Magnum – Great Adventure – The Jet Years 1978-1983 6CD Set – Album Review

Magnum – Great Adventure – The Jet Years 1978-1983 6CD Set – Album Review

11th September 2023 0 By George Simpson

Not many bands can boast longevity to match that of British stalwarts Magnum. Indeed, as this box set demonstrates, even fewer have got a consistency to match theirs. Last years The Monster Roars showed that there is plenty of fire left in their Brummie bellies. Focussing on their first five albums, it tells the story of how they became the band we all know and love. 

They achieved their commercial breakthrough with 1985’s utterly brilliant On A Story Tellers Night album. Thus began their most successful period. It continued with the following years’ Vigilante, then to Wings Of Heaven in 1988. This set features their first five albums, plus a disc of unreleased early tracks, which pre-date their 1978 debut album. Throw in a plethora of bonus tracks on each disc, and you have a real treasure trove for all Magnum fans in your lucky hands.

If like myself, you joined the Magnum party at any time from the mid-eighties onwards, this set is for you. By then, they were confidently producing album after album of quality melodic hard rock, with a progressive pomp adding to the overall grandeur. Listening to this, you hear their evolution to reach that point. Initially on 1978’s Kingdom Of Madness debut, you hear numerous different influences, all fighting to be heard. This was a band still looking to find its sound. Indeed, as if to illustrate this mish-mash of sounds, opener In The Beginning features rock, blaring keyboards, and plenty of melody, with a heavy prog influence. However, it also includes a bona fide classic in the shape of the title track. An added bonus is a blistering unreleased version of it on the First Recordings disc, that to my ears blows the original away.  

Their sound starts to find its’ feet on the originally titled Magnum II follow-up the following year. The music is slightly less busy, though still heavily reliant on keyboards and progressive leanings. It’s a far better album overall than the first album. It, again,  has one of their seminal moments on it, in the shape of Changes. It has anthemic pomp and is almost a blueprint for much of what has come since in the proceeding forty-plus years, great stuff. Also of note are the likes of the jazz-influenced All Of My Life, and the epic Great Adventure. You can hear Magnum as we know it starts to appear at this point.


Whilst they were musically making great strides, the record company was getting twitchy. This led to their next release being the 1980 live album, Marauder featuring the best of the first two albums. Here, it is augmented by numerous bonus tracks from a couple of live EPs making it an expansive album and a superb moment-in-time capture of the great live act they were becoming on stage. 

Following that stop-gap release, in 1982 they really hit their stride. Then started a run of several classic albums that would see out the remainder of the decade. That year’s Chase The Dragon is a great album that has really stood the test of time. It features enduring classics like The Spirit, and Sacred Hour and one of my all-time favorite tracks by them, Back To Earth. Finally, after four years, they released their first classic album. Again, it features bonus live tracks from the era and is the best album of the five on offer here.

A year later, Eleventh Hour was released and was their last album on Jet Records. Though a competent album, it lacks the punch of its predecessor. As a result, it didn’t make the same impact as it either. That said, tracks like The Prize, and the truly epic The Word make this an album still worth checking out. Indeed, you can almost treat this album as the sound of a band completing their apprenticeship, and then being free to create a truly classic album in the shape of On  A Storytellers Night on their next release.  

The First Recordings disc will be the main selling point of this box to the hardcore fan. Dating back to 1974, they’re more of a curiosity than a quality album in their own right. As they predate their debut release, they’re the hotchpotch sound of a band taking their initial steps into the musical world. They remind me a bit of Jethro Tull with their mix of folk, classic rock, prog, and even feature a flutist a la Ian Anderson

Overall, this is a superbly put-together package that will appeal to all Magnum fans. All too often these sets are a smash-and-grab cash job, but this one certainly isn’t. It is a thorough package that will appeal to Magnum fans old and new. The bonus tracks on offer here, are extensive, and definitely work of a completist compiler.  Having been back to the beginning, roll on to the next chapter early next year with their next undoubtedly great new album. 

Score: 8/10 


1 – Kingdom Of Madness 

2 – First Magnum Recordings

3 – Magnum II 

4 – Marauder

5 – Chase The Dragon

6 – Eleventh Hour 

Release Date: 25th August 

Label: HNE 

For all things Magnum, click HERE, and to purchase the box, click HERE

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