Supreme British melodic hard rock group Magnum are set to release a poignant new single, ‘On Christmas Day’, commemorating 100 years since Xmas Day 1914, when both the Germans and English called temporary truces so that they could mingle and play football matches in ‘no man’s land’ during World War 1. ‘On Christmas Day’ will be released as a three track digital single, containing a long version and radio edit of the song, plus a brand new studio track, ‘Born To Be King’, on Steamhammer / SPV on December 1st.
A limited edition of one thousand 10” vinyl singles will also be available.
Magnum, whose latest studio album ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’ crashed in to the top 40 of the UK national album chart on release in March this year, set off on single release day to play the following December UK tour dates:-
1st December CAMBRIDGE Junction
2nd December SHEFFIELD The Corporation
3rd December PRESTON 53 Degrees
4th December MIDDLESBOROUGH Empire
5th December BILSTON Robin 2
7th December PORTHCAWL, WALES Planet RockStock (headline)
Guitarist and songwriter Tony Clarkin reveals how it all happened; “It was Olly Hahn at SPV/Steamhammer who said that he had a great idea, and could I write a Christmas song? I replied we had already had done that in the past and told him about ‘On Christmas Day’ and that it was on the ‘Rockart’ album, so if he wanted to check that out to see if it was suitable, because it`s not the normal Christmas song that people would expect. I had not heard it myself for a long, long time. We were in Germany at the time and so we all sat round the computer to listen to the track; we were all impressed, and I was really looking forward to re doing it. That’s really the story of how it came about; but I also thought “Born To Be King” could also fit with On Christmas Day as a strong B side for the whole package!”
Bass player Alan Barrow, who created the single’s artwork, explains that the idea for the cover “was based on some documented facts about the men in the trenches around Christmas in 1914. Carol singing was said to have been heard going back and forth between the trenches from both sides. Some documents state that on Christmas day a small amount of soldiers ventured in to ‘no mans land’ where they exchanged food, cigarettes and souvenirs. There are some reports that a game of football was also played.”
Magnum, who regularly breached the Top 40 of both the singles and album charts in the Eighties and early Nineties, came together in the Midlands in the mid-Seventies and released their debut album ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ in 1978, followed by ‘Magnum II’ in 1979 and their first live album ‘Marauder’ in 1980. During this period they toured relentlessly with the likes of Def Leppard, Blue Oyster Cult and Judas Priest.
1982’s ‘Chase The Dragon’ album was the first to go Top 20, and was accompanied by a sold out UK tour. 1983’s ‘The Eleventh Hour’, 1985’s ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ and 1986’s (Roger Taylor produced) ‘Vigilante’ album all fared similarly well but it was 1988’s ‘Wings Of Heaven’ LP which really broke the band into the mainstream, going gold, breaching the top 5 of the UK chart and spawning three top 30 singles – ‘Days Of No Trust’, Start Talkin’ Love’ and ‘It Must Have Been Love’. During this period the band regularly graced the stages of such venues as Hammersmith Odeon and major UK Festivals as Reading and Castle Donington.
1990’s ‘Goodnight To L.A.’ album also went Top 10, spawned the Top 40 single ‘Rocking Chair’ and was accompanied by a tour of the UK’s Arena circuit, including venues such as Wembley Arena and the NEC. 1991’s ‘The Spirit’, 1992’s ‘Sleepwalking’ and 1994’s ‘Rock Art’, were followed by the announcement of the band’s demise and an extensive farewell tour, during which the band’s 1996 live album, ‘The Last Dance’ was recorded.
Clarkin went on to work as a producer and songwriter for other artists, brought out two albums with Bob Catley in Hard Rain (‘Hard Rain’ in 1997 and ‘When The Good Times Come’ in 1999), and generally recharged his musical batteries.
Then, in the summer of 2001, Magnum reformed and began writing their February 2002 ‘Breath Of Life’ album, released 8 years after ‘Rock Art’. “It was particularly inspiring for me to write and produce new material for Magnum,” Clarkin enthused at the time, continuing that “Compared to the Hard Rain tracks, the Magnum compositions are powerful, deeper, and more passionate.”
2004’s ‘Brand New Morning’ album was an even more accomplished body of work, and won over a host of new fans, as well documented on the ‘Livin’ The Dream’ live DVD, recorded in the UK in 2005, and released in 2006. Both ‘Princess Alice and The Broken Arrow’, released in March 2007, and 2009’s ‘Into The Valley Of The Moon King’, won over ever more new fans, leading to 2011’s‘The Visitation’ charting at 55, and then ‘On The 13th Day’ charting at 43 in the UK national album charts in September 2012.
In March 2014 ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’ crashed in to the UK’s national album chart at #38, the highest chart position achieved since 1992. Particularly spangling gems of new songs on ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’ include epic opener ‘Live ‘Til You Die’, the groove-laden, hard rocking ‘Too Many Clowns’, the poignant, balladic ‘Don’t Fall Asleep’, and gorgeous album closer ’The Valley Of Tears’, with its tinkling ivories and luscious soundscapes.