4. Chasing The Dragon
The band lay finishing touches to their new album in early 1982. The producer was Jeff Glixman, who had already worked with HEART and KANSAS and who was to later produce BLACK SABBATH, Gary Moore, Yngwie Malmsteen and the E.L.O. PART II-comeback album, at a time when MAGNUM were easily outselling E.L.O.!
In February they supported the famous Swiss band KROKUS as a warm-up to their forthcoming headline tour, which started immediately after the release of the album.
Originally “On The Edge Of The World” and “The Spirit” were planned as album titles but this was dropped in favour of ”Chase The Dragon“, which was published on 19th February 1982 and was the best-selling MAGNUM-album so far. It went up to No. 17 in the British charts and earned the band good money. It contained eight new songs, some of which have really become true MAGNUM classics. These were: “Soldier Of The Line“, “On The Edge Of The World“, “The Spirit“, “Sacred Hour“, “Walking On The Straight Line“, “We All Play The Game“, “The Teacher“ and “The Lights Burned Out“. The latter song also was the single, a song about a man losing the love of his life. The single's B-side was “Long Days, Black Nights“, a song that had not made the album despite its rocking qualities.
Most of the album was done in one take, because the band was very short of time during the recording sessions. “Long Days Black Nights“ was later part of the “Vintage Magnum“ compilation, that was published at the time of MAGNUM's greatest chart success in 1988. It contained all non-album tracks until 1982.
The album cover was the first MAGNUM-cover to be designed by the famous British fantasy artist Rodney Matthews. Rodney is a convinced Christian and pays very much attention to the lyrics of the album he is going to design the cover for. His main influences are Walt Disney and nature itself. He usually makes a band give him the album at a very early recording stage and discusses his ideas with them. Then he sets to work with the final design. His first contact with tony came after Rodney had read in a music magazine about Tony’s vision of MAGNUM. He got interested and offered his services by sending Tony some postcards with his works. When it came to choosing the cover for CTD, Tony showed Rodney’s cards to the others and so their long-term cooperation started.
Rodney’s first MAGNUM-cover showed two red dinosaur-like dragons in a bizarre red landscape in front of a huge white castle. Firstly it was even planned as a gatefold sporting Rodney’s drawing “Sanctuary”, but that didn’t happen. However, some time later Rodney even recorded three tracks himself, including “The Sanctuary” inspired by this picture with Tony for a mini album. The new MAGNUM-logo transformed the “M“ into the handle of a sword, entitled the “Sword Of Chaos“. The first edition of the single contained a write-in offer to obtain a “Sword Of Chaos“-pendant. Even the following tour of Britain, supported by TROUBLE was staged under that title.
A unique feature of “Chase The Dragon“ was that real MAGNUM fans have the opportunity to compare this album with its original demos, which had leaked out from the studios by some indiscretion.
This demo tape contains the raw versions of “Walking On The Straight Line“, “The Teacher“, “Sacred Hour“, “Soldier Of The Line“ and “All Lights Burned Out“ (All original titles as stated).
Two more very interesting tracks that were written and produced by Tony Clarkin were sung by Sue McCloskey, a friend of the band’s, and were entitled “Really Need Your Love“ and “Lost Inside Myself“. Whereas the first one was a powerful rocker, the second was a beautiful ballad. Both songs show that Tony made very good use of Sue's voice and were published on a single under Sue’s name in 1981. I could hardly imagine Bob singing them as they are both different from MAGNUM's other repertoire.
JET arranged the first opportunity for MAGNUM to present their music in the USA when they were signed to support “madman” Ozzy Osbourne on his tour and play a few concerts on their own.
But there were only a few gigs, so that they were not really able to convince a die-hard Ozzy/BLACK SABBATH audience of their qualities. Nevertheless the band made good use of this tour by recording the show in Nashville/Tennessee. The running order was roughly the same as on the tour with KROKUS (except “The Lights burned Out”): “Soldier Of The Line“/ „Reborn“/ „Sacred Hour“/ „The Spirit“/ „Changes“/ „All Of My Life“/ „Invasion“/ „Kingdom Of Madness“ and “Runaround Sue“, a cover version from the old days.
Two of these live recordings “Soldier Of The Line“ and “Sacred Hour“ were featured on the next E.P. which reached No 52 in the charts. The entire gig was not published until 1990 under the title “Invasion“. A big honour for the band was being asked to take part in the Mildenhall Rock Festival, which they did in summer 1982.