Album review: MAGNUM – Dance Of The Black Tattoo

David Randall chatted to Tony Clarkin for Get Ready to ROCK! Radio with tracks from the forthcoming compilation.  First broadcast 20 December 2020.

MAGNUM - Dance Of The Black Tattoo

SPV/Steamhammer [Release date 08.01.21]

What do inveterate songwriters do in Lockdown when they’ve no band to steer in a live direction and time on their hands?  Well Tony Clarkin doesn’t do a spot of gardening, that’s for sure.  Since earlier this year he has used the COVID hiatus to revisit some of Magnum’s heavier tracks for this new compilation.

Thought of as a companion to the earlier ‘Ballads’ release, Clarkin has plundered 14 of the back catalogue and served up on heavy duty magenta vinyl with printed inner sleeves and a Rodney Matthews cover.  It could almost be 1982.

The studio catalogue is mainly plundered  after 2014 so this is essentially Millennium Magnum, dusted off, brushed up, remastered.  Only a live version of the classic ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’, ‘Born To Be King’ (originally on Goodnight LA) and ‘On Christmas Day’ (Rock Art)  recall earlier times.

The inclusion of “fan favourite” ‘Born To Be King’ might seem a little arbitary (it’s the version that appeared with the Christmas single in 2014).  If it’s a fan favourite how come it hasn’t appeared in millennium setlists to prompt a more recent live recorded version?

For the more casual fan it does mean they get the previously released bonus tracks from the live album ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’.   ‘Black Skies’, ‘Freedom Day’, ‘All My Bridges’ and ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ are from the DVD whilst ‘Dance Of The Black Tattoo’ is from the vinyl version.

Two bonus tracks are taken off the limited edition ‘Sacred Blood – Divine Lies’ (CD/DVD). It’s certainly one of the band’s finest albums of recent times and ‘Phantom Of Paradise Circus’  and ‘No God Or Saviour’ are both good tunes.  Fans (and collectors) might be grateful the other bonus ‘Don’t Grow Up’ is excluded.

There are also two other live bonus tracks ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’ and ‘Twelve Men Wise And Just’ both originally appearing on the bonus ‘Lost On The Road To Eternity’ disc.

The album is rounded off with radio edits of ‘Show Me Your Hands’, ‘Not Forgiven’ and ‘Madman Or Messiah’, all hardly essential, whilst ‘On Christmas Day’ will miss the festive season as the album is out in January.

I don’t know whether it’s our advance copy (or my advancing years) but the new (CD) package is somewhat let down by the lack of recording information or narrative and with no inner liner.  And the track listing on the reverse is rendered in a type size that will have ancient rockers (surely at least 50 per cent of the band’s audience?) reaching for their reading specs and then a magnifying glass.

The “all tracks digitally remastered” tag also begs the question why weren’t the millennial tracks properly mastered in the first place?

There is a definite sense of “nothing to see here, move along please” for fans, but newbies can certainly hear what all the fuss is about.

There is no re-recording as with the Ballads collection but as with that earlier collection this is a good enough introduction to contemporary Magnum and an adequate side dish before the next big helping of studio beef.

No doubt – currently isolating in his COVID-free cocoon – Clarkin is probably readying the band’s next magnum opus.  In the meantime we can all enjoy these refreshed recordings as a reminder of a still great and future band.  ***1/2

Review by David Randall

Album review (The Valley Of Tears, 2017)

2020 Vision: Introduction to Magnum


The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 March 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

Watch again

More about Josh


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 March 2021.


Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 GARY HUGHES Decades (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 METALITE A Virtual World (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 KAT DANSER One Eye Open (indie)

Power Plays w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)

ALTZI Point Of No Return (RA Music)
DIRTY LACES Breathe (Golden Robot Records)
ASHEN MOON Ashen Moon (Golden Robot Records)
ANDREWW Shadow Love (indie)
JORDAN RED Freak Show (indie)
HAYES & Y Empty Orchestra (indie)
KELSEY BOVEY Another World (indie)
NEPTUNE RAIN We Breathe The Same (indie)



Popular (last 30 days)


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), All Posts, INTERVIEWS, Radio interview and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply