9. Goodnight LA - Goodnight MAGNUM?
Although the American tour hadn't worked out, Polydor still had the idea of conquering the United States with MAGNUM. Considering the huge success of bands like BON JOVI or GUNS 'N' ROSES, whose style was not too different from MAGNUM's, they had the idea of designing the new album especially for the American market. In order to make the album a real success they suggested Tony to work together with experienced co-writers for the first (and last) time in the band history. The idea of being successful overseas, was too good a chance to miss, so Tony agreed. Two new songs for the next album, “Reckless Man“ and “Born To Be King“ (which was also discussed as the album title) were already written and now he recorded and arranged lots of other demos and ideas that he took with him to Los Angeles and Vancouver to find an American producer with a good track record.
He found Keith Olsen, who had previously worked with WHITESNAKE, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Benatar, Rick Springfield, FOREIGNER; FLEETWOOD MAC, Sammy Hagar, GUNS 'N' ROSES and SAGA. Keith agreed to do the production with Shay Baby engineering. Tony said: “Keith 's done an absolutely wonderful job for us. He thinks along the same lines we do. He's so in tune with us at times, it's unbelievable“. Keith gave the compliments back: “It's the best album I've worked on in the last five years.“ Tony wanted a bit of a harder edge to the album than on “Wings Of Heaven“, so this time the guitars and drums dominated, which were to give it more of a “live“-feeling. Keith also pushed Bob to a swell performance on vocals.
Tony then started to cooperate with Russ Ballard, who had already worked with a lot of other famous rock stars e.g. RAINBOW and AEROSMITH. Together they wrote the songs “Rockin' Chair“, “Matter Of Survival“ and “No Way Out“. Ballard suggested to Tony to start writing songs with the title, a method that he has kept ever since, although there are songs that he starts with either lyrics or music. Other co-writers were to be Jim Vallance (his work includes Bryan Adams and AEROSMITH), with whom Tony composed the song “What Kind Of Love Is This“ and Sue Shifrin, who joined her talents with Tony's on “Cry For You“. All that pushed the production budget to an amazing 350.000 pounds!
In summer Tony joined the other band members to do a little Scandinavian tour in Norway, Finland (for the first time) and Sweden. This tour peaked in the band's headlining the Karlskoga festival in Sweden where they stunned a giant crowd. The running order contained three new songs: “Born To Be King“/ „Vigilante“/ „Wild Swan“/ „Heartbroke and Busted“/ „On A Storyteller's Night“/ „Need A Lot Of Love“/ „Where Do You Run To“/ „How far Jerusalem“/ „Pray For The Day“/ „Don't Wake The Lion“/ „Drum Solo“/ „Midnight“/ „Start Talking Love“/ „Days Of No Trust“ and “When The World Comes Down“. Another brand new song, “Only A Memory“ was rendered, too, but not in Karlskoga.
One final gig was played at the Cumbria festival. It was broadcast on the radio and has meanwhile resurfaced as a bootleg CD entitled “The Goodnight L.A. Tour”. In early 1990 the whole band flew to Los Angeles to record the album in Keith Olsen's studios. The idea was to release the album in spring, but then part of the stage set burned down, Keith broke his foot and it was not until 9th July that “Goodnight L.A.“, named after Keith Olsen's studio, was released. The album contained ten songs with a bonus track on CD. These were “Rockin' Chair“, “Mama, “Only A Memory“, “Reckless Man“, “Matter Of Survival“, “What Kind Of Love Is This“, “Heartbroke & Busted“, “Shoot“, “No Way Out“, “Cry For You“ (CD bonus) and “Born To Be King“. Other songs called “The Rock“ and “On That Day“ were retitled or dropped. “Come Back Running“, a fine mid-tempo rocker, was recorded as a demo version, probably to be a B-side for a third single, but it was never released, neither was “I Wanna See You Laughing”. The release was quite successful, going up to Nr. 9 in the UK album charts.
Again, some lyrics were quite remarkable. “Only A Memory“ (whose harmony vocals and melody were now different from the earlier live version) was an anti-war song, “Shoot“ dealt with terrorism. “Born To Be King“ is a song about someone who is born a future king (Jesus) without the possibility of escaping from his destiny. “Reckless Man“ was a song about crooked politicians.
The cover was a weird picture of an old white-haired man in a black suit, jokingly called the “baboon“, who was balancing on a unicycle. It was so high, that the old man was actually overlooking the clouds.
“Rockin’ Chair“ was the first single, which peaked at Nr.27 in the British charts.. The lyrics are about a conflict between a man and a woman but also a bit of coquetry with the band member's progressing age...“Mama“ was the B-side. The first edition of the single came in a limited “Rockin' Pack“ with three sleeve photos. Some singles also had a sew-on patch. The “Rockin Chair“ CD single's first edition came in a numbered gatefold sleeve with a mini poster. There was a bonus track called “Where Do You Run To“ on the 12“ and on the CD-single, which was produced by SAGA's bass player Jim Crichton. Their vocalist Michael Sadler had already contributed some background vocals to the album.
MAGNUM had got to know them when they met SAGA at the Peace Festival in Berlin on June 17th. Both of them had been invited to play along with other great names in the rock business like ASIA, MOTHER'S FINEST, STATUS QUO and Fish to celebrate the forthcoming reunification of Germany. MAGNUM certainly were the right choice for that occasion, think only of “Need A Lot Of Love“ and “Pray For The Day“. They performed a couple of songs :“Days Of No Trust“/
”Wild Swan“/ “Rockin' Chair“/ “Need A Lot Of Love“/ “How Far Jerusalem“/ “No Way Out“/ “Pray For The Day“/ “Just Like An Arrow“ and “It Must Have Been Love“.
The second single was “Heartbroke & Busted“, a song about a torn personality. The other side of the single featured another bonus track, “Hangin' Tree“. The first edition included a “Day out with MAGNUM“ competition, the 12“lacked the competition, but had “Cry For You“ as additional track on the B-side. Finally there was an EP with a special cut out sleeve, which included the latter three tracks and an acoustic version of “Les Morts Dansant“. This acoustic version did not appear on CD single, so there were only the 12“ tracks on it, but the first edition came in a numbered presentation tin. It was to be MAGNUM’s last chart single reaching its top position at Nr. 45 in the UK
Video clips were shot for both singles .“Rockin' Chair“ showed the band in an empty concert hall performing the song while scarcely clad girls are dancing in the rain outside. The “Heartbroke & Busted“ clip showed a similar location but a slightly different stage. This time the girls were repairing and cleaning a big American truck. Polydor also released a video compilation that contained all MAGNUM studio videos from “Just Like An Arrow“ to “Rockin Chair“. A third single, “No Way Out“, was planned but never released because Polydor was disappointed with the chart ranking of “Heartbroke & Busted“.
In September and October the band hit the road to play 32 concerts in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Support band were DIRTY WHITE BOY. The running order was slightly changed during the tour, some songs were left out in a few places. The full show featured: “Intro“/ “Days Of No Trust“/ “What Kind Of Love Is This“/ “Wild Swan“/ “Vigilante“/
”Need A Lot Of Love“/ “Mama“/ “Pray For The Day“/ “Les Morts Dansant“/ “No Way Out“/ “It Must Have Been Love“/ “How Far Jerusalem“/ “The Spirit“/ “On A Storyteller's Night“/
“Heartbroke & Busted“/ “Start Talking Love“(that one was only played in Heilbronn/Germany on special request)/“Rockin' Chair“/ “Midnight“/ “Just Like An Arrow“/ “The Last Dance“ and “Reckless Man“. On some shows they played “When The World Comes Down“, “Soldier Of The Line” and “The Prize”.
Again there was a lavish stage show with a lot of lights and stage decoration. Many fans didn't believe their eyes when MAGNUM entered the stage. Who the hell was the guitarist? It was Tony alright, but he had shaved his hair and beard off except the moustache! In Germany Bob learnt a bit of German to be able to say goodbye in the country's language. The last concert in Oslo had to be cancelled because Bob was suffering from a virus infection, which gave the other members the opportunity of having a little break between touring and recording.
In January 1991 the band was invited to play at the Brits Awards, at which they performed four songs to a huge audience in the hall and in front of the TV sets.
The press reaction to the album was divided. Some hailed it as big progress for the band and welcomed the co-authors. Others hated the “commercial“ album, the “smooth production“ and the “Americanization“. Whereas “Rockin' Chair“ became rather successful, the album and the second single sold much less than they should have. A New York record company representative commented: “Let me explain. MAGNUM are signed to a UK label. Therefore the American company makes very little money from any success they have, even here. So why should we break sweat for them? However, we don’t want them to go elsewhere and become successful, because that makes us look bad. So, we have the current situation. The British company aren’t too bothered, because they concentrate on their own market. We are left to back our priorities…sure, the band lose out. But that’s life.”
So the album wasn't even released in the USA, not to mention a tour. On the whole “Goodnight L.A.“ didn't live up to the expectations. One rock magazine even titled “Goodnight MAGNUM!“