Sunday 5 March 2017

Album Review: MAGNUM - The Valley Of Tears - The Ballads

Magnum - The Valley Of Tears

01. Dream About You (remastered)
02. Back In Your Arms Again (newly re-recorded)
03. The Valley Of Tears (remixed, remastered)
04. Broken Wheel (newly re-recorded)
05. A Face In The Crowd (remixed, remastered)
06. Your Dreams Won't Die (remastered)
07. Lonely Night (acoustic version, newly re-recorded)
08. The Last Frontier (remixed, remastered)
09. Putting Things In Place (remixed, remastered)
10. When The World Comes Down (new live version)

In a world of YouTube and Spotify, it could be argued that compilation albums are pretty much redundant. The Valley Of Tears is an unusual beast, as it's a compilation of ballads! I can't imagine why someone would want such a thing. Don't get me wrong, Magnum have penned some amazing Rock ballads in their several decades of existence, and those tracks have sat nicely on their albums, breaking up the Rock songs and adding an extra dimension to each piece of work. However, an entire album of back to back ballads is not something that appeals to me very much. I'd have thought such a release would have a limited appeal within their existing fan-base, but maybe I'm wrong, as here it is! 

In fairness it's more than just a compilation. The tracks aren't in their original versions, as some have been remixed, re-mastered or even re-recorded altogether. The epic When The World Comes Down is represented by a new live recording which adds to its grandness as well as giving the fans something new for their music collections. There are no real standout tracks here, as the standard is high throughout the album, However I must say that I was particularly impressed with the acoustic version of Lonely Night, which isn't really acoustic in the traditional sense, as it's a full band recording with some electric guitars, piano and synths thrown in to make it sound absolutely huge. However, removing the 80's keyboard sounds and power chords found in the original version gives the song a whole new dimension. It's the exploration of the song in this way that shows the depth of guitarist Tony Clarkin's song writing ability.

Magnum have been around since the dawn of time and are masters of their craft. They have some incredible songs in their repertoire such as Kingdom of Madness, The Spirit, Invasion, Back to Earth, Soldier of the Line, and the magnificent On a Storyteller's Night, to name but a few. If you've never heard of Magnum before, go check those tracks out. I wouldn't recommend The Valley of Tears as a good starting place. It's definitely one for the completists.

If you'd like to relax to an album of beautifully crafted ballads by one of the UK's most underrated bands, this is the album for you!


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