‘Brand New Morning’ is an album that re-establishes Magnum’s identity from the 80’s, but still retains the leaner sound the band attempted beyond their ‘Goodnight L.A’ album.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Brand New Morning
SERIAL: SPV 085-69632 CD
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Bob Catley – vocals * Tony Clarkin – guitars * Mark Stanway – keyboards * Al Barrow – bass * Harry James – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Brand New Morning * 02 It’s Time To Come Together * 03 We All Run * 04 The Blue And The Grey * 05 I’d Breathe For You * 06 The Last Goodbye * 07 Immigrant Son * 08 Hard Road * 09 The Scarecrow
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Mark II of Magnum’s biography kicked off in 2002, after an absence of eight years during the 90’s – their last studio album being 1994’s ‘Rock Art’. Catley and Clarkin were involved with other projects during that time, including Hard Rain and an extensive solo run from Catley. So it wasn’t a complete disappearance from the Magnum duo.
Their return album from 2002 ‘Breath Of Life’ did not invoke pomp laced memories of their best album (to date) ‘On A Storytellers Night’. Mind you, that was nearly seventeen years prior, so the band could be forgiven for not wanting to return to former glories.
However in saying that, many listeners thought the comeback album veered too close to the sound of Clarkin’s prior project Hard Rain, a band that somehow did not capture the same fanatical following as Magnum. ‘Breath Of Life’ was also notable for its use of drum machines! Say what? However, things are on the improve with their second Mark II effort ‘Brand New Morning’.
I do like the cover art to this album. Admittedly it isn’t Rodney Matthews inspired, but the storm-strewn look is reminiscent of Hugh Syme’s work with Rush. Though it could also be a scene out of a Hollywood blockbuster like ‘War Of The Worlds’ or ‘Day After Tomorrow’ minus the ice. So what of the music?
Well for starters, the production is warm, and tries to emulate that trademark lushness from yesteryear that made their earlier albums stand out a mile. Though warm, it is still a little coarse, with the years of big budgets behind them now – Clarkin handling the duties instead.
That warmness shines through on the opening strains of ‘Brand New Morning’ – a welcome return to the style they made so popular. The band rev it up a bit on ‘It’s Time To Come Together’ – a track which sounds similar to their 1986 era ‘Vigilante’. However, I didn’t think too much of ‘We All Run’ – ponderous by contrast to the song title.
Melding acoustic and electric is the semi-ballad ‘The Blue And The Grey’ – again the vocal melodies are so familiar. Clarkin winds up the distortion for the guitar crunch of ‘I’d Breath For You’; the song is punctuated with some stop/start moments plus a few piano rolls. Anthemic is the best way to describe ‘The Last Goodbye’, but at six and a half minutes it’s a bit too long – the chorus gets rolled out a few times.
Keeping the guitar to the forefront is the raw and ready ‘Immigrant Son’, and though Clarkin tries to dominate events on ‘Hard Road’ – the song is well balanced by the other band-members with prominent synth and piano parts from Stanway and a pulsing bass line through the verses from Barrow.
Just shy on ten minutes is the epic closer ‘The Scarecrow’. Again, the ‘Vigilante’ era is a reference point, and the song doesn’t tend to deviate too much – the slide guitar solo from Clarkin is something different.
‘Brand New Morning’ is an album that re-establishes Magnum’s identity from the 80’s, but still retains the leaner sound the band attempted beyond their ‘Goodnight L.A’ album. Still, it would be a hard-nosed Magnum fan giving credit to any Magnum album either prior to, or beyond the triumvirate of ‘On A Storytellers Night’, ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Wings Of Heaven’.
What this album does do – is restore a little bit of faith in the band. In 2007, Magnum released their latest album ‘Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow’ – the album doing well upon its release in March 2007 – heading into the British Charts, a rarity for a British rock band these days.
Brand New Morning