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Manfred Mann's Earth Band

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Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Chance [Warner Bros BSK 3498] (12 January 1981)

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Manfred Mann's Earth Band



Released: 12 January 1981
Label: Warner Bros
Catalog: BSK 3498
Pressing: Capitol Records Pressing Plant, Los Angeles
Genre: Rock, Pop Rock

T R A C K L I S T:
01 Lies (Through The 80's)
02 On The Run
03 For You
04 Adolescent Dream
05 Fritz The Blank
06 Stranded
07 Hello, I Am Your Heart
08 No Guarantee
09 Heart On The Street
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Album Review

Bruce Eder []

Manfred Mann's 1980 album is a strange mix of topical songwriting, progressive rock, and power pop -- from its opening seconds, the Earth Band is pressing serious messages and social commentary on their listenership amid swirling prog rock keyboards and catchy guitar hooks and choruses. The whole package is challenging in ways that should have put them on the cutting edge of rock music at the outset of that decade, but one suspects that Mann and company were too musically adept and sophisticated for their own good -- a little dumbing down and maybe a little less musicianship on display would have made them more accessible to the coming MTV generation. As it is, the album has held up remarkably well across a quarter century, however, even if it now seems an uncomfortably accurate warning of the way the world would go, in terms of politics and society, in the decades to come. It would also be three years before another Earth Band album was forthcoming, and that one would be steeped in world music sounds.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band's Biography

Richie Unterberger []

An R&B band that only played pop to get on the charts, Manfred Mann and its various permutations ranked among the most adept British Invasion acts in both styles. South African-born keyboardist Manfred Mann was originally an aspiring jazz player, moving toward R&B when more blues-oriented sounds became in vogue in England in the early '60s. Original Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones was one of the best British Invasion singers, and his resonant vocals were the best feature of their early R&B sides, which had a slightly jazzier and smoother touch than the early work of the Rolling Stones and Animals.

It was a couple covers of obscure girl group songs, ''Do Wah Diddy Diddy'' (the Exciters) and ''Sha La La'' (the Shirelles), that broke the group internationally -- ''Do Wah Diddy Diddy'' reached number one in the States, and ''Sha La La'' just missed the Top Ten. The Paul Jones lineup never duplicated this success, although ''Come Tomorrow'' and ''Pretty Flamingo'' were smaller hits. From 1964 to 1966, they took the approach of playing gutsy pop/rock on their singles (including the original version of ''My Little Red Book'') and soul and R&B on their albums, with occasional detours into jazz, Dylan (their cover of his then-unreleased ''If You Gotta Go, Go Now'' was a big British hit), and competent original material.

Jones left for a solo career and acting in 1966, and the group reformed around singer Mike D'Abo (Beatle friend Klaus Voormann was also in this aggregation on bass). Adopting an even more pop-oriented approach for the singles, with occasional psychedelic and progressive touches, the band ran off a string of Top Ten hits in their homeland until 1969, although the only one to hit the jackpot in the U.S. was their cover of another unreleased Dylan song, ''The Mighty Quinn.''

Mann dissolved the D'Abo lineup in 1969 to form Manfred Mann Chapter Three with drummer Mike Hugg, who had been in the band since the beginning. The outfit's early jazz-rock efforts were interesting, but not very popular, and Manfred steered the ship back toward mainstream rock by forming yet another incarnation, Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The heavier, more synthesizer-oriented outfit made quite a few albums in the 1970s; 1976's The Roaring Silence made the Top Ten, and featured the number one hit ''Blinded by the Light'' (Mann also made the Top 40 with another Springsteen cover, ''Spirit in the Night''). Ironically, despite Mann's oft-proclaimed preferences for serious explorations of jazz, blues, and progressive music, it's his pop/rock recordings that hold up best, and for which he'll be remembered most.
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