on 31 March 2007
As a Magnum fan for 25 years, it is always with a sense of excited anticipation that I first play their latest album. This album defiantly does not disappoint but like a good barrel of ale, my first hasty play was disappointing & I had to let it settle with time to experience its full depth & character.
The dominate theme of the album is a `reflective nature' in both style & lyrics. Tracks recapture the style, spirit & sound of past Magnum albums: Eyes Wide Open (Storytellers), Like Brothers We Stand (Rock Art), Out Of The Shadows (Soldier of the Line, Chase the Dragon), You'll Never Sleep (Sleepwalking); While many of the songs, lyrically, have veteran Tony searching the past philosophically.
Unfortunately the album does have a couple of weak tracks: Be strong, staggers around never flowing & really coming together, & Desperate times is too reflective & negative. The original Magnum albums had 8 to 9 tracks. Maybe these days there is too much pressure to release a lot of material to make an album financially attractive?
However, take these two tracks away & add the solid classic Magnum performances: When We Were Younger & Dragons Are Real, & you have Magnums best album yet.
Well done guys. Look forward to hopefully seeing you on tour.
on 6 April 2007
This long awaited album was received with great anticipation by myself and my wife. As long-time Magnum fans we longed for new material from the boys - and they have NOT disappointed us, What an absolutely storming album Princess Alice is, Magnum at their very best. Some tracks a little heavier than usual but Bob's soaring vocals, Tony's superb guitar work and Mark with his evocative keyboard sounds, all backed up by the solid drums and base of the "new boys". Stand out track for me is "Inside Your Head" with "Like Brothers we Stand" close behind, but the whole set is Classic Magnum. This latest offering takes Magnum into a new era and their fans follow willingly. This is superb!
I came to Magnum through Bob Catley - I've got all his albums (mainly through Amazon) and love his voice to bits. Curiously enough though I've only got a few Magnum albums and this is by far and away the best of the bunch. Very very powerful and a real grower - I've only listened to it all the way though twice and it's already got me humming "Dragons are real".
A good album and up there with the best of this year's releases - now to see them on tour !!!!!
on 10 March 2007
Let's cut right to the chase. Guitarist songsmith Tony Clarkin doesn't write crap material and Magnum don't record crap albums. This latest work is testament to the fact.
I cheekily downloaded this album, simply because having pre ordered it from this very website I couldn't resist a sneak preview.
Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow is, in a nutshell arguably one of Magnum's finest works, if not their finest. I can't think of many other acts, only Marillion spring to mind, who consistently, continually release album after album of alarming quality.
Vocally, Bob Catley has never sounded better, Tony Clarkin plays guitar like a demon, his solos are worth the price of the record alone. He's truly the most talented and underrated songwriter/guitarist this country has ever produced. Mark Stanway's keyboards elevate the overall music to an incredibly high level, and Magnum's current rhythm section (Al Barrow and Jimmy Copley on bass and drums respectively) has never sounded so bone shattering. In fact, it is my opinion that if Led Zep were to record an album today, it would sound like this.
Opener 'When We Were Younger' is a top shelf, traditional Magnum album opener, and will surely kick off their live shows in 2007. 'Open Your Eyes', 'Your Lies' and 'Out Of The Shadows' are real, bone crunching rock efforts. 'Like Brothers We Stand' and 'Dragons Are Real' are good catchy anthems, 'Thank You For The Day' is a nice chart/radio friendly number and 'Inside Your Head' is a thoughtful ballad. Phew!!! I could go on forever, let's just say that it's hard to find a weak track on the album at all. It's awe inspiring stuff.
With a package that includes some top notch looking Rodney Matthews artwork and an accompanying DVD, 'Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow' sits nicely with Magnum's most memorable collections ('Chase The Dragon', 'Storytellers Night', 'Vigilante', 'Wings Of Heaven' et al) and should be one of the key rock releases this year. Magnum fans should rejoice. I'll put my neck on the chopping block, if anyone releases a better hard rock album than this in the next few years, they should be on the honours list. This is simply wonderful. Well done chaps.
Any self respecting fan of quality British hard rock should invest in this immediately. I can't wait for the CD to land on my doormat, and I already have it on my MP3, that's how good this record is. Buy at once!!!
I like this album. It offers well produced, balanced and typically Magnum melodic rock. "Dragons are Real" is a thundering example, as is the haunting "Like Brothers we Stand". This is not the "Oh please, you should have stopped long before you got to this" you might fear. Well put together: on first listening its good - almost very good. Each track earns its place, and I can't see any fillers. It feels like an album that will grow on me.
So why not 5 stars?
With apologies to any loyal fans I'm about to upset - and hey, I really like this band - to me, Magnum so often seem to fall just a little short of the mark. This sensation is particularly keen with album, because if feels like this one mattered: it doesn't come across as something they churned out for the sake of it. In many of the songs here I can't help feeling: where's the beef? After listening to "Princess Alice" a few times I realised I keep anticipating the point where the song just takes off and flies - intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and THEN: lead break, where the music takes over. And it just never does. It all feels like prelude with no main event. The curtain raises, the stage is set, and then... nothing. Think of "Don't Fear the Reaper" without the guitar break in the middle, and you'd have what I mean - it would be a good song, but not great. The lead break four minutes into "You'll never sleep" (which is one of several good tracks here) is an example - it's OK, but the song is crying out for some real screaming fireworks here, not the workday hammer-on, pull-off riff and a touch of whammy bar we get here. And there are hints from their live work that this band has more in them (see "Kingdom of Madness" live, for example).
The thing is, this feels as if it could have been a five or even six star album, if someone (the producer?) had pushed them to go flat out, and sent them back to the studio with a "that's really great, lads. Now get back in there and do better," until they'd given every last thing they'd got. As it is, "Princess Alice" is a good, solid, well made piece of work. It's worth every penny, good value, and good ingredients, and I have no reservations about that - this is a firm "buy", or at least "get a copy and listen" recommendation, not damming with faint praise. But it's not to die for, and it's not utterly essential - altough it's so close, it might have been. I can't help feeling that Magnum (Bob Catley, Tony Clarkin, Mark Stanway and the new guy) have more in them, and that they could, if they could just get it absolutely spot on, blow us away. Maybe live, "Princess Alice" will.
Tony Clarkin has apparently said that this "really is one of the best, most complete and rounded records we have ever made" (quoted in "Rock of Ages" online), and I'd agree. Maybe it's one of the best albums Magnum can make - and if so, it's a very creditable piece of work, and fine stuff. But there are hints of something more in here. Meantime: if you're asking should I buy this, I'd say yes, definitely. This might not be five Michelin stars, but its a good solid meal for the working man or woman.
on 20 May 2014
Wow after all these years some long termers have surpassed their expiry date. Not with Magnum, though there where a few dips and then the break for solo and other projects. The band reunited in the studio again once again and have come up with yet another classic plastic 5" diskette, after another successful tour.
The band reinvigorated with heart felt musical melodies, and lyrics on tracks like When We Were Younger, even an old fan like myself still can be moved by the moody slow groovy keyboard intro and are reminded by the words of our lost loves and people we knew. As the song suggests those memories have come and gone fast as if it was truly yesterday.
I could go though track by track with each song, but Magnum do their magic talk with the lyrics, and make the subjects clear of memories, hatred in the world, peoples freedom of a forsaken world. Patriotic brothers willing to die for their land even though they are of a peaceful mind to all that have to take up arms.
There is the usual mythical theme in some of their songs, yet so revealing the why the world is working even in these modern days about lands afar, the soldiers at war and castles tall (skyscrapers) that can fall. Then those others cities attacked by villain's and war dogs will howl and draw near or enter in on ones own home.
Tho we must be strong through whatever comes and stand our ground for loved ones gone, or what goes wrong there is always another day where everything will be all right. While the subject matter of the songs dealing with war, greed, love and hatred. We have to remain strong even though we have seen it all before in the past, and we've over come the wrongs and battle on.
So that to me is the basic background of the songs on this disc, and each song runs too smoothly into the next. I find the album is musically stable from start to finish, and although great playing by the band it is all sitting on one level. It is missing the ups and downs of in your face rockers and soft ballads.
It just seems sterile and the real kick in the ass, meat and two veg is missing from the songs sonically. Even though the writing is great it does miss that punch in places, but worth sitting back and listening to the smoothness and lyrics of each track. So in terms of an album, I think this will be one that will grow on you the more you play it, and I may have the re-edit this review at a later date.
on 28 March 2007
(Have the version with the bonus DVD, but the songs are the same)
I actually pre-ordered this - the anticipation was that intense! I'd been slightly disappointed with the previous two..safe in my estimation, but Alice does not disappoint.
At first quick flick through, you already begin to know a few tunes, and after a handful of entire run-throughs, the rest are opening up nicely.
The speed and agression of teenage angst (never really their style, but they dabbled) has been replaced by middleaged technically supreme epic stories with measured pace - which is fine, because punk this aint - it's "music" for the more discerning, not pop-pap to be forgotten!
Bob and Tony hope this will be their best ever....not sure yet, only time will tell. Probably won't dislodge Storyteller, and possibly a couple of others, but it's already one of my top 5 Magnum albums...which is good going when you look at the fantastic releases they have produced - I reckon they'll always be my favourite band.
To the songs (sorry about the waffle!)....
Dragons are real - swirling and atmospheric.
Your lies - foot-tapping, nice dirty guitar underslung with hummalong keyboard.
Be strong - funky fist pumping.
Eyes wide open - lots of change to hold the interest.
Like brothers we stand - storied semi-plodder.
Out of the shadows - 'waterloo teeth' legend epic.
Thank you for the day - live classic swayalong show-ender.
When we were younger - lament on youth gone by with drive.
You'll never sleep - warms up to be a nice romp with a nice change of pace in the middle.
Different times & Inside your head are the 'plodders', they haven't fully engraced themselves yet.
To sum up - fantastic album - buy it!
on 1 May 2007
Okay, I ahve been listening to this album for over a month now and at first, like many of the reviewers on here, I was a tad disappointed at the apparent lack of anthemic choruses and balls-out rockers on the album. I wanted the adsrenalin rush, and I wanted it right now.
But, having now listened to this album many times, I am beginning to see past the short term adrenalin rush necessity to sample the album at it's proper level. This is not the quick hit of pleasure, more a slow release of constant enjoyment. Whilst it may not have a direct hook for many of the tracks, it has instead superb song writing, faultless playing, thoughtful lyrics, superb singing and 11 top class songs that I beleive in the fullness of time will be viewed not only as amongst Magnum's best, but as great songs in their own right.
So for those who felt let down by the album, perservere. There really is a great album there, but it's one that really does reward the pateint and attentive listener, rather than the quick thrills brigade.
on 12 April 2007
Magnum have never recorded a truly disppointing album (even their controversial reunion CD "Breath of Life" had some genius touches to it) but "Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow" is a totally unexpected return of the immaculate brilliance the band's fans remember from the "On A Storyteller's Night" era. Tracks like "When We Were Younger", "Be Strong" or "You'll Never Sleep" are incredibly catchy, "Like Brothers We Stand" is a bit lazier with impressive vocals from Bob Catley and "Eyes Wide Shut" is a less typical Magnum track - somehow "colder" but still beautiful and quite unforgettable. And, in all honesty, all other songs on the album are fresh and filled with great melodies only Magnum can come up with. Show me a better 2007 album with this sort of music and I swear I'll eat Tony Clarkin's guitar.
The Bonus DVD sports interviews with the band members, a doc "The Making Of Prince Alice And The Broken Arrow", the studio video for the song "Dragons Are Real" and a slideshow with exclusive pictures.
on 15 February 2008
I can imagine Tony Clarkin writing and completing this album in the full and firm knowledge that it was the absolute pinnacle of everything he has done, which is remarkable given the longevity of their career. It basically squeezes the best bits of every previous Magnum album and distils it into something quite magnificent. To these ears it's perfecting the basic sound of Storyteller, but with a much bigger sound (production, vocals, keyboard and vocals wise) and much stronger melodies. Its noteworthy that Catley's vocals are absolutely superb on this and I guess the overall performances are lifted by the sheer quality of the songs (I particularly like the drum patterns and sound).
My one and only slight concern is that, unlike my favourite Magnum album `The Eleventh Hour' which is both quirky and darker, this is so immediately accessible and memorable that it may suffer in my play list in the longer term - only time will tell.