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Manfred Mann's Earth Band

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Manfred Mann's Earth Band Solar Fire album cover
4.01 | 408 ratings | 34 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Father of Day, Father of Night (9:56)
2. In the Beginning, Darkness (5:22)
3. Pluto the Dog (2:50)
4. Solar Fire (5:17)
5. Saturn, Lord of the Ring / Mercury, the Winged Messenger (6:32)
6. Earth, the Circle Part 2 (3:23)
7. Earth, the Circle Part 1 (3:48)

Total Time 37:08

Bonus tracks on 1998 & 2008 reissues:
8. Joybringer (single) (3:22)
9. Father of Day, Father of Night (edited version, prev. unreleased) (3:01)

Line-up / Musicians

- Mick Rogers / guitar, vocals
- Manfred Mann / organ, synthesizer, vocals, co-producer
- Colin Pattenden / bass
- Chris Slade / drums

- Doreen Chanter / backing vocals
- Irene Chanter / backing vocals
- The Grove Singers / backing vocals
- Peter Miles / percussion (2)
- Paul Rutherford / trombone

Releases information

Artwork: Fin Costello

LP Bronze ‎- ILPS 9265 (1973, UK)

CD Bronze ‎- 610 590 (1985, Europe
CD Cohesion - MANN 006 (1998, Europe) Remastered by Mike Brown & Robert M Corich with 2 bonus tracks
CD Cohesion - MANN 006 (2008, Europe) As above

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND Solar Fire ratings distribution

(408 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars A fine album that brought the group their first well known numbers and attention world wide . What precedes it is very average and not really prog. However , this is the first of a series of classic even though Messin should also be included in it. As the title might suggest you, this has a very astral subject with Pluto etc... This is Mick Rogers's finest hour along with the Bombers album. Another Dylan cover on this one also.
Review by loserboy
4 stars I must first of all take a moment out to thank Bob "The Prog'essor" Turnbull who played a snippet from "Solar Fire" a wee while ago for me which caught my ear. When I was a young man I remember spinning that poppy "Doo Wha Diddy" tune, but never would have expected such a musical transformation. "Solar Fire" is a wonderfully rich and intensely deep moving piece which combines heavier dark progressive passages with some classic rock tendencies. "Solar Fire" contains some wicked guitar playing and some very tasty keyboard spacey analog passages and atmospheres. For those who love heavy guitar and keyboard space jams will likely adore this album. Songs are highly memorable and offer some great melodies and musical passages. The second half of the album is simply killer with a great dark space jam piece "Saturn, Lord of the Ring - Mercury, The Winged Messenger" and a 2 part epic tune called "Earth, The Circle" (Part 1 and 2) both of which will blow you away.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a progressive hard rock album. I must admit that the bass, the guitars and the drums are well played, never simple. The guitar has a good hard rock sound, not too strong, giving all the room necessary for the keyboards exhibition.

What make MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND unique is certainly those keyboards sounds. Organ, moog, piano... Often experimental and amazing, they are never dull and are quite sophisticated: you can notice how versatile he can be on "Earth, The Cycle" songs.

Review by Proghead
5 stars Here's another album I was exposed to as a kid through my parents. Little did I know that the kind of music presented on this album would later define my own personal taste in music: prog rock. I don't consider myself much of an EARTH BAND fan, only because I found too much of their stuff inconsistent (and some later albums like Chance too commercial for my liking). "Solar Fire" is one of the few times the band made a truly consistent album, in my book. Even their previous album, "Messin" (or "Get Your Rocks Off", the American version, which might as well be another album because of songs that are not featured on the British version) seemed like the band was "messin'" around (having some good songs, and so-so songs).

Here's where they got it right and perfect the prog rock sound that they unfortunately never went further on. The album starts off with "Father of Day, Father of Night". It's hard to believe this was originally a Bob DYLAN song (from the album "New Morning" - the album he recorded as an apology for Self-Portrait). Except this is expanded in to a prog epic, with lengthy, extended symphonic solos, Moog, and even Mellotron! "In the Beginning, Darkness", is one of the more heavy numbers, with heavy guitar and a spacy synth solo with that cool drumming in the middle part. "Pluto the Dog" is an instrumental piece showing MANN's talent on the Moog (it might not be as mindblowing as "Waiter, There's a Yawn in My Ear", but still an effective tune). The title track is amazing, with that cosmic theme in the lyrics, it's just totally '70s. More spacy synthesizer to be found. Then there's the lengthy instrumental "Saturn, Lord of the Ring, Mercury the Winged Messenger". It starts off sounding not unlike "Sadjoy" from their previous album (but more bearable as I though "Sadjoy" was crap), but then the music changes in to a more atmospheric spacy mood before going in to a guitar overdrive.

Now here's that part that differs from the British and American releases. The British version features both "Earth, the Circle" part 1 and 2. The American version only features one part of "Earth, the Circle" (the one with vocals, the short but amazing synth solo, and quirky piano and drumming), and "Joybringer" replacing the other. "Joybringer" was originally released as a single in Britain and was a hit there, but they felt it was better to include it on the American version of "Solar Fire". This is basically rock adaptation of a theme from HOLST's "The Planets", with added on lyrics. My mother not knowing of HOLST, when I played TOMITA's "The Planets", she thought it was an electronic adaptation of MANFRED MANN. Until I explained that "Joybringer" was a rock adaptation of Holst. Not being a big EARTH BAND fan, I am really amazed at this album. Even for those not a fan of their music I still highly recommend this album!

Review by 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.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm not normally given to emotional outbursts while reviewing an album, but I must make an exception for this one. The opening track on Solar Fire, a radically reworked cover of Bob Dylan's Father Of Day Father Of Night, is an absolute masterpiece of prog sent down by the gods themselves. Please take the trouble to listen to this timeless monster of a track, while has some of my favourite guitar and keyboard moments from any band anywhere. Make sure you are alone in a dark room when you listen to this track. If you don't feel something special, you have my sympathies ... no, I think my pity is a more accurate word. Heavenly choir, numerous breaks, gorgeous epic solos, and an imcomparable timeless vibe. Whatta song! Whatta song!

The rest of the album, which is by far the best made by the initial MMEB line-up of Mick Rogers (vocals/guitar), Manfred Mann (keyboards), Colin Pattendon (bass) and Chris Slade (drums), is pretty damn good too. In the Begining Darkness overcomes a weak vocal segment thanks to some great space-rock jamming. Pluto The Dog is excellent in a really kooky way, with a great groove and loads of pitch-bending synth and organ solos.

The title track Solar Fire is another highlight with a mesmerizing melody and some out of this world spacey solos. Saturn Lord Of The Ring, Mercury The Winged Messenger is really two very different pieces stuck together and in Saturn's case, I actually enjoy the name more than the song, which I feel is just dull solo-ing over a slow bluesy riff, with a rather lame main theme to boot. Thankfully the song evolves into Mercury which after a slow beginning becomes another superb jam. The two part Earth, The Circle is another monumental piece of space rock with Mann and Slade standing out.

Annoyingly Solar Fire was one of those albums that came out in different versions on opposite sides of the Atlantic. The version I have has two parts of Earth, The Circle, but no Joybringer (a hit single in 1973!), an admittedly excellent pop-prog song that would have made Solar Fire an even more outstanding album. I'll admit that I gave this album an extra star just because I want to draw attention to the marvellous opening track, but even if that masterpiece weren't here this would still be a highly impressive prog album. ... 91% on the MPV scale

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In 1973 MME released a last single for 'Vertigo' before moving to the 'Bronze' label : 'Joybringer', which was based on British composer's Gustav Holst's 'Planets' ( 'Jupiter). Mann was lucky, because back then the work of Gustav Holst was not yet public dominion and Holst's daughter Imogen granted Mann for the first time the permission to adapt her father's work into popular music. The single reached number nine and Mann thaught of doing a whole adaption of 'Planets', being this time refused by Imogen Holst, but ...

...Mann kept the idea and build a record around the theme of Planets, giving birth to 'Solar Fire'. Now Mann had already tried to combine Pop, Rock, Blues, Soul, Jazz & classical elements into one, but up to now the efforts were not very convincing. In the meantime Mann and Rogers had listened a lot to Pink Floyd and suddenly everything fell into place, making 'Solar Fire' one of the most perfect progressive pop-rock records integrating jazz, soul & classical elements, the catchy melodies of Mann and the Jazz-Rock inspiration of Mick Rogers gave birth to a pure classic.

The record opens with an epic cover of Dylan's 'Father of day, father of night', one of the most beautiful Dylan covers ever. The track starts with an gregorian-like choir, followed by an organ intro, guitar and mellotron before the song starts to unfold. 'In the beginning, darkness' is a heavy blues Rock alternating with a funky shuffle and soul backing vocals bythe Chanter Sisters.'Pluto the dog' a short medium funk instrumental with an extended moog solo and 'Solar fire' build around a slow organ theme, a Dave Gilmour inspired guitar riff and a vocal duette of Mann & Chanter. 'Saturn, lord of the ring - Mercury, the winged messenger' another heavy Blues with an extended guitar solo, athmospheric synth sounds and jazz-rock runs.' Earth, the circle part 2' a jazz-rock theme with another exended moog solo and 'Earth, the circle part 1' ends the record with a classical piano theme, that evolves into a repetitive pattern.

'Solar Fire' is IMO the best MME record and unfortunately the band didn't managed to keep the same standard, leaving 'Solar Fire' a lonely masterpiece in the MME discography. Highly recommended .

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Determined by the Sun ...

'Solar Fire' is an amazing album derived from astrology using impressions from Holst's Planet Suite. The songs are consisting of improvised parts and many spacy elements according to this main theme. Manfred Mann is a fascinating musician. In the 60s he wrote several pop songs which went up into the TOP 10. Coming from Jazz Rock with CHAPTER III he founded the EARTHBAND in the early 70's and is still touring and producing albums with his band. He's the main composer of the songs and serves a lot of interesting hammond/moog/mellotron parts and 'Solar Fire ' is set to be his best prog album. But for me Mick Rogers is also on the top of this production with his great guitar work.

The opening song Father of Day, Father of Night is the bestknown I think, epic compelling, which begins very calm with a choir and then suddenly explodes. Great vocals by Rogers. I can remember In the beginning, Darkness was often played on parties in the 70s. A more classic rocking song whilst the drumming partially is remembering at GOLDEN EARING's Radar Love. The title song convinces me with the jamming part in the middle, really a highlight and the two parts of Earth the Circle are sophisticated avantgarde music.

Another unforgetable gem in the history of Progressive Rock.

Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars Just like with Greenslade, I have the idea that Manfred Mann's Earth Band is not fully appreciated because of its varied blend of several styles, they don't fit into the standard of the usual symphonic prog. This is the mostly appreciated album on Prog Archives, rated with 4.29 against 4.14 from Nightingales And Bombers.

1. Father Of Day, Father Of Night (9:53) : An impressive cover of the Bob Dylan song, it starts with female choir singing, then a slow rhythm with melancholical vocals, wonderful Hammond organ and violin-Mellotron (in the excellent tradition of In The Court Of The Crimson King) and bombastic outbursts featuring fiery electric guitar runs. Halfway a splendid build-up guitar solo, from fragile to heavy and howling, goose bumps! The final part contains spectacular Minimoog runs, Manfred Mann at his best.

2. In The Beginning, Darkness (5:19) : Here we can experience how Manfred Mann turns an average powerful and catchy rock rhythm into just another spectacular break delivering propulsive military drums beats, harder- edged guitar and amazing, pitchbend driven Minimoog runs.

3. Pluto The Dog (2:45) : A short piece with a funny barking from Pluto the dog and more spectacular Minimoog work by Manfred Mann.

4. Solar Fire (5:14) : First sumptuous Hammond waves, then sensational Minimoog flights and a slow, hypnotizing atmosphere with biting electric guitar and again that distinctive, very spectacular work on the Minimoog synthesizer, GREAT!

5. Saturn, Lord Of The Ring / Mercury, The Winged Messenger (6:30) : This track sounds like 'bombastic blues' with fiery electric guitar with howling runs, halfway another exciting break with heavy guitar and sensational Minimoog runs.

6. Joybringer (3:23) : This catchy blend of pop, rock and symphonic delivers halfway 'the wizard of the Minimoog pitchbend button', amazing!

7. Earth, The Circle (3:48) : The final song has a pleasant climate with wonderful Minimoog - and Mellotron work, halfway a swinging break with powerful bass and catch piano play.

I follow most of my fellow collaborators with their 5 star rating, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Review by chessman
4 stars I always enjoyed what Manfred Mann I heard in the seventies. I loved 'Joybringer', the single, though I never bought it. Likewise, I enjoyed 'Blinded By The Light', the single, but in this case I did buy it, though I never bought 'The Roaring Silence', the album it came from, even though I was tempted. I have just acquired 'Solar Fire', having read many good reviews for it, and I have to say,after just four plays, I find it very good indeed, if not quite a masterpiece. Although mine is the remastered version, it has to be said that the music does sound a little dated in parts, often due to the girly vocals, but the music is superb. The interplay between Mann and Rogers on guitar is remarkable at times. 'Father Of Day, Father Of Night' kicks off the proceedings, and it's a nice mid-paced, almost hynotic track that sets the tone nicely, with good guitar work and a spacey feel to it. 'In The Beginning, Darkness' is another good piece, though it does sound a little dated in parts. 'Pluto The Dog' is a fine instrumental, again spacey, and this time interspersed with a barking dog at strategic moments! 'Solar Fire' has the girly vocals again, but it's a fine song, with speaker-sweeping effects from Mann's wonderful synths. Again, it has a spacey feel to it. 'Saturn, Lord Of The Ring/Mercury, The Winged Messenger' is another top notch instrumental that starts off with a nice 'waltzing' guitar beat, played in a bluesy way! You have to hear it to understand what I mean. The 'Mercury' part brings in more synth effects from our South African friend and some up front percussion leads to a more driving beat, and more good guitar interplay with the keyboards. 'Earth, The Circle, pt2' is a more light-hearted affair, up-tempo and dominated by Mann's keyboards. This is followed, imaginatively enough, by 'Earth, The Circle, pt1' just to be awkward! For some reason, the vocals on this remind me of 10cc at times! I could imagine Lol Creme singing this quite easily. This is another cheerful track, with nice piano and keyboards underlying the vocals. 'Joybringer' is the first of the two bonus tracks, and very welcome it is here too. It brings back to me those wonderful musical days of '73, and is redolent of the period. The tune is ridiculously catchy, and you can't stop humming it once you hear it. Finally, we have the second bonus track, which is simply an edited version of 'Father Of Day, Father Of Night', but it finishes of this fine album nicely. A nice trip back to the glory years of prog! Maybe four stars is a tad generous, but it's surely worth more than three. Worth more than the odd listen.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An album that colored my childhood ...

Well .. this is like a trip to the beautiful past days when rock music was well accepted by many people with different backgrounds and tastes - even those who loved pop and jazz, could also absorb the beauty of rock music. It was quite hot afternoon when I was approaching home at Madiun, east Java, Indonesia, I heard the guitar sounds in unique way with a bit of blues influence. I then I knew that it was my brother Jokky, who visited Madiun from Jakarta during his holiday. I then asked him what kind of music and he showed me a cassette tape that had MANFRED MANN's EARTH BAND "Solar Fire" label at its cover. And, the song that I just heard while I was approaching home was "Father of Day, Father of Night" which later I knew it became national hit in my country. Couple of years later after this album was released, there were many illegal radio stations who aired this song. So then, it was a rock hit even in small and suburb area of Madiun.

For years I know that this song is by Manfred Mann but I then realized that it's actually Bob Dylan's! I never be a great fan of Bob Dykan but I amazed with his creation because when it's rearranged it becomes great music. The beauty of this song is on the bluesy style and its killing guitar solo, played at exactly precise time. It's fabulous!!! The second track "In The Beginning, Darkness" (5:19) still elaborates the guitar solo but this time it's composed in classic rock style. "Pluto The Dog" (2:45) gives a chance to bass guitar to provide beats augmented with keyboard and drums.The title track "Solar Fire" is another excellent exploration of Manfred's keyboard work. This track was also famous in my country.

There is no such this as bad track featured in this album. The composition is all excellent for each song. The balanced work of guitar and keyboards is quite interesting. Mick Rogers' guitar work is excellent and it has characterized the music of Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Blues influence is the true nature of Manfred Mann's Earth Band music. In addition to the music, I also love the sonic quality of the CD which reminds me to the sounds of the 70s. What kind of sound? It's much focusing on "midrange" and clean basslines while treble is not that excessive. It's really very enjoyable album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by russellk
2 stars This is one of those bands that completely bypassed me in the 1970s when I devoured everything I could find. I'm not even sure the record was released in New Zealand. I did, however, get a copy of 'The Roaring Silence' in 1976, and didn't think much of it.

Encouraged by positive reviews I obtained a copy of this album. I needn't have bothered: it doesn't do much for me.

It's not bad, exactly, just bland. Listening to this is like eating toast at a restaurant while watching fellow diners tucking in to full meals. To give you some idea, the best track on the album (in my opinion) is the poppy 'Joybringer', a fine track that serves as a logical progression from MANFRED MANN'S britpop of the 1960s. The progressive numbers are turgid and devoid of power, none more so than the overlong opener 'Father of Day, Father of Night.' The album might have been worth noting in the late 1960s, but by 1973 it had been left behind. Think of what other progressive bands were doing at this time! This album does not in any way measure up to the giants of 1973.

MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND would go on to carve out a minor place for themselves in the mid-'70s with a better vocalist and much better material. The fact that their latter success came on the back of cover material should tell you something about the standard of their original songs, including these ones. Save your pennies unless you really do want to hear everything in the golden era of progressive rock.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars Solar Fire was a pleasant surprise. Like many limited to classic rock playlists in formative years, finding out the there was more to Manfred Mann than Blinded by the Light was a mini-revelation. This album has plenty of enjoyable moments from spacey prog and keyboard dominated moments to fairly straightforward rock. Although for the most part pleasant throughout, I still haven't found much that is truly impressive or memorable. Three stars seems appropriate.

Father of Day, Father of Night. Solar Fire kicks off in fine fashion with this epic track. Lots of raw, shrill guitar and textured organ tones set the tone for the rest of the album. Catchy, stately lyrics are set to a memorable melody, with a great guitar jam in the middle. Almost worth purchase of the album by itself, but far from the only highlight.

In the Beginning, Darkness. Defining features are similar to the last track: good melodies, great spacey instrumental break, and course guitar and synth textures. I also enjoy the female vocalist--nice touch.

Pluto the Dog. A lazy, funky instrumental with back-and-forth between keys and guitar, with some pseudo-dog barks to boot. Foot- tapping and enjoyable every time, though nothing special.

Solar Fire. Another mid-tempo rocker, and the guitar is especially shrill and attention grabbing toward the middle. Nice groove.

Saturn.../Mercury... I'm glad these two tracks were merged, because the majestic guitar jamming of Saturn dies down nicely into the spacey build to the rocking finale of Mercury. Probably the proggiest moment of the album.

Earth the Circle (Parts 2 & 1). Here's where the album quality really tails off in my opinion. Part 2 doesn't really offer much new or better than the material preceeding it, and Part 1 sounds a bit childish to my ears. Unfortunately, these tracks leave me with a bad taste for the album, partly undeserved.

There's definitely good stuff on here. I don't see quite enough that's really progressive to warrant more than 3 stars, but I don't think you will feel your money has been wasted on Solar Fire.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Manfred Mann is one of my fav key player from prog, he always sound unique. Now, this album Solar fire, i must admite is not one of my fav MMEB albums, i always liked the period after this one from The good earth to Somewhere in Afrika. Not a bad album but, the piece who everybody praised here the Father Of Day, Father Of Night, a Bob Dylan cover to me is boring at some point, to long and nothing is happend there. To me is the worst piece of the album, but the best i find Saturn, Lord Of The Ring / Mercury, The Winged Messenger and the funy one Pluto the dog, the rest are also good but nothing fantantisc in my opinion. This album has plenty of enjoyable moments from spacey prog and keyboard dominated moments to fairly straightforward, and i think 3 stars is fair, i can't give more because i find this album far from Nightingale & Bombers, their masterpice. Still a MMEB classic.
Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars This is another very emotional review for me. I discovered this album at the time of release. I was totally alien to the band but thanks to a laudatory review from "Piero" in a weekly Belgian magazine (Télémoustique"), I just purchased the record and loved it at firs sight (thanks Piero).

The numbers of spins for the great "Father Of Days, Father Of Night" ? Countless, my dear friends. A gorgeous song, some superb guitar work, great keyboards parts. This is the type of covers that really shines (like "America" from "Yes" or "ROB" from "ELO"). I can't have enough of this great song. The proggiest of the band so far (but they haven't produced a lot of those so far).

Some very good psychedelia is displayed during "In The Beginning, Darkness" (with the recurrent concept of "Solar Fire" sung by the backings). The mood is really excellent, as is the drumming. Can the band pursue on that level ? Even if "Pluto The Dog" is not of the same level, the hypnotic rhythm and the barks are not too bad.

B-side of the original album (yes, I am that old), opens on another great song. The title track features some great and powerful interplays (bass, drum, keys). There are some excellent backing vocals as well. But the central part of this song holds a wonderful guitar part. Spacey, psyche, hard : this great song has it all.

The enjoyment goes on with a great instrumental song. Is it necessary to tell that the guitar work is absolutely FABULOUS ? I guess not. Great middle part fully Floydian and hectic. I guess that I like this kind of experimentation. The last section is again a great voyage into some harder sounds. Spacey, psyche, and hardy (you might have read this already). What a great trilogy! Another highlight of this extraordinary album.

The closing "The Circle" might not be on par, but it is a very relaxing part. In two. parts. Not my fave here but this album is so linked with my teens that I will emotionally raise it to the five stars level (although nine out of ten would be more appropriate).

A great album. Out of a great era. Do listen to this one. You will just do yourself a favour, believe me.

Review by friso
2 stars Reading all the positive reviews on this album and hearing the song Joybringer I decided to buy it. On my way back home from the recordstore (vinyl records that is) I saw on the tracklisting that Joybringer was missing on my lp! I have the alternative version I found out.

Joybringer must have been the best song of the album because the others are boring. They all start of with fancy intro's, giving you the feeling a great extravaganza is going to come. But when the song really starts only rock standerds appear from your speakers.

The first song Father of Day: Father of Night is a fair start. It sounds a bit popmusic-like but it's ok. The solo must be the progressive part. The guitar is out of tune though, so it's more a mistake then an progressive observasion I guess. The voices of Manfred Mann sound a bit like Ozzy Osbourn at some moments, overall he does a good job on the whole album. The next two songs of side 1 are boring. As I said, simple rockstanderds with some special effects.

Side two is better. Solar Fire isn't a special song but Saturn and Earth the Cricle are sufficient. It works so to speak. The production of record is ok, the artwork is nice. I just can't find any progression here. So, sorry for all enthousiastic reviewers of this record, but I give it two stars.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I am a big Mick Rogers fan, he being one of the finest and most underestimated proggy guit-slingers back in the glory days, as well as a great vocalist. "Solar Fire" is widely proclaimed as one of the better Earth Band projects (together with Bombers & Nightingales and The Roaring Silence) partly because of Mick's ripping fret work, full of zest and zeal. According to the liner notes, both Rogers and Mann were listening to a lot of Terry Riley and Pink Floyd during the recording of this album, in fact the live band used pre-recorded choir tapes, and it shows with the sweeping arrangement of Bob Dylan's Father of Night, a nine minute unaccredited awesome mellotron feast that has to be among the trippiest tunes in progdom, with a seductive and extended Rogers guitar adventure full of bluesy bravado, raging fury and blistering restraint. With bassist Pattenden and Chris Slade's expert drumming leading the way and the choir hauntingly effective, Manfred tosses in some sinewy Moog solos, particularly the closing segment which is delirious and grippingly poignant. "In the Beginning" is a more straight forward rock song with superlative backing vocals by the famous Chanter Sisters and more slick Rogers pyrotechnics and of course, a little jamming mid-section with another dose of synthesized delirium with guitar and Moog dueling. "Pluto the Dog" is one of those rare "fun" instrumental tunes with the Moog barking uncontrolled, assorted timbres and patches showcasing Mann's rather revolutionary keyboard style, swayed by the simple rhythmic groove. Woof, woof indeed. The title track is another smoking classic with shivering and swirling synths leading the way, groovy propulsive beat , more of those wonderful female backing vocals and that soaring Moog foray and another Rogers guitar fest (what a monstrous solo, whew!) that would make Fripp stand up and applaud. And the way the tune kicks back into the groove after the solo section is remarkable. The next 3 tracks are Mann's take in Gustav Holst's classical masterpiece Planets Suite, a modern rock approach with blazing guitars (Mick is imperial, I tell you), sizzling melodies and some more scintillating synthesizer work which was extremely innovative at the time, Manfred certainly enjoyed bending those notes, his joystick getting a serious workout. When the two lead instruments decide to trade licks, this falls straight into the magical realms of prog genius. "Earth the Circle Part 2" is a tad weaker than the previous material but does espouse the merits of some highly original electronic noodling that was (at the time) experimental, or just plain mental. "Earth the Circle Part 1" is a gentle ballad that has a little Yes feel until it is raped by some bombastic and wobbly Moog fills, a sudden delicate piano arriving from nowhere adding some contrast to the weirdness of the middle jam, with Mick torturing his axe with strange abandon. "Joybringer" is a little too poppy for my tastes, having been released successfully as a single and is obviously a clear attempt to pay the bills. But totally removed from the homogenous quality of this album. Solar Fire is a must get (Father and the title track alone are worth the money) and wholly deserving of its 5 meteor shower status. Oh by the way, did I mention that Mick Rogers is a phenomenal guitarist?
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4 stars. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all with all the organ and synth work that there is on this album considering Manfred Mann plays those instruments. And I agree wholeheartily with tszirmay that Mick Rogers is a brilliant guitarist, and he's very prominant as well on this record. Yes they apparently were listening to a lot of PINK FLOYD before recording this album and that influence is thankfully present throughout. This is just a joy to listen to.

"Father Of Day, Father Of Night" is a Bob Dylan penned tune so it's not surprising that the lyrics are thought provoking and meaningful. I like the way MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND could make a song they covered their very own. It's truly a gift that they had. I really like the way this song goes from pleasant, mellotron drenched beauty to those heavier and darker sections. Great contrast throughout. Special song. "In The Beginning, Darkness" opens with this dark and heavy soundscape that quickly turns lighter with a steady beat. Vocals come in. The guitar is fantastic throughout, but especially after 3 minutes when Mick lights it up. "Pluto The Dog" is an instrumental that reminds me of Krautrock because of the hypnotic beat. Synths and a barking dog rounds out the sound. I like it.

"Solar Fire" opens with organ as synths, drums, guitar and vocals come in. Vocals are great with female backing vocals joining in as well. Guitar makes some noise 1 1/2 minutes in. PINK FLOYD-like spacey synths after 2 minutes. The guitar plays over top, just ripping it up. The organ is back. Themes are repeated. "Saturn, Lord Of The Ring / Mercury The Winged Messanger" starts off slowly as relaxed guitar melodies come in. Guitar leads the way until a spacey calm 3 minutes in. The song kicks into a higher gear 5 minutes in as Mick and Manfred put on a show. "Earth,The Circle Part 2" features vocals 30 seconds in that remind me of GENTLE GIANT a lot. Manfred takes over as drums beat away. Some good guitar follows. "Earth,The Circle Part 1" opens with processed vocals. Synths take over with piano before a minute then vocals return. Piano replaces vocals as it settles down.The tempo picks up after 2 minutes. "Joybringer" is a good title for this song because it's such a feel good track. I like the vocals a lot. I like this album a lot.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Should it be played backwards, Manfred?

Manfred Mann's Earth Band more or less kept getting better and better with each new release. Solar Fire was the first in a long series of very good albums released by the band in the 70's. It begins with an excellent Bob Dylan cover in Father Of Day, Father Of Night. As usual with Manfred Mann's Earth Band, the cover is very different from the original. Obviously, it is a progified version of the Dylan number. The rest of the album's material is self-penned, some tracks by Mann alone, others by him together with other band members and one by Rogers/Slade without Mann. It has always surprised me why Manfred Mann's Earth Band relied so heavily on cover songs (particularly in live performances), when they evidently were capable of producing great songs like these and the ones on subsequent albums.

Solar Fire is not my personal favourite Manfred Mann's Earth Band album, but we can find here some of the band's very best and perhaps most progressive self-penned material. With the exception of the short instrumental, Pluto The Dog - which easily is my least favourite track here - the material on Solar Fire is pretty strong. Songs like In The Beginning, Darkness and the title track are highly melodic.

It is a bit odd that Earth, The Circle Part 2 comes before Earth, The Circle Part 1 on the album. Do they want us to play the album backwards perhaps? Maybe they did this to reflect the chronological order in which they were written? Or they did it as a joke? Or maybe it is just a simple typing mistake? We will probably never find out. But whatever the reason these tracks are very good.


Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After some previous changes in styles and bands, Manfred Mann started with what later became classic prog rock band. And "Solar Fire" is in fact first his really progressive album. Which became progressive rock classics with time.

There you will find everything you expect from real progressive rock band from early 70-s. Melodic songs, long compositions with complex musicianship, plenty of guitar and key solos, excellent vocal. Songs are different, and each is masterpiece itself. Listening this album, I just remembered that it was time many years ago when albums were shorter, but contained few very different, personalised compositions. What is extremely rare nowadays.

Sound quality and mixing is excellent (at least on CD releases), you will enjoy perfect airy stereo sound (without wall of sound, over arranged noises, etc). Highest class product.

Musically mix of hard rock, jazz-rock, mainstream with psychedelic scent. Excellent guitar solos, great vocal. Must have for every prog fan.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars Where exactly does MMEB fall in the universe of music? Well, let's assume prog rock without loss of generality. Okay then. But why? Maybe a combination of several things.

Perhaps it involves Manfred Mann's keyboard work. Throughout the album, Mann really gives progsters a hearty meal of Moog synths with a little Hammond on the side. Better yet, there are plenty of solos coming from those keys.

Somehow, it could be the songs themselves. Many look like they deal with a planetary theme, or even grander, a heavenly body theme. There are a few weird time sigs thrown on board for good measure (e.g. the seven time in the title track), and it seems like a few genres are covered from the spacey ''Father of Day...'', the peppy ''Pluto, the Dog'', the quick ''Mercury'' to the boogie ending of ''Earth, the Circle Part 1''.

It's an album I enjoy heartily. It's complex enough to satisfy my cerebral desires, but it's simple enough for me to give repeated listenings. All solos are kept to a controllable level, but still entertaining nevertheless. Only the opening number and ''Saturn'' are numbers I feel uncomfortable with; ''Father of Day...'' goes on too long and ''Saturn'' is just too slow.

Not exactly an explosion, but it's one powerful piece of rock-prog.

On a random note, I happen to own the American release of the album which has ''Joybringer'' instead of ''Earth, the Circle Part 2''. ''Joybringer'' is a nice little nonoffensive poppier tune that is one of the stronger songs on the album.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars The Earth Band's fourth album found the group quite gelled with a sound that was quite unified, likely the result of nearly three years of playing and touring together. Manfred Mann finally begins to show some progressive tendencies in both his writing and arranging, particularly on the opening 'Father of Day, Father of Night', technically a cover based on the Bob Dylan tune 'Father of Night'. Once again fans can lament the lack of a good Earth Band biography that might shed more light on the back story for both this album and that song.

The core lineup remained Mann, bassist Colin Pattenden, drummer Chris Slade and guitarist/lead vocalist Mick Rogers, although sadly all but Mann would all depart over the next few years. Rogers continued to explore heavier and more extended guitar passages on 'Solar Fire', particularly on the first side of the vinyl release, and Pattenden's bass playing took a more prominent role here than on any of the band's prior releases. Mann had still not reached his apex as a keyboardist although there is considerably more organ playing and even some use of mellotron on the longer tracks. The Chanter sisters provide backing vocals throughout along with sporadic use of the 'Grove singers', presumably a gospel group of some sort.

The opening Dylan track is an interesting one that seemed to signal a trend begun with the previous album 'Messin' of beginning an album with a lengthy, instrumental-heavy track. The band would carry this habit through their next few albums including with their mega-hit 'Blinded by the Light' on 'The Roaring Silence' as well as 'Spirit in the Night' on 'Nightingales & Bombers' and the title track on 'The Good Earth'. While the song is attributed to Dylan there is little resemblance beyond the lyrics to his original acoustic guitar/ piano ditty 'Father of Night' that was released on the 1970 album 'New Morning'. For one thing that song was not even a minute and a half long, while this version runs nearly ten minutes and is thick with organ, mellotron, synthesizers and some wicked guitar licks from Rogers. The original was intended to be an interpretation of the traditional Jewish standing prayer Amidah, but in Mann's hands and with Roger's sometimes Black Sabbath-like guitar and vocals it comes off as more of a spacey, mystic dirge in the vein of some of the stuff Led Zeppelin was doing at the same time. A bit of trivia, Dylan's 'New Morning' had knocked 'Led Zeppelin III' out of the top spot on the UK charts shortly after it was released back in 1970, while at the time 'Solar Fire' was released Zeppelin owned the top UK and U.S. charts with their multi-platinum 'Houses of the Holy'. Small world.

The rest of the album carries on the space theme beginning with another guitar-rich track, the heavy rock 'In the Beginning, Darkness' in which Rogers continues his Sabbath/Ozzy- leaning vocals and flailing guitar work. Slade figures prominently on this one with a drum solo midway and a persistent rhythm beat that carries the song throughout. The Chanter sisters provide chillingly precise backing vocals that serve to heighten the tension of Rogers' and Slade's interplay. Other than the disappointing fadeout ending this was one of the more solid Earth Band tracks to that point in their career.

Mann gets creative with some experimental synthesizer and mellotron work on the instrumental 'Pluto the Dog' before the band slows things down a bit with a rhythmic and grooving title track that belies Mann's pop tendencies, but in a good way.

"Saturn, Lord of the Ring/Mercury the Winged Messenger" has a weighty title that probably should have been saved for a more epic-length song, but Rogers' wailing guitar passages and Mann's eerie synthesizer work are consistent with the rest of the album's mood despite this composition adding little new to the mix. The same is true of the two 'Earth, the Circle' tracks except that Mann gets pretty funky and bluesy on organ in a way that recalls much of the band's first two albums, particularly on the 'part 2' portion.

The original U.S. version of this album (and I believe the UK version as well) did not include the non-album hit single 'Joybringer' which is based on 'Jupiter' from Gustav Holst's early twentieth-century 'The Planets' suite. This orchestral work has of course inspired many progressive bands including King Crimson, ELP and ELO among others, so it's inclusion in most reissues and the remastered version of this album is a logical one. The keyboards here seem more modern today than the rest of the album and the tune has stood the test of time quite well. It also became the band's first hit single in 1973.

'Solar Fire' should be considered among the 'classic' Earth Band albums, as it showcases the band and Mann's excellent skill at arranging melodic yet often rocking compositions. It also for the first time showed the band's ability to author songs together as a band, as opposed to the liberal use of covers that characterized their first three (and many subsequent) albums. Only 'Father of Day, Father of Night' is actually a cover, and even this one really only owes Dylan for the lyrics. This is a solid album that can be proudly included in any progressive rock fan's collection, and merits a four of five star rating. Highly recommended.


Review by stefro
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
Review by Warthur
3 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 (ah, let's be honest - nothing comes close to it), it's still a competent enough release which will appeal to most fans of symphonic prog, and it finds the band's compositional powers working hard to radically scale back their reliance on cover versions, even though the cover version here is the best of the lot.
Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars I've always had a soft spot for Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Especially the albums made in the 70's and the earlier in particular. The band created some really exciting prog with hints and doses of pop and rock. The pop elements got more space over time and the sound became slightly more polished aswell. But there was always a serious progginess in their music. On "Solar fire" this is very evident and the album is very cohesive and dense in every respect.

Often enough the MMEB albumst boasted a cover by some more or less known figure in popular music. "Solar fire" opens up with an elongated and very nicely arranged Dylan song, "Father of night, father of day". The opening choir is simply beautiful in its simplicity. It's like a medieval convent joined the band in the studio. It sets the tone and mood of the album quite nice. No, this isn't an album of choir music. It is all about prog and when the organ takes over from the choir, is joined by mellotron, bass and drums one is, I swear, in prog heaven. Simply stunning. A great track with dense and powerful arrangements. As far as covers are concerned MMEB also interprets some of Holst's "Planet suite" which is quite in tune for a true progressive experience.

Apart from before mentioned covers it's all MMEB originals. All songs are very powerful and the album is very much in the progressive hard rock vein, which I like very much. It's heavy and full of force. "Pluto, the dog" might sound hilarious but is really a kick in the teeth and I mean that in a positive way. Amazing keyboards and a drive that is exptremely potent. A great little track. The title track is equally powerful. There are also some scary parts, ominous and foreboding, which only helps to emphasize the diversity and craftsmanship of everybody involved.

Throughout the album Manfred Mann serves us a hearty meal of keyboard driven extravaganza. There is moog, organ, mellotron and synthesizer in abundance. For me, loving keyboards of the vintage kind, can't help sitting smiling with a daft smile on my face. It's just splendid how well the band and Manfred puts forth a slice of progressive punch. The band is truly on (solar) fire on this album.

If I was to introduce someone to the works of MMEB I wouldn't really know where to start. "Nightingales and bombers", "Messin'" or "The good earth"? Anyone of those would do but I could just aswell recommend that person to begin with "Solar fire". On here you will find energy, vision and complexity on such a high level I just might fear they never really achieved before or after this album. So, start with this one. If you're into keyboard driven high-octane prog with a hardrock edge and many layers of brilliance you'd do well to pick this one up.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
3 stars When people think of what Prog rock sounded like in the 70s, most people would think of either the more symphonic stuff of Renaissance or Genesis, and or the jazzy stuff of Gentle Giant or Van Der Graaf Generator. Most people won't really think of the more space rock side of things unless they are fans of Gong or Pink Floyd. Space rock style of Prog has existed since the 60s but never really caught on with the scene until the 70s, and even then it wouldn't be the most popular bunch of music until like the 2000s. Not to say it wasn't influential, but it wasn't what most people would gravitate towards 'less we talk about Pink Floyd. Though, while the scene wasn't as grand as some may say others are, it still brought about some great albums and songs, especially on today's subject of Solar Fire.

I have known about Manfred Mann's Earth Band for a bit, but never had interest diving into them, not until I heard their cover of Bob Dylan's Father of Night, which is also on this album. I am not a Bob Dylan fan, but I take any chance I can get in hearing a good cover of his music. This is one of my favorite Dylan covers now, and it's impressive a band can make a minute and a half song be extended to 9 minutes long. It made me grow interested in listening to the rest of this album since it was such a good cover.

However, that song is probably the only really big number on this album. While the songs here aren't bad to me, I feel as though the band raised the bar of expectations really high to where they couldn't meet expectations. Songs such as Pluto The Dog or Earth The Circle parts 2 and 1 do not hit the same marks that Father Of Day, Father Of Night gave. What you get here though is some fairly well made hard progressive rock standards. You get a lot of songs that sound very close to groups like Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, but obviously with a more progressive twist. In The Beginning, Darkness is a number that really does sound very good in the hard rock camp in my opinion, and with the few meddlings of the more progressive flavors, it does sound good.

I think what this album excels at is the general fun flavor the band exudes. They aren't clearly trying to be big and epic, but they aren't being wild or crazy either. They kinda just do what they feel like, and that is honestly really respectful since you'll know their work will be of quality and be generally good. However, my main issue with this fact is that the more I listen to this album the more apparent it is that they aren't gonna be as groundbreaking as say Camel or Alan Parsons Project. Really, I compare them more to Nektar, being this generally good Prog rock sound that never really extends past the good markings. It's not something I hate with all my heart, but I cannot help but feel the band have missed some opportunities within what they could've done.

Solar Fire, to me, is great at best, and good at worst, but never a complete masterpiece. It is an album that I think can work well introducing new people into Prog Rock, but as a piece of music that can extend the boundaries of what music can be, I am sorry but you can find a lot more out there. Sorry for the disrespect, but I think it should be said to some degree.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Respect to the band to combine progressive rock and classic rock elements in such a crispy and catchy piece of work and introduce an advanced planetary concept. Manfred Mann Earth's band brings other progressive rock bands' influence to the table: King Crimson (listen to the epic "Father of Da ... (read more)

Report this review (#2442321) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, August 29, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#984702) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It is incredible to look back in time to 1973 and review what these musicians created a somewhat remarkable 40 years ago. Even more amazing is to recognise the brilliance of Manfred's keyboards prowess and Mick Rogers expert guitar playing. Of course Mick in those early days took the lead vocals and ... (read more)

Report this review (#505292) | Posted by demolition man | Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The soundtrack of the universe. This is the record they should have put on the Voyager space vessel in the mid-Seventies. The artwork is obviously derived from King Crimson's Island album. But the crimson king's album was a very earthly record whereas this one manages to convey The Outer Spac ... (read more)

Report this review (#163700) | Posted by strayfromatlantis | Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A think that the five stars label says everything about the album. I loved it from the very first time I caught a piece of it in a local radio station. I took me years to find out the name of the record, the band, etc. In fact, 10 years passed by before I could finally get my hands on it. This is ... (read more)

Report this review (#27881) | Posted by cuncuna | Wednesday, March 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When I was a young impressionable teen, a college girl I worked with turned me on to MMEB. I owned most of the albums but some how were lost. 20 plus years later I ressurreced and old self-made tape of Nightingales and Bombers. As I drove north to the UP along Lake Huron I played the tape over ... (read more)

Report this review (#27878) | Posted by | Tuesday, November 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Father of night ..father of day"...begins this fabulous record with intervening mellotron, this is by far the most fantastic prog record ever recorded!! Manfred Manns Earth band he of sixties fame (several sixties tunes in top ten) turned progmusic in the seventies. This their most famous and mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#27874) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Powerful, concept type album with Manfred in top form. The performance of Mick Rogers on Guitar/Vocals is excellent. Standout track is Father of Day, Father of Night. Later CD issue had the hit single Joybringer included. Give this a try. ... (read more)

Report this review (#27869) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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