|Magnum - 'Evolution' (SPV)|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Monday, 14 November 2011 05:00|
It's amazing to think that British melodic rock legends Magnum's history dates back almost 40 years now. I first saw them at my very first festival, Reading Rock '83, and it should have been the last, as at the time it was billed as Magnum's farewell performance. They were back within two years though - for Magnum's first comeback. That second stint, lasting ten years and kicking off with the classic 'On A Storyteller's Night' in '85, was to prove Magnum's most commercially successful period, before finally calling it a day once again in '95.
Magnum's third comeback occurred in 2002 via the 'Breath Of Life' album, and it's this last ten year period that 'Evolution' is concerned with. Essentially it's a 'best of' the five albums Magnum have produced for SPV in that last ten year period - 'Brand New Morning', 'Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow', 'Into the Valley of the Moonking' and this year's 'The Visitation' being the other four. Two tracks have been chosen from each album, but it's a 'best of' with a difference though as most of the tracks have been partially re-recorded and fully remixed, and two brand new tracks are thrown in for good measure.
All those SPV albums are quality stuff, so it's not too surprising to report that from start to finish this is classic Magnum at their best, with not a duff moment in sight. Magnum really do have a unique sound, underpinned by Tony Clarkin's simplistic but highly effective riffery and Bob Catley's powerful melodic vocals, belting out an endless supply of catchy choruses and well crafted songs - illustrated by the likes of 'That Holy Touch', 'Brand New Morning', 'Immigrant Son' and 'When We Were Younger'.
'Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns' is a delight - starting off like a prime slab of Bon-era AC/DC before morphing into one of Magnum's more progressive rock moments. 'The Visitation' and 'Wild Angels' not surprisingly remain intact from the original recordings from the most recent album, and show that Magnum have lost none of their touch here in 2011. That is certainly also the case with the two brand new tracks on offer here, a fact that hardened Magnum fans will be most interested in. 'The Fall' has an ultra catchy guitar hook, and quite a commercial sound, but still packs a powerful punch. The seven minute epic 'Do You Know Who You Are?' is the better of the two though and rounds the album off in fine fashion, containing all the elements that make up that classic Magnum sound, including, of course, a killer chorus. It also points to the fact that there's still plenty more quality stuff to come from Magnum.
If you're a casual Magnum fan who may have the old classics like 'Kingdom Of Madness' and 'Chase the Dragon' but perhaps have not kept in touch with their more recent albums, this is a perfect opportunity to get a taste of what you've been missing - and you have missed quite a lot! More dedicated fans that already possess those recent albums may take a bit more convincing, but it's still worth a punt as most of the tracks are partial re-recordings to incorporate the current line-up, and there is of course the small matter of two mighty fine new tracks. All in all 'Evolution' is a wonderful slab of British melodic hard rock at it's very best, and for me there isn't a better British band out there in that genre.
This is pure Magnum gold from start to finish.