Bob Catley Spirit Of Man Frontiers Records
· Produced By: Vince O'Regan & Bob Catley

· Running Time: 62.34

· Release Date: January 27

· Released:

· Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

· Links: Frontiers Bob Catley
Songs: 94%
Sound: 75%
There was some uncertainty about the next solo album for Magnum frontman Bob Catley, after it was confirmed the architect behind his last solo album – Paul Hodson - would not be participating in this record.
Given the fact that was Bob's first album after a long partnership with Gary Hughes, there was some concern over who would fill in the void from two very gifted musicians and songwriters.
On one count Bob has laid all concerns to rest, but on the other count the jury is still out.
Into the Catley fold comes British songwriters Dave Thompson and Paul Uttley – both already known for their work in their band Lost Weekend.
The duo has written the bulk of the material for this release and should be very proud of their efforts. I heard the whispers of some questioning what the pair could deliver, but on a songwriting front they could not have done much better.
They have captured the essence of Bob Catley the artist and delivered a set of songs that blends his heavier solo sound with some more traditional Magnum elements.
Bob's guitarist Vince O`Regan also steps up his role in the band by supplying three songs for the album.
I think Bob has recorded some good albums. I also think he has recorded some great albums. I think the same for Magnum. Combined they have provided some of my favourite British hard rock songs of all time. But both are capable of turning in the odd disappointment.
Bob Catley's last album When Empires Fall was genius. Perhaps the man behind the songs and sound (Paul Hodson) deserves the credit there, but Bob certainly sang his ass off.
The sound of the last album was also the best of all Catley records to date and even better than the last few Magnum releases.
So with that in mind, what has Bob and Co. got in store for fans this time around?
Spirit Of Man is an interesting release. There are some very strong elements that long time fans will be pleased to hear. But it has a couple of weaknesses also.
At the end of the day I don't think this album it matches the quality or intensity of When Empires Burn – mainly because I really thought that was a classic album.
My biggest issue with Spirit Of Man is the sound quality. This is an area I am getting increasingly frustrated with. Right across the spectrum, sound quality varies from release to release. Fans need to be able to rely on their favourite artists – and especially the big names like Bob Catley – delivering the same reliable quality each and every time.
When Empires Fall featured a near perfect sound. But just on album later and I am faced with an issue that takes away some of my enjoyment of this album.
Yes, this is a nice big rock record, but some of that impact is lost with a sound that is thinner than it should be.
What is hardest for me to understand is why this album is hard to listen to at high volume. Let's face it – we all want to crank the volume, but when doing so here, the frequency hurts my ears. Sonically this album has a tinny edge to it that makes it near impossible to crank loud with comfort.
Strangely enough, I found myself stating this very same fact in regards to the last Vince O'Regan produced album – Pulse's World's Apart – an album that was virtually ruined by poor production and mastering.
On Spirit Of Man I find the rhythm section is sometimes too low in the mix and even Bob's lead vocals sometimes don't seem as powerful as I know they are in real life and play second fiddle to the music.
If you can set aside the sound issues and look at the songs that make up this album, you will get more satisfaction.
Spirit Of Man sees the music split in two directions. Some of the album follows the harder rocking path set by When Empires Burn and the other half of the album steps back into a more melodic field that fans of classic Magnum will most certainly appreciate.
Track By Track:
Heart Of Stone is a high energy album opener which ranks as one of Catley's hardest rocking tunes to date.
Moment Of Truth retains the uptempo pace, but adds more keyboards and a very melodic chorus which fans will love. It harks back to the sound of the first couple of Catley solo records.
In The Name Of The Cause is a track I can't seem to warm to. It suits Bob's style and voice and indeed, the album as a whole, but I'm still struggling to like the melody.
Blinded By A Lie is a song which I don't love the chorus for, but the song itself is still effective and catchy.
The big ballad Last Snows Of Winter is a new Catley classic. This is one of a few very Magnum-esque tracks and a song I have a lot of time for. The chorus has that epic Magnum feel and treads familiar ground. One of the album's strongest tracks.
Spirit Of Man is another track I'm struggling with. I think there is far too much going on at times within the song. Perhaps it is the poor mix and not the song itself. With a lead guitar riff, a rhythm guitar, swirling keyboards and layers of vocals, one must ensure the mix is absolutely perfect and here it isn't. The Fire Within Me is another Magnum friendly track and one which rolls along at a great pace. The chorus is also another high quality example of what works perfectly for Bob Catley.
Judgement Day has a Magnum feel during the verse and then rocks through the chorus.
Lost To The Night is another favourite from the album. A monster chorus and a very melodic verse see Bob delivering a great emotional vocal.
Beautiful Mind is one of those haunting keyboard dominated Magnum style tracks which have that old-school appeal and one long-time fans will love.
Walk On Water suffers again from a very thin sound and loses impact over what could have been.
End Of The Story is one of the album's best tracks and real credit to it's writers. In typical Magnum fashion, this is an epic to close out the record. The style of the song is also very close to the sound of On A Storyteller's Night, so I know fans will appreciate this one.
The Bottom Line
In summary, this is another very good album from Bob Catley, who knows a good song when he sees it and has picked a great team to help make him look good.
The songs are great, but I know the album would have been even better – possibly rising to a rank close to When Empires Burn - if a better production effort was made more a priority. For whatever reason, I haven't seen any other review that makes this point. We should expect the very best of the biggest names in this scene and more consistency from album to album.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· The Tower
· Official Bootleg (Live)
· Legends
· Middle Earth
· When Empires Burn
· Spirit Of Man

Line Up:
· Bob Catley: Vocals
· Irvin Pratt: Keyboards
· Vince O'Regan: Guitar
· Jamie Little: Drums
· Al Barrow: Bass

Essential For Fans Of:
· Bob Catley
· Magnum
If you liked this release - also check out:
· Bob Catley - When Empires Burn
Track Listing
· Heart Of Stone *
· Moment Of Truth *
· In The Name Of The Cause
· Blinded By A Lie
· Last Snows Of Winter *
· Spirit Of Man
· The Fire Within Me *
· Judgement Day
· Lost To The Night *
· Beautiful Mind
· Walk On Water
· End Of The Story *
--*Best Tracks

02/06/07: Adam -
Rating: 95
Absolutely superb songs, I love this album so much APART FROM THE PRODUCTION. As already mentioned, the sound is thin & tinny and it hurts my ears. SUCH a shame as with a lush production this would be one of my favourite albums of all time.

03/12/06: WardyS3 -
Rating: 80
Okay, been having a rejuvinated interest in all things Magnum of late, checking out their Breath of Life and Brand New Morning, giving them both thumbs up and in search of originals as we speak. So the next logical step was this one here...

I dig it. Really dig it. Thankfully I read all the comments here first so I knew the production wasn't so crash hot, and yes I hear it too, all that tinny weak sound just does no justice to Catley and what is a pretty good selection of songs.

And a good collection they are, the scorching opener is a guitar and vocal classic and to be honest I wish the whole album blended the same heaviness. But for the most part the album is a good combination of hard rock and classic Magnum like melodies. I'm real pleased with the results and looks like another one I have to find the coin for.

Couple of noteworthy tracks are the title track Spirit... a great track, also unlike Andrew I appreciate In the Name of the Cause which I find very deep and extremelly rewarding if given the time it deserves. Couple more in the later end of the album veer toward the heavier side of things which is cool.

Overall this is a quiet gem that needs to be heard by fans of melodicrock and Magnum. Damn pleased I geve it a shot!

19/11/06: Park Hanuk -
Rating: 70
Vince O'Regan should just quit producing. Everything he touched so far has turned out to trash. This cd could've been a real masterpiece if Gary Hughes or Paul Hodson produced. Vince also ruined Alibi's debut cd which should've been an album of the year contender. What a shame.

02/06/06: rocky -
Rating: 90
this is BC`s best album so far, no doubt about that.
GET IT if you`re a serious melodic rock fan....

09/05/06: Ton -
Rating: 75
Bob never delivers a real bad album. For me his solowork is too metallish. Magnum is more my sound. Exactly: The production is a little bit thin. Nice to listen several times. Favourites: Blinded by a lie; Lost to the night and Moment of truth.

Rating: 92

19/04/06: illimey -
Rating: 99
Well, Illimey finally got his copy of Bob's latest...

Dunno what all the grumbling about the sound quality is for - to my ears, the production suits the music and lyrics just fine. It all merges together into a suitably mystical landscape of poetic whimsy. I honestly think the slightly 'distant' vocals work to pull the happy listener deeper into the art....

I've never really been a big fan of Vince's guitar work - the 'wall of noise' approach he takes has in the past detracted from the overall effect. On this album, that 'wall' is still present, however it is edged in moss and mist, rather than jagged wire. Although the album contains perhaps some of the heaviest Bob yet, it manages to also be his 'softest' solo album. The music drifts into - rather than pierces through - the psyche of the listener.

As I'm only just coming to the end of my first listen I can't comment on any individual track - and I'm not sure I will ever try. What I can say is that I love every moment of the album. There is nothing here that I do not like. It is soaking into me like the morning mist on a mountain ridge, with gleams of sunlight just a heartbeat away.

99/100 [There's no such thing as perfection this side of Heaven]

'Walk in the Light....'


13/04/06: John Taylor -
Rating: 88
I would say that all the tracks deliver what they promise, good quality British rock.

26/02/06: Figge -
Rating: 68
I can't believe a well known and respected artist like Bob Catley can get away with a release like this. Are we listening to the same CD? The sound/production is so second rate it should embarass the artist in this day and age. It's really quite annoying to listen to the album, especially at high volume. It hurts my ears.

There are some good intentions and a few songs which could've been really good if handled by somebody competent. I'm maybe being harsch here, but honest.

I'm already looking forward to the next Catley album, no matter if it's a Magnunm or solo effort. 'Cause this was really, really disappointing. He still has a very competent voice and feel for melodies...there are hints of what is expected from him on "Spirit Of Man" and I hope and pray the choice of producer/mixer is a little more carefully thought through next time around.


24/02/06: Dimitri -
Rating: 90
Excellent album much closer to the Magnum sound than the previous ones!

19/02/06: Gary Knox -
Rating: 85
Another quality release of song from Bob, if the production had been better it would rate up there with When Empires Burn.

18/02/06: Zok -
Rating: 93
Bob Catley is back, and with a great record. The next best of all his records. When empires burns is the best, but this one is pretty cloes. it΄s harder then usual for Bob catley, with strong songs over the record. "Spirit of man" , "Last snow on winter" and "End of the story" is awsome. But I dont think its a weak spot on this record. The sad part is the prodution, When empire burns had a super production. But this is much weaker, with a better production "Spirit of man" could fight against the last record. It΄s sad...
But this is a great record, and will be a top melodicrecord this year. A must buy!

18/02/06: Axe-Machine -
Rating: 90
HUGE! A Magnumesque follow up to When Empires Burn, with a continuation of the hard hitting sound that found him so favoured last time out. 'Spirit of Man' and 'In The Name of the Cause' are the only weak moments on show. 'Heart of Stone' flat out rocks, 'Moment of Truth' is remeniscent of 'Scream' from The Tower, 'Lost To The Night' is sheer class and 'Judgement Day', far and away the best track of the record, is exactly what Magnum have failed to do on the last few albums...building from a nice acoustic intro through some haunting lyrics and culminating in a massive chorus which is sure to be a favourite in Bob's live set.
As for the production, it is much along the lines of the When Empires Burn sound with huge guitars and a nice wall of keys. Overall a nice heavy attempt from Bob which is sure to please everyone. Agree with Freddy De Keyzer, beats all the other January releases...especially AOR and Ambition, which were highly predictable, rather dull affairs truth be told.

Highly Recommended.

16/02/06: Big Mike -
Rating: 65
I'm not convinced this is a great Album. The same vibe is here
but there just aren't enough big hooks or melody to get my teeth into. Yes the production is a little suspect in places too. "Spirit of man" does not have the catchiness of "When Empires Burn" and reminds me more of the feel of more recent Magnum albums.

14/02/06: Ole Bach -
Rating: 90
Fantastic job Bob has done with this album the first track is one of the most heavy tracks he have done.

13/02/06: jordi -
Rating: 95
powerful/heavy/emotional/fantastic songs , its a long time since i heard an album with all qualitys i look for.i carnt stop playing it. for all rock fans its a must. you wont be disappointed.

11/02/06: Freddy De Keyzer -
Rating: 85
As always : quality and quantity from this man !
What more can I say ?! Oh yes, this one beats Toto, like Mind's Eye, Tony O'Haro, Proto-Kaw, AOR and of course Ambition do !
Can't wait for another Magnum record, but meanwhile, this one does fine for me !
Goodie !

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