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


Manfred Mann's Earth Band


Eclectic Prog

3.19 | 116 ratings

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2 stars It never ceases to amaze me how similar so many albums from the early eighties sound, regardless of who recorded them. The stilted and unimaginative keyboards, mostly synth, arranged it seems more to evoke some contrived posture than to explore the limits of musical expression. Add to that the terribly vapid lyrics, usually delivered with awkward phrasing and timing and often slightly out-of-synch with the song's rhythm, choppy guitar licks coupled with gratuitous power chords and broken up with faux artsy acoustic breaks and random, often fake brass and strings, plus usually some completely unrelated Golden Age radio clipping from British radio and you have the makings of nearly every non-punk, non-dance tune released between mid-1979 and sometime in 1982. And Manfred Mann's Earth Band was not immune to this disease.

Other than the catchy minor hit single cover of Springsteen's 'For You' this is a completely forgettable album delivered in the exact mood, spirit and compositional structure described above. The opening "Lies (Through the 80s)" was written by Denny Newman, a mostly unknown blues guitarist who would later form the ill-fated SOS with If/Procol Harum guitarist Geoff Whitehorn and former Earth Band guitarist/vocalist Mick Rogers. Instrumentally this is vintage 80s schlock, distinguished most by its bastardized lyrics lifted from Joni Mitchell's 1970 anthem 'Big Yellow Taxi'. Otherwise the song is completely forgettable along with the next track 'On the Run' with its muffled keyboard progression and MTV-worthy poseur vocals.

'For You' garnered the Earth Band one of their last hit singles, and a minor one at that. Honestly I always thought this was a Survivor or Whitesnake song or something. It wasn't until years later that I heard it on the band's 'Best of' compilation and realized it was recorded by them. It's a catchy tune but frankly the keyboard riff and vocal phrasing too closely parrots that of 'Blinded by the Light' and in the end I think Mann went to the Springsteen well once too often this time.

Otherwise the rest of the album is barely worth mentioning, including 'Stranded' with that obligatory British radio clip, the muddled guitar spasm titled 'Hello, I Am Your Heart' and the totally disjointed 'No Guarantee'. Not much at all to like here.

The band would pull themselves together a couple more times to release modestly decent albums including the artistically pleasant but socially vapid 'Somewhere in Africa' and Mann's under-appreciated 'Plains Music' experiment. But really the best was far behind by 1980 and like so many of their contemporaries the Earth Band were mostly just going through the motions by this point. This is barely a two star effort and one that only the most stalwart fans could love. Don't bother with this one unless you fall into that category.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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