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Manfred Mann's Earth Band - The Good Earth CD (album) cover

THE GOOD EARTH

Manfred Mann's Earth Band

 

Eclectic Prog

3.56 | 184 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Sod it, I missed out!

Having bought "The good earth" second hand some years after its initial release, I was devastated to miss out on owning my square foot of land in Wales which was given away with initial copies of the album. I shall endeavour however not to let this disappointment tarnish my review! The site in Wales is still there by the way, and was recently visited by a groups of fans of the band, who found it to be totally unspoilt.

Released in 1974, "The good earth" was Manfred Mann's Earth Band's fifth release. At the time of its release, this album was perceived to be something of a disappointment after the excellent "Solar fire". Certainly there are no songs on it which have gone on to gain recognition as MMEB classics, and unusually there is a complete absence of any Dylan or Springsteen covers.

Track one is however a cover, one of three on the album. Written by Gary Wright (of Spooky Tooth), the track is lyrically from a bygone (hippy) age, including such lines as "Give me the open skies that I can dream on, give me the flowers the birds and bees". The band develop the track well creating an eight and a half minute opus with strong lead guitar work by Mick Rogers and floating keyboards by Mann. Rogers vocals are not as strong or distinctive as his successor Chris Thompson, who might have been able to give the track the extra dimension it seems to lack. The other covers are of songs by New Zealander Mike Rudd. On "Launching Place" and "I'll be gone" Rogers does a reasonable impression of Steve Winwood, the tracks sounding rather like outtakes from a Traffic session.

Side two continues the ecological theme, opening with "Earth hymn", probably the best track on the album. The song has a passing resemblance with "This side of paradise" on "The Roaring silence". Midway through, it bursts into one of Manfred Mann's fine synthesiser breaks before fading with some reverse loops. The Mann/Rogers composition "Sky high" is a good excuse for them to jam together taking alternating leads. "Be not too hard for life is short", to give the song its full title, is taken from a poem by Christopher Logue. This softer ballad has a relative simplicity which contrasts well with the more progressive structures which surround it. The album closes with a reprise of "Earth hymn" in slightly altered format.

In all, while "The good earth" is a decent and highly progressive album, it stands beneath its peers such as "Solar fire" and "The roaring silence" in terms of quality. The performance is exemplary but, seen in retrospect, the choice of material is weaker than we have come to expect of this fine band.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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