Manfred Mann's EarthBand
is clearly the organist's best unit in many years. More immediately likeable than any of the Chapter's he lead and beefier, heavier than the Paul Jones, Mike D'Abo fronted pop groups of the sixties.
Stevenage's Mecca Ball Room last Sunday his four piece EarthBand depped for Family, Roger Chapman being ill, and despite what is usually described as a 'disappointing crowd', the band played hard and direct
rock with a trifle more melody and musicianship than most 'riffy' bands. Probably they've developed naturally from the lighter approach they started with some two years ago.
The band have been back in
Britain only a two weeks after an American tour and have spent most of their time in the studios putting down tracks for their new album but the edge and attack of their stage performance hasn't been blunted
by their gigging lay-off.
Manfred's siren wailing keyboards led into a fast simple blaster with the first on many excellent solos from lead guitarist Mick Rogers. "Buddha" featured strong vocals
from Rogers and a good organ solo from the leader, who's also some nice simple touches on Moog. Another guitar solo and a short snappy drum feature by Chris Slade closed it.
"Messin," a Mike
Hugg ecology type tune is another powerful stamper of a song, and, at last, a black clothed fuzzy haired chick was moved to dance. All alone was she until much later on. Never mind love, I thought you were
good, Mick Rogers was good too.
"Captain Bobby Stout" saw Manfred's best solo over Rogers scraping, scrubbing chords and the number segued into "Glorified Magnified," with atmospheric
pre-recorded tapes of Bach like choral. Didn't see anyone prostrate themselves in prayer though.
And just for old times sake, and because it's a good song – Manfred included "Mighty Quinn." It's
a completely new arrangement as befits the new band, highlighted by a guitar-organ "conversation" or more like a "question and answer" session actually with Rogers throwing back Mann's
keyboard lines. A really excellent punchy band and their rock 'n' roll encore with duck calls (thank God the shooting season's over) closed their impressive set.
Melody Maker 20.1.1973
Like fire, volume is a good servant but a bad master. Manfred Mann's EarthBand are an exacting group of musicians who, greatly to
their credit, fully understand the evasive qualities of volume and how it can be intelligently used to the best effect, and for real impact.
At City University, London on Saturday, it was hardly possible
to fault the sound, it was easy on the ear, clear and clean, yet the centre of a high energy power zone, that could whip up excitement, even in a hall like this one that lacked atmosphere and proper
In 1967 the then Manfred Mann had a hit with Dylan's "Mighty Quinn." Manfred has kept the number and now its like a monument to the changing years, facing both the past and the future.
Around the skeleton of the song itself, is constructed tier upon tier, an edifice of spine-tingling sound. Moog, Hammond organ, guitar, stratified over a bass/drum backbeat – a superb partnership between
Colin Pattenden and Chris Slade – that really shifts. It's crisp, studied and balanced.
Manfred has a mastery over his keyboard console. He knows what to leave out as well as what to put in, and the
others in the band follow his lead. They're unfussy, selective and let their versatility bring out only their best. That way, too they get a tight and well poised sound.
It was the kind of sound you get
inside, there were plenty of openings and though they started off a little cold, a technician's band maybe, as a first thought. But that was "Mercury." Then there was "Buddha" where the
full force of the instruments was released.
Mick Rogers, an exceptionally tasteful and loquacious guitarist is capable of moving an audience with both loud and soft solos, no mean feat, and he proves a
fine match for Manfred's fiery tenacity at the keyboards.
Another Dylan number, "father of Day" which is on Earth Band's new album "Solar Fire" was specially inventive featuring
madrigal tapes, haunting and sepulchral. This ran into "Captain Bobby Stout" (very punchy), "Quinn" and naturally a big call for an encore. It had only been an hour but it was packed with