Another piece of topical hard rock from Manfred Mann's Earth Band and, as before, listenable even to those without a serious bone in their bodies, by virtue of the playing. Moving between hard rock and British blues influences (with a special debt to Cream on the opening cut, "Give Me the Good Earth") and progressive rock, the quartet cuts a mean swathe across the sonic landscape, between Mick Rogers' soaring guitar solos and Manfred Mann's inimitable synthesizer work. Some of the less ambitious cuts, such as "I'll Be Gone," are relatively dispensable, but when these guys start reaching, as on "Earth Hymn," that's when their best musical instincts take hold, and the results are always worth hearing. There's stuff here that King Crimson or Be Bop Deluxe wouldn't have been ashamed to have had on any of their albums; indeed, the instrumental "Sky High" is worth the price of admission by itself as a showcase for the talents of all four players as both hard rock musicians and an art rock ensemble. They even manage to work in elements of folk-rock, and its attendant lyricism, on the album, by way of theChristopher Logue-based "Be Not Too Hard" (which was also recorded, in a different adaptation, byJoan Baez about seven years earlier). And "Earth Hymn, Pt. 2" closes out the album in grand style, once again pushing the band to the edge of their unique brand of progressive/hard rock.