My love affair with Magnum started back in 1982, as a 15 year old kid, hearing them for the first time via Chase The Dragon. That album is still in my top 10 albums of all time.
It’s not been a smooth ride with Magnum. While I love most of their early output, especially their 1978 debut Kingdom of Madness and On A Storyteller’s Night, plus The Eleventh Hour… which probably doesn’t get mentioned as much as some of their other albums, my problem with Magnum mainly lies with their post 2001 reformation albums. Bar 2007’s Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow, which I think is a classic, everything else has been a bit hit and miss with me… and I have to confess, I fucking hate 99% of all ballads… so Magnum-lite hasn’t exactly thrilled me.
So here we are, studio album number 20, and the first without keyboard maestro Mark Stanway since 1980, and also with a new drummer on board. Well, I don’t know if the new blood has spurred songwriter Tony Clarkin on, but this is probably the finest Magnum album since 1985’s On a Storyteller’s Night, which is a great achievement for a band 45 or so years into their career.
Bob Catley, now aged 70, still has one of the best voices around… you mix his soft tones with the classic Magnum pomp and the results are stunning.
It’s all down to the song writing. Tony Clarkin has penned some amazing tunes over the years, but they haven’t always appeared together on the same album. This time around, from the opening bars of the very bouncy Peaches and Cream, to the classic medieval tinged pomp of album closer, King Of The World, this is Magnum at their very best.
Don’t ask me why this is better than anything else they’ve done in the past 30+ years. It just works for me and when I get to hear news songs from a band that I’ve loved for 36 years that make my jaw drop, they are obviously doing something right.
I’ve no idea if the band intend to continue much longer (its eldest members are 70 and 71), but if this is the final Magnum album, it’ll be a fitting swansong to a superb career.
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