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Magnum - 'The Gathering' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     September 30, 2010    
 
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A joy from start to finish.

The word legend is sometimes used shall we say a little to often and usually wrongly, to describe something or someone who just doesn’t live up to that word. Yet I can with confidence use it to describe the British rock institution called Magnum, a band who for more than thirty years have entertained, enthralled, mesmerized and astounded audiences from around the world, with their unique brand of British pomp rock. To help reinforce the legend tag I’ve used, the band are going to be releasing in the very near future, a five disc compilation of over thirty years worth of remixed, demo, alternate and hard to get live versions of their songs and let me say that if you’re a Magnum fan then your in for a real treat.

The first four discs are made up of studio and live tracks, outtakes and hard to find B-Sides, the discs of course feature some of the obvious tracks that you would expect from Magnum, All Of My Life, Soldier On The Line, The Prize, How Far Jerusalem, Vigilante etc, etc but what you also get on these four CD’s, is alternate, orchestral, rare and different versions of Magnum songs, that all make for a very interesting listening experience. I especially like disc 3 because of all the B-Sides that are on that CD and that’s because I have always been more of an album buyer than a singles one, so I have missed out on quite a few wonderful songs by Magnum that have appeared on their 7 and 12 inch singles. And when you can have songs as good as ‘The Hanging Tree‘, ‘C’est La Vie’ and ‘Maybe Tonight’ as B-Sides then it shows just how good you’re A-Side songs must be. Yet what I really like about this digi-book set is that it is more of a musical history of one of Britain’s best bands, chock full as it is of wonderful music, rather than just another compilation album. Another great thing I found as I listened to the CD’s, was the way I fell once again in love with the music of Magnum, and realised that in Tony Clarkin, we have one of rock music’s (or should that just be music’s) best writers. A man whose work has evolved and matured with each passing year, getting stronger and more confident with each new album and in the end showing him to be one of rock music’s finest and most consistent songwriters.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The final disc contains a 14 track live CD recorded by the band at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1988, and it’s a superb live set from Magnum. They sound like they are having a ball as they blast through ‘Vigilante‘, ‘Lonely Night‘, ‘Don’t Wake The Lion‘, ‘Sacred Hour’ and many more. Finally if you needed another reason to buy this digi-book, it must be because of the way that it has been packaged. Beautiful new cover artwork from long time collaborator Rodney Matthews, extensive liner notes by (that other UK rock legend) Dave Ling, and to top this all off, a sixty-page booklet with new photos of the band and rare shots of band memorabilia that have never before been seen.

A real must have if you're a fan of old but also a great place to start if you haven't had the pleasure of making Magnum's acquaintance before (tut, tut where have you been?). A joy from start to finish.

Ian Johnson.

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