Friday 24 September 2021

A Best Of Volume 2 Is Not Supposed To Be Better Than Volume 1

But in the case of Manfred Mann's Earth Band that is what happens.

A Best Of is usually a contractual obligation, or a record company curated collection of the highlights of a bands time on a label (or if they own or can afford the licensing, the bands entire career).All compiled together in one easy to digest, and comfort creating package.

If a Volume 2 appears then it's either that the band has a second-wind, and hence another 5 or 10 years of highlights to flog (again), or it is the last scrapings of the barrel as the label tries to eek as much from the investment as possible - with lesser known "hits", album tracks, out-takes and demos thrown out to earn a quid/dollar.

The Best Of Manfred Mann's Earth Band has all the big highlights one would hope for - including "Blinded By The Light", "Davy's On The Road Again", and a very fine live version of "Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn").  One big omission here though is "Joybringer" - although this is more as a result of me owning the Warners 1996 issue, rather than the expanded and re-mastered 1999 version.
Still, despite my incorrect ownership, I can report that the contents of said album are very good - nary a duff listen.  It's a bit jazzy, a bit proggy, a bit mid-Atlantic AOR, but it can get a bit ponderous at times.  Although, hang about, it'll be back on form in a minute.
It rocks along nicely - just in a gentle, sort of unchallenging way.
If I pretended I was reviewing it for a published magazine, I'd give it a 6 (maybe 7) out of 10.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band basis was to (sort of) re-visit the 60s idea of trawling around for the best unheard songs that they could record (and make their own) along with an equal volume of Band-penned tracks (possibly including a new reading of a classical music passage - a trick oft performed by Prog peers Emerson, Lake & Palmer).
If Volume 1 shows their appreciation of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, then Volume 2 continues the thread.

The Best Of Manfred Mann's Earth Band Volume II just feels a stronger set - it feels like there is some thought put into the track listing rather than "what singles got the highest in the chart?" of Volume 1.

Bob Dylan is present with renderings of "Times They Are A Changing", "Shelter Form The Storm", and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue".
No Bruce Springsteen on this one but Al Stewart gets a royalty with "Eyes Of Nostradamus", and Doug Hollis & Graeme Douglas get a bank balance boost with a strangely 80s-centric, but insistent and eminently listenable version of Eddie & The Hot Rods "Do Anything You Wanna Do".
And exalted songwriting duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are represented with Shirley Bassey's finest "I (Who Have Nothing)"

Among all the songwriters, the name Gustav Holst appears on the final track.  Yup, the 2 volume collection is rounded off with "Joybringer" - and yes it does.


Quinn The Eskimo

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