Magnum are now on the ‘please explain’ list, with a right of reserve to get it right for their next album. I know that might sound a long way away, but unfortunately ‘In The Valley Of The Moonking’ is far from a consistent album.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Into The Valley Of The Moonking
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Bob Catley – vocals * Tony Clarkin – guitars * Mark Stanway – keyboards * Al Barrow – bass * Harry James – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Intro * 02 Cry To Yourself * 03 All My Bridges * 04 Take Me To The Edge * 05 The Moon King * 06 Noone Knows His Name * 07 In My Mind’s Eye * 08 Time To Cross That River * 09 If I Ever Lose My Mind * 10 A Face In The Crowd * 11 Feels Like Treason * 12 Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns
WEBLINKS: Site Link
It pains me to say it, but I won’t beat around the bush. This, for me, is probably the least popular Magnum I’ve heard thus far. Many of us here are longtime fans, and have been through the biorhythms of this band over the last thirty years or so.
There was no indication that there was going to be a slide in form. I could understand it if you were a supporter of Birmingham City (or Luton Town for that matter). But all during the 2000’s, Magnum have been consistent, with ‘Brand New Morning’ and ‘Princess Alice..’ being reasonably good albums.
Where did it all go pear-shaped for Bob, Tony and the Brummie gang? The vocals don’t appear to be quite right, and that’s an understatement. The production sounds flat and earthy. This band have been known for its lush recordings. Not forgetting their lyrics and overall fantasy based concepts, the sound captures ambience and atmosphere mostly.
For the majority, there’s none of that here, aside from one or two tracks. And with a concept such as ‘Valley Of The Moonking’ you’d be expecting something along those lines wouldn’t you?
Skipping through the 1 minute ‘Intro’, Magnum take us for a trip back in time with ‘Cry To Yourself’. This one has a trippy 70’s pop vibe to it. The production is quite full for this one with drums and piano taking precedence, but I didn’t like it.
Mark Stanway gives us a piano cascade on the appealing ‘All My Bridges’. It’s one of the better tracks here, and very reminiscent of their regular material. ‘Take Me To The Edge’ features some caustic guitar riffs from Clarkin, plus pumping bass lines. Mark Stanway adds some synth backing to flesh it out. This one just gets a pass mark.
‘The Moon King’ is all over the place musically. It starts out with a delta blues entrance, the guitar heavily flanged, the vocals have been blitzed through a noise gate it would seem. Synths intrude and seem out of place, while the production is awful actually, the vocals in particular. ‘No One Knows His Name’ reverts back to that whimsical 70’s sound, another track worth skipping.
Of the remaining tracks, the only ones that appealed were ‘If I Ever Lose My Mind’ which touched a progressive rock vein. Then there’s the fast paced ‘Feels Like Treason’ and the uptempo classic rocker ‘Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns’. Both plug away unashamedly in the same breath as fellow classic contemporaries AC/DC and Nazareth.
I normally don’t like to put the boot in to one of my favourite bands, but in past years I’ve had to do it. This included the likes of Strangeways and more recently Silent Rage. The only redeeming feature here is the excellent Rodney Matthews artwork.
Magnum are now on the ‘please explain’ list, with a right of reserve to get it right for their next album. I know that might sound a long way away, but unfortunately ‘In The Valley Of The Moonking’ is far from a consistent album. Potential purchasers should check out some soundbytes first before forking out the big bucks. File under ‘disappointing’.