Magnum - 'The Valley Of Tears'

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Magnum - 'The Valley Of Tears'

A great retrospective of some of Tony Clarkin's more emotional compositions.

'The Valley Of Tears' sees Magnum drawing together a selection of their finest ballads. Whether we need another Magnum compilation is debatable; this is their second since their 2002 reincarnation (following 2011's 'Evolution' set), yet it's distinctly more than a hastily cobbled together collection, featuring numerous re-recordings and re-mixes. This release also serves as a somewhat poignant closing of a large chapter in their career as its announcement coincided with the departure of long-standing keyboardist Mark Stanway.

Largely culled from their post-2002 output, 'The Valley Of Tears' takes its title from a song from 2014's 'Escape From The Shadow Garden' and also includes 'Dream About You' ('Breath Of Life'), 'A Face In The Crowd' ('Into The Valley Of The Moonking'), 'The Last Frontier' (The Visitation') and 'Putting Things In Place' ('On The Thirteenth Day'). Though the dust has barely settled on 2016's 'Sacred Blood "Divine" Lies' album, it's stand-out cut 'Your Dreams Won't Die' also merits a worthy inclusion.

The compilation also reaches back to the 'Sleepwalking' (1992) and 'Rock Art' (1994) albums for two re-recorded offerings ('Broken Wheel' and 'Back In Your Arms Again'), along with two selections from the classic 'Vigilante' opus, namely an acoustic version of 'Lonely Night' and a live recording of 'When The World Comes Down'.

You could nit-pick and question the absence of anything from the 'Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow' album ('Thank You For The Day' would have been great) or even wonder why they didn't go the whole hog and make it a complete ballad anthology and include a revisit of 'It Must Have Been Love' or the immortal 'Les Morts Dansant'. That said, it's still a great retrospective of some of Tony Clarkin's more emotional compositions, and while not exactly an essential purchase, the music in itself is pretty damn faultless.

Ant Heeks

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