JANUARY ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Magnum in recent years has been one of the best untold stories in British rock. The soaring melodic output from their glory days in the 80s is well known to most rock fans – notably with albums ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ and ‘Wings of Heaven’ with the opus ‘Don’t Wake the Lion’ – but their output in the last decade marks a clear evolution for the band with a much heavier, grittier sound. This more recent output has appealed to a new generation of fans and marks the band’s ability to evolve.
Set against some of their recent heavier classics – such as ‘Blood Red Laughter’, ‘Dance Of The Black Tattoo’ and ‘Crazy Old Mothers’ – the new album ‘The Valley Of Tears’ offers a reworked and re-recorded collection of the band’s ballads stretching over the band’s huge archive. These songs present a softer side to the band, where Tony Clarkin’s exceptional eye for melody and Bob Catley’s vocals are given the space to really shine.
The Title track ‘The Valley Of Tears’ I first played on the rock show in mid 2015 and the song developed a life of its own, finishing the year in the rock show’s top 10 tracks of the year. A worthy modern-day successor to ‘A Story Teller’s Night’ – ‘The Valley of Tears’ captures well the band’s legacy for melody with a heavy twist that reflects the band’s new sound. The song would be a worthy encore for a Magnum show, but for the fact the band is spoilt for choice with power ballads to choose from.
‘When The World Comes Down’, originally from the ‘Vigilante’ album gets a fresh makeover for the new Magnum album – and the opening single ‘Back In Your Arms Again’ is a powerful remake of a track originally on the ‘Rock Art’ album.
Also on the album is a new version of ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’ – a song from last year’s album ‘Sacred Blood Divine Lies.’ The original version was popular on the rock show first time round and it embodies the enduring value of great melodic song-writing. To some in the rock world today, ballads can be dismissed, but in truth melody is so often the key behind rock songs that have shelf life – and in the case of ‘Your Dreams Wont Die’ it’s really quite simple: A good song is a good song – end of.
‘The Valley of Tears’ ballads album sees Magnum kick-start 2017 with purpose and it’s a year that promises much for the band. On the back of a sell-out winter tour just before Christmas, the band are already confirmed for The Ramblin’ Man Fair this summer and return to the studio this year to record a new studio album.
Magnum is a band whose music has endured and their sound has evolved. In a music industry often obsessed with ‘this week’s thing’ Magnum show that quality outlives fashion. 40 years on, they are still as hungry as ever – still creating, still touring and still trying new things. 2017 promises to be a year when many people rediscover these icons of British rock.
The Valley of Tears is released on 6 January 2017.
Tune in to my rockshow airing on 107 Meridian FM (or online via meridanfm.com) this Friday 7-8pm for an hour special on the new album, as Bob Catley discusses a number of tracks and talks about the band’s plans for 2017.