Magnum - Great Adventures: The Jet Years 1978 - 1983

Magnum – Great Adventures: The Jet Years 1978 – 1983

These days, there is often debate on the many social platforms out there as to which group or artist is the most underappreciated, one that is often overlooked and should be more widely known. Maybe Magnum would be named in one of those exercises, but thanks to their loyal fanbase they continue to sit proudly within the rock/prog rock arena. They have always possessed the skill to create melodic and catchy driving rock songs with prog flourishes, and for that reason they deserve to be more widely known.

Magnum originally formed in Birmingham in 1972 around founder members guitarist/songwriter Tony Clarkin and vocalist Bob Catley. Their live reputation got them signed to CBS in 1975 for one single, but that was the extent of the deal and it would be a further three years before they landed their next record deal, finding a home for their brand of meloduc yet progressive hard rock at Jet Records in 1978, joining stable mates ELO and Ozzy Osbourne. This arrangement was to last for five albums before a parting of the ways.

This box set comprises six CDs covering the band’s five Jet releases, plus a disc of archive material recorded between 1974 and 1976. There is a full colour booklet with lots of detail about each album with some band photos. All in all, it’s a nicely packaged release, which is what Cherry Red Records do so well. Of the five album releases for Jet included here, all but Kingdom of Madness feature a selection of bonus tracks.

The Archive disc contains just that, including demo versions, outtakes from the Kingdom of Madness sessions, plus an alternate version of that album’s title track. It is perhaps here that the most interest would lie for collectors and fans. This collection of songs gathered from their formative years demonstrate the band’s development, showing a softer side over the first four tracks, before the heavier and rockier tones were applied. This in turn highlights that their consistent songwriting was evident even in those early years.

Disc one includes their debut album for Jet Records, the highly thought of Kingdom of Madness. As noted above, there is no bonus material on this disc, but I feel that is a good thing as the album sits so well as it is, on its own as a great debut. Disc three presents the follow-up, Magnum II, including five bonus tracks, with the song Changes appearing twice, as a remix and in a live version.

Marauder was a live album released in 1980, and it appears here on disc four. This is a fine example of why Magnum are an excellent live experience, with all the band members giving their best, but special mention must go to Clarkin’s guitar and Cately’s vocals. The original release is boosted with a number of bonus tracks taken from a live EP and Invasion Live. The Marauder album was released after Magnum II did not perform as well expected, following the success of the debut. Jet decided to record their December 1979 show at the legendary Marquee Club in London as a stop gap release until the arrival of their third album, which was a good move.

After a wait of two years, with what appeared to be little support from the label, Magnum released their third studio album, Chase the Dragon. This is on disc five and contains the eight original tracks with another eight bonus tracks. The band are really hitting their stride here with a number of tracks that have become firm live favourites over the years.

Their last album for Jet before they managed get away and eventually find another label was Eleventh Hour, released in 1983. This again continues the bands development with another set of strong songs and performances. The ten track are supported by four bonus, including acoustic versions and outtakes, but also an alternate orchestral version of The Word from Eleventh Hour.

Magnum and their music are well worth investigating and this is a fine set which pulls together their formative albums, it would appeal to collectors despite these albums having been released many times before. For new fans this is a good starting point with the convenience of having all of their first five albums in one box.

Disc 1: Kingdom of Madness (1978)

01. In the Beginning (7.53)
02. Baby Rock Me (4:05)
03. Universe (3:45)
04. Kingdom of Madness (4:23)
05. All That is Real (3:48)
06. The Bringer (3:57)
07. Invasion (3:24)
08. Lords of Chaos (3:21)
09. All Come Together (4:52)

Time – 39:41

Disc 2: Archive (1974-1976)
01. Sea Bird (1974 Demo) (3:49)
02. Stormbringer (1974 Demo) (3:30)
03. Slipping Away (1974 Demo) (3:13)
04. Captain America (1974 Demo) (3:44)
05. Master of Disguise (Kingdom of Madness session outtake) (2:54)
06. Without Your Love (Kingdom of Madness session outtake) (3:45)
07. Find the Time (Kingdom of Madness session outtake) (3:05)
08. Everybody Needs (Kingdom of Madness session outtake) (3:48)
09. Kingdom of Madness (Alternative Version) (3:54)

Time – 31:57

Disc 3: Magnum II (1979)
01. Great Adventure (4:54)
02. Changes (3:15)
03. The Battle (2:10)
04. If I Could Live Forever (4:02)
05. Reborn (5:44)
06. So Cold The Night (4:04)
07. Foolish Heart (3:12)
08. Staying Alive (3:21)
09. Firebird (4:47)
10. All of My Life (4:43)
~ Bonus Tracks:
11. Lonesome Star (3:13)
12. Changes (Remix Version) (4:10)
13. Everybody Needs (2:52)
14. Changes (Live) (3:43)
15. Foolish Heart (Acoustic Version) (2:55)

Time – 57:11

Disc 4: Marauder (1980)
01. If I could Live Forever (4:01)
02. The Battle (2:21)
03. Foolish Heart (3:08)
04. In the Beginning (7:56)
05. Reborn (5:58)
06. Changes (3:51)
07. So Cold the Night (4:33)
08. Lords of Chaos (3:48)
~ Bonus Tracks:
09. All of My Life (Magnum Live EP) (6:16)
10. Great Adventure (Magnum Live EP) (4:24)
11. Invasion (Magnum Live EP) (3:55)
12. Kingdom of Madness (Magnum Live EP) (4:07)
13. Reborn (Invasion Live) (5:38)
14. Changes (Invasion Live) (3:14)
15. All of My Life (Invasion Live) (6:13)
16. Invasion (Invasion Live) (5:09)
17. Kingdom of Madness (Invasion Live) (3:59)

Time: 78:43

Disc 5: Chase the Dragon (1982)
01. Soldier of the Line (4:15)
02. On the Edge of the World (4:20)
03. The Spirit (4:17)
04. Sacred Hour (5:30)
05. Walking the Straight Line (4:52)
06. We Play the Game (4:04)
07. The Teacher (3:21)
08. The Lights Burned Out (4:27)
~ Bonus Tracks:
09. Back To Earth (3:36)
10. Hold Back Your Love (3:17)
11. Soldier of the Line (Invasion Live) (3:44)
12. Sacred Hour (Invasion Live) (5:52)
13. Long Days, Black Nights (3:09)
14. The Lights Burned Out (Archive) (4:04)
15. The Spirit (Invasion Live) (4:34)
16. Soldier of the Line (Acoustic Version) (3:57)

Time – 67:16

Disc 6: Eleventh Hour (1983)
01. The Prize (3:38)
02. Breakdown (3:39)
03. The Great Disaster (3:54)
04. Vicious Companions (3:36)
05. So Far Away (4:35)
06. Hit and Run (3:39)
07. One Night of Passion (3:48)
08. The Word (4:53)
09. Young and Precious Souls (4:03)
10. Road to Paradise (3:30)
~ Bonus Tracks:
11. The Word (Alternative Orchestral Version) (4:58)
12. True Fine Love (Outtake) (3:21)
13. The Prize (Acoustic Version) (4:37)
14. One Night of Passion (Acoustic Version) (3:49)

Time – 56:15

Total Time – 331:03

Bob Cately – Vocals
Tony Clarkin – Guitar
Wally Lowe – Bass
Kex Gorin – Drums
Richard Bailey – Keyboards, Flute *
Max Stanway – Keyboards **
* (appeared on the first two studio releases and the live album)
** (appeared on the third & fourth studio albums)

Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 25th August 2023

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