Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week, we muse over a new Jimi Hendrix album (seriously!), Airbourne, The Glitterati, Serj Tankian, Kings Of Modesty, Third Eye Blind, Achilla… and the return of Ratt. And how could we forget the Ancient Bards?
Words: Malcolm Dome
There’s a new Jimi Hendrix album coming out – and it’s not a collection of live recordings which are so poor they sound like they’d been done on your granny’s cassette player situated in Guatemala while Hendrix was playing in Paris. No, the cachet of Valleys Of Neptune (Experience Hendrix/Sony) is that these are songs never heard before. Done at a point somewhere between Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band Of Gypsys, they actually sound more like work in progress and far from complete. It’s all very interesting, but once you get beyond the excitement and thrill of new Hendrix material, it’s not very good. You have to wonder what the great man himself would have thought of all these tracks being released – and there’s a further 14 CDs and DVDs of unheard/unseen stuff in the pipeline. Does anybody recall the concept of ‘quality control’?
Do we need Airbourne when we’ve got AC/DC? There’s the big question being pondered in the philosophy departments of the great seats of learning: Oxford, Cambridge, The Crobar. Actually, that’s a touch harsh on these outback riders, because No Guts. No Glory. (Roadrunner) is diverting, entertaining and stuffed with the sort of dumbo drinking anthems that the Aussies in general do better than anyone else. So go on, indulge yourself and remember: if AC/DC never existed, then Airbourne would be the acknowledged masters.
The Glitterati are trash rockers with a braincell or several. That’s why Are You One Of Us? (DR2) works so well. It’s got the real flavour of coming from the gutter, yet mixing up the sleaze with well-crafted tunes. Unlike some Brits who think attitude is all you need, this lot also have some more than decent tunes. All that Glitters can be gold.
You have to laugh at how overblown and preposterous Serj Tankian gets on Elect The Dead Symphony (Warner Bros.). The idea of dragging in the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra to recreate his Elect The Dead album on stage was an act of pure lunacy – but whether this means genius or not is another matter. The whole thing comes across with such an air of self-important seriousness that you can’t help but laugh. Sorry, Serj, but you do make ELP’s orchestral manoeuvrings in the 1970s seem almost ascetic. Maybe he should retitle this Up My Own Arse.
Now, if you are gonna do the whole epic symphonic thing, then it has to be so ludicrous as to be glorious vacuous nonsense. Thankfully, Ancient Bards appreciate this sort of approach, and on The Alliance Of The Kings – The Black Crystal Sword Saga Part 1 (Limb)… well, the title gives it all away. This is utter bollocks, but all the better for it. The Italians – you just knew they’d be from there! – have such an earnest, wide-eyed approach to their epic symphonic power metal that you just fall in love with the extremity. Because, as we all know, when it comes to metal everything needs to be turned 12! Especially the daftness.
Third Eye Blind are one of those bands who are big on the alt.rock scene in America, yet have never quite cracked it over here. But Ursa Major (Mega Collider) might just do the trick. It’s Tom Petty meets The Screaming Trees, with hints of Jeff Buckley and Temple Of The Dog. The songs are strong and flow with a smiling intensity. With enough of a push, they’ll finally happen in the UK.
Kings Of Modesty have the sort of name that’s makes you think they’ve a sense of the oxymoronic (think about it). Not that you’d know this from the debut album Hell Or High Water (Escape). But the Finns have come up with the sort of record that’ll appeal to Dream Theater fans, in that it’s very progressive. Imagine the Dreamers with Yngwie Malmsteen losing his mind on guitar, and you’ll get the idea. Nice touches, though, and definitely a record that can hold its own with many in this genre.
A little early, but mention must be made of the new Ratt album Infestation (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud). It’s not out until April 19, but the wait is worth it. This is the band’s best album since 1986′s Dancing Undercover, full of those classic Warren DeMartini guitar motifs and thumping songs. Always undervalued, the Ratt pack have shown they’re still lean, mean, hungry and ready to burst once more out of the cellar (ouch!).
Finally, watch out for the debut album from Achilla, one of the brightest young progressive bands around. It’s coming out later in the year, and is shaping up to be something very special. Check them out on tour with Delain around Britain later this month – got to www.myspace.com/achillamusic for the dates.
Tags: AC/DC, Achilla, Airbourne, Ancient Bards, Delain, ELP, Jeff Buckley, Jimi Hendrix, Kings Of Modesty, Ratt, Screaming Trees, Serj Tankian, Temple Of The Dog, The Glitterati, Third Eye Blind, Tom Petty, Warren DeMartini