Monday, November 14, 2011

MAGNUM: "Evolution"

Rating: N/A

Label: SPV 2011

Review by Alan Holloway

After eight years in retirement (although we did get two excellent Hard Rain albums) 2002 saw the return of Magnum, retaining the original trio of Bob Catley, Tony Clarkin and Mark Stanway, aided and abetted by bass basher Al Barrow (who was also handy for a couple of album covers), and drummers Jimmy Copley and Harry James. Nine years gave us five albums of varying quality, and now Magnum have made the interesting decision to give us a “Best Of…” package comprising purely of tracks from these albums, plus two new ones to sweeten the deal.

Considering Magnum have been playing plenty of newer material on tour over the last few years, “Evolution” is a perfect jumping on point for anyone who is a lapsed fan. The real surprise is that the two tracks chosen from each album are, in my opinion, the best ones. There’s no ballads here, just big riffs and punchy melody, with some studio tampering to beef them up even more (although to be honest it’s not something that was needed or is, to me, that noticeable). The two new songs are the most interesting, as they turn out to be amongst the best on the album. “The Fall” has a superb melody and a nice, mid paced gallop to it, with a central melodic riff that will echo through your head for a long time - definitely the best track here. “Do You Know Who You Are” finishes off the album, and it’s another corker with a similar pace. Both songs could have graced “Vigilante” or “Wings Of Heaven”, and I sincerely hope that Clarkin keeps up this style for the next album, because it’s time for Magnum to be more upbeat and fun again.

So if you used to like Magnum and sort of fell by the wayside, “Evolution” is a perfect buy, and even if you have the albums that have been sampled, you really need to hear the two new tracks and enjoy the brilliant cover from Al Barrow himself. If this was a totally new album it would be a ten out of ten, so make of that what you will, but have a listen anyway.


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