During the 1960s and '70s, Herbie Mann continually searched for new playing contexts in which to place his flute. In December 1973, he traveled to London for five days of recording with a group of British rock musicians. The result was London Underground, an album tilted much more in a rock direction than the soul and R&B-drenched recordings he had been making for the previous five years. Highlights on this album include the Rolling Stones' "Bitch" (then-Stone Mick Taylor played guitar on this album), Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air," and "Paper Sun," from the Traffic canon. The real highlight, however, came about with the addition of Stephane Grappelli on the Donovan pop hit "Mellow Yellow."
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Creature Music has compiled this stunning box set comprising 21 CDs, a 36-page booklet of the band's history with extensive notes for each album, a 32-page book of Manfred's own memories and anecdotes and a poster of the current band. The catalogue CDs have been remastered and repackaged in LP-style sleeves. The albums have the original UK running order and refreshed sleeves. Live In Ersingen is a brand-new live recording from 22 July this year, featuring the band's latest vocalist, Robert Hart. Leftovers is a compilation of the hit singles and rare or previously unavailable recordings.
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…