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Magnum Chase the Dragon album cover
3.72 | 85 ratings | 9 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Soldier on the Line (4:16)
2. On the Edge of the World (4:22)
3. The Spirit (4:17)
4. Sacred Hour (5:35)
5. Walking the Straight Line (4:53)
6. We All Play the Game (4:07)
7. The Teacher (3:21)
8. The Lights Burned Out (4:32)

Total Time 35:23

Bonus tracks on 2005 remaster:
9. Back to Earth (single) (3:39)
10. Hold Back Your Love (single) (3:22)
11. Soldier of the Line (live) (3:51)
12. Sacred Hour (live) (5:45)
13. Long Days, Black Nights (single) (3:12)
14. The Lights Burned Out (original version) (4:06)
15. The Spirit (live) (4:36)
16. Soldier of the Line (acoustic version) (3:57)

Line-up / Musicians

- Bob Catley / lead vocals
- Tony Clarkin / electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals, composer
- Mark Stanway / grand piano, Fender Rhodes, Yamaha CP-70, Hammond, harpsichord, Hohner clavinet, synths (Minimoog, Oberheim OB-X, Yamaha SS30, Roland RS-202)
- Colin "Wally" Lowe / bass, backing vocals
- Kex Gorin / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Rodney Matthews

LP Jet Records ‎- JETLP 235 (1982, UK)

CD Jet Records ‎- JET C.D. 004 (1985, Europe)
2CD Castle Music ‎- CMQDD1231 (2005, UK) Remastered by Tim Debney, 8 bonus tracks

Thanks to salmacis for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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MAGNUM Chase the Dragon ratings distribution

(85 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MAGNUM Chase the Dragon reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This music is a perfect mix of Styx, Boston and Ronnie James Dio (Holy Diver). If I compare it to the "On a storyteller's night" album, the sound here is quite less bombastic and less atmospheric; the electric rhythmic guitar is also not as flamboyant, electronic & powerful too. This is on the other hand one of the Magnum's most progressive related albums. There are some moog solos, piano & acoustic guitars arrangements. The compositions are quite elaborated for a hard rock styled album, so that it sounds like progressive hard rock music. The electric rhythmic guitar sound is all the same quite razor and aggressive.
Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars i have been a fan of magnum since i saw them live during the period "chase the dragon" was released. recorded at the town house studio, london, i was very impressed with "the spirit" and indeed the entire album, and the cover art by rodney matthews. at the time the NWOBHM scene was in full flow though i never considered magnum of that ilk, i thought of them then and now as having prog leanings, the critics labelled them "pomp rock". i have always highly regarded "chase the dragon" and considered it magnum's "opus" (sorry i couldn't resist that!) . the first track on side one (this review is based on original vinyl lp) "soldier of the line" comes in after some creepy atmospheric sound effects and power chords, military style marching drum beats and many changes of tempo here. "on the edge of the world" drifts in, "eloy" style synthesisers introduce the song, "and you'r still dreaming all your precious time away" ..wish i'd taken their advice! some nice keyboard and guitar intejections here. my favourite track on the album, "the spirit" with its acoustic guitar intro comes crashing in, like i said this was brilliant live and the studio version doesn't disappoint. the sound quality on this album is very good, the drums have plenty of punch and nothing is too over exagerrated or piercing. another favourite of mine, " sacred hour" has a sweeping piano/synthesiser intro, some great drumming and powerful guitar, on par with "the spirit". on side two "walking the straight line" kicks in with plodding beat and some nice guitar riffing , then follows on with "We All Play The Game", boogie-style " The Teacher", and " The Lights Burned Out". all these are excellent songs but not quite as oustanding as the tracks on side one. nevertheless a stunning album and a recommended addition to any prog collection.
Review by b_olariu
4 stars Magnum this band who emerged from NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) movement, has from the beggining a prog leaning and is more an AOR and Hard rock band with prog influences,then their country fellows Iron Maiden, Saxon, Raven, etc, from that time who were enterly on heavy metal side, maybe is similar with Def Leppard Pyromania era and Praying Mantis who also has a melodic aproach of heavy metal. Chase the dragon was the real breakthroug for the band, with some outstanding tracks like:Soldier On The Line, The Spirit, Sacred hour and my favourite piece from here Walking The Straight Line, the rest are also good. Is quite an excellent album and was their most consistently album 'till then yet and is swamped in wonderful keyboards combined with AOR/ hard rock guitars. The voice of Bob Catley is a real pleasure to listen, and delivers some great moments like on Walking The Straight Line, in fact on the whole album. All in all a great album and for sure needs attention from prog listners, 4 stars for this one, worth every track. By the way the expanded version has some intristing bonus tracks, A-side and B- side singles Back to the earth and Hold back your love, some live versions of Soldier of the lines and Sacred hour, and one unreleased track Long Days, Black Nights. The next album The eleventh hour was not as good as this, but the one from 1985 is a real gem. Enjoy.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Magnum's Chase The Dragon is perhaps one of their finest albums, although I admit to owning only this album and the excellent 'On A Storyteller's Night'.

The album has a reputation for boasting some of the best material in the band's repertoire. Absolute bonafide classics such as 'Soldier Of The Line', 'The Spirit', 'Sacred Hour' and 'The Lights Burned Out' have become live staples and feature prominently on just about every 'best of' compilations, and they all hail from this glorious album.

The liner notes and photo production are excellent additions even featuring a revealing interview with Clarkin. The front cover is one of their proggiest and a definite drawcard for me when choosing a magnum album. The bonus tracks feature the live EP in its entirety and some rare A and B sides to singles plus live renditions of some of the classic tracks.

I bought this due to the band's reputation and the prog style cover - I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the great quality of this album. Not everything on it works for me and a great deal of it is not what one might call true prog but it is definitely related to the genre, and the songs are high quality rock standards; not complex or with interchanging time signatures, and not lengthy, but innovative and well produced with great vocal performances and musicianship.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars One of Magnum's most sacred hours

After a promising debut and a disappointed second album, Magnum finally reached fruition with this third album - their best from the early days, and together with 1988's Wings Of Heaven, their best ever. In many ways it was with Chase The Dragon that Magnum found their own musical identity. New keyboard player Mark Stanway debuted on this album and he shines here, especially on the superb into to Sacred Hour. Chase The Dragon was also the first to have a sleeve designed by the great Rodney Matthews. Matthews would go on to design many sleeves for Magnum and many other Prog and related bands.

There are several songs on this album that went on to become Magnum classics and live favourites. These songs include the aforementioned Sacred Hour, that went on to become the standard concert closer for the band to the present day. The Spirit and Soldier Of The Line are other classics that have been played at many a Magnum concert.

Once again a Magnum album would be delayed a couple of years after it had been recorded. Their debut album was recorded in 1976, but was held back by the record company until 1978. This third album was recorded in 1980, but was not released until 1982. Just like the debut probably would have been able to make a greater impact in '76 than in '78, Chase The Dragon would probably had better chances in '80 than in '82.

I used to give this only three stars, but I think that it stands out so much among the band's early albums that it deserves four stars.

Review by aapatsos
4 stars There is some real spirit here

Chase the Dragon is MAGNUM's third release and finds the band in form and possibly at their heaviest for some time to follow. Rodney Matthews' excellent cover is a bit misleading as to the musical pathways the listener would expect - possibly a fantasy-based, epic rock album with prog at the core of the sound. While all of these elements appear, the focus is mostly on pomp heavy rock/metal with several classic rock references.

My understanding of this release can be summarised in a few words: inconsistent and at the same time interesting and unexpected. Reason: the numerous musical influences from a vast range of bands, leading to the building of an album that sounds more like a compilation record than a proper studio release. It would be interesting to see all these different effects on the album as the tracks unfold.

After a relatively uninteresting long intro (~1 min), Soldier of the Line kicks in with epic vocals and lyrics from Bob Catley, accompanied with a rhythm section and keyboards in the same vein. The track slowly builds up to a medium tempo heavy-pomp rock piece that reaches its zenith at the refrain where Styx-like secondary vocals take it to another dimension. The following guitar-keyboard soloing and subsequent faster rhythms reveal the band's distant relation to NWOBHM... Another 45 sec. intro initiates On the Edge of the World which progresses to AOR-based forms with more keyboards and a lighter pop feeling, reminding of some of the most catchy moments of Asia, Blue Oyster Cult and Thin Lizzy (mainly on the guitars); a short diversion from the opening track's epic-pomp atmosphere that returns with the next song...

The Spirit embarks with a melodic epic acoustic guitar passage in the vein of Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep but soon a powerful heavy rock riff breaks in in time for the refrain which shows some of the best catchy vocals on this album. The melodic passages and heavy riffs interchange throughout the whole song assisted by well-balanced guitar solos. The result is a dynamic hard rock track with little resemblance to prog forms. The choice of Sacred Hour for mp3 streaming in the PA page is ideal: this track is by far the most progressive song in the album, starting off with a grandiose piano-keyboard section in the vein of Kansas and Styx that builds beautifully into the first vocal lines. The AOR elements are dominant as the track evolves with pianos backing up the mid-tempo pomp rock character unfolding the prog references via the dual guitar-keyboard solos; undoubtedly the optimal way to conclude the first half of the record.

Walking the Straight Line is based on the triptych of ZZ Top, UFO and the Eagles, as strange as this sounds; the main riff of this almost "classic rock" track is influenced from the first two, while the refrain borrows some the melodic tunes of the latter embodied again with AOR harmonies. The first ballad the listener meets is called We All Play the Game and again shows a change of mood to more prog-keyboard led melodies with an attitude that leans towards Kansas and Queen primarily.

If The Teacher was a Deep Purple cover, nobody would argue with that. The main guitar theme is almost copied from the great rock band and the track evolves as an up-tempo heavy rock tune that sticks to your mind. Although not the most innovative track in the album, it includes the best musical idea (in my opinion); a 30 second section of an amazing guitar-keyboard passage that resembles to modern prog metal albums, while the guitar work is outstanding. The album concludes with another ballad, The Lights Burned Out, which progresses in a melodic manner, closer to typical AOR than to prog-related forms. If I had to pick the least appealing song, this is one would be among the contesters along with On the Edge of the World.

The extended version of the CD includes several alternative, live, A and B side versions; the most entertaining of them being the Styx-like Long Days, Black Nights and the catchy Back to Earth. The overall package can not be regarded as less than a treat. Obviously, the first half of the album is the most interesting but there are no real weak moments in this diverse release. This is my favourite album from my (ever-growing) Magnum collection and it is so because of the fine balance between classic heavy rock references and moderate pomp AOR doses. Prog fans who are keen on this combination will surely find lots of spirit here.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I don't know why I cannot enjoy this kind of music offered by Magnum. Maybe my expectation was too high as the cover artwork seems like a progressive music and when I played the music is really a straight pop rock music with lack of good melody. It has been said by my friends who like AOR that Magnum is one of the bands that they adore. I had been trying hard to enjoy the music but at the end I have to conclude that this is not my cup of tea. No challenge at all when I listen to this album - it's too easy to digest and too flat melody-wise. Until now I do not know what is the merit of listening this music? So I categorize this as good for Collectors only and this kind of music is not the one that I can recommend to prog head.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Warthur
5 stars Recorded in 1980 but only released in 1982, Chase the Dragon is a landmark album for Magnum for many reasons. For one thing, it's the first of their albums to be graced by the delightful fantasy artwork of Rodney Matthews, who'd work closely with the band on numerous later releases and here establishes striking images which he'd keep coming back to in the Magnum cosmos - why, that combination of distant city, desolate plain, and spooky tree would be reflected on the cover of Escape From the Shadow Garden.

In addition to being the album where Magnum's distinctive cover art aesthetic really came together, Chase the Dragon is also the album where their sound came into its own. In retrospect, perhaps 1982 was the perfect year to release something like this, with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal wave riding high and the neo-progressive rock movement bubbling up through the underground.

It's not that Magnum quite belongs to either of those movements, but they seem to occupy a unique musical space all of their own which hovers in a somewhat AORish region partway between the two styles. They have enough synthesisers, fantasy lyrics, and occasional instrumental flair to put one in mind of neo-prog, without ever quite leaning enough on prog influences like Uriah Heep or embracing long, complex song structures sufficiently to really be any flavour of prog, neo- or not.

Likewise, whilst they have a boisterous energy reminiscent of the NWOBHM and traditional heavy metal (which are also fields not averse to fantasy lyrics), they don't quite go heavy enough to cross the boundary between hard rock and metal. (If they did, it feels like they'd land somewhere near Dio.)

On paper, it feels like such an act would end up falling between two stools, failing to be sufficiently one thing or the other and pleasing nobody. Instead, Chase the Dragon is a delightful album which will have something to appeal to fans of the lighter ends of traditional heavy metal or neo-prog alike - and if you happen to dig both, as I do, you'll probably absolutely love it. Soldier of the Line is an excellent album opener, one of those songs which will have you reaching for the "back" button when it ends so you can listen to it over and over again despite yourself, and the rest of the album retains a high standard throughout.

This was apparently a make-or-break moment for Magnum, due to the shaky reception of Magnum II throwing them off-kilter a little; in retrospect, they pulled out exactly the album they needed to produce here. You can count me as a freshly-minted Magnum fan on the strength of this album alone.

Latest members reviews

4 stars For me this is a classic album. In part because it is one that formed part of the backdrop to my teenage years but mainly because I still enjoy listening to it even after 25 years. It has everything - ballads, rockers, over the top anthems and live standards - more than enough to get your feet tap ... (read more)

Report this review (#148127) | Posted by scarista | Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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