Review by Woody
What we have here is basically a best of compilation album from Midland melodic rockers Magnum. Tony Clarkin and Co are determined to not be a band heavily reliant on past glories and want to create new music that inspires fans just as much as the old classics from 30 years ago. This album is a reflection of that with this best of consisting of songs only after the bands reformation in 2001.
The tracks on offer here, two from all five albums, have all been re-mixed and a few bits and pieces have been re-recorded. I think the re-record and re-mixes are most noticeable on the first four tracks, with a heavier guitar sound and less polished approach. The first two tracks from “Breath Of Life” were very much a continuation of the sound of Clarkin’s & Catley’s post Magnum band Hard Rain, who were very unsurprisingly very Magnum sounding. Magnum’s sound has evolved over the past decade and that is shown in the remixes making the songs more cohesive to listen to here on one album.
“When We Were Younger” which has become an established part of the Magnum live set list and fan favourite, has been given a fresh lease of life and has far more impact than when first heard on the album “Princess Alice & The Broken Arrow”, it seems the song has finally gotten a mix that does it justice!
Normally with releases like this the bonus NEW tracks tend to be b-rate album outtakes which tend to be sub standard obviously. Well Magnum as you’d expect not wishing to short change their fans have delivered two amazing songs and I mean that, I’m a huge Magnum fan but have found my opinion on all their recent albums to be quite mixed and some albums I’ve had to live with or even hear songs live to really appreciate and enjoy. Here though these tracks hit me instantly and leave me craving more, the only reason I can think of is that the sound of these songs doesn’t perhaps quite fit with the current Magnum output? I really don’t know! Seriously though next time you’re having a pint and natter with Bob Catley at the Bar can you ask him why these tracks never made the cut! Seriously has any Magnum fan never spoke to Uncle Bob? Even I have! Although I was very very very drunk – well I was at a brewery, but that’s a story for another day!
“The Fall” has a Celtic feel to it and has a wonderful uplifting vibe to it. Clarkin’s riff is immense and unforgettable and Catley as always is legendary creating amazing vocal melodies and damn it I want to hear this live!!!! “Do You Know Who You Are?” has a distinct 80’s AOR feel to it and the song is so full of hooks it’s mental. I love Mark Stanway’s keyboards throughout this song! It’s a melodic beauty with some stunning vocal harmonies!
I think everyone could argue about a “best of” track listing, and there are a few tunes I would have swapped around but at the end of the day condensing 5 album’s worth of songs was never going to be easy! I think “Evolution” does celebrate this second era of Magnum very well and is a fantastic introduction to those who don’t own any of the recent releases. For established diehard’s this may seem a bit of a release to over look but I will say there is two new songs here and the remixes are noticeable, it’s not a phrase been coined to con fans out of money for something they already own!
Mangum have never been a band to rest on their laurels, and the ardent support they get from their fans is based around their relentless touring and recording of new music! These guys are quite simply one of the greatest live acts I’ve ever seen, in fact I’ve probably seen Magnum more times than any other band and that count only starts post reformation! I saw Magnum 3 times one year on two separate tours and a special charity gig for ex drummer Kex Gorin (R.I.P). All those gigs were in the west midlands all different venues as well, this is an area the band NEVER fail to play and seemingly will never ignore! If you want to see what all the fuss is about I highly recommend you buy “Evolution” then get a ticket to see them rock the Robin in Bilston at the end of November!
Track Listing: The Holy Touch / Just Like January / Brand New Morning / Immigrant Son / When We Were Younger / Out Of The Shadows / All My Bridges / Blood On My Barbed Wire Thorns / The Visitation / Wild Angels / The Fall / Do You Know Who You Are?
Album Rating: 8/10
Woody’s Essential Track: The Fall
Evolution is out on the 14th November and available from all good retailers and www.destinyrocks.com
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