1. Through the Kingdom of Madness
In these difficult and chaotic times the band had been offered a very strange deal. Jake Commander, a former E.L.O-roadie and ex-lead guitarist in THE ANDICAPS (in which Kex Gorin had played, too), wanted to build a studio and asked them to help him. The band accepted as they were offered free time in the finished studio in return, instead of money. In spite of Dave's statements to Jake, who had actually claimed that Tony was a carpenter, none of them had any idea how to build a studio! But by some miracle the studio was finished alright. Tony had composed a few songs and the new line-up set to work for a first demo recording.
After many hours of recording, re-recording and re-re-recording Tony sent the finished demos off to several record companies, more hoping for a deal than expecting one. But the deal came. Funnily it was JET records whose most successful band were the aforementioned E.L.O. Meanwhile their albums held platinum status and this new wealth enabled JET to sign more bands. Jeff Lynne of E.L.O., who had also been in THE ANDICAPS with Kex, suggested MAGNUM to Don and David Arden (his son) of JET, who gave the new band a five-record-deal. The band could hardly believe their luck because their first ever demo got them a record deal right away.
Tony had written all the songs and the band even produced their first album themselves. They re-recorded the songs from the demo properly in the De Lane Lea Studios in London but for some unknown reason JET refused to release the album at once.
It didn't come out until 1978. In the meantime Tony had written more songs, so four old tracks “Master Of Disguise“, “Without Your Love“, “Find The Time“ and “Everybody Needs“, which had been on the original demo, were dropped and replaced by new ones. These were recorded in a record time of 36 hours because MAGNUM didn't want the release date to be postponed again. The final version of “Kingdom Of Madness“ contained nine tracks: “In The Beginning“, “Baby Rock Me“,
“Universe“, “Kingdom Of Madness“, “All That Is Real“, “The Bringer“, “Invasion“, “Lords Of Chaos“ and “All Come Together“.
The original cover by Stuart Daniels, who was contracted to JET Records at that time, was a
strange picture of a king sitting at a huge table in a big hall. The table is just toppling and the food is flying away. Later editions had a different cover, black on the outside and an iris of a cat eye in the middle, reflecting an expressionist picture of a medieval city. It was done by David Pilton Advertising Ltd. Rumour has it that the reason for the new cover was the original artist’s request for more royalties because the album was much more successful than expected!
However, there was a new handicap the band had to face. The new trend in rock music was Punk and MAGNUM were far from following it. In spite of that the album was classified as yet another outcome of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal).“Kingdom Of Madness“ sold up to a respectable 58th position in the British album charts and enabled MAGNUM to go on their first proper tour.
Of course they had played some gigs before, but this was a real tour and the chance to play for a larger audience to make MAGNUM's music more popular. The band managed to get the support slot for David Coverdale's new band WHITESNAKE. The snakes had the benefit of having inherited most of DEEP PURPLE's fans after their split, which meant sold-out concerts everywhere. MAGNUM did a great job although they had only small stage equipment.
They did not only support WHITESNAKE and their own new album, but also the two singles lifted from it. The first one was the title track “Kingdom Of Madness“, a song about nightmares. It was a brilliant rocker with a remarkable flute intro and a very strong rhythm. Since it was first published, this song has always been a highlight of every MAGNUM show. It was backed by the track “In The Beginning“. The second single was “Invasion“, a song describing an alien invasion on earth. It was a bass-dominated up-tempo piece with “Universe“ on the B-side.
Both singles failed to chart, but nevertheless the band was asked to perform a concert for the BBC in the same year. The band rendered: “Kingdom Of Madness“/ “Reborn“/ “Changes“(which was to be the next single)/“Invasion“/ “Lords Of Chaos“ and “All Come Together“.
Unfortunately this is all we know about the running order of the first tour, but they must have mostly played the same songs as on the Railway Inn gig. They had, of course, many more songs than those from the first album in store, as there were the old demos and some songs for the next album, too. MAGNUM also visited Germany for the first time when they played “Baby Rock Me“ on the TV-show “Musikladen“.
Interestingly, Bob was then offered to join Richie Blackmore’s RAINBOW. He first thought that he was to play only one gig with them but then it turned out that Richie wanted Bob to replace Ronnie James Dio permanently! Bob phoned Tony who left it to his choice, but Bob finally declined. Whereas Dio had been involved in songwriting and lyrics in RAINBOW, Bob doesn’t consider himself much of a songwriter. Moreover, MAGNUM were successful and a coming band, so he went for a future in MAGNUM – and right he was!