Forgotten series: Magi – Win Or Lose (1976)

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Trivia buffs take note, as future Long Ryders bassist Tom Stevens played in this Northern Indiana based band.

A self-released effort, Win Or Lose originally saw the light of day in 1976. Recorded at Uncle Dirty’s Sound Machine Studios in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the disc stands as Magi’s one and only album. A couple of years after Win Or Lose was issued, the band relocated to Los Angeles. But not much happened there, so they soon called it quits.

Sometimes you can judge a band by the way they look, and in this case such an adage sits right on the money. A photo of Magi graces the cover of Win Or Lose, which captures them in total rock star mode. The hair is long and flowing, while the threads range from a leopard print top to a leather jacket to a flowery shirt to puka shells to a scarf wrapped around the neck. Facial hair is also present.

Resembling a cross between Foghat and Aerosmith, with a touch of Steppenwolf hurled into the soup for good measure, the band’s music certainly corresponds with their image.

Crammed tight with crunching odes to sex, drugs and rock and roll, Win Or Lose (reissued in 2005 by Radioactive Records) bristles with untamed energy. The material may be riff-oriented, but there’s still stashes of catchy hooks and melodies to be savored. Combining sassy snarls with arena rock extravaganza, the vocals are perfect for the hot and sweaty songs Magi performs. Punchy jams, laced with slaving rhythms and arresting breaks additionally personify the band’s tunes.

Select gems on Win Or Lose include the title track, “Fryin’ Away Time,” “Undecided Man” and “I Didn’t Ask You.” For a brief change of pace, there’s the moody “Snow Bound,” which reveals the band to be quite competent at handling softer numbers.

Awash with prototype hard rock action, Win Or Lose sticks fast to the basics. Nothing fancy is going on here. The delivery is straight-forward, powerful and charmingly naïve to a point. A cool artifact, Win Or Lose is a must have for fans of the genre, especially of the old-school stripe.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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