Given the news concerning Magnum mainstay Tony Clarkin‘s health after review copies of this new album were sent out, the interest around the record at Sentinel Towers has reached fever pitch (at least in myself and co-fan Gavin Strickmann‘s case); Are we listening to the band’s swansong? Is this the moment we never thought would come?
Actually, to my fevered mind at least, I suspect not – if Tony does make the recovery we all fervently hope for, but decides to hang up his touring boots past one last farewell, then I feel we should expect one or two more from his very fecund pen – but there is a feeling of sadness, a maudlin reverie almost, that permeates a lot of the material here that may suggest otherwise to ears more finely attuned to the Magnum camp than mine.
But whatever, as ever, there’s a well-worn familiarity to much of the material here that will comfort fans both long-term and new; It’s always a pleasure to listen to Bob Catley – who, let’s remember is now seventy six years of age – and his performances here will quite possibly bring a tear to the eye as our hero wrenches every last drop of pathos out of the superb title track or The Day He Lied, a fabulous slice of pomp rock that’ll have all you lapsed smokers out there rooting about at the back of the kitchen dresser looking for old lighters to wave in the air as you sing along…
Lee Morris is a rock at the back, powering The Seventh Darkness with unfussy solidity in tandem with bassist Dennis Ward, whilst keysman Rick Benton continues to grow into his role as the burnisher of Clarkin’s riff arsenal. His support of Catley at the start of Broken City is genuinely spinetingling, transporting the listener right back to the band’s glory days with the flick of a wrist across the ivories… Again, this is a song that’ll have you gazing wistfully into the middle distance wondering where the time went.
The final pair of tracks, I Wanna Live and Borderline, are staggeringly good, the latter fading out with a classic Magnum keyboard motif hanging in the air, leaving this reviewer with the opinion that this is somehow a band that has revealed some of it’s very best work right as the twilight finally darkens. This is a stupendous feat.
Old pals forever, Clarkin and Catley are the bulwark of British pomp rock, and here across all ten songs, they stand defiant, taunting time and all it’s allies to do their worst. If you aren’t moved and inspired by their performances – how can men with a combined age of over one hundred and fifty rock as hard as they do on Blue Tango? – then it’s quite possible you have no soul.
Me? I’ve been a fan of Magnum since I picked up a fire-damaged copy of The Lights Burned Out in a shop in Poole in 1982. And whilst it’s true that I might not be the most soulful of chaps, I can spot class when I hear it, and Here Comes The Rain is going to be as classy as it gets in 2024, believe me. Fabulous stuff.
Here Comes The Rain releases on January 12th.