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Magnum
Princess Alice & The Broken Arrow
SPV
· Produced By: Tony Clarkin

· Running Time: 62.35

· Release Date: Out Now

· Released:

· Musical Style: Melodic Rock

· Links: Magnum
85%
Songs: 82%
Sound: 88%
I grew up idolizing Magnum. On A Storyteller's Night, Vigilante and Wings Of Heaven are a trio of releases that few bands could match and I believe most artists would be proud of. Three album's in a row where every track was a classic….mind boggling stuff.
The band continued on but later split. No one was happier than I when plans to reform came to light. The dynamics of the Tony Clarkin/Bob Catley partnership is one I'll probably never see again in my lifetime.
The band's comeback release Breath Of Life was sadly below average for what you'd expect from this band. They followed it up with a very similar record in Brand New Morning. But the songs this time were better and I think it signaled the beginning of a true return to form.
Now we have the band's third album since reforming – Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow.
On the surface, we have the classic hallmarks of Magnum present – the brilliant Rodney Matthews cover art, an old-school promo shot and a great new logo.
But musically I have struggled with this album. There are some very fine songs within, don't get me wrong, but for me, the essential ingredients for classic Magnum are still missing.
Let's take a look at the positives of the release first. In all in all, I think the guys have created a foundation here to move forward and that is important.
I also think Princess Alice features the best sound and production quality of the 3 albums since the band's return.
The album features more complex musical textures, a trademark of Magnum's grandiose style. And new drummer Jimmy Copley makes his mark with some subtle and effective playing and Bob Catley sounds as fabulous as ever.
On a more critical note, Magnum simply must learn again how to shift musical gears. This album is more or less a repeat of the tempo and style of the last 2 albums. That's 3 albums in a row of a very similar style, for a band that has rarely repeated themselves throughout their career.
The thing with Magnum is that they have always sounded like Magnum, but have never repeated the same album twice. Look at the three albums mentioned in the beginning, then add the three albums that directly preceded those - Sleepwalking, Goodnight LA and Rock Art. These were completely different yet again, but always 100% Magnum.
The last 3 albums have all been very similar in their approach, but very worst of all; they have all been of the same unvaried plodding pace.
And that lone fact is the biggest problem I have with this album. The songs themselves are ok, but the stuck in first gear pace of the album (especially the first half) and the definite lack of tempo variation is a big problem.
There is almost no difference in pace between the ballads and the harder tracks. This improves towards the end of the album where two of three tracks pick things up, but this issue is something I have raised in each of my reviews of the last 3 records.
The other thing I am missing is huge choruses. Sure, Magnum still knows how to write a good chorus, but there is little extra emphasis put on these.
Tony Clarkin used to be the king of choruses – Days Of No Trust, Start Talking Love, Lonely Nights, When The World Comes Down, How Far Jerusalem, Just Like An Arrow to name a few. His style of chorus writing stated to change on the Sleepwalking record. That album is a monster in itself and is criminally underrated, but the style did change and it continued through the two Hard Rain records and on into the reformed Magnum.
The anthemic gusto is not there, the urgency somewhat removed.
I'm not asking any artist or band to return to the 80s if they don't want to, but I'd still love to see that old style return coupled with more variation in tempo throughout the record – including a couple of barnstormers like Days Of No Trust or Pray For The Day.
Like I said earlier, there are still some fine songs here.
And I also feel that the song sequence doesn't do the guys any favors either. The laid back opening track When We Were Younger may be one of the best songs of the record as far as emotional depth, but as an opening track it is a real momentum killer.
The next 3 songs are all fairly laid back; giving the album the most laid back start of any Magnum album ever. Of those opening tracks the moody and haunting Like Bothers We Stand shines out.
It is with Dragons Are Real that the album begins to take shape for me.
The track that follows is Inside Your Head, again very laid back, but a fine ballad indeed.
We finally get a more urgent tempo on the seventh track of the album - Be Strong. This reminds me a little of the Sleepwalking album and has a funky retro feel.
Its ballad time again immediately following this with Thank You For The Day, brining the tempo back again, but this is a great ballad and one of the best tracks of the last three albums. And a much better chorus too.
Your Lies is another more uptempo track and is fairly enjoyable, but more for the fact the tempo is rolling again.
The album finds itself in a rocker/ballad/rocker flow in its second half, so it is ballad time again with Desperate Times. But another good chorus and a small lift in tempo continues the stronger run of the second half of the record.
Closing the album is one of my favourite tracks from the record - You'll Never Sleep. This is a nice more uptempo melodic rocker with a catchy melody and a fairly simple premise.
The Bottom Line
I am perhaps more critical with Magnum than I am with some other artists. I am this way as I know what the guys are capable of and all of my comments come from a long and deep seeded love of the band. This is a solid album with the best sound of the 3 recent albums, but I rate the songwriting on Brand New Morning more favourably.
As always I will anticipate the next album to be the classic they are capable of. Still, some good songs here to tide fans over.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Wings of Heaven
· Goodnight LA
· Rock Art
· Breath Of Life
· Brand New Morning
· Princess Alice & The Broken Arrow

Line Up:
· Bob Catley: Vocals
· Tony Clarkin: Guitar
· Jimmy Copley: Drums
· Al Barrow: Bass
· Mark Stanway: Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
· Magnum
· Bob Catley
Track Listing
· When We Were Younger
· Eyes Wide Open
· Like Brothers We Stand *
· Out Of The Shadows
· Dragons Are Real *
· Inside Your Head *
· Be Strong
· Thank You For The Day *
· Your Lies
· Desperate Times
· You'll Never Sleep *

--*Best Tracks


14/08/07: Laurent - jazzhard@hotmail.com
Rating: 89
Tony Clarkin could not write a bad song even to save his life. I've been a huge Magnum fan for as long as I can remember and even though the last couple of albums were not as inspired as their classic work they still were good enough in my book. With this new album, Magnum captured some of the magic of "Storyteller's Night" and most of the songs have the same unique mood.

For me the addition of drummer Jimmy Copley is one of the main reason why this album is so great. I always thought that Magnum's music needed a great drummer and unfortunately this was missing since Mickey Barker left (he's brilliant). Copley's drumming brought that extra touch to the music and allow the musician to play more freely as they are supported by a wonderful skinsman who knows where and when to add colours.

Clarkin is a songwriting genius and Magnum is one of the greatest bands ever in the history of music.

02/08/07: Craig Bishop - bisho72@optusnet.com.au
Rating: 84
I have everything Magnum has ever released (including all 7", 12" and CD singles) and was hoping for a true classic with this release but I find it falls short of Brand New Morning. The last album was criticised for being too one-dimensional: too many mid-tempo numbers, but I found the songs themselves way above most of the output here! That's not to say it's a bad album. I will take a "GOOD" album from one of my all-time favourite bands over none at all!
Can't wait for the next one.

13/06/07: Theo - scarabus344@planet.nl
Rating: 85
On a Storyteller's Night and Wings Of Destiny are my 2 fave Magnum cds. Princess Alice comes close. From the opening track When We Were Young I was hooked. And the cd keeps spinning in my car.
Don't understand that Andrew is more critical with Magnum than with other acts.
For instance the last Night Ranger. I know they can write classic stuff, but their last one doesn't come close. Still it is rated as almost perfect. And when songs are getting better and better, it means they aren't perfect (yet). Still they were rated with 94. Strange.
In my opinion a cd rated with more than 90 has to have songs on it that are all great, production is first class and there's not left to desire. Great vocals, guitars, keyboards, everything

01/05/07: guillermo - guillerperez@hotmail.com
Rating: 85
la verdad es que la critica nos habia vendido otra noche de cuentacuentos y el album no está mal pero tampoco es la ostya.
Aor con exceso en mi opinion de medios tiempos. Con todo siempre esta bien pegar unas escuchas a lo que hace el Catley.

27/04/07: Niraj - niraj@heavensdelight.co.uk
Rating: 92
When bands produce amazing albums, it's hard to live up to expectations. Bonjovi haven't matched These Days. Def Lepard are still light years away from Hysteria. Y&T's last three albums paled in comparison to Down For The Count and Contagious.

I grew up listening to Vigalante and On A Story Tellers Night, eighties melodic rock which still sounds fantastic today. I agree with Andrew (I nearly always do) that these catchy hooks are not as strong on Princess Alice, however, is still a very good album. Thematically, it's incredible and CD special edition has a documentary into the making of the album, which also shows what a songwriting genuis Tony Clarkin as he gives his thoughts on each song. When We Were Younger, Inside Your Head and Your Lies are worth the album alone. www.heavensdelight.co.uk

25/04/07: Paul Ottowell - paul.ottowell204@mod.uk
Rating: 88
Be Strong is the one weak track and yes the CD could do with a "heartbroke and busted" to get me singing along - but the other songs are so good (texture, depth and melody) that I reckon I shall revisit this album frequently

21/04/07: Alex Siedler - alex.siedler-xxx@lycos.de
Rating: 90
At first i was a bit disappointed after the first few listens, since, as Andrew pointed out, there´s something lacking as far as strong choruses go - sometimes they´re just not there. At first i thought BNM is far superior to it (after all its defintily one of my Top 3 Magnum discs), but then I realized something: Maybe its not always about catchy songwriting, but more about certain moods/feelings music can evoke. And this is something this album does very well: It pushes you right in that dreamy, sometimes melancholic, but never sad world of Magnum. It does this way more than OASN or Vigilante does, not as much as WOH, but the same way as BNM....:-) Actually, just like a Progressive Rock album a la Marillion, Camel or VdGG, this album needs time to grow on you. Give it a try, its worth it......

20/04/07: Martin Vielhaber - M-Vielhaber@T-Online.de
Rating: 100
Brilliant album. Enough singles for two albums (Like Brothers We Stand, Dragons Are Real, Eyes Wide Open, You'll Never Sleep to name but a few)

If you don't like the album instantly - just listen again and again. It grows and grows and grows. This album has has the longest continuous play in my car CD-player ever!!! If you haven't already got it - get it. Now!!

20/04/07: Andrew - ajm@melodicrock.com
Rating: 85
Enough with the references to Harem Scarem. Seriously.
Two different bands, two different styles, zero comparison.
For the record I would be hard picked to chose between which band I love more, so how about giving the fact I did not rate this record a classic a little respect.
If it was 1992, people would be complaining that I was completely bias towards everything Magnum after giving them perfect scores or close for Storytellers, Vigilante, Wings Of Heaven, Goodnight LA and Sleepwalking.

State your view in regard to this release/review and I'll be happy to add your comments.

20/04/07: Dave - djmayerfzr@hotmail.com
Rating: 91
I think Andy is pretty much RIGHT with this one!! Magnum are my favourite band, I own most of there stuff and have seen them loads of times live as well as Hard Rain and Bob solo.
The last two albums left me a little cold, they seemed a little short on ideas and to my ears were just not really Magnum as we know them.
I think this album is in a different league than the last two but IS a little one paced and sometimes just seems too lightweight.
The big ballad (Inside Your Head) has a great piano and verse tune but what the hell was Tony thinking with the chorus, it has no sing along feel or catchiness then off it goes at a tangent losing its thread and getting lost somehow, almost as though it was a case of "where can we take the tune now?"
There are some cracking tracks on this album, and when it's good it is VERY good which is where it beats Magnums previous two efforts. I hope that they continue on this path but I hope that next time they dig a bit deeper creatively and come up with more catchy choruses.
Very very good but not a masterpiece.

20/04/07: Brian Martin - BMARTIN@NELSTROP.CO.UK
Rating: 99
Not sure whether Andrew was listening to the same album as me as he is way off the mark with his review.This is a magnificent monster of an album.Its the best Magnum album in years,the songs and musicianship are absolute quality.Give it another spin Andrew and try to clear your head of all that Harem Scarem crap.

20/04/07: Duffman - duffmans7g@hotmail.com
Rating: 80
what is peoples obsession with harem scarem??? magnum are not harem scarem and i see no reason why reviews for that band should be talked about here. the review is pretty close to how i feel and i tink the magnum fan club has been at work here. no way this is a 100 relese get a grip people

20/04/07: AlexisRockMelodico - melodicorock@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
A great album which grown trough time. Bob Catley is God!! (well, or the Papa, I think). http://rockmelodico.blogspot.com

19/04/07: Claudio - claudiofioretti@gmx.de
Rating: 98
Sorry Andrew, but I don't agree. This is the best Album from the guys since Wings Of Heaven. I really can't wait to see the band live on stage in May.

19/04/07: Cris - cromera@gmx.de
Rating: 100
I do remember Andrew giving 93 % to Journeys japanese version of Arrival even it was full of ballads. Giving high scores to everithing Harem Scarem offers. 'Princess Alice' is a gem out of all the aor outputs nowadays. We know Magnum never delivers an album twice. So, what have you expected? There will never be a 'storytellers part II" or 'Vigilante part II". Each album is different. I like Jimmy's drum playing a lot. The hooks and melodys are there, wonderfull ballads and uptempo tracks. A good mix. The production is strong. You can't review an album by comparing it to albums made 20 years ago, but for itself. For me one of Magnum's best albums. The magic is definite back!!

19/04/07: ignacio - i6n4c10@gmail.com
Rating: 95
'Be Strong' is the one that i like less. For the other ones, i rather find difficult ot find a record with so many damn great songs. It is not Storyteller's II, but it is as close that every Magnum fan can think of.
I am not as much into Magnum as you may think, but i really think this is the best second record in Magnum's career.
shame we will have to wait 2 or 3 years to dream with another one like this :)

19/04/07: Paul - metropolis1956@yahoo.co.uk
Rating: 96
Class, needs a few listens to really appreciate it, but just wonderful.

19/04/07: Eric - emmmm@bigpond.net.au
Rating: 0
Princess Alice is a real come back to form (although there wasn't too much wrong with Breath of Life or Brand New Morning compared with a lot of stuff that gets released nowadays).
The DVD with the special release is also a great way to see how the guys are developing.
I read Andrews comments with interest regarding each review, and most times he is spot on...but when you compare a 100% score last year for Toto's latest (which I bought on the strength of the review..and hate it), also bought the new Harem Scarem - Human Nature based on the Andrew's review(which at best is a mediocre album), he is totallly out of touch with "Princess Alice"...its a Great album...with absolutely everything one has come to expect from a great band!!

19/04/07: Nicodim - reverendnicodim@gmail.com
Rating: 100
The 80's are back! Magnum recorded an album which could be easily placed in between the best their recordings from the glory 80', when the band actually were the leaders of AOR scene. In 2002, it was Breath Of Life - their first effor after re-union. It was pretty good but not even close to the Magnum classics. Then in the year of 2004 we got another release from the guys - Brand New Morning. And really brand new stuff was there. It was may be the heaviest & meaniest album in the history of the band. But... It was fresh after the first listening, it was so-so album after another and it was boring after the next one. That's it.
It's just my opinion, but I eat too much of eat too fast. After a couple of weeks of listening I've lost the interest to the songs on Brand New Morning. And realised - it was fresh and may be even unique for Magnum, but at the same time it was nothing but repeating of Bob Catley's solo efforts which were influenced much by Gary Hughes of Ten.
So, I was waiting for the new album with some anxiety. I just was afraid they might continue this way. And I don't like it at all. Thank God, the guys made the right choice and got back to their own past. By the way, to their best from the past. As a result we have a 21st century classic from Magnum.
Dinamic trio of the band (Clarkin-Catley-Stanway) showed us that they still have the power inside the pants. Yep, really! The guys got the balls! Their new album is a masterpiece of the same value as Vigilante, On A Storyteller's Night and, of course, Wings Of Heaven. I just can't stop listening to it! It's like I was back there in 80s.
Really great work!

19/04/07: Clive - clive.mactavish@hotmail.co.uk
Rating: 97
I'm sorry but Andrew has got this one totally wrong. I've been a Magnum fan since Chase the Dragon (their first masterpiece) and this one is right up there with that, On a Storyteller's Night and Wings of Heaven. Andrew's focus on "one paced" ignores the quality of the tunes which far surpasses the level of the two previous offerings. "When we were Younger" is a fantastic stirring opener a la "How Far Jerusalem" and is not a "momentum killer". As to the rest high spots abound - "Dragons Are Real", "Be Strong", "Desperate Times", "You'll Never Sleep"...hell it really is all top notch stuff. I've been listening to it solidly for weeks and it's been keeping Pride of Lions in the corner... It is great to see such a fine band remind we why I first became a fan all those years ago. I nearly didn't buy this after Brand New Morning but am very glad I did!

19/04/07: Ton - o.herwijnen@chello.nl
Rating: 95
About the songs you always can have another point of view, but you give in the review 88% for the sound. That's a strange observation. This albums sounds fantastic, much better than the albums after the break. For me there are a lot of highlights: Thank you for the day, Like brothers we stand, Be strong (a fantastic riff and also You never sleep. No fillers at all, two songs imo. not as strong as the others (Lies, Out of the shadows). Excellent Magnumalbum. Fans can buy this one without any doubt.

18/04/07: Steve - herrmannshome@gmx.de
Rating: 100
Simply a masterpiece!


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