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Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Solar Fire CD (album) cover

SOLAR FIRE

Manfred Mann's Earth Band

 

Eclectic Prog

4.01 | 331 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The bringer of joy

"Solar fire" predated "Blinded by the light" by two years, and therefore missed out on the widespread appreciation and awareness of the band which that single bought. This is somewhat unfortunate, as the album is has all the hallmarks of the later MMEB albums which were far more successful.

There is no Chris Thompson with his highly distinctive vocals yet either, but Mick Rogers and Manfred Mann himself put on a fine performance throughout. (The female backing vocals are kept thankfully brief, they do sound somewhat past their sell by date).

The opening track "Father of day, father of night" for example, is a wonderful 10 minute interpretation of a rather obscure Dylan song. It is here transformed into a prog classic. Seldom has a mellotron sounded so good taking centre stage as opposed to providing an orchestral layer on which to build, while leaving plenty of room for guitar and other keyboards to feature. A fine early example of how MMEB could turn Dylan and Springsteen songs in to rock/prog classics.

From there on, the tracks all have a solar system theme. While Holst's the planets has almost identical titles, the themes are quite different (I have the British release, which replaces "Joybringer" with a two part "Earth: the circle", part two appearing before part 1!?).

"Saturn../Mercury..", a two part instrumental piece has some outstanding keyboard and guitar work, which even today, some 30 years after its release, still sounds as fresh and inspired as ever. Just one dud on the album, "Pluto the dog" has some irritating dog barks throughout (per Pink Floyd's "Seamus").

In all though, a truly great album which sounds as good today as it did in '74.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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