Manfred Mann's 1980 album is a strange mix of topical songwriting, progressive rock, and power pop -- from its opening seconds, the Earth Band is pressing serious messages and social commentary on their listenership amid swirling prog rock keyboards and catchy guitar hooks and choruses. The whole package is challenging in ways that should have put them on the cutting edge of rock music at the outset of that decade, but one suspects that Mann and company were too musically adept and sophisticated for their own good -- a little dumbing down and maybe a little less musicianship on display would have made them more accessible to the coming MTV generation. As it is, the album has held up remarkably well across a quarter century, however, even if it now seems an uncomfortably accurate warning of the way the world would go, in terms of politics and society, in the decades to come. It would also be three years before another Earth Band album was forthcoming, and that one would be steeped in world music sounds.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder