Manfred Mann's Earth Band


Band members               Related acts

- Brian Hugg -- bass

- Mike Hugg -- lead guitar (-71)

- Manfred Mann - vocals, keyboards, synthesizers 

- Mick Rogers (aka Michael Oldroyd) -- vocals, guitar 

  (replaced Mike Hugg) (1971-)

- Colin Pattenden -- bass (replaced Steve York) (1971-)

- Chris Slade -- drums, percussion (1971-)

- Steve York -- bass (-71)

 

 

 

- Bulldog (Michael Rogers)

- The Manfred Mann Band

- The Playboys (Michael Rogers)

- Procession (Michael Rogers)

- The Manfred Mann Band

- The Squires (Chris Slade)

 

 

 


 

Genre: progressive

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Solar Fire

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD 6109

Year: 1973

Country/State: South Africa /UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4973

Price: $15.00

 

 

Aside from the occasional single, I've never been a big Manfred Mann fan.  1973's "Solar Fire" is the exception to the rule.

 

The Earth Band's third album, this self-produced set was a true rarity - a concept album that blended progressive and rock moves into a coherent piece that actually worked.  Apparently intended as an expansion of the theme on the band's earlier UK 'Joyrider' single (itself adapted from Gustav Holst's 'Planets'), the concept wasn't entirely clear to me - clearly something to do with the planets, but given the strength of the material, that was almost an afterthought. The extended opener 'Father of Day, Father of Night' was another rarity; in this case a Dylan cover that was drastically reworked into a progressive suite that was actually better than the original (awesome song to hear on a quality pair of headphones).  Elsewhere material like 'In the Beginning, Darkness', the goofy instrumental 'Pluto the Dog' and the title track found Mann and company stumbling on a near perfect mix of rock, progressive and pseudo-jazzy moves.  Lots of great guitar and keyboards, with Rogers turning in some of the best vocals of his career.  A modest seller, the album peaked at # 96.  (By the way, there are at least three versions of the LP.  The UK release track listing included 'Earth, the Circle Part 2' and 'Part 1'.  The original US issue dropped the 'Part 1' instrumental in favor of the earlier single 'Joybringer'.  Subsequent releases reverted to the original UK track listing.  The US single was:

 

- 1974's 'Father of the Day, Father of the Night' b/w 'Solar Fire 2' Polydor catalog number )

 

"Solar Fire" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Father of Day, Father of Night  (Bob Dylan) - 9:51

2.) In the Beginning, Darkness   (Manfred Mann - Mick Rogers - Chris Slade) - 5:19

3.) Pluto the Dog (instrumental)   (Manfred Mann - Mick Rogers - Chris Slade - Colin Pattendale) - 2:45

 

(side 2)
1.) Solar Fire   (Mick Rogers - Chris Slade) - 5:14

2.) Saturn, Lord of the Ring Mercury, the Winged Messenger (Instrumental)  (Manfred Man) - 6:30

3.) Earth, the Circle (Part 2)  (Manfred Man) - 3:23

4.) Earth, the Circle (Part 1) (Instrumental)  (Manfred Man) - 3:48

 


 


Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Good Earth

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: BS 2826

Year: 1974

Country/State: South Africa / UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5579

Price: $15.00

 

Funny how early-1970s Manfred Mann and company simply didn't get a great deal of press attention or radio play in the US.  That was unfortunate since this Manfred Mann line up with bassist Colin Pattenden, guitarist Mick Rogers, and drummer Chris Slade delivered some fantastic albums including 1974's "The Good Earth".  Released in the wake of another label change that saw the band sign a US distribution deal with Warner Brothers, the album featured what was apparently another concept piece.  Once again the plotline was largely lost on me though you could apparently get title to one square foot of a Welsh hillside by submitting the forms printed on the back cover of the album.  Not that the plotline mattered since individually most of these seven songs stood up on their own.   Exemplified by tracks like ' Earth Hymn' and 'Earth Hymn, Part 2' Mann and company were one of the few outfits out there capable of balancing pop, progressive, and rock moves into a palatable stew.  Not meant as a criticism, but with Mann's commercial roots, to some extent  the progressive label was overstated.  Sure there were occasional progressive moves scattered throughout including the instrumental 'Sky High' and Mann's synthesizer solo in their cover of the Gary Wright title track.  Still, the bulk of the album was pretty conventional and commercial. There were plenty of highlights including Rogers' guitar work on the title track (including what sounded like a nod to Free), the nice ballad 'Launching Place' and the country-tinged 'I'll Be Gone'.   Yeah there were a couple of slow spots.  The isolated pure progressive moves were kind of dull and Mann's synthesizer touches now sound a little dated - though try to remember this album is now three decades plus old.  Minor criticisms to an album that I play on a regular basis.  Elsewhere the single was:

 

 

- 1974's 'Be Not Too Hard' b/w 'Earth Hymn, Part 2' (Bronze catalog number BRO 13-A/B)

 

Supposedly released in the States as well, I've never seen a copy.

 

The album made it to # 157 on the US charts.   

 

"The Good Earth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Give Me the Good Earth    (Gary Wright) - 8:32

2.) Launching Place   (Mike Rudd) - 5:51

3.) I'll Be Gone   (Mike Rudd) - 3:42

 

(side 2)
1.) Earth Hymn   (Manfred Mann - Chris Slade) - 6:18

2.) Sky High (instrumental)   (Manfred Mann - Mick Rogers) - 5:14

3.) Be Not Too Hard   (Mick Rogers - Christopher Logue) - 4:11

4.) Earth Hymn, Part 2   (Manfred Mann - Chris Slade) - 4:15

 

 

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