Manfred Mann's Earth Band had no shortage of albums to their credit across the 1970s and 1980s, though how many of them made it into the hands of American listeners is questionable -- you'd have thought a live album would have been forthcoming sometime fairly soon after they scored their chart-topping hit with "Blinded by the Light," but that wasn't the case. This concert album, recorded rather later on, live in Budapest on April 6 and 7, 1983, in the city's Sportshalle, was much more easily available in Europe than in the U.S.A. By that date, the band was a five-piece consisting of Manfred Mann on keyboards and synthesizer, John Lingwood on drums, Chris Thompson on vocals and guitar, Steve Waller on vocals and guitar, and Matt Irving on bass. They were a first-rate band in their way, and exciting enough, but early in this set they seem to lack a lot of the subtleties that made the early-'70s version of the band interesting to listen to. What they were here -- at least on the first side of the original LP -- was loud. They opened with "Spirits in the Night" in a full arena-scale high-energy workout, with two guitars hard at work. The rest is similarly proportioned, until you get to "Blinded by the Light" on side two, which in all of its details and nuances recalls the balance of the early Manfred Mann's Earth Band, with plenty of room for all of the players. And from there on, the concert -- even encompassing acoustic guitars on "Redemption Song (No Kwazulu)" -- is what one would hope for from this band. The original LP ended with a thundering rendition of "Mighty Quinn," which is still a powerful listening experience in the hands of anyone associated with Manfred Mann (who, for his part, provides an extremely animated organ part, able to hold its own between the two guitarists). The original LP release -- which has since been expanded and vastly improved for CD -- finishes stronger than it starts, and is filled with surprises along the way, but isn't nearly as essential listening as any of the group's first half-dozen or so albums.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder