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Saturday 4 November 2023

Magnum - Great Adventure : The Jet Years 1978-1983 (6CD)


My friend Paul and I discovered Magnum as teenagers. We even had three tracks from Kingdom Of Madness played as a request on Phil Easton's Great Easton Express Radio City show. That album was released towards the end of 1978 and their debut album saw them [resented as a new band when they had already been around for five years. Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin were already in their thirties. 

In fact Dave Morgan, friend of Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy was in the band originally. Morgan had written two B Sides for The Move appeared, as well as founding Tandy-Morgan and adding Backing Vocals on ELO's Balance Of Power.

The band were signed to Don Arden's Jet label. Magnum have experienced a revolving line up through the year, but have remained the constant of Catley on Vocals and Clarkin on Guitar and songwriting. Although, known by many as Hard Rock, the band specialised in a sort of Pomp Rock, built on big melodic riffs. 

Clarkin's songwriting initially was built partially on the medieval, but as the time went on, they became more and more AOR or Melodic Rock. as they are to this day.Kingdom Of Madness remains an outstanding album from start to finish.

The follow up, Magnum II was a little harder than that debut and the Leo Lyons Production was a little basic and earthy. It still sounds great, particularly the wonderful All Of My Life, which also revealed their penchant for vocal harmonies.

Their live reputation allowed both a Live EP and Live album, Marauder, to be released and although much wasn't added to the songs, it did reveal how good they were as a live outfit. Chase The Dragon arrived in 1982 and adds much more depth to the songwriting and arrangements.

Whilst, not losing the bombast and melody, the riffs were heavier and Clarkin's Guitar was even more adventurous. The Spirit probably best encompasses what Magnum are about and The Lights Burned Out is a real Lighters Out moment.

The band's final album for Jet is very different to what had gone before. The Eleventh Hour took a bit of getting used to as a fan. It was much more low key and restrained. Songs Like The Word, So Far Away and inp articular, Hit And Run show a Pop Rock side to the band previously hidden and this gentler sound shows a fine other side to the band.

Magnum would leave Jet, but  would go on to big things with a much simpler commercial chorus led sound and the band filled much larger venues with big sounding ditties such as Just Like An Arrow Days Of No Trust and Start Talking Love.

This set rounds up all the Jet studio and live output as well as early archive recordings and B Sides. Available on Cherry Red's HNE label, it is a reminder of some wonderful memories and how great it all sounds now. There are not too many Pomp Rockers as great as this lot could be.

You can buy rh six disc set here.


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