21. Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow – Return To Fantasy
In June 2006 MAGNUM entered the studio again to start recording a new album. A short podcast on the website showed Tony and Mark Stuart preparing the first song ideas. A second clip published in August gave away the album title “Princess Alice And the Broken Arrow” along with some song titles: “Like Brothers We Stand”, “Thousands Of Eyes”, “Dragons Are Real”, “When We Were Younger”, and “Inside Your Head”. The really sensational news was that Rodney Matthews was to do the cover for the next album again! Bob stated in the podcast that the song titles fitted very much in with the album title and all that hinted that MAGNUM would return to their fantasy-related image, which had been dropped after the last album with a Rodney Matthews cover, “Sleepwalking” from 1992.
In a second podcast in November the song titles were revealed and the first soundbits could be heard which were more than promising. One was from the song, “Thank You For The Day”, a great ballad in the style of “Broken Wheel” from “Sleepwalking” or “Back In Your Arms Again” from “Rock Art”. The other was a short clip of “Eyes Wide Open”, a mid-tempo song with a gripping guitar riff at the beginning.
A revised running order was published in December along with a new band logo (also designed by Rodney Matthews), which was very much in the style of the albums from the early 80’s. One song, “The Gates Of Hell” was dropped to be used as a bonus track for the Japanese edition. Another piece of news was a UK and European tour being announced to be staged between May and July 2007. VAUGHN were suggested as support act. Bob said that about for to five new songs were to be play played live together with the “best of the rest”.
In January a third soundbit was launched – this time 2.40 minutes of “Dragons Are Real”. Jimmy Copley was now named permanent drummer as Harry had to lay his priority on THUNDER. Guest violinist on “You’ll Never Sleep” was Jim Lea of SLADE.
During a radio interview at the end of January the first four new songs were premiered in full length: “When We Were Younger”, “Dragons Are Real”, “Like Brothers We Stand” and “Eyes Wide Open”. Bob stated that the album had taken a full year to record and mix and explained the title: It referred to the “Alice”-orphanage in Birmingham which the song “You’ll Never Sleep” referred to. It should have been the title song but then its title was changed although the original idea for the lyrics was kept. Another aspect was that a broken arrow was the Native American’s symbol of broken piece, referred to in “Like Brothers We Stand”. “When We Were Younger” (Bob’s favourite song from the album) was a song about the band member’s past and about all the changes experienced with family and friends. Originally planned with a keyboard solo it was the acoustic solo that made this song special. “Dragons Are Real” was a song about human fantasy and the world books can create in your head. “Like Brothers We Stand” referred to the Red Indians being betrayed by the Whites because dozens of treaties were signed but never kept – a similar topic as in “The Flood” from “Sleepwalking”. “Eyes Wide Open” and “Out Of The Shadows” were about war aftermath and “Inside your Head” about getting old and not being wanted anymore. “Be Strong” and “Thank You For The Day” had self-explaining titles whereas “Your Lies” was about dishonest politicians.
The album was published in March in various European countries starting in Germany on the 23rd. The final song titles were “When We Were Younger”, “Eyes Wide Open”, Like Brothers We Stand”, “Out Of The Shadows”, “Dragons Are Real”, “Inside Your Head”, “Be Strong” (“Just Be Strong” on the promo version, “Thank You For The Day”, “Your Lies” (“Tell Me No More Lies” on the promo version), “Desperate Times” and “You’ll Never Sleep”. The Japanese version contained one more track which was the radio edit of “Like Brothers We Stand” instead of “The Gates Of Hell” which strangely remained unpublished.
The cover showed a large wooden room with a few imprisoned children in the background. In the foreground a young girl – Princess Alice – is sitting at a large table opposite an evil-looking fox. Of course there are many lovely details, as always in a Rodney Matthews picture. In the middle of the picture there is the top of a spiral staircase which ends in the Storyteller’s walking stick. His sack, still sporting the former MAGNUM-“M”, is standing on the floor right next to it. The tail of the “Chase The Dragon”-Dragon is looking out from under a food dish.
A crystal-clear production with beautiful vocals, cracking bass-lines (Al was using a new 5-string-bass), elaborate keyboard parts, thundering drums and gorgeous guitar work made the album a real pleasure to listen to. The first edition of the album contained a bonus DVD with a new studio video clip of “Dragons Are Real”, interviews with all band members and a “making-of” the album.
The video showed the band in the Mad Hat Studios recording the song and obviously having a lot of fun. Those who expected dragons were pleased by a little cuddly toy dragon which Al waved into the camera towards the end of the song. To promote the album a promo-single of “Like Brothers We Stand” was issued and distributed to radio stations. The title track was a special radio edit which was also available for the fans on the MAGNUM website. The second track was “Your Lies” in the normal album version. The cover showed the new logo and a little mouse which could also be encountered throughout the booklet of the album.
“Princess Alice” entered the British charts on the first day at position 29. By the end of the week it was Nr 70, but No 4 (!) in the Rock charts. In Germany it went up to Nr 60 which was exactly the same position that “Brand New Morning” had reached.
Sad news about the following tour were published in mid-April. Jimmy Copley had to go to hospital for some time, so he couldn’t do the tour. Luckily a familiar face agreed to stand in for him during the tour: Harry James had just completed touring with THUNDER and was available for MAGNUM to temporarily replace Jimmy.
The tour started in Germany in May. Support on the German leg were a little-known German band called “DIE SPRINGER”. The three-piece did quite a good job warming up the audience for the real gig. MAGNUM were in great shape and Harry did an amazing job although he had had only a few days to learn the set. He stated once again that he would have liked to stay with MAGNUM because he just loved to be and perform with the others. Only his THUNDER commitments had prevented him from carrying on as MAGNUM’s permanent drummer.
The setlist showed their confidence in the new material since as many as five tracks were performed. The last two albums that had featured so massively in the set had been “Sleepwalking” and “Rock Art”. The band opened with “When We Were Younger”, followed by “Back Street Kid”/ “Out Of The Shadows”/ ”On A Storyteller’s Night”/ “Like Brothers We Stand”/ “How Far Jerusalem”/ “Dragons Are Real”/ “Les Morts Dansant”/ “We All Run”/ “The Spirit”/ “All England’s Eyes”/ “Vigilante”/ “Kingdom Of Madness”/ “Thank You For The Day” and “Sacred Hour”.
The band were in great shape and gave an enthusiastic performance. The new songs fitted in really well with the others and the audience was rocking non-stop from the first to the very last riffs and notes of the concert. On the UK tour they were supported by newcomers UXL.
Jimmy was up and running again in July when the band headed for a one-off concert in Tamworth to warm up for the Rock Of Ages-Festival in Germany.
During a radio interview in mid-July Bob revealed plans for a second jubilee tour. This time it was intended to celebrate 20 years of their most successful album ever, “Wings Of Heaven”.