The Magnificent - 1981 [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Magnificent

1981 [7-inch] (2011)

Drunken Sailor

It's quite a statement to call your band something like the Magnificent. From the get-go, great things will be expected of you, and any shortcomings are liable to be pounced upon by fans and hacks alike...or maybe not! Therefore, on receipt of this limited slab of white vinyl, released by the reliable Drunken Sailor Records, I decided to forget the name totally so that I wouldn't have expectations beyond the ability of the band.

The title track is quite a raucous three minutes of punk rock, looking back at the year of 1981, unsurprisingly, and noting events that took place in that year, such as a royal wedding in the UK (Charles and Diana) and Ronald Reagan becoming the President of the USA, whilst also reflecting on how many youngsters of the day had no idea what their futures would hold. This is a catchy tune that demonstrates that even with a fairly solid UK sound, this is one of those bands which is able to play punk music lacking the lumbering approach that some older bands still manage to churn out these days. The Magnificent manage to fill "1981" with an energy and enthusiasm that belies their respective ages (here I'm assuming that they're not far off my own age) with a sound that draws heavily upon the Clash and Bruce Springsteen. From a personal perspective, I look back to 1981 with many memories, more good than bad, although maybe without the lack of direction/future that the Magnificent had at the time.

The B-side, "Six Beers" is a version of a song that featured on their first album, Pay the Crimes, but having not heard the album I can't compare the two, but I'd imagine this more acoustic-based effort is an attempt to strip the original down a bit. At first I wasn't sure about this song, as it's obviously the thing these days for punks to go acoustic, with some doing so to a greater degree of success than others. However, after a couple of plays it was becoming ingrained in my head with its catchiness and the fact that if provided some variety in comparison to the A-side (always a good move on a two-track single). Think more Billy Bragg and the aforementioned Springsteen for this one, although my immediate thought when it started in earnest was of Louise Distras, also a native of the North of England. If anything, this has more life to it than the A-side and is the one I am playing the most.

Okay, so they might not totally live up to their lofty moniker, but I will be seeking out the first album from Boss Tuneage (I've discovered it's on offer at the moment, so a no-brainer purchase) as the Magnificent have made me want more than just these two songs and that's not a bad result.