Review Summary: It's good music goddammit. Buy it.
Next time you see it, in a dusty corner of a record shop, don’t think about it. Buy “On a storyteller’s night”. If you can download it, c’mon give it a try, listen to Magnum’s album from 1985. Sometimes you do things just because somebody tells you to.
What? What do you mean you need a good reason to give your earnings for any album, especially if it is coming from 80’s English rock scene?
Oh well, everything in this life must have a reason, a purpose or an adequate explanation. We need it in order to justify our actions, like “it is good music” is not enough. Here it goes then!
Tony Clarkin — Guitar
Bob Catley — Vocals
Wally Lowe — Bass
Mark Stanway — Keyboards
Jim Simpson — Drums
First of all a good, politically correct consumer needs a tag before choosing a cd. Let’s say that AOR influenced pomp rock is our case here. Like Journey, but with an epic-er feel in it. "Les Morts Dansant" is the song to listen to, if you have an appetite for a theatrical epic, talking about soldiers going to face death in front of the firing squad. It is a very beautiful song, with a very catchy chorus. Recommended!
As in almost every 80’s pomp rock album the keyboards are the main attraction. They paint the bigger picture, they set the tone of the album and yes, they are magnificent. It’s all about the melodies, and boy are they fine. Take for example “Just like an arrow”, which is a very typical 80’s rock song. While it is not anything special, you can help it but enjoy its energy, its melody. It is cheesy but you have to admit that it is a tune that you can’t help but sing along. No track has a weak or boring melody, the singer-songwriter has an ear for melody that’s for sure. Good luck if you are looking for fillers!
Of course there are some bads. The riffs are generic (you are in the eighties right???), don’t expect any original ideas. Everything in this album sound familiar if you have spent time with AOR.”Steal your heart” is my evidence for that. It is maybe the most conservative and overplayed pattern of rock song in the 80’s. They drums are typical, but not weak. He is one of those drummers that knows his game but never overdoes it. If you are looking for complexity or musical prowess for the ages, stop whining and try Marillion. The singer , though, is good. Not great, sounds Meat Loaf-y at times and that is a good feat in my book. His voice is strong and he doesn’t seem to force it all, but he isn't special.
If I had to summarize this album’s essence in one word… that word would have to be, modest. If this album was a man, he would not be risky, but he would do a handful of things very well. This is maturity my friends, know your limitations and try to do the best you can. This is how every song sounds to me. The band is confident and knows that the songs have quality, the melodies are catchy and the playing is tight.
This is by far their best album and a great place to start if you want to know a forgotten and overlooked band. If this is the case you will not regret buying “On a storyteller’s night”. Maybe you will feel a little old. And a bit geek.