Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week we’ve got a real mixed bag for you. There’s glam from Sweden’s Crashdïet and Reckless Love; gritty, raucous stuff from original AC/DC singer Dave Evans; a solo release from Quo man Francis Rossi; some evil, seething, festering, malevolent, diabolic, fluffy (Surely some mistake? – Ed.) black metal from Burzum; a cool compilation from Paul Rodgers; and a couple of off-the-wall reissues from Finland’s Wigwam. Plus: photographer Ross Halfin quizzes UFO about The Coming Of Prince Kajuku!
With third album Generation Wild (Frontiers) Sweden’s Crashdïet – dig that superfluous umlaut! – have confounded expectations with a record that you feel Skid Row should have released instead of the risible Subhuman Race. If imitation – as is evident in the bolshie title track and the raucous Down With The Dust – is the sincerest form of flattery, then Skid Row should feel very flattered indeed.
Fronted by former Crashdïet singer Olli Herman, a self-confessed David Lee Roth wannabe, Reckless Love wear their influences on their self-titled debut (Spinefarm) as a badge of honour, from Poison/Van Halen hybrid Feel My Heat to Pour Some Sugar On Me rip-off Love Machine. Beautiful Bomb, meanwhile, is a hit single waiting to happen. If only Steel Panther hadn’t queered their pitch.
The original singer with AC/DC before Bon Scott, Dave Evans still has the raw, ballsy style that first attracted him to the Young brothers – and also the attitude that finally pissed them off. On Judgement Day (Rocksector) the title track and the opening We Don’t Dance To Your Song kick hardest, along with Little Headbanger that comes unashamedly close to Let There Be Rock. The only real let-down is an ill-advised attempt to turn House Of The Rising Sun into a power ballad.
Francis Rossi has always been a more accomplished tunesmith than his career with Status Quo has allowed; a point driven home on his solo album One Step At A Time (EarMusic). One Step, the demi-title track, is the sort of cathedral-like ballad Robbie Williams would give his false smile for. That said, there is something so timelessly yummy about a Quo-like shuffler like Rolling Down The Road, you wonder why Rossi even bothers trying anything different.
The first Burzum album for 11 years, 14 if you discount the two synth-only albums the notororious Varg Vikernes released whilst in prison, Belus (Byelobog) is a tribute to the ancient European solar deity of light and innocence, and the lyrics are, naturally, in Norwegian. Belus is somehow mellower yet more dynamic than previous Burzum albums, with more accomplished musicianship. The trademark simplistic, repetitive riffs are ever present, but this time there are no synths. Vikernes once again plays all the instruments. Highly recommended, but should you buy it given its creator’s murderous past?
Paul Rodgers’ The Very Best Of Free And Bad Company (Rhino) is a no-nonsense collection comprising arguably the seven best-known tracks from the former (Free) and eight by the latter (Bad Co). If the track-listing veers too close to the predictable for some ears, the iTunes bonus content of another dozen tunes fleshes out the story with some live solo recordings and a smidgen of his work with Jimmy Page in The Firm.
Wigwam – no relation to noxious Norwegian glam revivalists Wig Wam – formed in 1968 in nearby Finland and are still active today. Nuclear Nightclub and The Lucky Golden Stripes And Starpose (both Esoteric) are reissues that date from the mid 70s. The former is Wigwam’s most commercial offering, containing nary a hint of the jazz-rock indulgence of previous releases. The Lucky Golden Stripes… gained an official UK release via Virgin in 1976 and certainly benefits, sonically, from being recorded at the label’s renowned Manor studios. However, away from the ‘isolated space-bubble’ of Finland (as mentioned in the sleeve-notes) Wigwam overreach themselves on songs like Colossus – imagine Wishbone Ash playing Pink Floyd – losing a little of their focus and a lot of their charm in the process.
Finally, a DVD for ya. UFO’s Too Hot To Handle 1969-1993 (Snapper) is basically a tarted-up VHS that was originally released aeons ago by Castle Communications – Snapper being Castle’s present-day incarnation. But there’s plenty to enjoy here. Early images of the band with guitarist Michael Schenker are simply stunning, both visually and aurally. They might date from the mid-70s but UFO still look effortlessly cool, apart from some mincing moments from frontman Phil Mogg. It’s also worth the price of admission alone to hear photographer Ross Halfin (for it is he) quizzing bassist Pete Way about UFO’s ‘legendary’ song The Coming Of Prince Kajuku – and seeing the band perform it in grainy monochrome.