Empires Burn’ is Oor Bob’s 4th solo album and as a diehard fan and
long time follower of his work I can whole heartedly confirm it to be
his finest solo album to date.
Words cannot express my delight when I first heard this fourth album
would be written by Paul Hodson this time and not Gary Hughes as has
been the case with bob’s earlier solo offerings.
Yes they were great albums, but that was more down to Bob being such a
wonderfully gifted vocalist than a reflection on Gary’s talent. For a
large part these earlier albums smacked too much of ‘Bob does Ten’
for my personal liking. Indeed the songs were just that, Ten songs with
Bob singing as opposed to Gary. They have their highlights but they
didn’t really set the world alight for me.
Someone once said to me that Bob was the musical equivalent of a tin of
Cupinol. That was that he was a good quality product that did exactly
what it said on the tin. I blame Gary for leading the masses to such
comparisons as many of the songs he wrote for Bob were just too safe and
perhaps even bland in places to fully explore and push Bob into new
regions of his mighty talents.
Back to the here and the now though and Bob’s new album. Having
religiously followed bob throughout his Magnum, Hard Rain and solo
career, I know what types of songs I like to hear him do. ‘When
Empires Burn’ is so fresh and alive compared to the earlier solo
albums that it leaps out at you and shakes your senses awake once more.
At last Bob had found someone who, like the wonderful Tony Clarkin,
truly understands what it is to be the mighty Bob Catley. Paul has
delivered an album that will entrance fans both old and new. He has
provided Bob with the words and the music that his followers have long
bayed for. The words and music that are brought to life to paint
pictures in the imagination and fills you with that warm contented
feeling as you sing along to them.
One of the biggest things that struck me with this album is that the
band that appear on the recording are the band Bob will actually be
touring with. Apart from new guy Jamie Little taking over the role of
beatmaster on the drums, the band remains very much the same as we’ve
seen tour with Bob so many times with his earlier solo albums.
This album is much more a ‘family’ affair with bassist Al Barrow
designing the cover and inlay booklet, Paul Hodson not only writing and
producing the album, but also recording and producing it at his studio
in Stourbridge. The wee guitarist with the huge personality Mr. Vince
O’Regan has been well and truly let off the leash on this album to
leave his indelible mark on the songs. The result of which is
This is an album I feel is truly worthy to be included in Bob’s
catalogue. Gone is the feeling of Bob’s live band being classed as
second class citizens. Anyone can make an album sound good in the
recording and production if you have a grand master mixer on the desks.
However it was these guys that time and time again did Bob proud when he
was on tour. It was all thanks to Paul, Vince and Al that the songs were
brought alive and had so many of Bob’s fans in raptures at the live
Showing your thanks and gratitude to their devotion to you and your
music time and time again it is great to see you’ve finally come to
your senses and declared them to the world to be ‘YOUR’ band. For
that’s who we’ve always thought of when we heard the songs, forget
the ‘big name’ session musicians you used on the albums in the past,
they meant nothing to us compared to this bunch of loveable rogues.
The album kicks off with ‘The Torment’, a cross between the theme
from Jaws and some grand epic drama. No doubt the band will make full
use of this tune as the opening piece the live gigs on the tour. Moving
swiftly onwards we have ‘Children of the Cirlce’ which lifts the
mood instantly and sets the scene for what is to follow. Although anthem
like it’s upbeat tempo prevents it from being heavy going and instead
weaves a strong addictive thread which is sure to have the fans singing
along to it at the live performances.
‘Gonna live Forever’ and ‘I’ll be your Fool’ could so easily
have been written during the Magnum ‘Vigilante’ days, like old
familiar friends they warm the cockles of your heart with their
pomp-rock appeal. ‘I’ll be your sunshine on a rainy day …’ the
words flood out from the speakers and indeed just like sunshine on a
rainy day they instantly bring a smile to your face and lift your
This album has been touted as Bob’s ‘heavy metal’ album. The two
just don’t seem possible in any sense of the term, however if you
check out the harder guitar edge on songs like ‘The Prophecy’,
‘This is the Day’, and ‘Someday Utopia’, perhaps it’s not that
far from the truth. However I’d prefer the description hard rock to
heavy metal myself.
Famous for his softer more gentler songs we have the reflective ‘Every
Beat of my Heart’ and ‘Meaning of Love’. Such beautiful poetry
that stands strong side by side with past delights ‘The last Dance’
and ‘Les morts Dansant’.
All told this album is a must for all traditional Magnum/Bob Catley
fans. Bob’s work has continued to surpass our wildest hopes and dreams
with this album. He has brought alive the songs with a voice that never
fails to deliver and a band to be proud of. Yes this is the true Bob
Catley band and wow, what a mighty combination these five musicians make
when they set their minds to it.