a few tads too little inspired. It is a laid-back instrumental which steadily walks along a stoic 4/4 beat without lots of variation. Nevertheless I always enjoyed the neat J.S.Bach melodics in this tune with the sharp lead guitar setting the main melody with lots of trills while the Moog synthesizer echoes some guitar motives, allowing the guitar to do some variations. But since I've listened to Procol Harum's Repent Walpurgis I believe that such music works much better when given a certain degree of solemnity. But that's not the major problem, the chord progression differs too much from Repent Walpurgis to make the track a rip-off. But there's not a lot happening in the first four minutes, it's just the same (good) melody over and over again. Thankfully, the piece fades out before it gets tedious. The last 90 seconds are dedicated to Mann's Moog, and here he emulates the sound of a hurdy-gurdy, a stringed folk instrument which gives a droning sound due to a revolving wheel. In a way it's a violin with an endless circular bow, or the stringed pendant to the bagpipes. It sounds absolutely odd and I've got no idea what purpose this fragment has. But I don't mind; no matter what it is or what it shall be - it is really successful in its menacing drone and sends shivers down my spine.

Sadjoy is more or less an extended guitar solo constructed around a 40bpm, i.e. really slow, rhythm with many people singing a sophisticated melody over and over again. Supposedly Manfred Mann intended to write some kind of musical in 1973, and this and Cloudy Eyes are recycled versions of compositions intended for this purpose. A track like this, for sure, will only be successful when the guitar playing is good, and indeed Mick Rogers rarely had such a good opportunity to show off his considerable skills. The sharp attack of the Stratocaster bridge pick-up and Mick Rogers' emotional bendings fit very well to each other, preventing the whole affair from being boring over the whole 5 minutes.

Mardi Gras Day is one of the swampy Cajun-like tracks by Dr. John Creaux, and although this is pretty much a simple sing-along tune, this mixture of shrieking lead guitars, the laid-back offbeat rhythm and the tribal backing vocals by presumably everyone who was present in the studio is amazing. Mick Rogers really nails this one with his reggae vocals and the clean funky rhythm guitar. Manfred Mann's Earth Band, as early versions of Ashes to the Wind show, did a lot of this world-music inspired rock fusion in those years and continued to do so on the Somewhere in Africa album.

This brings us to the three huge songs on this album.

In Black and Blue the band do what they were always best in: enriching existing songs by other bands which sounded pretty dull in their original form. This time it's a first-person blues song by an Australian band which has slavery and deprivation as its topic. Starting off as a Mick Rogers vocal solo the song develops into a mournful sea of tightly weaved Moog melodies on top of a leaden rhythm. The guitar stays pretty quiet, but howls from afar from time to time. Apart from the wailing multi-tracked guitar riff (which, in fact, take in the role of a chorus) this is an amazingly haunting piece of psychedelic blues rock and a definite highlight in the band's career. I'm not completely sure, but it might be my favorite track off this record, simply due to the psychedelic mid-part which is pretty unique in the band's repertoire.

Messin' is, in fact, a self-cover - something which the Earth Band frequently did with their 1960s and Chapter Three songs. It was written by keyboarder Mike Hugg and recorded for the shelved third Chapter Three record. Originally a fast soul/rock track with free jazz elements, actually a more concise Happy Being Me with a flute and Hammond organ solo, the band augmented it with industrial machine sounds and sounds of crying monkeys (both effects are utterly frightening, I have to admit) and made a leaden blues rocker out of it. The female backing vocals and the lyrics are the only things which didn't change, even Mike Hugg's melody has been simplified at certain places. But the band deteriorated the original version by no means; they rather gave it a better structure in the extended instrumental part by rearranging the brass melody of the early Chapter Three track Konekuf that it may fit on the heavy rhythm of the vocal parts. Interestingly, they play parts of the melody in a nearly polyphonic way (i.e., shifted by some bars) with amazing musical communication between Manfred Mann and Mick Rogers. Afterwards Manfred Mann shows his talent of writing riffs which sound bluesy although their melodies, soaked with strange intervals and avantgarde, are as stiff as contemporary classical music. At first Mick Rogers has an extended solo, then Manfred Mann runs into some ragtime-inspired Moog synthesizer pitch bends. After a reprise of the chorus the track ends in the monkey and machine noises again. A tour de force with a style of improvisation absolutely typical of this band. Check out the Chapter Three version (Messin' Up The Land from the Odds and Sods collection) as well - it's available for commercial download and absolutely worth the mony.

Buddah begins deceptively as a ballad - a really good ballad I daresay, owing to Mick Rogers' controlled and vibrato-laden voice and the catchy clean Stratocaster picking, alternated by some heavy riffing in the chorus. The (not that rarely thought about) topic is the reappearance of ancient prophets (Jesus, Buddah and Moses) in our time. The Strawbs' The Man Who Called Himself Jesus is, from the lyrical point of view, more interesting than this example, but it doesn't matter in this case because everything else sounds marvellous. At 3:38 the jam part of the song begins. Listen closely to the shift in timing in the first bars of this part and you'll find again how meticously the band composed and planned the frame of the improvisation. They played these bars exactly the same way live, as recordings for the BBC and the Swedish TV prove! To the accurate thumping of the bass guitar and an accelerated drum rhythm Manfred Mann glides into an atmospheric Moog solo, sometimes accompanied by some backwards piano notes, a bit like Deep Purple's No One Came, but more futuristic and avantgardistic. The last 90 seconds contain in total six different parts: a riff-laden hard rock part, followed by some rising major chords, moving into majestic Moog fanfares (I suppose many AOR bands listened to this part!), a reprise of the riff-laden part, a short drum solo and an ending in which Mick Rogers majestically superimposes lead guitar lines in a major mode - which is not the kind of scale you would expect in a blues jam, but which Mick Rogers would later be known for.

All in all, ideas like these - making jams more exciting by improvising on complex scales, deconstructing existing melodies in a classical way, taking influence from world music, jazz, space rock and blues rock - make this album a really interesting piece of music. Solar Fire is more consistent and also has more peaks, but the stiff blues rock of Messin' - although it's, perhaps unintentionally, an exhausting and absolutely uncommercial record - isn't far away from the quality of Solar Fire. Get the album if you like blues rock and Moog synthesizers, but be prepared that the album is tougher than you might expect it to be.

(By the way - how comes that the song lengths are all exactly n:30 or n:00 minutes long? I did say that the album is peculiar, didn't I?)

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