When The Rock n Roll Preacher asked me if I would like to review the new Magnum album for Voodoo Radio Online, I didn’t think about my answer for one second. I just said ‘Yes!’ without hesitation. It was only afterwards that I began to consider what I would write. Obviously, I would have to give it a listen, first. 

Unsurprisingly, I liked it. It was Magnum. Of course, it was good. Of course, I liked it. Duh! I have been a fan of this band since 1979 and, in my opinion, they have never released anything that wasn’t great or, that I didn’t absolutely love. Moreover, over the last forty-five years, I have probably seen them live, more than any other band. On the wall in my mancave is a signed Bob Catley poster from 2006, when I got to see young Bob at close quarters a good-few-times during a series of solo gigs, on a bill with my friends, Demon. In short, I have pretty much everything Magnum has ever released. Yeah, I’m a bit of a fanboy. 

I was curious as to how this new one would hold up against the back catalogue. The last album, “The Monster Roars” had proved, yet again, that they still had the chops. But, what about ‘Here Comes The Rain’? I needn’t have worried my tiny little brain. In terms of content, it is a top-notch release. The songs are all musically and lyrically very strong. Bob’s voice is as powerful and distinctive as ever, whilst Tony Clarkin’s guitar is, well, Tony Clarkin’s guitar. ‘Nuff said. If I have to explain any of that, well, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

The opener ‘Run Into The Shadows’, the title track ‘Here Comes The Rain’, ‘Some Kind Of Treachery’‘After The Silence’, and ‘I Wanna Live’, all deliver that luscious melodic Magnum sound with refrains that you can sing along with all day long. Rick Benton’s keyboards provide depth and space, whilst the rhythm section of Dennis Ward and Lee Morris keep things motoring along nicely. It comes across as a tight unit, working very well together. There is variety, tool. ‘Blue Tango’ has a riff that really kicks some bad bottom, whilst ‘Broken City’ is delightfully atmospheric and makes you ponder Life, The Universe, and Everything. For me, the standout track is ‘The Seventh Darkness’. This track has it all and a bit more, besides, featuring some lovely sax and trumpet to counterpoint Tony’s blistering guitar work. This is a classic for the future. Although, it’s pretty unfair to even try and suggest anything can stand up to tracks that you’ve been listening to for 40 years, I reckon ‘The Seventh Darkness’ is just that damn good. The final track ‘Borderline’ has some lovely piano work to finish off the album and, quite frankly, it just leaves you sad that it’s the end. Leave them wanting more, eh? 

I know none of us are getting any younger, but I bloody well hope there is still much more to come from Magnum! Ever since I first saw them live, on Blue Oyster Cult’s “Mirrors” tour, on a freezing cold night back in 1979, I have adored this band. Give or, take, the odd few years here and there, they have been an almost constant presence in my life for over forty years. In one of my first jobs, my boss was a huge fan. In the early years, they were the ever-present support band on big tours, and always turned up on festival line-ups wherever I went in the world. Later, I’d catch them at small gigs, purely by chance, one night when I happened to be in a town for work. Now, on my radio shows, any chance I get, I’ll drop in a track because, quite simply, I can, and in this Kingdom of Madness, I cannot imagine a world without Magnum. “Here Comes The Rain” is due out January 2024. Let it pour down I say!

December 23rd 2023

UPDATE: 11th January 2024

A few days ago, we were all alerted to the very sad announcement that Tony Clarkin had passed away. This came just weeks after the news that Magnum’s guitarist had developed a rare spinal condition and, the forthcoming European Tour in support of “Here Comes The Rain”, had been cancelled. Naturally, we all expected him to receive treatment and that he would be back, in some capacity, at some point. Sadly, this would not be the case.

When I wrote the above review, I thought I would get to see one of my all-time favourite bands at least once more, for the umpteenth time since that freezing cold November evening back in 1979, at The Queens Hall in Leeds, when I first saw them live, supporting Blue Oyster Cult on the Mirrors tour. That night, I knew of them already through Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show, and I already owned the first album “Kingdom of Madness”. I was eager to see them and I was not disappointed. They rocked the house! I caught them a few months later on the Def Leppard tour, at Reading Festival on a lovely Saturday afternoon back in 1983, and at many other times over the last few decades. In fact, for a few years in the early 1980s, they seemed to be on the bill at almost every gig I was at. They never disappointed, not once. In all the times I’ve seen them live did I ever leave thinking that they could have been better. 

With each album came more great music and it seemed like they would go on for ever. It is with great sadness that I write this but, also, with the knowledge that Tony’s final contribution to the Magnum cannon is as good as anything else he produced during his long career. “Here Comes The Rain” is a fine album and a fitting tribute. It will be remembered that his last contribution to Magnum was just as good as his first. Thanks for all the great music Tony.

Tony Clarkin

1946 – 2004