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Magnum - 1990 Goodnight LA



ARTIST: Magnum
ALBUM: Goodnight LA
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 843 568-2
YEAR: 1990

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Bob Catley - vocals * Tony Clarkin - guitars * Mark Stanway - keyboards * Wally Lowe - bass * Mickey Barker - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rockin' Chair * 02 Mama * 03 Only A Memory * 04 Reckless Man * 05 Matter Of Survival * 06 What Kind Of Love Is This * 07 Heartbroke And Busted * 08 Shoot * 09 No Way Out * 10 Cry For You * 11 Born To Be King

WEBLINKS: www.magnumonline.co.uk


Background
As history would tell us, Magnum's 1990 album 'Goodnight L.A' would prove to be their least successful album during their high-profile heyday. Depending on whom you listen to, this album sucks big time, or on the other hand - is hugely underrated. I think I'll sit on the fence with this one. As it was, this was a strange turn of events for the band. Their previous three albums were really excellent, and it was a shame that their progress was somewhat halted by this one. Not that it was a super bad album, it just compares unfavourably with what went before, despite there being a handful of useful tracks onboard. Many people point the blame at the average songs, some of which were co-writes with other songwriters such as Jim Vallance and Russ Ballard, the remainder written by Tony Clarkin. The mishmash of styles and the softened hard rock approach with this album was probably inferior to its predecessor 'Wings Of Heaven'. A lot of the depth and atmosphere had been pruned back for an Americanised record, which was a pity. The fact that the band toured extensively during 1991 with this album was surprising to say the least, given the lesser quality of the material here, however Magnum had a large back catalog to work with, so an extended tour wasn't completely out of the question.


The Songs
'Rockin' Chair' is a punchy opener which has a commercial leaning supposedly for American radio. Unfortunately I've never liked this song. lt does absolutely nothing for me. Next up 'Mama' is much better and in the vein of songs on earlier albums. It's quite a dramatic affair actually. Track 3 'Only A Memory' has a slow moody introduction which phases into a dense slow-mid tempo number. Much better, and it's the longest track here at a touch over 7 minutes. Magnum get boisterous for the cranky Reckless Man'. There's some good guitar and keyboard interplay on display. I wouldn't hesitate in declaring 'A Matter Of Survival' is the closest thing to AOR even with the sax solo. Bob CatIey sounds great on this one. 'What Kind Of Love Is This' carries a dramatic theme throughout; an edgy number that threatens to explode at any moment. Heartbroke & Busted' is the album's sing along nomination. It has all the makings of a good live number. 'Shoot' is to this album what 'It Must Have Been Love' was to 'Vigilante', a mid-paced track with a war/conflict message. 'No Way Out' lifts the tempo, AOR in style with a racy synth to drive it along. 'Cry For You' reaffirms Catley as the master of the impassioned ballad. It's another album highlight for me. Not far behind is the epic-based 'Born To Be King', pre-dating the themes that fellow Brits Ten would make popular a few years later.


In Summary
The album was supposed to be geared toward a domestic American release, since Keith Olsen (hence the Goodnight L.A title, as that is the name of his recording studio) was assigned production duties but it never made it that far. My guess is that the record label Polydor wanted Magnum to break into the US, but their strategy failed to take into account that the band are inherently British and not prone to changing their spots to suit, the musical climate was about to change big-time, and that the youth of America would all soon be wearing flannel and down-tuning their guitars. It would be fair to say that this album is the least played of my Magnum CD's in my collection, but I wouldn't write it off completely. 1991's 'The Spirit Live' is a much better representation of the band in a live element and contains a couple of tracks from this CD.


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Comments
#1 | roadrunner158 on January 15 2013 16:04:31
Totally agree with this review. Not a bad album, some decent songs, but if compared to its predecessors it's just mediocre.
#2 | AOR Lee on January 19 2013 05:16:44
I love this album, very strong late 80's styled AOR. Agree with George on the opening track though, it gets better from there. I don't mind the American sounding production either. Was Michael Sadler on backing vocals ?
 
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