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A Conspiracy Of Stars
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Goody 2 Shoes & The Filthy Beasts
Mothers Finest
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Not only musicians and freelance artists know this phenomenon: it’s impossible to deliver top creative performances at the push of a button. You need peace, leisure, and – most of all – a certain amount of serenity to create truly great works of art. “We used to be under permanent pressure from our record companies,” says Magnum mastermind Tony Clarkin. “They kept calling us, demanding hit singles and radio numbers. But that sort of thing doesn’t work on demand. Now we’re with SPV, where it’s a totally different situation. They give us the necessary time and trust us to do the right thing. That’s probably the reason why I enjoy working with Magnum again.”

Clarkin’s regained joy in his band is omnipresent on the latest Magnum offering, Escape From The Shadow Garden. Just like his simple yet logical work ethos: “I simply told myself: you’re a passable guitarist, so you should play the guitar. As the band’s guitarist and producer, I have all the freedom I need to create exactly what I feel like creating.” The result of his latest burst of creativity consists of eleven wonderfully melodic rock songs which blend all the typical Magnum ingredients, sounding in a fascinating way both timeless and classic. “This band has certain unmistakable trademarks,” Clarkin explains. “Among them are my feel for melodies and Bob’s unique vocal style.”

Only a month after the release of its predecessor, On The 13th Day, Clarkin started with the preparations for Escape From The Shadow Garden – as always an exciting phase in his life. “Before you haven’t recorded and mixed every single note, you never really know whether you’ll be happy with the result. When I heard the final version of the eleven new songs with their different stories and diverse arrangements, I knew it had turned into an impressive and complete album. Together with the great cover artwork designed by Rodney Matthews (Asia, Nazareth, Eloy), this is a release which forges an arch to the early days of Magnum’s career. And that’s wonderful! I was really happy when my friend Jimmy Lea of Slade came to visit me at the studio again and said: ‘You’ve done it again?’ It doesn’t matter whether by sheer luck or hard work – life could have gone a totally differently way.”

Magnum, who regularly breached the Top 40 of both the singles and album charts in the Eighties and early Nineties, came together in the Midlands in the mid-Seventies and released their debut album Kingdom Of Madness in 1978, followed by Magnum II in 1979 and their first live album Marauder in 1980. During this period they toured relentlessly with the likes of Def Leppard, Blue Oyster Cult and Judas Priest.

1982`s Chase The Dragon album was the first to go Top 20, and was accompanied by a sold out UK tour. 1983`s The Eleventh Hour, 1985`s On A Storyteller`s Night and 1986`s (by Roger Taylor produced) Vigilante album all fared similarly well but it was 1988`s Wings Of Heaven LP which really broke the band into the mainstream, going gold, breaching the top 5 of the UK chart and spawning three top 30 singles - ´Days Of No Trust`, ´Start Talkin` Love` and ´It Must Have Been Love`. During this period the band regularly graced the stages of such venues as Hammersmith Odeon and major UK Festivals as Reading and Castle Donington.

1990`s Goodnight L.A. album also went Top 10, spawned the Top 40 single ´Rocking Chair` and was accompanied by a tour of the UK`s Arena circuit, including venues such as Wembley Arena and the NEC. 1991`s The Spirit, 1992`s Sleepwalking and 1994`s Rock Art were followed by the announcement of the band’s demise and an extensive farewell tour, during which the band`s 1996 live album, The Last Dance was recorded.

Clarkin went on to work as a producer and songwriter for other artists, brought out two albums with Bob Catley in Hard Rain (Hard Rain in 1997 and When The Good Times Come in 1999), and generally recharged his musical batteries.

Then, in the summer of 2001, Magnum reformed and began writing their February 2002 released Breath Of Life album, released eight years after Rock Art. “It was particularly inspiring for me to write and produce new material for Magnum,” Clarkin enthused at the time, continuing that “compared to the Hard Rain tracks, the Magnum compositions are powerful, deeper, and more passionate.”

2004’s Brand New Morning album was an even more accomplished body of work, and won over a host of new fans, as well documented on the Livin’ The Dream live DVD, recorded in the UK in 2005, and released in 2006. Both Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow, released in March 2007, and Into The Valley Of The Moon King Magnum’s 2009`s studio album, proved how, like a good wine, this band just gets better with every year.

Classic Rock’s Philip Wilding reviewed Magnum’s studio album, The Visitation in Classic Rock Prog’s February 2011 issue, stating: “Latter day Magnum have settled into their respective musical skins, more experimental, more mindful, a better band. The production’s lush and dense, the nuances are subtle and understated, and they can still take a tilt at Radio 2 playlists in songs like ‘Wild Angels’. Everything here feels denser and more thought out, less ambiguous. Songs like the opener ‘Dark Skies’ and ‘Door To Nowhere’ give the impression they are intended to convey something and raise a point, and Magnum are all the better for it.”

On the following On The 13th Day and the brand new Escape From The Shadow Garden Magnum more than stepped up to the plate to deliver an even more accomplished body of work than ever before! Already one month after the release of their current album magnum, together with saga are scheduled to embark on a tour of Germany. Clarkin: “And again things have come full circle, because Jim Crichton and Michael Sadler were guest musicians on Goodnight L.A. It’s great to meet them again.”
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