[Manfred Mann's Earth Band]
Material provided by Ian Tompson at the Workhouse
Manfred Mann's Earth Band was formed in 1971 and its present day line up still consists of three of the original members from the seventies' highly successful days: Manfred Mann on keyboards, Mick Rogers on guitar and vocals, and Chris Thompson on lead vocals, thus reproducing the fans' favourite songs live with ease. The Earth Band also consists of Steve Kinch on bass guitar, who has been with the band since the 1986 Tour, Noel McCalla, vocalist and percussion, who has worked on two Manfred Mann Albums and toured since 1991, and John Trotter on drums who joined for the Soft Vengeance 96-97 European Tour.
Manfred Mann has steered his bands through four decades of musical changes, from the sixties whereby Manfred Mann, the band, enjoyed a string of no less than 18 hit records including three number Ones in the UK: "The Mighty Quinn", "Pretty Flamingo" and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy". After that Manfred formed with Mike Hugg, Manfred Mann Chapter III, a jazz rock band which during its short life has been described by Manfred as an over reaction to the hit factory of the Manfred Mann Group. It was however with the forming of Earth Band in 1971 that Manfred was able to find the platform for most of his musical output since then.
From 1971 to 1975 the Earth Band produced six albums, each one showing a band growing in direction and strength. Amongst these was the now classic "Solar Fire" from which was taken the top ten hit "Joybringer" and the Bob Dylan penned "Father of Day" which still is being performed by Mick Rogers on the live shows today. It was however through the live concerts that Manfred Mann's Earth Band were building a worldwide reputation as a Great Rock Band with a very loyal fan base. In 1975 came a change of line up with a new front man Chris Thompson. The first single release was The Earth Band's version of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded By The Light" which reached Number One in the U.S. Billboard charts and was a huge worldwide hit, as was the album that followed - "The Roaring Silence".
Although "The Roaring Silence" was a hugely popular album worldwide, going Gold almost everywhere, it was the next album a year later simply called "Watch" that is considered along with "Solar Fire" to be classic Earth Band. As well as the hit singles "Davy's On The Road Again", "California" and "The Mighty Quinn" "Watch" featured live favourites such as "Chicago Institute" and for many the ultimate Earth Band anthem "Martha's Madman", another song still featuring in the live shows.
Over the years that followed more albums and tours such as "Angel Station", "Chance" and "Somewhere in Afrika" and a live album "Budapest". In the late eighties Manfred took some time out of the Earth Band 'album then tour' life style to produce one of his personal favourite albums "Plains Music". This is an album of mostly North American Indian melodies performed by Manfred and some South African musician friends. A new singer was introduced - Noel McCalla - who later took over lead vocals for the early 90's MMEB European Tours.
A few years passed by, with the band working on another Earth Band Album "Soft Vengeance" with Noel and Chris taking joint responsibility for lead vocals. In 1996 the long awaited new album was released and Manfred Mann's Earth Band embarked on an extensive European Tour that kept them on the road through the rest of 96 and most of 1997. From this tour many of the concerts were recorded for a future live album which is due for release in 1998. The now legendary Manfred Mann's Earth Band will embark on a worldwide Tour performing all their much loved classic hits in front of their hugely loyal and enthusiastic fans.
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MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND
Manfred Mann formed his Earth Band in 1971 with a line-up of just four people (in contrast to the large band format of Chapter III) consisting of Manfred himself (Keyboards). There was Mick Rogers (Guitars/Vocals) who had been working in bands in Australia, and who had been produced by Mike Hugg in a band called Procession. A third was Chris Slade (Drums) who had played with a number of different musicians, including Tom Jones, and who had also worked on the aborted ChapterIII Vol.3. The fourth man to join was Colin Pattenden (Bass), a friend of Chris Slade's. Manfred Mann's Earth Band were not aiming for the hit factory style of the 60's Manfred Mann group, but were gradually changing their musical direction.
Between 1971 and 1975 they produced the albums 'Manfred Mann's Earth Band', 'Glorified Magnified', 'Messin', 'The Good Earth', 'Nightingales & Bombers' (including the Bruce Springsteen Song 'Spirits In The Night') and 'Solar Fire'. The track 'Joybringer' was taken from this last album and immediately enjoyed top ten success. This famous 'Solar Fire Album' also includes the classic track 'Father Of Day Father Of Night' written by Bob Dylan and still performed at live gigs by Mick Rogers.
After touring Europe and America extensively, the band changed their line-up in 1976. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Hamlet Thompson joined as the new front man and Dave Flett replaced Mick Rogers who quit to work elsewhere. The next album was 'The Roaring Silence', including the track 'Blinded By The Light' written by Bruce Springsteen. The Earth Band version of his song was very successful world wide and reached No.1 in the States. The following year the critically acclaimed album 'Watch' was released (with Pat King on Bass), containing the hit singles 'Martha's Madmann', 'Davy's On The Road Again' and 'Mighty Quinn'. These continue to be some of highlights at every live show today.
With another change in the line-up (Steve Waller on Guitar and Geoff Britton on Drums), the band went on to further successes with the album 'Angel Station' in 1979 which includes the hits 'Don't Kill It Carol' and 'You Angel You'.
The 80's opened with the album 'Chance' (John Lingwood on Drums), followed by 'Somewhere In Africa' (Matt Irving on Guitar/Bass) in 1982. This includes Sting's 'Demolition Man' which is also still part of the programme at many live shows.
The band continued to tour well into the 80's. This resulted in the recording of a live album in Budapest in 1983. Ten years after the 'Roaring Silence Album', the Criminal Tango tour saw Mick Rogers return to the band to replace guitarist/vocalist Steve Waller.
After the long gap following the 'Masque' album, the Earth Band were back again in 1991. Plains Music vocalist Noel McCalla replaced Chris Thompson. It was intended to be only a brief return - but with the "Best Of" compilation producing yet another Gold Disc for Manfred - the band continued to tour. In 1996 Chris Thompson rejoined. Following the release of a next album 'Soft Vengeance' (with Clive Bunker on Drums), the band embarked upon a marathon tour of Europe, starting in the summer of 1996 and carrying on into 1998. Some of these concerts have been recorded to make up the new live album.
The music of the Earth Band has evolved over time, but not only the name remains from those early years. Like Manfred Mann, Mick Rogers is still taking audiences by storm. Also still around from the early days is Vocalist Chris Thompson who has sung most of the Earth Band hits. Bass player Steve Kinch has now been with Manfred for more than ten years, whilst new boys Noel McCalla and John Trotter (Drums) have helped to make this line-up probably the best live Earth Band to date.
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