Birmingham formed pomp rockers Magnum have produced many a fine album over the years (formed in the early 70s, their first album appearing towards the end of the decade). In fact, bar a break, the quality has been pretty regular and equally consistent. Their magnum opus On A Story Tellers Night is still an essential part of any record collection, rock or otherwise.
Periods of stability and instability have entwined, but the founder members guitarist / song writer Tony Clarkin and vocalist Bob Catley still front the band. With long time bassist Al Barrow, there’s new drummer Lee Morris and equally new pianist Rick Benton. I was as shocked as anyone over the departure of Mark Stanway, but forever keen to see how Rick fits in.
This new album, their 20th new studio set, is also illustrated by renowned artist Rodney Matthews, with whom Magnum have had a relationship since the early 80s. And from the opening track, the music is as good as the artwork. Opener Peaches And Cream is solid punchy and bright; however much Catley’s vocals have suffered live in recent years, on record they’re as solid and characteristic as ever. The is definitely a forward crunch to some of the guitar work, there’s a touch of Deep Purple to some of the keyboard work, but still works very well.
Show Me Your Hands has a different feel, but still drives and is just a wonderful listen. Storm Baby nods back to the 80s and adds a progressive touch, and some very neat guitar. The title track adds guest Tobias Sammet from Avantasia, a set-up that Bob has guested with on a couple of occasions.
Then there’s the 8 minute Welcome To The Cosmic Cabaret – a gentle intro and it’s pretty epic along the way.
Yes there is a slight change of feel that definitely moves off piste in a few places (unexpected, yes, but worth it), but it is just classic Magnum – pure British, pure rock and pure class.
Look out for the deluxe version with a bonus disc of live material. 9/10
1. Peaches and Cream 4:54
2. Show Me Your Hands 5:45
3. Storm Baby 6:13
4. Welcome to the Cosmic Cabaret 8:08
5. Lost on the Road to Eternity 5:54
6. Without Love 5:55
7. Tell Me What You’ve Got to Say 6:27
8. Ya Wanna Be Someone 5:56
9. Forbidden Masquerade 5:02
10.Glory to Ashes 5:35
11. King of the World 7:04
Tony Clarkin – guitars
Bob Catley – vocals
Rick Benton – keyboards
Al Barrow – bass
Lee Morris – drums