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Articles Home » 2001 Articles » Catley, Bob - 2001 Middle Earth
Catley, Bob - 2001 Middle Earth

Bob Catley - vocals
Vinny Burns - guitars
Gary Hughes - keyboards, vocals
Steve McKenna - bass
Jon Cooksey - drums

The legendary Magnum frontman returns with his third, and arguably best solo album. The musical feel is classic Magnum, circa 'On A Storyteller's Night' and 'Wings Of Heaven'. Once again Gary Hughes writes and produces the album, with some of his cohorts from Ten forming most of the backing band. As you can tell from the title 'Middle Earth', this is a concept album focused singularly on Tolkien's 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy - this makes comparisons to Texas AOR kings Hobbit inevitable, both lyrically and at times musically as well.

The Songs
The 'Wraith Of The Rings' sounds out a melodic warning of trouble brewing, and from this point on it's anthem after anthem, with an occasional shift into more gentle / minstrel territory. 'The Fields That I Recall' is an epic track complete with prog like subdivisions, harking back to earlier Magnum. 'City Walls' is built on an irresistible hook overlaid with the trademark epic chorus. 'Against The Wind' brings out the softer narrative side of the album, still rich in melody with all the right chord changes. 'Where You Lead I'll Follow' revisits the time honoured epic prog / AOR approach, with many twists and tempo changes, not to mention lush melodies aplenty. The remaining tracks continue in the epic vein, carrying on the beautifully written lyrical theme right to the end, with the anthemic 'Return Of The Mountain King' proving unforgettable, and not a dud track in sight.

In Summary
With the first of the 'Lord Of The Ring's films opening in December, it was always likely that Tolkien related material would start appearing on the scene, but I have a feeling that when all is said and done, this disc and Hobbit's forthcoming masterpiece 'All For The One' will stand the test of time and endure our harshest scrutiny with ease. This one's out now on Frontiers/Now And Then, so grab it now, and rest assured we'll keep you posted on the Hobbit disc as well.

Track Listing:
01 The Wraith Of The Rings
02 The Fields That I Recall
03 City Walls
04 Against The Wind
05 Where You Lead I'll Follow
06 Return Of The Mountain King
07 The End Of Summer
08 This Gallant Band Of Manic Strangers
09 The Fellowship

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