19. Brand New Morning – But still rocking…
In mid-2003 Tony started writing a new album to be recorded in autumn and winter and to be published in early 2004. The first pre-recording sessions were shortly interrupted by
a big MAGNUM convention called ”Magnumania” was held in Stourbridge/England on 4th October. The band played a charity concert there (for spinal injury research - Al Barrow’s sister-in-law had been forced into a wheelchair after a car crash), supported by HODSON and LOST WEEKEND (PULSE had to drop out of the billing shortly before the gig). A lot of fan goodies were sold and there was a meet and greet with the band. Unfortunately Mickey Barker couldn’t attend due to a gig he had to play that night.
On his previous solo tour Bob revealed in interviews, that MAGNUM had already started recording three new songs for the album. One was called ”Brand New Morning”, another one ”We All Run”. The third one was yet untitled. Al Barrow announced that the new cover would be more “fantasy-like”, but different from the Rodney Matthews paintings. This was finally confirmed in January 2004 when the band announced that “Brand New Morning” would become the album title, too. However, the release date was postponed to 30th August. Again, in 2014 a double-LP-version was commissioned and published by Nuclear Blast Records.
Again, Tony had the original idea for the cover, which was first revealed on the band’s website in March. It showed Bob Catley wearing his “Middle Earth”-cylinder watching a junkyard and a stormy sky. There were three crosses from which - amazingly - two more Bob Catleys were hanging. The picture creates a very dark and gloomy atmosphere, which was even felt by the band members, but they liked it nevertheless.
The songs on the album were: “Brand New Morning”, “It’s Time To Come Together”, “We All Run”, “The Blue And The Grey”, “I’d Breathe For You”, “The Last Goodbye”, “Immigrant Son”, “Hard Road” and “The Scarecrow”. The Japanese edition contained a bonus track, “Dreamland”.
“Brand New Morning” had a slow intro before changing into a real rocker with a pulsating rhythm. This was a song about someone up to a fresh start in life. When IRON MAIDEN vocalist Bruce Dickinson heard the song on a promo copy he liked it so much, that he covered it at one of his concerts in July even before the MAGNUM album was out!
The usual anti-war song was included with “The Blue And The Grey”, a haunting ballad that dealt with the American civil war, hence the colours. “I Breathe For You” was one of the most positive songs on the album, featuring the statement “I’ll support you whenever necessary”. The heaviest song was “Hard Road”, which was about people who stand in their own way most of the time. The topic of people immigrating to Britain was dealt with in “Immigrant Son” whereas “We All Run” was about the danger of a nuclear overkill. Peace between religions was the issue of “It’s Time To Come Together” and “The Scarecrow” was a fantasy song about an unhappy scarecrow that finally steps down from its cross and comes to life, which also the cover referred to. The bonus track “Dreamland”, a slow ballad about dreams, didn’t really fit in with the style of the rest of the album but was a great song nevertheless.
Harry’s drumming did the album a lot of good. His precise powerhouse style added to the individuality of the album and made it sound more like a band recording than the last one. Harry declared that he wanted to drum in THUNDER and MAGNUM in future, which turned out to be impossible, so he left MAGNUM for THUNDER in 2005.
The reviews, especially in German rock magazines hailed the album as a big success. The Rock Hard magazine even called it a match for “On A Storyteller’s Night”, which had never been achieved before, according to the writer. The album charted at No 13 in the British rock charts, went up to No 50 in Japan, No 60 in Germany and No 73 in Sweden, which was a remarkable and unexpected success.
The first audience to hear MAGNUM live in 2004 was that on the Bang Your Head - Rock Festival in Balingen /Germany on 26th June. The band finally made their appearance there, as they had missed out on the 2002-BYH-Festival due to Tony’s heart attack. They played a one-hour gig, debuting two new songs in the setlist which read: “All England’s Eyes“/ „Wild Swan“/ „Brand New Morning”/“Backstreet Kid”/ “Les Morts Dansant“/ „We All Run“/ „How Far Jerusalem”/“Vigilante”/
“Kingdom Of Madness”. This was followed by a performance at the Rock And Blues-Festival in the UK and an appearance at the Lorca festival in Spain.
The UK-Tour in late September and early October saw the return of some well-known classics along with a couple of songs from the new album: “All England’s Eyes”/“Wild Swan”/”Brand New Morning”/”Back Street Kid”/”Les Morts Dansant”/”The Last Goodbye”/”We All Run”/”How Far Jerusalem”/”The Blue & The Grey”/”Days Of No Trust”/”Vigilante”/”Kingdom Of Madness”/” The Spirit” and “Sacred Hour”. If time was short, “The Spirit” was dropped occasionally.
Some footage was filmed at the Rock and Blues-festival and combined with an interview. This was published as bonus material on a second re-release of the “A Winter’s Tale”-DVD under the title “Live in Birmingham”.