Fireworks

Magnum - 'The Storyteller's Collection' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/20/06/1f/1021_MagnumTheStorytellersCollection_1298496325.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 23, 2011    
 
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A compilation pitched at the casual fan.

The snappy title and cutesy artwork give way to a double CD compilation of Birmingham's finest's first fifteen or so years. It's pretty much a game of two halves: the seventeen largely opulent tracks on the first disc take things from 1978's debut album 'Kingdom Of Madness' to the start of the Polydor Years, and demonstrate why the band were so revered in the UK but seemingly unable to make any headway elsewhere; the second disc concentrates largely on the three albums of that major label period and rounds off with a couple of oddities. It all pretty much flows in sequence, so you can decide whether the Polydor years showed the band either taking a more mature and /or accessible approach to songwriting or being moulded and forced to come up with 'hits' by desperate A&R men 

Over a couple of hours the grandiose and exciting likes of 'Kingdom Of Madness' and 'All Of My Life' and 'Soldier Of The Line' and 'Back to Earth' and 'Long Days Black Nights' rub shoulders with 'Days Of No Trust' and 'Rockin' Chair' (surprisingly, 'Vigilante' is the most telling omission from the second selection of cuts on offer). Showing my own prejudices, I found the slog through the glossy radio/MTV friendly Disc Two almost too much to bear (I'm sorry – I really am – but I have selectively erased this period of the band's history from my memory) and by the time 'Hanging Tree', the B-side of the awful 'Heartbroke And Busted', came up I was ready to knot the rope myself. Bizarrely though, for the final two cuts the CD races back in time to the band's 1974 demo for 'Stormbringer' and zips forward once more to the 1993 acoustic/rhythm and blues reworking of 'Magnum II''s 'Foolish Heart' which wraps things up in a most curious and unsatisfying way.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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On the one hand, the budget label and the fairly general band history sleeve notes indicate that this compilation is pitched at the casual fan, although there are enough more left-field choices ('Lonesome Star', the flip of 'Changes', for example, and bonus cut/B-side 'C'est La Vie' to name but a couple) to keep things interesting and lift it out of the mainstream. On the other hand, the Magnum back catalogue has been pretty well mined over the years: the re-issues of the early albums and the 2010 box set 'The Gathering' pretty much wrapped everything up, meaning that 'The Storyteller's Collection' really has very little else to say to the real fan.

John Tucker

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