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Road To Paradise: The Magnum Anthology 1978-1983 - Magnum

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Genre: Rock - Progressive Rock / Artist: Magnum / Audio CD released 2000-05-22 at Essential

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      06.04.2008 18:59
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      Great songs from (multi) influenced rock band

      Magnum were formed in 1972 in Birmingham (always a hot-bed of metal talent) by singer Bob Catley and guitarist Tony Clarkin. Both initial members are still in the band which in itself is quite rare and in 1978 they signed a contract with Jet Records following a suggestion from Jeff Lynne (ELO) and run by Don Arden (Sharon Osbournes dad) which resulted in the release of their first long player - Kingdom of Madness. They never really hit the big time sadly despite touring with the likes of Judas Priest and Def Leppard. In 1998 this compilation of their greatest hits(sic) was released by Castle Communications and contained songs which, as well as containg all the A and B sides of their singles, included many tracks selected by fans of the band showcasing their career from 1978 to 1983. All tracks come from Magnums first five LP releases 'Magnum', 'Magnum II', 'Marauder', 'Chase the Dragon' and 'The Eleventh Hour'. Track Listing Disc 1 1 - Kingdom of Madness 2 - In the Beginning 3 - Invasion 4 - Universe 5 - Lonesome Star 6 - Foolish Heart 7 - Baby Rock Me 8 - All of My Life (Live EP version) 9 - Great Adventure (Live EP version) 10 - Invasion (Live EP version) 11 - Kingdom of Madness (Live EP version) 12 - Changes (Re-mixed) 13 - Everybody Needs 14 - The Lights Burned Out 15 - Long Days, Black Nights 16 - Back to Earth 17 - Hold Back Your Love 18 - Soldier of the Line (Live EP version) 19 - Sacred Hour (Live EP version) Disc 2 1 - All that is Real 2 - All Come Together 3 - Great Adventure 4 - The Battle 5 - If I Could Live Forever 6 - Changes 7 - Firebird 8 - Foolish Heart (Live) 9 - In the Beginning (Live) 10 - Lords of Chaos (Live) 11 - On the Edge of the World 12 - The Spirit 13 - The Teacher 14 - So Far Away 15 - One Night of Passion 16 - The Word 17 - The Prize 18 - Road to Paradise Most of the tracks on this collection feel very prog-rock with their soft tones and heavy keyboard presence on most tracks but are Magnum really just a rock band carrying many influences from Jethro Tull to Queen through to Genesis. The opening track begins with acoustic guitar before a flute kicks in followed by some harmonics provided by Clarkin and then the song begins in earnest. 'Kingdom of Madness' was the bands first single release and is a typical rock track from the seventies which could quite happily sit amongst Queen's second LP 'Queen II' and not feel out of place. The vocals flit between high and low and the odd sound effect really add to this pieces prog-heavy feel. Track 3, 'Invasion', begins with a sampled section of 'Kingdom of Madness' before launching into a driving beat that reminds me a lot of early Marillion but still contains the essential details to make this a classic rock number. In fact a lot of their earlier material could slip easily onto many rock albums released in 1978 from many major acts of the time. 'Universe' brings things back down to earth with a soft, lilting number sounding remarkably Elton John-ish at the outset but, thankfully, escaping any such similarity after a few moments. Originally the B-side to the 'Invasion' single this track showcases the bands gentler abilities as does the next song 'Lonesome Star' which also includes more flute-playing theatrics. 'Foolish Heart' for me sounds very Boston-like and is probably one of the weaker moments on this collection - I'm not suggesting Boston are crap there (their first LP was magnificent) just this track. The four live tracks culled from Magnums EP are a great set of songs and showpiece the bands ability to produce their sound in a live environment. In fact 'Invasion', sans 'Kingdom of Madness' intro, comes across far better live than studio recorded which for most rock bands of the time is sadly the case. Unfortunately the crowd, although enthusiastic, appear to be in small supply and it sounds like the tracks were recorded in some small club/pub in the Midlands. 'Changes', the remixed version, is probably the most radio-friendly piece but for me is a pretty thin song coming across more of a soft rock option with eyes on the charts than a real rock number. The song is far from rubbish but not on par with Magnums other work. The very keyboard-heavy 'The Lights Burned Out' sounds like it could have just skipped off a Styx LP with its gentle verses offset by a (slightly) harder chorus. 'Back to Earth' was released as part of an EP called 'Live in America' and has a really bassy sound. In fact whenever this and the next track come on my speakers groan under the bass tones as I have raised them for all the previous numbers. I'm not complaining, I like bass, but I like all tracks from the same source to at least have the same production values so I don't have to listen to different mixes of tracks. Disc two contains many of the fan requested inclusions and starts with the wonderful 'All that is Real' from their first LP 'Kingdom of Madness' and is one of my favourite Magnum tracks. With multi-layered vocal tracks and a key change in the chorus that is just brilliant this showcases the groups amazing talent and diverse song-writing. 'All Come Together' starts as though it could well be an epic rock track with its piano introduction and Queen-like vocals but soon settles into a standard rock track which is good but not befitting what is a great opening. Next, with its howling wind, mournful cry of a wolf and rippling keyboard intro, 'Great Adventure' comes across as something the group Eloy may well have produced and is a wonderful track with many differing layers. 'Changes' begins like some kind of 80's synth number and for me is the weakest track of disc two which is neither a rock song nor a clone of some pop number. The three live tracks on this disc, which were released on their LP 'Marauder', sound to have been recorded in a larger environment than their counterparts on the previous disc but are not as clean as Bob Catley seems to have the reverb up too much for my liking and always makes it appear that a vocalist can't carry his/her notes. The last five tracks on this collection all come from Magnum's fifth release 'The Eleventh Hour' which was the first album I ever owned/heard by the band and have a special place in my heart as I can still remember lounging around my bedroom with this on in the background. Production wise they don't seem to have enough power with the treble tones feeling muted somewhat but are all wonderful numbers with varying musical shades. As the album progresses you also get the feeling that Magnum were fans of bands like Uriah Heep and, like the Heep, produced some wonderful material which often lacked the punch to take them from being in the middle ground between soft and hard rock which is a shame as some of the tracks would be truly excellent with a bit more balls. This collection comes in a fold-out CD cover and contains a booklet detailing the bands career and single/album releases as well as album cover artwork and band photographs. The album is available from Amazon starting at £3.37 and as you can see you get a fair few tracks for your pennies with this release - a total of 37 to be accurate - and a great window into the recording life of Magnum from their earliest vinyl offerings through to their peak. The band are still performing today but they are a pale reflection of what they once were but I often shove this collection on the CD player and remember them as they used to be. Also posted on Ciao.

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Kingdom Of Madness
      2 In The Beginning
      3 Invasion
      4 Universe
      5 Lonesome Star
      6 Foolish Heart
      7 Baby Rock Me
      8 All Of My Life
      9 Great Adventure
      10 Invasion (2)
      11 Kingdom Of Madness (2)
      12 Changes (2)
      13 Everybody Needs
      14 Lights Burned Out
      15 Long Days Black Nights
      16 Back To Earth
      17 Hold Back Your Love
      18 Soldier Of The Line
      19 Sacred Hour
      20 All That Is Real
      21 All Come Together
      22 Great Adventure (2)
      23 Battle
      24 If I Could Live Forever
      25 Changes (3)
      26 Firebird
      27 Foolish Heart (3)
      28 In The Beginning (2)
      29 Lords Of Chaos
      30 On The Edge Of The World
      31 Spirit
      32 Teacher
      33 So Far Away
      34 One Night Of Passion
      35 Word
      36 Prize
      37 Road To Paradise