Magnum – Chase The Dragon & The Eleventh Hour
Around the time of the NWOBHM, when I was starting to take an interest in rock music, Magnum were first arriving on the scene. These are Magnum’s 4th and 5th albums respectively, from 1982 and 1983. Chase The Dragon was the more commercially sucessful of the two, reaching number 17 in the British album charts. At the time the albums were released Radio 1’s Friday Rock Show was still on the go and featured songs from The Eleventh Hour in one of their sessions.
Magnum have now split up, without really achieving the sucess I had hoped they would. Magnum’s career peaked at later albums such as ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ and ‘Wings Of Heaven’. If you are looking to buy one Magnum album for your collection, the aforementioned are a better bet than either Chase The Dragon or The Eleventh Hour. If you are only familiar with their later work, then the albums reviewed are an interesting insight into how their sound developed, especially as these albums can be picked up very cheaply now. I bought both these albums for a tenner.
Magnum have an distinctly English feel about them. At this stage of their career Magnum were still pomp rockers. Bearing in mind the release dates of the albums it’s hardly surprising if the best description is NWOBHM with pomp keyboards. As well as the more overly pomp tunes, we also see Magnum trying their hand at straight rock and almost AOR material. There is a slighly medieval feel to the music and lyrics that evoke visions of Jethro Tull (with the keyboards replacing the flute).
Of the two albums, I prefer The Eleventh Hour, despite the fact that Chase The Dragon contains the better known material such as Soldier Of The Line, The Spirit and Sacred Hour. This is the more consistent album of the two. Listening to the albums now, they do sound dated. I would love to hear them with a modern production job done on them. The other factor that dates them is that the playing times are in the 35 to 40 mins region, compared with the 50 plus mins we expect from modern releases.
If I had been reviewing these back when they were first released, I’d probably be giving them say 8 or 9. Now I only feel inclined to give Chase The Dragon a 6 and The Eleventh Hour a 7.
Ratings : Chase The Dragon 6, The Eleventh Hour 7.