Magnum and wine lovers will immediately think of a bigger than standard champagne bottle. Many more would think of the 1980s TV detective series, Magnum PI, in which a curly haired and embarrassingly moustachioed Tom Selleck investigated crimes in Hawaii.
Say Magnum to me and I think about Magnum the rock band, one of the world’s greatest unknown and under-rated rock bands.
Started by two brummies, Tony Clarkin (song writer and lead guitarist) and Bob Catley (vocals) in the 70s they are still going strong today having just released a fabulous new album, “The Visitation”.
I first saw them live at Leeds Poly in the 80s during Clarkin’s “black hat and long black coat” phase. I went to their gigs well into the 90s as the Clarkin look and outfit changed to cue ball bald and black leather. Hatted or bald he is a great guitarist. Heavy but melodic, intricate and precise. On this new album the sound is more defined than ever before.
Into the 2000s I kept up with the DVD releases of a series of concerts celebrating the 25th anniversaries of some of their earlier works – played again live in all their pompous entirety.
Their music is multi-layered, very melodic, sometimes cinematic and occasionally medieval. Catley’s vocal delivery is strong and assured and yet delicate when required. Some of their songs, including “Start Talking Love” which charted in the 90s, drive a heavy bass riff right over the likes of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. I imagine if Henry VIII had listened to heavy rock – Magnum would have been favourites at court. But that suggests they are old and tired. Well they are older but “The Visitation” is definitely not tired. It ripples and roars at the same time.
They deserve to be more well known. They don’t deserve to be under-rated. But perhaps that has given them their edge over the years. This lastest offering deserves a good listening to, on an iPod with no concern about the volume limiter.