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Steve Peake

This Week's Forgotten Gem of the '80s - Magnum - "Hit and Run"

By September 17, 2013

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Magnum-TheEleventhHour.jpgMany American rock music fans during the '80s - at least in my relatively provincial segment of our typically self-aggrandizing nation - seemed to believe that most quality arena rock, AOR and even hard rock came from native artists. Of course, even a cursory examination of rock history quickly indicates that any such self-centered view is less than accurate, as Britain has always (and continues to) produce far more than its demographic share of good rock music. Still, somehow more than a few American listeners three decades ago simply didn't hear about a significant percentage of the non-heavy metal British artists making melodic, epic hard rock at the time. There's plenty of blame to go around for that, I'm sure, but let's focus on the positives, shall we? This week that central positive is the hard-working, prolific Birmingham-based band Magnum, a group that enjoyed plenty of popularity in the U.K. but somehow went unnoticed in a market that would eventually oversaturate itself with the sweeping, theatrical sort of guitar rock in which the band specialized.

The muscular, riff-dominated track "Hit and Run" serves as a fine introduction to Magnum's primary creative team: songwriter/guitarist Tony Clarkin and lead singer Bob Catley. This band's take on AOR manages to flaunt equal parts toughness and sensitivity, which has always proven to be a difficult balance for arena rock outfits to strike. But particularly in this case, Catley's clear-voiced approach combines with the band's driving attack to create a genuinely enjoyable AC/DC-meets-Foreigner vibe. Of course, Magnum later had its moments of late-'80s hair metal resemblance that many of the band's fans would probably like to forget. But during the group's first few years of existence, perhaps especially the creative period that spawned the well-regarded 1983 album on which this track appears, The Eleventh Hour, Magnum was a band almost utterly unique in its embrace of a progressive rock-tinged sense of wonder along with a raging desire to rock out. Ultimately, this doesn't completely distinguish the band from such well-known American counterparts as Journey and Night Ranger. Nevertheless, British artists have always added a special flair to the otherwise familiar, which is certainly the case here and throughout Magnum's rich catalogue.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Jet/Sanctuary

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