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Magnum - 1978 Kingdom Of Madness




ARTIST: Magnum
ALBUM: Kingdom Of Madness
LABEL: Jet
SERIAL: JETLP-210
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1999, Essential, ESMCD 747

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Bob Catley - vocals * Tony Clarkin - guitars * Richard Bailey - keyboards * Wally Lowe - bass * Kex Gorin - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 In The Beginning * 02 Baby Rock Me * 03 Universe * 04 Kingdom Of Madness * 05 All That Is Real * 06 The Bringer * 07 Invasion * 08 Lord Of Chaos * 09 All Come Together

WEBLINKS: www.magnumonline.co.uk


Background
Although there's absolutely no questioning the fact that in the late 1980s Magnum would become an incredibly classy AOR band (in my opinion, they were always the great white hopes of the UK scene), I've always had an incredibly soft spot for their early work. The title track of this, their debut album would become the band's theme song and would become a mainstay of the Magnum live set. Despite that, the rest of the album would be left in the past by the band and a fair few of their fans.


The Songs
From the stabbing keys in the album's opening moments, the electric/acoustic guitar juxtaposition and the (then) futuristic keyboard sounds throughout 'In The Beginning', I was knocked out the first time I heard it. 'In The Beginning' is a fairly complex piece split into two. The song's first half is quite fast with a great vocal arrangement - I love those harmony vocals even if they are multi-tracked - while the second is mid-paced and more traditionally Magnum. Many years on, some of the lyrics about madness and the Prince of Dreams make me cringe a little, but then, the late 70s was a long time ago. 'Baby Rock Me' is a fairly standard 70s rock stomper, showcasing the less complex side of early Magnum and 'Universe' is a classy pop style ballad which hints at Catley's future greatness in the vocal department. 'All That Is Real' is another one of the stand-out cuts for me. A great piece of music with a pomp edge and a memorable (if a little repetitive) chorus. Along with 'In The Beginning' and 'Kingdom of Madness' it provides a great snapshot of where the band were at that time, musically speaking. 'The Bringer' has a great riff from Clarkin, especially in the groove-laden closing section. This track, especially, looks towards the not-too-distant future and the tighter musical unit Magnum were to become on their second album, 'Magnum II', released the following year. 'Invasion', another up-tempo number, allows Clarkin to exercise similar guitar chops to those on the title cut, and was released as a single. Being released on Jet Records, looking back, it's hardly surprising it wasn't a hit seeing as at that time most of Jet's priorities seeming laid with the pomp-tastic Electric Light Orchestra. Personally, I've always thought that 'Universe' with it's pop sheen would have fared better as the single - far too good to have been on the B-side. 'Lords of Chaos' now seems to sit uneasily amongst the album's other songs. A quasi-Doobie Brothers workout with funky edge, it's got more in common with 'Night-time In The Switching Yard' from Warren Zevon's 'Excitable Boy' album than any other Magnum songs, past or present. In closing, 'All Come Together' gives the album a strong finish, with all the band members turning in more than competent performances.


In Summary
'Kingdom of Madness', as an album, may be 'of its time', but it's still a good album in my view. A more than creditable debut from a band which would go on to forge themselves a long and successful career.


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Comments

#1 | Eric on March 17 2008 02:11:16
If these guys hailed from Topeka or Champaign they would have been huge in the States, but it was not to be. The early Magnum albums are the best.
#2 | Jez on April 17 2009 10:49:05
My first introduction to the mighty Magnum all those years ago, and whilst it does sound dated by todays standards, I still really enjoy this album alot. 'In The Beginning' has always been one of my fave Magnum tunes and that linked with 'Kingdom Of Madness', 'Invasion' and 'Lords Of Chaos' make up the big tunes on this disc. As I said, the production is 'old', but the new 2 disc remastered version does improve it sonically and is as good as you are going to get. One of the very rare and true English Pomp albums of the time and still a hidden gem in their discography.
#3 | rkbluez on January 17 2012 20:53:31
Still My Favorite Magnum album...it's just classic full of epic tracks...like the American cover art version better...yes it doesn't get much better than early Magnum pomp wise.

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