"If this is to be the last Magnum album, they're exiting proudly, with a worthy addition to a much-loved catalogue": Magnum's Here Comes The Rain

Released just days after the death of guitarist, songwriter and founder Tony Clarkin, Here Comes The Rain finds Magnum in reassuringly familiar territory

Magnum: Here Comes The Rain cover art
(Image: © SPV/Steamhammer)

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Note: this review was written in November 2023 for the print edition of Classic Rock Magazine, and has been edited and extended for online use. Magnum's guitarist and songwriter Tony Clarkin passed away earlier this month

The core Magnum duo of songwriter/guitarist Tony Clarkin and singer Bob Catley have ramped up the activity over the years, releasing 12 albums of reliably melodic rock since reforming in 2001, troubling neither Father Time nor the compilers of the pop charts. Indeed, since the Goodnight L.A. album sneaked into the UK Top 10 more than three decades ago they haven’t been back, or anywhere close. And yet here we are, on album number 23. 

Here Comes The Rain is not a collection that’s full of surprises. The nearest Magnum come to confounding expectations arrives in the shape of Blue Tango’s riff, a pleasingly propulsive thump that sounds like ZZ Top’s Under Pressure playing footsie with Bon Jovi’s Bad Medicine.

There are other moments that don’t adhere completely to type, such as the horn parps that punctuate The Seventh Darkness, and a sax solo on the same track that briefly – joyously – threatens to go full skronk. But, for the most part, this album is Magnum reliably being Magnum, from the Rodney Matthews artwork to the invariably atmospheric keyboard intros. Opener Run Into The Shadows – one of those with an atmospheric keyboard intro – suggests that age has not withered Tony Clarkin’s pen, and while Catley’s on-stage vocals may frequently fall flat, any residual creakiness appears to have been smoothed over in the studio.

As ever, pomp is front and centre: the title track’s chorus is euphoric, and the strings that swoop in to bolster the climax are the stuff of old Hollywood. Add sleigh bells to the waltzing Some Kind Of Treachery and it’s a Christmas hit. After The Silence (atmospheric keyboard intro) and Borderline (atmospheric keyboard intro) are both built on the kind of lurching chug that’s been the bedrock of Magnum’s sound since Soldier Of The Line (atmospheric keyboard intro) hove into view back in 1982. 

There’s nothing as lovely as 2016’s Crazy Old Mothers, a song as good as anything Clarkin has ever written. But there’s no diminishing returns on Here Comes The Rain either, no sign of rust or rot. Some well-intended but ultimately trite lyrics are best ignored (‘No children playing in the distance, just the gunfire’ on Broken City is a stinker), but Magnum fans will not be disappointed.

If this is to be the last Magnum album – and with the Clarkin the band's sole songwriter, it's difficult to see where they go from here – they're exiting proudly, with a worthy addition to a much-loved catalogue. Here Comes The Rain won't win any awards for originality, but British rock will be a less interesting place without Magnum, and the frequently euphoric, occasionally peculiar, instantly identifiable, always thoughtful songs of Tony Clarkin.  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.