Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week we shave a slice of Canvey Island madness, go Down Under for some psychedelic infusions, get all power metal-like in Scandinavia and Germany, and take a trip back to the 1970s on the prog-rock express.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Propelled by the Julien Temple-directed documentary of the same title, Oil City Confidential (EMI) could be a major seller. The doc tells the story of Canvey Island pub rock mavens Dr. Feelgood, and it’s primarily material from them – studio and live – which makes up the CD. A couple of songs from Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and The Paramounts (who turned into Procol Harum) are thrown in for a little bit of historical perspective. Highly enjoyable R&B – in the original sense of the term. You can smell the beer on the floor. Lick it up, even.
The Dolly Rocker Movement might have a name that sounds like a disposable late 1970s all-girl indie band. But they are actually a fascinating Aussie psychedelic band. Our Days Mind The Tyme (Bad Afro) has the touch of all those Nuggets and Pebbles compilations, documenting an endless stream of garage bands from the mind-to-late 1960s. It sounds really authentic and stylish. Best band of this type to emerge from Down Under since The Church.
Dream Evil return with In The Night (Century Media). But while it’s competent Euro power metal, nonetheless this lacks the nonsensical touch of their 2004 release The Book Of Heavy Metal. Even the promisingly titled Kill, Burn, Be Evil doesn’t quite have the requisite panto approach. Why did Dream Evil have to grow up?!
Gamma Ray have long since been stalwarts of the German power metal scene. In reality, it’s been a long time since they did anything truly worthwhile. But To The Metal (Ear Music) goes some way to restoring past glories. The band claim they’ve modernised their approach, which is rather like suggesting that because you put on a new saddle, your tricycle has been souped up! Actually, this is a decent album. But you still feel that when Kai Hansen quit Helloween to start Gamma Ray, both parties lost out.
Apart from the 1973 hit single One And One Is One, most people doubtless know Medicine Head – if at all – as the band who titled an album Dark Side Of The Moon before you-know-who. But they were always an interesting amalgam of blues, rock and folk, with a slightly progressive frisson. Radio Sessions 1971-1977 (Angel Air) does exactly what it says. Collecting 17 tracks recorded for Radio One, with John Peel a particular enthusiast. The recordings are of their time, but still entertaining.
Zzebra have nothing to do with the severely underrated Rush-like late 1980s US band, who managed to do without the extra ‘z’. This mid-1970s lot featured John McCoy in pre-Gillan (and Mammoth) days, plus members of jazz rockers If, afro-funk-rockers Osibisa and pop-rockers The Love Affair. It all added up to a style that was a combination of all the above. At times it was diverting and pleasant, with a more than decent level of musical craft. But, as this packaging by Angel Air of their first two albums, 1975′s Zzebra and Panic the next year, clearly demonstrates, they were always gonna remain a mid-table Championship band, never quite able to step up to the Premier League. More QPR than Everton! (Steady on, Malc. – QPR fan Ed.)
Tags: Dr Feelgood, Dream Evil, Gammy Ray, Gillan, Helloween, If, John McCoy, John Peel, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, Julien Temple, Kai Hansen, Mammoth, Medicine Head, Osibisa, Procol Harum, Rush, The Church, The Dolly Rocker Movement, The Paramounts, Zzebra