30. Into The Valley Of Tears - The Ballads
Much to the fans’ surprise a new sampler album was announced in November 2016. Called “Into The Valley Of Tears” it was to contain the best ballads from the band’s history, As for aforementioned reasons MAGNUM didn’t hold the rights to part of their back catalogue a few songs were simply recorded again, the others were remixed and/or remastered.
The idea for the album came from Dionne Clarkin-Roberts, Tony’s daughter and luckily her dad agreed. So in mid-2016 the new productions were recorded and the tracks compiled.
Although not out yet the album was presented on a small winter tour through the British Isles. Starting on 6th December the first show went ahead as planned with the following setlist: “Soldier Of The Line”/ “On A Storyteller’s Night”/ “Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies”/ “Freedom Day”/ “Dance Of The Black Tattoo”/ “Crazy Old Mothers”/ “Blood Red Laughter”/ “Your Dreams Won’t Die”/ “How Far Jerusalem”/ “Unwritten Sacrifice”/ “Twelve Men Wise and Just”/ “Les Morts Dansant”/ “Lonely Night” (new acoustic version)/ “All England’s Eyes”/ “Vigilante”/ “Kingdom of Madness” and as an encore “When the World Comes Down”. “Lonely Night” was dropped from the set after the first show.
Then - all of a sudden - Mark announced that he was leaving MAGNUM on the spot. And, indeed, in Dublin the band played their first gig as a four-piece in ages. Well - four and a half, really. Using Mark’s keyboard samples, the gig in Dublin on 9th December was played as scheduled. For the rest of the gigs Rick Benton (of BJÖRN AGAIN, an ABBA-cover band and of the Rebecca Downes Band) stood in for Mark, learning the set overnight. He must have done a swell job, according to the reviews. Shortly after, he became MAGNUMs new permanent keyboarder.
Mark announced his stepping down from MAGNUM after about 30 years on facebook but no real reason was given, which left a lot of room for speculation in all social media, especially as he had pulled out bang in the middle of the tour. Anyway - there was nothing but thankfulness and kind regards from the fans, who correctly valued his contribution to the band’s performances over more than three decades. In January 2018 Mark started a series of concerts entiteled “An evening with…” which featured several ex-MAGNUM members like Richard Bailey and Jim Simpson as well as Spike from the Quireboys.
The ballad sampler was out on 6th January 2017 and contained the following tracks: “Dream About You (remastered)”, “Back in Your Arms Again (newly re-recorded)”, “The Valley of Tears (remixed, remastered)”, “Broken Wheel (newly re-recorded)”, “A Face in the Crowd (remixed, remastered)”, “Your Dreams Won’t Die (remastered)”, “Lonely Night (acoustic version, newly re-recorded)”, “The Last Frontier (remixed, remastered)”, “Putting Things In Place (remixed, remastered)”, “When The World Comes Down (new live version)”.
The cover, designed by Al Barrow showed model Laura Marie Howard walking down a street towards a futuristic city (reminding of Rodney Matthews covers) at sunset, under a star-sprinkled sky. Her face can be seen on the back side. Unfortunately there was no booklet this time.
Although this was a compilation the critics loved it and it even charted in the top hundred sales charts in Germany (nr.96) and Britain (nr.99). For a short time it even peaked in the Amazon heavy charts!
Shortly after the album was out it was announced that Harry James would now fully resume his duties in THUNDER and therefore had to quit playing in MAGNUM. He was replaced by Lee Morris (ex-PARADISE LOST).