Manfred Mann’s Earth Band created the near perfect blend of prog and pop which was their forte.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
ALBUM: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
SERIAL: 6308 08
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Manfred Mann – vocals, organ, synthesizer * Mick Rogers – guitar, vocals * Colin Pattenden – bass * Chris Slade – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 California Coastline * 02 Captain Bobby Scout * 03 Sloth * 04 Living Without You * 05 Tribute * 06 Mrs Henry * 07 Jump Sturdy * 08 Prayer * 09 Part Time Man * 10 I’m Up And Leaving
WEBLINKS: Site Link
I remember seeing Manfred Mann’s Earth Band for the first time on (of all things) the shortlived ‘Captain & Tennille Show’ lip-synching to their top ten with a bullet smash ‘Blinded By The Light’. Of course at that time I was totally unaware it was a Bruce Springsteen song, but the band looked cool and whether you heard ‘cut loose like a deuce’ or the nasty imagery of ‘wrapped up like a douche’ in Chris Thompson’s garbled phrasing, it still sounded rebellious and cool.
It was the near perfect blend of prog and pop which was their forte, releasing a number of good albums well into the early 1980’s, current trends be damned. I have a few favourites from their extensive catalog, in particular 1973’s ‘Solar Fire’ and 1978’s prog/pop tour-de-force ‘Watch’, but prior to those evergreen albums came the Earth Band’s debut released in 1972 and its an impressive precursor of things to come.
Opening with ‘California Coastline’, one of the albums three singles, the tone is set and it’s definitely pop, although ‘Captain Bobby Scout’ takes the band down a decidedly American trail blazed by The Band and ‘Music from Big Pink’.
Never a big fan of that particular sound, but it’s followed by the first of two Pink Floyd-ish instrumentals- ‘Sloth’ and later the magnificent ‘Tribute’, Manfred Mann charts new progressive rock territory which is much more to my liking.
There are a couple of cover tunes of note here, Randy Newman‘s ‘Living Without You’ and the Bob Dylan penned ‘Mrs. Henry’. Both are respectable as this is a band searching for a sound of their own while turning out a decent pop album in the process.
Those more familiar with the Earth Band’s later work might find this record a little too old or ‘dated’. ‘Blinded By The Light’ and the other Springsteen written tune turned Manfred hit ‘For You’ were still a few albums away, but this debut is worth a listen and on CD several times over, so no excuses.