Fans of muscular progressive rock will love Solar Fire, a concept album loosely designed around cosmology. The album opens with the majestic "Father of Night, Father of Day," which has the drive and complexity of a prime King Crimson track. As unlikely as it may seem, the track was controversial in Mann's native South Africa because of the "Father of black, father of white" line, implying that apartheid might not extend to infinite space. The album moves on to the progressive rock/jazz fusion of "In the Beginning, Darkness," a swinging, even funky track that benefits from soulful vocals by Doreen Chanter and Irene Chanter of the Grove Singers. The same duo contributes to the title track, a slow piece that begins with a fairly standard rock structure and incorporates a massive progressive jam in the middle.
The second album by Manfred Mann's Earth Band to be released in 1972, Glorified Magnified is as solid a heavy rock album as you're likely to find from that era, and it still holds up three decades later, mostly because these guys are smarter than the music they're playing and don't mind indulging their taste as well as their dexterity. They can romp and stomp through "Meat" or "I'm Gonna Have You All," complete with a slashing guitar solo by Mick Rogers on the latter, or throw in a synthesizer interlude by Mann on "One Way Glass" that's so quietly and carefully executed as to be worthy of a classical piece – and not skip a beat doing it. Between Rogers' bold yet tasteful leads, Mann's beautifully assertive yet virtuoso synthesizer and general keyboard work, and Colin Pattenden's muscular bass playing, this is a consistently inspired group, even when their material isn't as interesting as what they do with it, which is the case here…
Somewhere in Afrika, an ode to Mann's home country of South Africa, contains a formula that is atypical of Manfred Mann's Earth Band sound. With rhythms that combine an African flavor with a modern rock feel, vocalist Mick Rogers takes over on vocals with the number 22 hit "Runner," released as the album's only single. Tracks such as "Demolition Man" and "Eyes of Nostradamus" are model Earth Band efforts, but the compelling material lies in songs such as "Lalela," "Koze Kobenini," and the title track, which conveys Mann's love for his birthplace without sounding overly pretentious or manufactured. The instrumentation is solid and free-flowing, with drums and other percussion work coming to the forefront while maintaining the group's atmosphere as a rock band.
Quite definitely the best Bowie record of all. Every track is a winner on this recording. He's helped out by Robert Fripp on guitar who stamps his personality all over this album. 'It's No Game pt1' is the first, hardest and most discordant song on the LP and Bowie sounds berserk on it!. Things calm down a bit with 'Up the Hill Backwards' but it's an odd little tune and a strange choice as a single. The title track is fantastic, particularly with the vocoded Dalek sounding vocals. We all know how great the two hit singles are so I'll skip them.
The Roaring Silence is an album released in 1976 by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Like other Earth Band albums, this includes material by other composers. "Blinded by the Light", which reached number one the Billboard Hot 100, is a cover version of a song by Bruce Springsteen; "Questions" is based on the main theme of Franz Schubert's Impromptu in G flat Major; "Starbird" takes its theme from Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. This album also marked the arrival of vocalist/guitarist Chris Hamlet Thompson.
Plains Music is an album released in 1991 by Manfred Mann's Plain Music, which was a project initiated by Manfred Mann after he retired his Earth Band in the late 1980s. "This album is called Plains Music, as it consists mainly of the melodies of the North American Plains Indians. We do not pretend that it is in any sense representative of the original ethnic music which was its source material. I tried to make a simple album of plain music, using as few notes as possible and keeping the tracks short and to the point." ~ Manfred Mann. Mann recorded some of the album in his homeland, which he had been exiled from for nearly three decades because of his opposition to apartheid. The album was initially released in 1991 and was re-mastered digitally with three additional tracks in 1998.
The album that was Manfred Mann's commercial breakthrough was a departure from the previous albums made with the Earth Band. Though the personnel are the same and the musicianship is as mind-blowing as ever, the songs are shorter and punchier, in some cases more poppy. This is not to say that the band had sacrificed a bit of ingenuity or complexity, but the long jams are gone in favor of briefer sound portraits. Nightingales and Bombers included Manfred Mann's first cover of a Bruce Springsteen song, the album-opening "Spirits in the Night," a single that charted, and became one of the only pieces written in 10/4 time ever to do so. It would prove to be an important move in their recording career, as 1976's Roaring Silence earned them a big hit with Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light."