Bob Catley – Immortal (2008)

BobCatley_Immortal4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Bob Catley, with his highly recognizable voice, has been fronting the excellent band Magnum since the early ’70s. But when Magnum briefly broke up in the latter half of the ’90s, Catley not only joined his former guitarist Tony Clarkin in a new “offshoot” band called Hard Rain, but also put together his first solo album. Then, even as Magnum (thankfully) reformed and entered a fairly prolific period in the new century, Catley somehow found the time to concurrently record a string of his own albums.

For Magnum fans like myself, this proved nothing short of a godsend, since each of Catley’s solo efforts delivered music within the same keyboard-rich Hard/Pomp Rock universe. Certainly, the musicians on Catley’s releases were different than those who made up Magnum, but since Catley’s voice was front and center, you’d hardly notice the difference, which meant that every new solo album seemed almost like a new Magnum release, thus giving the fans a double dose of Hard/Pomp Rock through the first decade of the new millennium.

Catley’s last platter, Immortal, also ended up being one of his best. And since the album features seasoned guitarist/keyboardist Magnus Karlsson (Allen & Lande/The Codex/Starbreaker) as well as gifted axe-slinger Uwe Reitenauer (Pink Cream 69/Place Vendome/Sunstorm) and multi-instrumentalist Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69/Place Vendome/Sunstorm), it hardly comes as a shock that the same type of grand and catchy material, stellar musicianship, and high quality production values displayed on Magnum albums are also here in spades. From opener “Dreamers Unite” through to the closer “Heat of Passion,” Immortal shines bright, contains numerous magical moments, with each song being simply magnificent!

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Magnum – Chase the Dragon (1982)

Magnum_ChaseDragon4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Like the majority of releases by Magnum, I rated Chase the Dragon (the group’s third studio album) with a near-perfect score of 4.5 Stars. Each track is engaging and memorable, especially “Sacred Hour,” a five-and-a-half minute masterpiece, along with Pomp-Rock/Prog-Rock opener “Soldier of the Line,” plus “The Spirit,” “Walking the Straight Line,” “The Teacher,” “On the Edge of the World” and…well, hell, each track is special in its own right, so I won’t bother to list them all.

Even back in 1982, it became stunningly clear that this U.K. band had that “special something,” excelled in creating ultra-classy Hard Rock, with AOR, Pomp, and Progressive Rock thrown in for good measure, and Chase the Dragon is the album that hooked me on the group, immediately enticing me to run out and grab the band’s first two studio releases.

Additionally, Mark Stanway’s performances and keyboard tones often inspired my own playing, and with Chase the Dragon, he immediately shot to the top of my “idols” list (where he still remains, along with Colin Towns, Greg Giuffria, etc.) as one of my favorites in this particular musical genre. Moreover, guitarist Tony Clarkin also proved with this album that his songwriting capabilities had reached exemplary levels, which he continued to display album after album after album.

As I always state in my reviews for Magnum releases, this group has to be one of the most professional, most consistent acts in rock history, never failing to deliver the well-produced goods even after 40+ years. May this exceptional band live on forever!

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