Occasionally I write reviews of albums for mailing lists. I have therefore
started to keep them here to.
I was very kindly sent a Promotional copy of Bob Cately’s solo album "The
Tower" today. I got it direct from Frontiers Records in Italy (frontier@Itb.it).
It came in a nice Picture card sleeve of what I assume will be the albums front
and back covers.
The disc is just over 58mins long. And contains ten tracks. Although the last
one is curiously instrumental I therefore assume Bob-less. This is 2nd
solo album I have had this year with a track without the solo artist on it.
(Mark Thompson Smith’s being the other and actually a very good track)
I am notoriously bad at liking an album on it’s first listen so I will not
really comment on weather I like it. Just what I observed.
The first thing that struck me was that I can’t hear Bob in the mix very well.
As the album progressed I decided it might be because his vocals are done in
several layers and perhaps that is why the whole vocals sound muddy to me. I
certainly need to listen to the album at higher than normal levels and I still
was not convinced it was better.
The next thing was there are lots of Keyboards on this. Electric Piano and
lots of atmospheric keyboards that often seem to follow the vocal lines a bit
closely. Thought that might be just one song. In other places the Keyboards
lines are up to the standards I would expect considering I am a big Rick Wakeman
There was talk by Bob in Hard Roxx Magazine number 35 (available from firstname.lastname@example.org)
about the album sounding like On A Story tellers Night Magnum. Perhaps the Lyrics
are but I can’t really see it with the sound. I just recently got my first Ten
Album "The Name of the Rose" and this musically reminds me of Ten
more than Magnum not surprisingly since it is written and produced by Ten’s
Gary Hughes. The are huge amounts of acoustic guitar on the album.
There was a track on the first play that stuck me as being quite enjoyable
and that was "Fear of the Dark" it will be interesting to see how
the album grows on me.
Judging by my 2nd play of Dreams and Madrigal it already is. I do wish the
Mix was clearer though
________________ 8 days Later
Well I have been playing Bob’s The Tower for some time now and I have to say
I quite like it. It is actually much better than I expected it to be when I
heard Gary Hughes had written. I still have not heard much Ten but what I have
heard gives me the impression he has got the right idea but the is something
lacking in the overall result. ie It ok but not quite great. I of course know
that the press and others are praising him to death so perhaps I have not heard
the best side of him.
I am still not quite convinced that Bob has been Mixed very well but now that
I know the songs etc I am not having to concentrate so heard to hear the vocals.
Looking at the titles on the album. I would say my favourite is still Fear
of the Dark. But it is closely followed by Madrigal, Deep Winter and Dreams
and Scream. I enjoy the whole album. I do sometimes wonder about the arrangements
but I suspect I am just being picky. I think I like this album as much as the
Hard Rain album (not that they are similar. Hard Rain sounded a little computer
generated. This sounds real) And that was the album that got me back into investigating
the later day Magnum back catalogue which I had lost interest in.
I think now is definitely a good time to be a Magnum artist related fan. It
would be good too see some of this stuff live.
This arrived today. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It is pretty much Hard
Rain II. Yes I know that is what I should have been expecting but with all the
talk being about it being done by the band and not just Tony and a computer
I guess I was expecting something different.
It is still too early too tell if I like it or not. But I wasn’t too keen on
Eat It Up and Talks Like A Lady at last years gigs. Eat it up on here is a bit
brassy for me too which I never like for some reasons. It will be interesting
to see how I take too it. Especially as I think I am unlikely to make a gig
I guess it does not help that I am listening to the Road to Paradise on my
other CD player. That makes an excellent replacement for the Vintage Magnum
album as for a couple of quid more you get so many more tracks and better sound
quality. I do wish Castle Communications would do more checking on their sleeve
notes though. They always have mistakes like "All tracks are album versions
except at indicated" on disc 1. Which of course contains loads of B sides
and Live versions!
I would also personally prefer the set to not include Eleventh Hour which I
find to be rather inferior to the rest. At least it is at the end. I was therefore
interested to read that it is close to someone best Magnum album 🙂 I Meet
a guy at a Vigilante tour gig in Ipswich who thought similar.
WTGTC is growing already. Actually I liked HR a lot so I should like this in
__________ A week later.
So how are we taking to this album now? I think I am about to retire it. It
does very little for me. I am a little baffled as to why. In fact I am just
playing the first HR album and it moves me so much more. I thought perhaps I
just have a downer on at present (I don’t like Fish’s new one either) but HR
still picks me up and impresses me like it did when I first got it. Is it because
the songs on WTGTC are more upbeat? Perhaps Tony’s guitar isn’t as nice. It
bugs me that I can’t see why I am not taking to it. Perhaps it needs a rest
and then a play in a few weeks or years. Perhaps it is just a duffer.
I had been looking forward to the release of this album but I have had it over
a week now, played it quite a few times and yet I still can’t get into it. I
have therefore been delaying giving my worthless opinion on it.
Lets start with the easy bit. I love the Artwork. It always interesting to
see links to the past in an album cover and the Magnum "M" built into
the window/skylight is just that. I love the look of the cover in general. Much
better than The Tower which was just OK.
When I got the album I had a lot of prejudice to get over. I don’t really like
Gary Hughes writing for Ten. When I first heard their albums I thought they
had a lot of potential but weren’t fulfilling it. Only one or two songs strike
be as being good. The more I hear of his writing the more I can see this is
his style and it just doesn’t really work for me.
I could therefore be despondent about the news that Bob has left Hard Rain
(whose 2nd album When The Good Times Come I also struggled with. Especially
after loving the first album, which then re-sparked my interest in the later
Magnum albums). I can take hope though in the fact that with luck Bob will have
more time to get others to write for him and not just Hughes. I would love to
see more stuff along the lines of Jabberwocky with Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman.
I love listening to Bob sing but it needs to be in the right environment. Being
a non writer he is probably in a difficult and highly risky position and you
have to respect his choice to leave Tony Clarkin and try something new. I wonder
how much arranging and musical input Bob has on the work he produces.
Lets go through the album song by song
The Pain – I am pretty in different to this
Shelter From The Night. Having a keyboard riff throughout this song I quire
like it. I have always been partial to keyboard and that is why I like early
Magnum in preference to the later albums.
Carpe Diem – Mmm this one is quite reasonable too. I like the multi-layered
Tender Is The Night – This pretty much just passes time for me on the album.
I can’t say anything is wrong with it but equally I don’t really enjoy it.
Medusa – This song isn’t too bad. I like the chorus again. It does have my
main fault with Hughes writing though and that is the music following Bob’s
Hydra – This is another that pretty much annoys me while being sort of OK.
The music is following Bob on the chorus’s again and I just find it to much
and too simple in structure at the same time.
A Beautiful Night For Love – I normally as quite a sucker for Ballads but again
not this one. I sometimes feel the chorus’s go on too much but can’t really
Too Late – Mmm are all the songs merging into one for me. Ah no. I at least
love the keyboard solo which reminds me of Marillion but that is only a small
part of a long song.
The Light – Pure indifference again 🙁
Where The Heart Is – This one sounds like a Christmas song to me. Again the
music is following Bob almost making him redundant. Or maybe it is better put
that guide vocal track was done in music and they forgot to remove it.
So there we have it. This album still doesn’t manage to move me as much as
The Tower. Since I knew I was struggling with this I dug out The Tower and gave
it a spin again. I had played it about a fortnight ago and thought it not quite
as good as I remembered it. But in comparison to this I positively enjoyed it
Perhaps this review will spark someone into defending the album I look forward
to hearing what people like about it. I am sure anyone that loves Ten will love
this and I hope Bob has another success on his hands. I do hope for future releases
he can vary the song writer so that fans like me can still enjoy his work. Of
course Gary could always revert and improve the style of The Tower. I think
I will include my Tower Review so you can get a feel for my thoughts when reviewing.
I can remember thinking Bob was drowned in the mix on that album and I noticed
he seemed clearer on The Tower yesterday so I guess I have got used to the style
now. I think this album needs a rest now. Perhaps if I put it in my Jukebox
I will come across it on Random play and get curious enough to try it again.
It has worked with some other impenetrable albums.