It was during the 1980 Reading Festival that new keyboardist Mark Stanway would make his first appearance with Magnum. Interestingly, ‘Chase The Dragon’ was actually recorded in 1980, but it took two years for their record label Jet to release it.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Chase The Dragon
SERIAL: JETLP 235
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Tony Clarkin – guitar * Bob Catley – vocals * Wally Lowe – bass * Mark Stanway – keyboards * Kex Gorin – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Soldier Of The Line * 02 On The Edge Of The World * 03 The Spirit * 04 Sacred Hour * 05 Walking The Straight Line * 06 We All Play The Game * 07 The Teacher * 08 The Lights Burned Out
WEBLINKS: Site Link
By 1982, it was still considered early days in terms of Magnum’s development as a rock band. Their two albums up to this point were still distinctly British and perhaps a little lacking in pomp at this stage, and with little evidence of the sophistication that would surely follow on this album. The band were slowly climbing the ladder in terms of their live performances, with participation at some of the leading British Festivals.
It was during the 1980 Reading Festival that new keyboardist Mark Stanway would make his first appearance with Magnum. Interestingly, ‘Chase The Dragon’ was actually recorded in 1980, but it took two years for their record label Jet to release it. The other interesting fact about this album was the use of Kansas producer Jeff Glixman to produce the record. It was also the first album to showcase the art work of Rodney Matthews. So, it seems that there were a lot of firsts with this album.
At least three of the bands most recognised songs are sourced from this album. All three are regulars in Magnum’s live set plus additions to compilations and live album releases. These are: ‘Sacred Hour’, ‘The Spirit’ and ‘Soldier Of The Line’. However, the first single of the album was in fact ‘The Lights Burned Out’, which was released one month before the LP.
Stanway’s presence is felt very early with the classic ‘Soldier Of The Line’, the hugely dark keyboard entrance sounding like something out of the Lord Of The Rings! It’s no wonder this song is such a fan favourite. Stanway is at it again with the bombastic intro sequence for ‘On The Edge Of The World’, sounding like Angel and a whole heap of American sounding bands from that same era.
The folky acoustic passage announces ‘The Spirit’, it takes on a Kansas like sound for the first part, before bursting forth with big guitars and a dramatic chorus. Stanway has the harpischord working overtime on this track. The grand piano is the centre of attention on ‘Sacred Hour’, but again, Magnum lift the veil and drive this one hard. ‘Walking The Straight Line’ reverts to a tough guitar rocker, with Clarkin providing the anchor with his guitar work.
He repeats this role on ‘The Teacher’ as well. ‘We All Play The Game’ sees Stanway taking on a Herb Schildt (Starcastle) persona thanks to a strong clavinet presence, on what is mostly an acoustic singalong performance. It takes over a minute for ‘The Lights Burned Out’ to warm up, but the strong synth led arrangement surely makes for an interesting choice of single me thinks!
Magnum went out on tour with fellow Jet Records labelmates Ozzy Osbourne during 1982. This was a year of turmoil for the Prince of Darkness, as Ozzy’s guitarist Randy Rhoads was killed earlier in the year during March, the same month as ‘Chase The Dragon’ was released! By this stage, Ozzy had British guitarist Bernie Torme filling in on lead guitar.
Magnum also released a 4 track EP in September of that year called ‘Live In America’, featuring two tracks from CTD and two new tracks: ‘Back To Earth’ and ‘Hold Back Your Love’. They would consolidate their standing with one final release for Jet Records.. 1983’s ‘The Eleventh Hour’.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)