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Magnum Magnum II album cover
2.84 | 70 ratings | 7 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Great Adventure (4:54)
2. Changes (3:15)
3. The Battle (2:10)
4. If I Could Live Forever (4:02)
5. Reborn (5:45)
6. So Cold The Night (4:04)
7. Foolish Heart (3:13)
8. Stayin' Alive (3:22)
9. Firebird (4:47)
10. All Of My Life (4:43)

Total time 40:14

Bonus tracks on 2005 remaster:
11. Lonesome Star (B-side) (3:13)
12. Changes (remix version) (4:12)
13. Everybody Needs (B-side) (2:53)
14. Changes (live) (3:44)
15. Foolish Heart (acoustic version) (2:57)

Line-up / Musicians

- Bob Catley / lead vocals
- Tony Clarkin / guitars, backing vocals, composer
- Richard Bailey / keyboards, flute, backing vocals
- Colin "Wally" Lowe / bass, vocals
- Kex Gorin / drums, percussion

Releases information

LP Jet Records ‎- JETLP 222 (1979, UK)

CD Castle Classics ‎- CLACD 125 (1987, France)
2xCD Castle Music ‎- CMQDD1228 (2005, UK) Remastered by Tim Debney, 5 bonus tracks

Thanks to salmacis for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MAGNUM Magnum II ratings distribution

(70 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (24%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MAGNUM Magnum II reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars I recently fished this LP out of the attic,its silver cover still sparkling belying the rather jaded contents.

This was the first Magnum album I ever bought,I found it in the bargain bin at Woolworths and having read good things about the band decided to rescue it from its inauspicious hidey-hole.

There is something about Bob Catley's vocals that can induce extremes of rapture or nausea and on this album,sadly,it's mostly nausea.His vocals are so twee belying the pompous themes and prog-lite pretentions of Great Adventure,Firebird and If I Could Live Forever. There is definitely a Styx influence lurking amongst these tunes and I would say that this album might appeal to fans of the early period of the band.

There are some nice vocal performances-All Of My Life is fine,if sadly the anthemic feel is a tad overdone and So Cold The Night works quite well too.Changes was a favourite at the time and there is definitely real talent lurking in the bombastic guitar licks of Tony Clarkin. The keyboard contribution of Richard Bailey lacks finesse and he was soon replaced by the more adept Mark Stanway for the next album.

Time has not been kind to this collection of pomp rock ephemera and whilst it shows promise it only hints at the more mature and accomplished albums that would illuminate the 80's.I couldnt really recommend it to anybody other than fans of the band and pomp rock diehards.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Any titles for this album lads? "Magnum 2" it is then! Thoughts on a sleeve? Nope, just the title then!

A year after the release of their debut "Kingdom of madness" Magnum returned to the studio to record the follow up. The period between the albums was in reality somewhat longer, most of the first album having been recorded well before it saw the light of day. Like those on the debut, the songs here had in the main been performed live for some time before the studio versions were made.

"Kingdom of madness" was something of a curates egg, ranging from fine prog type numbers to a couple of very ordinary rock songs. It did though capture the imagination of the rock press and audience alike delivering early chart success for the band. Unfortunately, "Magnum II" failed to exploit that success, and was largely ignored. The reason for this is probably largely attributable to the rather safe nature of the product.

Here we have 10 three to five minute rock numbers which were guaranteed to be popular in a live environment, but which lack sufficiently unique characteristics to cause the album to stand out from the crowd. The unimaginative sleeve and title must have done little to generate interest and the lyrics are rather more prosaic than the fables and fantasies who graced the previous release.

The opening "The great adventure" is one of the strongest tracks, featuring the band's trademark harmonies and punchy instrumental support. Tony Clarkin takes the opportunity to add some fine guitar work too, but as would be the case over the coming years, he seems reluctant to step into the spotlight for very long at a time.

Magnum are always good for a power ballad or two, and here "If I could live forever" fits the bill well. The keyboard work by Richard Bailey lifts the track above its peers, as does the effective use of tempo changes. At slightly under 6 minutes "Reborn" is the album's longest track. It is effectively two songs in one, the rather ordinary pomp rock beginning and end being counterpointed very effectively by a much softer and more progressive core. The following "So cold the night" also has a more interesting structure, while offering one the band's heaviest outings to this point.

Two singles were released from the album, "Changes" and "Foolish heart". Both are from the band's most commercial side with strong rhythms and catchy hooks, but neither troubled the charts. The latter has some nice guitar and synth interplay, but both are just a little too lightweight to offer long term attraction.

Overall, I find this album to be symptomatic of my frustration with Magnum over the years. They have made some wonderful music, they are blessed with fine musicians, they have a great vocalist and the songs are composed to a high standard. For me though, they have a tendency to under exploit their strengths, with songs not being fully developed and albums which are enjoyable but not masterpieces. There is no doubt that Magnum have a masterpiece in them, and future albums would certainly come a lot closer to such an accolade. "Magnum II" is not a bad album, indeed there is much to entertain here. Perhaps I allow my frustrations too much space when it comes to Magnum. Best just to listen and enjoy.

The expanded CD release has 5 additional tracks from the period. These include a couple of alternative views of the "Changes" single plus B-sides from different versions of that release. The final track is an acoustic rendition of the other single, "Foolish heart". Of these, the extended version of "Changes" is the most interesting, being a more satisfactory rendition than that on the album.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Stayin' Alive

I have always thought that Magnum could have been a better and more respected band had they had more success in their early years. Their debut album was recorded in 1976, but was held back by the record company until 1978. As we all know, the latter part of the 70's was a time of radical changes in musical trends and I'm sure Kingdom Of Madness would have been better received that it was had it been released in 1976. Magnum's progressive Pomp-Rock had probably fitted better into the first half of the 70's than its second half.

Anyway, despite not having recorded for several years, this second album feels rushed. The unimaginative title and art work are all too appropriate. The material itself is decidedly weaker than that of the debut album. Not surprisingly, this album failed to make any impression and the momentum was somehow lost. Magnum would later achieve greater success, but maybe they never fully recovered from how the 70's treated them?

Magnum II is definitely the weakest of Magnum's early albums. It is something of a transitional album between the 70's and the 80's.

Recommended primarily for fans. Make sure you get both Kingdom Of Madness and Chase The Dragon before this one.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As in all albums of their first era, MAGNUM bring together a mixture of influences to compile their second studio album. Styx is once again one of the dominant influences but the band also experiments with some old-school heavy rock, classic hard rock, pomp and AOR. The tracks' style and approach varies from ballads to cheesy melodic AOR tunes and sophisticated heavy prog rock at times with heavy metal touches. Another element that is common with other releases is inconsistency: in quality, dynamics, mood and musicianship; all seem to vary from one track to another.

Repeating myself from another review, MAGNUM must have been carefully selecting their album openers, as once again Great Adventure is a powerful track that introduces the right atmosphere and promises a great sequence. Catchy vocals, dynamic guitar riffs, inspired keyboards; everything works perfectly at the beginning of the record. The disappointment comes swiftly though with Changes, an extremely ''happy'' AOR track that derails the initial mood; similarly The Battle, being fast and powerful brings back the initial heavy and melodic feeling (even if it is only for 2 min) which reminds me of moments in Chase the Dragon release. Between the three mellower songs of the album, If I could Live Forever stands the most decently; without being impressive, the rhythmic changes during the track make it pleasant and possibly interesting to listen to, even though the melodies are not of the highest quality.

A sequence of two diverse and progressive tracks is adequate to bring back the smile of potential prog listeners, with the first one making smart use of the piano and utilising to the maximum the band's abilities in producing melodic heavy vocal lines. Reborn for a while, MAGNUM blend acoustic guitars, Styx and Queen-like mellow moments with their characteristic mid-tempo heavy rock. So Cold the Night astonishes me every time because the epic main riff must be the heaviest this band has ever made and brings in mind the doomy Black Sabbath and the heaviest moments of Blue Oyster Cult. The vocals again reach top ''catchy'' performance that would make Styx proud of their contribution... Pressing skip on Foolish Heart, a weak ''cheap'' AOR/blues experiment (to say the least), the mood relaxes with the ballad Stayin' Alive which does not really add anything special to the package.

Special mention needs to be made to Firebird, probably the most inspired moment in the whole album; an ''overfilled'' composition with the likes of (deep breath) Kansas, Styx, Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash etc... An almost epic composition that reveals once again the abilities of this band to produce really appealing prog-related music. As disappointingly as before, All of my Life concludes the album in a relatively dull way; the only element that survives the flood is the neat melodic piano. If you have the expanded edition, you might agree with me that the extra tracks are not as interesting as well.

Concluding, MAGNUM II can be a decent and pleasant musical experience to open-minded prog rock fans but I would not recommend it to the majority of the prog audience. Although I enjoy it to some degree and find a few highlights (i.e. Firebird, So Cold the Night) it is the weakest MAGNUM album in my collection and is worth no more than 2.5-3 stars (leniently). I would not recommend starting from this album in order to get a feel of the band's style.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After really liking the debut album I was eager to hear more Magnum material but after hearing a couple of samples from Chase The Dragon and On A Storyteller's Night on Amazon I felt somewhat discouraged. Those albums seemed to have that irritating 80's production and the keyboard sound was just awful. Apparently the original keyboardist and backing vocalist Richard Bailey left the band after the bands second album and was replaced by Mark Stanway which could be one of the main reasons for my disliking of Magnums 80's direction especially since keyboards played such an importing part on Kingdom Of Madness.

So after all my research I went for Magnum II since, just like the debut, it was a late 70's album and featured Richard Bailey on the keyboards. I was also hoping that the band haven't changed much of their original formula but this turned out to be nothing more than wishful thinking.

Let's get the most important thing out of the way. This album sounds nothing like the amazing debut! In fact I have a hard time deciding what it sounds like, at least one thing is for certain this album is a misstep. It starts with an electronic sounding intro of Great Adventure which I originally didn't think much about but after listening to the rest of the tracks I believe that it's one of the best tracks that Magnum II has to offer!

Magnum goes for epic sounding rock tunes and straight forward rock & roll but neither of the styles convince me. Only thanks to those few occasions when the band returns to the sounds of Kingdom Of Madness save this release from a complete disaster.

**** star songs: Great Adventure (4:54) The Battle (2:10) So Cold The Night (4:04)

*** star songs: Changes (3:15) If I Could Live Forever (4:02) Reborn (5:45) Firebird (4:47) All Of My Life (4:43)

** star songs: Foolish Heart (3:13) Stayin' Alive (3:22)

Latest members reviews

5 stars Magnum II is more original and distinctive, more complex, sophisticated and inventive, much more mature and slightly harder than its predecessor. (And closer to Kansas, by the way.) I'd say the most impressive are If I Could Live Forever, So Cold The Night and Firebird, but in total, the entire ... (read more)

Report this review (#2957374) | Posted by proghaven | Wednesday, October 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Continuing exactly where 'Kingdom of Madness' left off, Magnum's second album, titled "Magnum II" (how original...), sticks to its tried-and-tested formula of 70's keyboard-based hard rock with progressive elements thrown in for good measure. Magnum have never really been more than a small b ... (read more)

Report this review (#1802185) | Posted by martindavey87 | Tuesday, October 10, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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