November 25, 2023

Sometimes I wonder if the Cherry Red label was set up purely for me as it seems that just about every release they put out is something that I either want, need or just simply desire!

I must admit that Magnum has been a guilty pleasure of mine since the 1970s and the Tony Clarkin/Bob Catley combination is a marriage made in heaven as Tony is the consummate guitarist and songwriter and Bob has a melodic rock voice that is without equal. I know that there have been any number of compilation albums put out over the years, but you can never have too much of a good thing and this quite splendid package takes us back to the very beginning when the band burst onto the rock scene as a prog/melodic rock band with huge potential.

The Great Adventure is a 6 CD boxset featuring Kingdom Of Madness (1978), Archive (1974-1976), Magnum II (1979), Marauder (1980), Chase The Dragon (1982) and Eleventh Hour (1983) and charts the bands journey from their proggy beginnings right through to the stage where they were about to erupt as one of the world’s leading pomp/melodic rock exponents. If you are already a fan then you should already have some, if not all, of these records but this set sees the albums re-released with copious extras, of which you will have already heard many if you have been picking up the remastered and expanded versions over the years but this is still a great one-stop-shop to have just about everything from that period in a neat and convenient package.

Within the box set, there is the original albums plus any number of rarities, B-sides, demos and live tracks as you go on the journey that the band took so many years ago. This is neither the time nor place to repeat the band’s extensive history other than to state that the band came together in Birmingham in 1972 and took some time developing their quite unique sound with the debut, Kingdom Of Madness, bursting onto a crazy music scene in 1978 when the radio and TV seemed to be obsessed with punk and disco and all things rock were deemed totally out of fashion by everyone except the huge metal fanbase who still bought product by the millions and, crucially, continued to keep rock a live event phenomenon.

The debut marked them out as a band to keep a close watch on as their proto-prog/melodic/hard rock musings covered just about every base within metal. The combination of Tony Clarkin’s magical songwriting and the way that Bob Catley delivered his words marked the band out as special with their second release, 1979’s Magnum II, building on everything that was good about the debut although, bizarrely, it did not commercially match Kingdom Of Madness. This was all about to change as Jet recorded the band’s December 1979 gig at the Marquee Club and Marauder became something of a must have record as it was a perfect example of the raw power that that the band put into their live shows. Chase The Dragon was recorded in 1980 but didn’t come out until 1982 and this saw the ‘new’ Magnum beginning to emerge as the melodic but hard-edged persona began to truly appear with tracks such as Soldier Of The Line, The Spirit and Sacred Hour pointing the way to the magic that was to come later in the 1980s.

The following year the journey was just about complete with the magnifiscent The Eleventh Hour which was the perfect Magnum release, and it is fair to say that without this album then there could not have been On A Storyteller’s Night, Vigilante or Wings Of Heaven when the band went truly interstellar. The set also includes Archive (1974-1976) which features demos from 1974 and outtakes from the Kingdom Of Madness recordings and are all part of the vital Magnum story.

The CDs are all in miniature original covers with the box itself featuring the stunning Chase The Dragon cover and there is a neat booklet with full album details. I’m not sure if Clarkin and Catley would have ever imagined that they would still be putting out albums almost 50-years later and thank goodness that they – and we are all eagerly awaiting Here Come The Rain planned for a January 2024 release, so this perfect boxset makes a wonderful reminder of where it all began.

Great Adventure – The Jet Years is availble now via Cherry Red Records

Great Adventure – The Jet Years 1978-1983

  • Kingdom Of Madness (1978)
  • Archive (1974-1976)
  • Magnum II (1979
  • Marauder (1980)
  • Chase The Dragon (1982)
  • Eleventh Hour (1983)

Track Listing

Kingdom Of MadnessIn The Beginning, Baby Rock Me, Universe, Kingdom Of Madness, All That Is Real, The Bringer, Invasion, Lords Of Chaos, All Come Together.
Archive (1974-1976)Sea Bird (1974 Demo), Stormbringer (1974 Demo), Slipping Away (1974 Demo), Captain America (1974 Demo), Master Of Disguise (Kingdom of Madness session outtake), Without Your Love (Kingdom of Madness session outtake), Find The Time (Kingdom of Madness session outtake), Everybody Needs (Kingdom of Madness session outtake), Kingdom Of Madness (Alternative Version).
Magnum IIGreat Adventure, Changes, The Battle, If I Could Live Forever, Reborn, So Cold The Night, Foolish Heart, Stayin’ Alive, Firebird, All Of My Life, Lonesome Star, Changes (Remix Version), Everybody Needs, Changes (Live), Foolish Heart (Acoustic Version).
MarauderIf I Could Live Forever, The Battle, Foolish Heart, In The Beginning, Reborn, Changes, So Cold The Night, Lords Of Chaos, All Of My Life (Magnum Live EP), Great Adventure (Magnum Live EP), Invasion (Magnum Live EP), Kingdom Of Madness (Magnum Live EP), Reborn (Invasion Live), Changes (Invasion Live), All Of My Life (Invasion Live), Invasion (Invasion Live), Kingdom Of Madness (Invasion Live)
Chase The DragonSoldier Of The Line, On The Edge Of The World, The Spirit, Sacred Hour, Walking The Straight Line, We All Play The Game, The Teacher, The Lights Burned Out, Back To Earth, Hold Back Your Love, Soldier Of The Line (Invasion Live), Sacred Hour (Invasion Live), Long Days, Black Nights, The Lights Burned Out (Archive), The Spirit (Invasion Live), Soldier Of The Line (Acoustic Version).
Eleventh HourThe Prize, Breakdown, The Great Disaster, Vicious Companions, So Far Away, Hit And Run, One Night Of Passion, The Word, Young And Precious Souls, Road To Paradise, The Word (Alternative Orchestral Version), True Fine Love (Outtake), The Prize (Acoustic Version), One Night Of Passion (Acoustic Version)