As 2021 peaks over the horizon, so does the hint of a homecoming back to normalcy. The return of what we remember is sparked by a reappearance of the majesty of Magnum. Most of us cannot fathom the idea that the band has been around since 1972 and still a relevant force in rock in 2021. From their early days as the house band at Birmingham’s Rum Runner to headlining festivals all around the world, the influence of Magnum is unmistakable. Tony Clarkin’s riffs are unmistakable, and Bob Catley’s voice is one of the most regal and distinct voices in the music world. With that, a new year brings new dreams and noble memories of times gone by. Magnum is commemorating both with the release of Dance Of The Black Tattoo to be released on January 8, 2021. Not to be outdone by the past, the album features fantastic artwork from long-time Magnum artist Rodney Matthews that, oddly enough, could be inferred as very relevant to the battle that was 2020.
Dance Of The Black Tattoo samples the band’s history with live recordings and alternate mixes of some of the best Magnum has to offer. The album starts with two live recordings of “Black Skies” and “Freedom Day,” previously bonus tracks on DVD Escape From The Shadow Garden, released in 2014. Both songs encapsulate the live grandeur of a Magnum show. They are followed up with “All My Bridges,” presumably from the same live recordings. The mix of all three songs reflects the hard work of guitarist and founding member Tony Clarkin.
The live recordings continue with “On A Storyteller’s Night” and “Dance Of The Black Tattoo” from the same recordings’ bonus section. “On Christmas Day,” which happens to be one of my favorite Magnum songs, comes as a radio edit version. “Born To Be King” is resurrected from the classic album Goodnight L.A., which was previously only available on vinyl or digital download. The next two songs are new to me. “Phantom Of Paradise Circus” and “No God Or Saviour” were both bonus tracks on Sacred Blood Divine Lies. Both songs sound amazing and possess the splendor of Magnum.
The album switches back to live recordings from the Lost On the Road To Eternity. “Your Dreams Won’t Die” and “Twelve Men Wise And Just” fit perfectly on the album, and the remaster of the songs sounds magnificent. The album finishes with three unreleased radio edits. The songs “Show Me Your Hands,” “Not Forgiven,” and another of my favorites, “Madman or Messiah.”
As 2021 begins, it seems important that we look to the past for a vision of the future. Dance Of The Black Tattoo is a perfect balance of reflecting on history and drawing inspiration for the future. The diehard Magnum fans have this already pre-ordered, but for those who are not familiar with the band, this is a perfect chance for you to discover rock royalty. Dance Of The Black Tattoo will be available on January 8, 2021, via Steamhammer / SPV.