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Manfred Mann's Earth Band

Entry updated 20 August 2012. Tagged: Music.

Pop group formed in London in 1962 (as "Manfred Mann's Blues Brothers") by South African-born singer-songwriter Manfred Mann (original name Manfred Sepse Lubowitz, 1940-    ). As "Manfred Mann" the group had a series of UK and US chart hits. Mann reinvented the band in 1971 as "Manfred Mann's Earth Band" as a deliberate attempt to leave behind the commercially-determined short pop song format with which he was associated, and instead create longer, more ambitious and sometimes science-fictional work. Most notably amongst this latter kind is Solar Fire (1973), a splendid reworking of Gustav Holst's Planets Suite: eight songs exploring the contemporary solar system, from the stomping "In The Beginning, Darkness" to the witty "Pluto the Dog", a blues riff with dog-bark accompaniments. The Good Earth (1974) is a loosely themed ecological album, setting expressions of rootedness in the soil against (on "Launching Place") a lament for humans abandoning the world they have ruined. "Starbird" (on The Roaring Silence, 1976) concerns a cosmic spaceship and "Chicago Institute" (on Watch, 1978) is about a Kafkaesque institute with the technological wherewithal to dominate human life and death. [AR]

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