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Thank God For Magnum!!!,
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This review is from: On The 13th Day [Ltd 2cd Digi] (Audio CD)
Some people complain that Magnum's recent output isn't a patch on their glory days. How could it be? Today's musical environment is a world away from Magnum's 1980s pomp. They could no sooner make a 'Storyteller's Night' or 'Wings of Heaven' than Marillion could make a 'Misplaced Childhood' or a 'Seasons End'.
It's funny how some people also say "You know what you're going to get with Magnum". I disagree. There may be a fundamental 'sound' and formula to the music at times but if you listen to Magnum's back catalogue, each album has differed to it's predecessor, whether it's in the production or the power of the music.
Since Magnum reformed in 2001, this has definitely been the case. 2002's 'Breath of Life' was a stylised keyboard driven album with computer programmed drums. The follow up 'Brand New Morning' was a darker, harder and rougher sounding album that showed the band in a more aggressive mood at times. 2007's 'Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow' was an epic, heroic album with a smoother, lusher production and 'Into the Valley of the Moonking' was a more sedate, laid back, contemplative, rustic sounding record. 2011's 'The Visitation' had much more of a 'prog' vibe with a harsher tone.
'On the Thirteenth Day' sees Magnum blowing off the cobwebs with a more direct, straight ahead, ballsy rock approach. There are no 'big' numbers on here nor any complex numbers. Everything is up-tempo with catchy choruses and some crunching guitar driven tracks. At 55 minutes or so long, the album is a nice, digestible length and it flies by at some pace.
First track 'All the Dreamers' is a fairly typical Magnumesque opener with a slow build up before bursting into the melody with a killer riff and a majestic chorus.
Choruses aren't in short supply on this album; 'So Let it Rain' is an irresistibly catchy pop rocker with radio and chart appeal, reminiscent of 'Wild Angels' from last years 'The Visitation'. It's a gem of a song.
My favourite is 'See How They Fall'; a big powerful rocker that grabs you and never lets go.
The album also has its reflective moments. 'Shadow Town' is a mid paced rocker that deals with England's crumbling towns and the recession whilst taking a little swipe at the wealthy who remain unaffected. A simple, but effective lyric. 'Putting Things In Place' is quite a surprise. Normally, Magnum's ballads stay just about the right side of cheesy. This track is very contemplative and bitter-sweet and wouldn't sound out of place on a Fish record somehow. 'Didn't Like You Anyway' has a playful riff and a lovely swing and swagger to it.
The rest of the album is made up of great toe-tapping rock tracks.
When listening to 'On the Thirteenth Day', it is worth bearing in mind that at least three fifths of Magnum are seriously getting on a bit. The fact that the album is so upbeat and entertaining is indicative of the energy that these guys still have despite their age. Bob Catley sings his heart out on every track, giving arguably, his best set of vocal performances since 1994's 'Rock Art'. His harmonies are great too.
Tony Clarkin does what he does on every Magnum album. Top quality songwriting and a sagely guitar-style, with great riffs and well crafted solos. Such an underrated guitarist and composer.
Mark Stanway's keyboards add texture and classical sweeps here and there with stabbing synths that compliment the riffs beautifully.
The rhythm section of Al Barrow on bass and ex-Thunder drummer, Harry James is probably the most powerful the band has ever had. They're unfussy and just drive the songs home, raising the level of technical proficiency as and when appropriate.
Rodney Matthews adds his artistic touch to the sleeve once again and the combination of his drawings and Al Barrow's photography have helped make recent album packages top, top quality. Who wants downloads when you can get your hands on something real and proper like this?
Magnum really are in rude health. Since 2001, they have spent an incredible amount of time writing, recording and touring; building and increasing their fan base that little bit more with each successive album. Apparently, 'On the Thirteenth Day' is well on course to be Magnum's most successful record since 1992's 'Sleepwalking'. If that's the case, it's well earned and thoroughly deserved.
Magnum are national treasures as far as I'm concerned and this new album simply emphasises the point.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Sep 2012 11:52:19 BDT
Mr Blackwell says:
Spot on review, excellent
Posted on 27 Sep 2012 21:27:13 BDT
David R. Walters says:
All true. They have done an acoutic CD some years back
Posted on 30 Sep 2012 21:58:38 BDT
Alan J. Barrow says:
NICE COMMENTS, CHEERS AL B
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