I'll admit to arriving at this week's choice upon hearing this band's brilliantly loopy, spacey 1977 cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" today. However, I think I may have really stumbled on something special after unearthing some of this underrated, eclectic rock band's '80s output. Along with the Alan Parsons Project, Manfred Mann's Earth Band may just have been the finest keyboard-fueled epic rock band of the late '70s. If you're a fan of the most well-known version of "Blinded by the Light," then you're already quite familiar with the soulfully distinctive lead vocals of Chris Thompson, who handles most of the lead singing on this track as well. But it's also well worth noting that Mann's keyboard flourishes help transform this upbeat but cautious meditation on "technological advancements" into something of a synth/guitar rock masterpiece.
Lyrically, "Lies" - written by songwriter Denny Newman - holds up rather well more than 30 years after its appearance on the Earth Band's 1980 LP Chance. That's actually pretty impressive, considering the way that predictions about the future and cultural references in pop music can so easily lose their relevance after the passage of time. This song's musings about cruise missiles, the nearly viral spread of parking lots on the earth's surface, and the highly current issue of information overload in modern life manage to feel quite prescient when heard today. Like Parsons, Mann has always been a confident, savvy bandleader, and his choice of collaborators in the Earth Band truly elevates the group's work to a point here that it richly if not desperately needs to be heard.
- Sample or download "Lies" here.
- Compare prices on Manfred Mann's Earth Band CDs here.
- Top Bruce Springsteen Songs of the '80s Part One
- More '80s Bruce Springsteen Songs
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Rhino/Warner Bros.