Released: 2007, SPV Records
Over the course of a 30+ year career (began in 1973!), Magnum have become synonymous the high-quality, regal British hard rock. Sure, they were sometimes progressive, sometimes more AOR, but always top-tier in songwriting. Partly due to Bob Catley’s distinctive storyteller’s voice and partly due to Tony Clarkin’s unique song-writing, Magnum have been a force (at least in Europe and Britain) since their 1798 debut, KINGDOM OF MADNESS. Thirty years on, they show that they’re still going strong after 13 studio albums (studio).
Based on the title and cover art you might think that PRINCESS ALICE AND THE BROKEN ARROW is a concept album but really, there are only about 4 songs that are related, spread out across the album. Others, such as “Like Brothers We Stand”, about the plight of the American Indians, are stand-alone lyrics. As always, they’re delivered with panache by Bob Catley. Musically, this is the Magnum people have come to expect. Lush balladry mixed with pure hard rockers (although rarely up tempo) is the band’s bread and butter, and there’s nothing changed. The funky groove of “Be Strong” is a nice change of pace, but it’s the epics that I’m most into: “When We Were Younger”, “Out of the Shadows”, and the aforementioned “Like Brothers We Stand” are all spectacular examples of how modern hard rock should be played.
True highlight of the album is, surprisingly, the closer “You’ll Never Sleep”. Starting with soft piano and keyboard washes, the song quickly builds into a driving rocker with absolutely infectious vocal melodies. A winner through and through.
While there are a couple of lesser songs on the album, there is no track that could be classified as “filler”, making PRINCE ALICE AND THE BROKEN ARROW an incredibly strong album, and one that all hard rock fans should check out.