Re: Magnum - Escape From The Shadow Garden
Date: March 20, 2014 12:53PM
For me, there is only one Magnum album that I wouldn't rate between great and Mary Poppins (practically perfect in every way), and that is Rock Art. Despite containing one classic (On Christmas Day) and a few other good songs, the overall feel and sound of that album is simply not my thing.
I adore the KOM-EH era, and there are days of my life where KOM is actually my favorite Magnum album! Magnum II is often overlooked, but in my opinion it is actually the most consistent of the first four in that there is no filler - each track has something to offer to the overall package. Great Adventure, So Cold The Night, and All Of My Life all feature in my Top 40 Magnum tracks!
From OASTN to GLA there is an obvious progression from quirky Britishness to a more supposedly accessible sound, and of course the end result that was GLA met with a great deal of uncertainty from Magnum fans and the world at large. It took me many years to learn to appreciate GLA, but I now enjoy it a great deal. OASTN to WOH is a consecutive trio of albums unmatched by any other band that I am aware of.
Sleepwalking stands on its own - there is nothing else quite like it in the Magnum legacy. I love it, but every time I listen to it I am very aware that the songs were far, far better live than they sound on the album. The overall feel is simply too laid back for Magnum! Still, some absolutely superb songwriting.
KNLB I don't class as a studio album as such, but it is great for what it is. RA we've already dealt with. Which leads us to the break, Hard Rain (50 % OK, 50% awful) and the reunion!
BOL: Great to excellent songs, but drum machine? Still, very enjoyable.
BNM: Perhaps Magnum's most generic sounding release, but despite that contains some wonderful writing and a very good production, something that disappeared for the next couple of albums.
PAATBA: Fantastic songs, dreadful muddy sound.
ITVOTMK: Ditto, but sound is definitely an improvement. A very, very good album.
Visitation: Although the sound is not perfect, it is a vast step up from the previous two - and the songwriting is in my opinion absolutely magnificent. Perhaps my favorite Magnum album, with song after song that embrace the band's rich heritage yet still sound fresh and real.
OTTD: Almost as good as Visitation, with some wider stylistic offerings including the sublime Shadow Town. This to me is the reunion album that manages to combine elements from all of Magnum's trademark sounds - from KOM (Dance Of The Black Tattoo) to Sleepwalking. With a few more years to mature, this could overtake its predecessor in my estimation.
SO there you are! If I had to put all this into a list, it may go something like this:
KOM/OASTN/WOH/Visitation = Best of the Best
Magnum II/CTD/Vigilante/OTTD = Better than the Best of the Rest
EH/Sleepwalking/BNM/PAATBA/ITVOTMK = As Good as the Best of the Rest
GLA/BOL = Great albums, but not brilliant in their context as Magnum albums
RA = Mostly Harmless, with a classic tagged on the end