Magenta - 'The Twenty Seven Club'

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Magenta - 'The Twenty Seven Club'

Yet another of the highlights of 2013.

A favourite band of mine, Magenta invariably has the tendency to confuse and confound in equal measure each time a new album is released. It's been no different with this, their sixth original album release and it has to be said that in many ways, '...Club' is initially not entirely an easy proposition and takes more than a little time to be rationalised. But clarity of perception arrives after complete immersion and umpteen plays and then it all makes sense. Now I reckon it easily ranks alongside their finest: lyrically, compositionally and in the assured performance contributions of all concerned, including guest Andy Edwards, a seasoned Prog rock professional on the drum stool.

This time, having the documentary about the lyrical and musical content and the recording of the album issued concurrently in the Special Edition has helped me considerably, and I have realised that I perhaps tend to over analyse the band's releases and this perhaps mirrors the perfectionist care taken by Rob Reed with each new Magenta emanation!



'...Club' is a conceptual work insofar as it comprises six songs about musicians/vocalists all of whom died at the tender age of 27, having possibly sold their souls to the Devil. Those featured are Jim Morrison ('The Lizard King'), Jimi Hendrix ('Ladyland Blues'), Janis Joplin ('Pearl'), Brian Jones ('Stoned'), Kurt Cobain ('The Gift') and blues singer Robert Johnson ('The Devil At The Crossroads'). With a running time of over 64 minutes, these are generally far from straightforward pieces, each one very different and with the music ebbing and flowing as required to crank up the emotional impact or to provide those more introspective moments. The gorgeous 'Pearl' is the most straightforward, while 'The Gift' also has an immediacy about it. These are also the two shortest tracks, but elsewhere there is full-on Prog theatrics and an overall heavy technicality that was first in evidence on 'Metamorphosis'.

It is possible to identify splashes of musical colour in places that are redolent of bands such as Yes (from a Steve Howe guitar perspective), King Crimson, Pink Floyd and even some more recently ascending bands in the Prog universe. But this is definitely not a clone of any of them. It is a bold statement of intent from a band fully reconnected with its progressive roots after the relatively lightweight (but nevertheless enjoyable) 'Chameleon' last time around. I don't think I have ever heard Christina Booth sing with quite so much poignancy and emotion, and Chris Fry has injected some magical solos right across the album. But the highest praise must go to Rob Reed for finally bringing to fruition a project that seems to have been gnawing at his creative juices for over five years, and doing so with such aplomb.

Yet another of the highlights of 2013.

Paul Jerome Smith

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