Magnum

On a Storyteller's Night

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

On a Storyteller's Night, Magnum's sixth album originally released in the U.K. in May 1985, wasn't the band's best-selling LP; it peaked at number 24 in seven weeks, not as good a showing as the third album, 1982's Chase the Dragon (number 17), much less the Top Ten hits Wings of Heaven (1988, number five) or Goodnight L.A. (1990, number nine). Whether it is Magnum's best album is a matter of opinion, though, according to Dave Ling of Classic Rock magazine, whose 2004 interview with guitarist Tony Clarkin is reprinted as part of this 25th anniversary deluxe-edition reissue, "fans still rate Storyteller as Magnum's masterwork." What is indisputable is that the album, Magnum's only one on FM Revolver Records, marked a transition for the band from its first five albums, recorded for Jet Records, to its major-label contract with Polydor Records, which commenced with 1986's Vigilante. Ling notes that singer Bob Catley "has theorized that On a Storyteller's Night was important for offering a bridgehead between the more pompous early Magnum style and something more commercially oriented," to which Clarkin grudgingly concurs, "I suppose so." The turning point is commemorated here with a second disc of 1984 demo recordings that in some cases differ considerably from the finished tracks. (In between the demo sessions and the formal recording sessions, the band road-tested the material and wrote more, including the title song.) A drum machine is used, for one thing, and the songs are sometimes in an earlier form, such as the two versions of what would be "Steal Your Heart," called "Come On Young Love." The demo of "All England's Eyes" has what Clarkin calls "a hideous solo" played on a melodic because "I didn't have my guitar at the studio that day." Fans will find these rough takes of what would be very different finished tracks interesting even if they do not compare favorably with the final album. [In addition to the 35 minutes of demos, Disc Two includes a 25-minute interview with Catley and Clarkin from 1993 in which they trace the band's career from 1972 to that point.]

blue highlight denotes track pick