MAGNUM – Kingdom Of Madness [Japan expanded 2-CD Limited Edition remastered] *HQ*
We all know and love British legends MAGNUM most successful albums, but their early efforts are very good LP’s as well. As requested, here’s ”Kingdom Of Madness”, the debut studio album by the English band released in 1978. This Japanese expanded 2-CD Limited Edition remastered includes a bonus CD with outtakes, their rare first single, demos, etc.
After a couple of singles, with ”Kingdom Of Madness” MAGNUM demonstrated they were capable of making a strong claim for a slice of the market occupied by the likes of Styx, Kansas and Yes.
With strong melodies and progressive arrangements, the songwriting ranges from imaginative, mythical tales on opener “In the Beginning” and the title song, to deeply philosophical tracks like “Universe” and “All That Is Real”.
The album is also noted for its fine lyrics, with influence from Hawkwind member, Blue Öyster Cult lyricist and science fiction author Michael Moorcock – the songs “Lord of Chaos” and “Stormbringer” directly referencing Moorcock’s Elric series.
Prior to the LP release, Magnum had toured the UK extensively with the likes of Judas Priest and had built upon a solid fan base. Many of the songs had been played in Magnum’s live set since 1976, and were suitably “road tested”.
Many fans were familiar with the material before the album was released, this helped the LP debut at a respectable No. 58 in the UK charts. Two singles were released to promote the album, “Kingdom of Madness” in July 1978 and “Invasion” in September 1978, although Magnum’s debut single for CBS, “Sweets for My Sweet” released in February 1975 was not included on the album.
Indeed, many of the songs on this 1978 debut LP were recorded two years before. This expanded edition reissue features on the bonus disc the tracks “Master of Disguise”, “Without Your Love”, “Find the Time” and “Everybody Needs” originally intended for the album, but dropped for more up-to-date songs, such as opening track “In the Beginning”.
Although Magnum have indulged in prog like styles and themes on many occasions since, they are not and never have been a prog band, but more Prog Related, with a strong melodic and commercial approach.
The reason for this distinction quickly becomes clear as we move from the wonderful opener “In the Beginning” to “Baby Rock Me”.
The former has a Fish-era Marillion like feel to it, with synth runs and varied tempos combined with an upbeat main theme to form a really meaty number by any standards. The track also offers an early opportunity to feast on the fine guitar work of Tony Clarkin.
“Baby Rock Me” sounds quite a bit like Queen circa ‘Jazz’ or ‘News of the World’, except that Bob Catley vocals are more ‘rocking’.
“Universe” offers our first chance to discover the softer side of Magnum, and they waste no time in getting deep and meaningful. “Who holds the answer to the universe” is the question posed by the lyrics, Catley’s vocal style being uncharacteristically accented and rather melodic rock orientated.
The title track reverts to the prog type structure of the first track. A brief flute and acoustic guitar interplay gives way to a harder riff which in turn leads to an infectious chorus. “All That is Real” also has a surprisingly ambitious arrangement, the keyboard orchestrations emphasizing the band’s willingness to develop their songs to the full.
Catley’s fine vocal performance on “The Bringer” does lift the song nicely though. The lyrics of the song, as on follower “Invasion” are suitably mysterious, which owes a lot to Uriah Heep and Queen about aliens from other planets, while “Lords of Chaos” deals with more temporal threats.
The closing “All Come Together” starts with a fine piano and mellotron duet introducing a melodic, poppy rock piece.
Magnum’s debut, in many places, sounds ahead of its time mixing progressive with mainstream melodic rock, something others will imitate in the future. The musicianship is really great, with lots of melodic guitars and keyboards, a tight rhythm section and Bob Catley’s strong vocal performance to top it all of.
01 – In The Beginning
02 – Baby Rock Me
03 – Universe
04 – Kingdom Of Madness
05 – All That Is Real
06 – The Bringer
07 – Invasion
08 – Lords Of Chaos
09 – All Come Together
01 – Sea Bird
02 – Stormbringer
03 – Slipping Away
04 – Captain America
05 – Sweets For My Sweet (Single A-Side)
06 – Movin’ On (Single B-Side)
07 – Master Of Disguise
08 – Without Your Love
09 – Find The Time
10 – Everybody Needs
11 – Kingdom Of Madness (Alternative Version)
1 – 4 Demo recorded at Nest Studios, Birmingham, 1974
5 – 6 Magnum’s rare first single Sweets for My Sweet, 1975
7 – 10 Outtakes from the Kingdom Of Madness sessions, 1976
11 Alternate recording, recorded at Battle Studios, 1979
Bob Catley – lead & backing vocals, guitar
Tony Clarkin – guitars, backing vocals
Richard Bailey – keyboards, flute, backing vocals
Colin “Wally” Lowe – bass, vocals
Kex Gorin – drums