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Magnum: Dance Of The Black Tattoo

It’s become something of a tradition for Brit-pomp persisters Magnum to thrust something new into our hands at the start of every year and 2021 is no different. However, this current album isn’t the latest in the band’s all new releases that boast some of the longest titles in the world, such as The Broken Princesses’ Arrow Of Storytelling Gardens In The Kingdom Of Vigilantes Who Breathe Life Into Sacred Hearts. No, the much more succinct Dance Of The Black Tattoo is a compilation of Magnum at their boldest, their proudest, dare I say their heaviest? Well, with the more obviously named Ballads preceding it not too long ago, it’s pretty easy to see what’s going on, isn’t it?

Just like that other themed compilation, DOTBT (the name is still long enough not to want to type it out every time…) hasn’t found the band’s mastermind Tony Clarkin re-recording all of the tracks for reappraisal. Instead this selection of songs gathered together mainly from this outfit’s four albums from 2014 onwards are ‘digitally remastered’, and as such begging the question, what was wrong with them the first time around? The answer is, of course, not much, so…?

Thankfully some cuts included are a little off the beaten track, “Phantom Of Paradise Circus” and “No God Or Saviour”, for example, previously found as bonus cuts only on the CD/DVD version of Sacred Blood - Divine Lies. But then, I’m guessing that if you’re a big enough Magnum fan to be buying compilations studiously avoiding nearly all of the obvious cuts, then you already own all of the extended versions of the studio albums, no? A few older selections do creep in for good measure, genuine classic, “On A Storyteller’s Night” getting the live on stage treatment, while “Born To Be King” from the 1990 album Goodnight LA is an unexpected, if very welcome, inclusion. As is the “On Christmas Day” radio-edit of a track that, while riffed up in places, does offer a little of the more bombastic restraint that truly finds Magnum thrive. And if anything, it’s the lack of that light and shade - which is always Magnum’s calling card - on this album that makes this collection a little underwhelming. That said, live takes of “Black Skies”, “All My Bridges” and “Your Dreams Won’t Do” show up very well indeed and offer exciting evidence to disprove any Magnum-ites still resisting the band’s reformed years, even if these are already available on the expanded versions of some recent studio releases.

In the cold light of day Dance Of The Black Tattoo doesn’t really scratch any particular itch. It certainly doesn’t represent the best of Magnum at their heaviest. After all, for that, they’d need to include a lot of tracks from the pretty much ignored these days pre-2002 years. Nor does it, due to the restraints of the central idea of choosing musically ‘themed’ tracks, really shine a light on what has made this band’s more recent releases as exhilarating as they are. Still, any Magnum is good Magnum but who this release is aimed at, well that’s not so clear.

Track Listing
1. Black Skies (live)
2. Freedom day (live)
3. All My Bridges (live)
4. On A Storytellers Night (live)
5. Dance of the Black Tattoo (live)
6. On Christmas day (radio edit)
7. Born To Be King
8. Phantom of Paradise Circus
9. No God Or Saviour
10. Your Dreams Won’t Die (live)
11. Twelve Men Wise and Just (live)
12. Show Me Your Hands (radio edit)
13. Not Forgiven (radio edit)
14. Madman or Messiah (radio edit)

Added: February 12th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Magnum on facebook
Hits: 506
Language: english

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