Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week there’s a mass of Bon Jovi reissues, some Italian goth metal, a dose of NWOBHM (Swedish style), a batch of Canadian remixes and a band called Egypt… who aren’t from the Middle East!
Words: Malcolm Dome
The only place to start this week has to be with the massive Bon Jovi reissues campaign. Every BJ studio album is back out there on Universal, each expanded with live recordings appropriate to the era. Now we’ve had this argument before: just how relevant are Jovi to the Classic Rock world these days? Whatever your opinion, though, it has to be admitted they’ve delivered some cracking albums down the years.
The first four – Bon Jovi, 7800 Fahrenheit, Slippery When Wet and New Jersey – are melodic-rock classics. And I’d argue that there’s good stuff on all of them up to, and including, Have A Nice Day. Which only leaves the two most recent records as holding little appeal. I’d like to think that the band themselves will go back and listen to what they did in the past, and realise that these days (no pun intended) they’re going through the motions. There was a time when they were true giants. As for the bonus live tracks? Most people will play these through once and never revisit them.
On first listen, The Love Crave sound like Lacuna Coil. It’s that Italian gothic metal thing, you see. But the more you take in Soul Saliva (Repo Records) the more you realise they’ve got a lot going other than being dismissed as Lacuna lite. In fact, they’ve a Within Temptation approach, with some moodily tuneful songs to keep you warm.
Now, Enforcer might be Swedish but they’ve got a real handle on the NWOBHM sound. Diamonds (Earache) is a flagon of Tygers Of Pan Tang meets Saxon meets Silverwing. Enough of a bruising brew to put them right up with labelmates Cauldron and White Wizzard. High Roller makes you think of 1979, the Music Machine, the Soundhouse and sew-on patches.
Incidentally, Enforcer are playing in the Crobar (that renowned Central London rock hostelry) on Monday, May 24. Free to get in, and they are worth catching.
Egypt are pub-rock throwbacks. But Blues Kerosene (Stable) is a more than decent stab at the sort of blues-rock that once proliferated around the UK. The trio bring to mind The Groundhogs, a feeling accentuated by the fact that all three Egyptians used to be in that band. Oh, and here they even cover the Hogs’ Garden. By no means a classic, this is uncomplicated four-pints-of-lager-and-a-kebab fun.
The Virginmarys have been championed for a while by Classic Rock. And they let nobody down on Cast The First Stone (Virginmary Recordings). Produced by Toby Jepson (Gun, Little Angels frontman) this is music that’s allowed to breathe and revel in the influence of Bad Company, Black Crowes and early Fleetwood Mac. It all sounds like a British Velvet Revolver – and that is no bad thing, actually.
Triumph have remixed 14 of their finest songs for the cunningly titled compilation Greatest Hits Remixed (Frontier). It also comes with a DVD. Now, I love ‘the other trio from Toronto’ (well, they always seemed to be in Rush’s shadow) and this 14-tracker is stuffed with tunes that are still purposeful and punchy. Allied Forces, Rock & Roll Machine, Lay It on the Line, I Live For The Weekend… makes you wanna go and see them live right now. Shame they haven’t been to the UK since 1981!
Given the tragic death of Ronnie James Dio on May 16, it seems only fitting to drag out some of his classic albums. And as the first three Black Sabbath records with the great man on vocals have only just been reissued in deluxe format, grab hold of these. Heaven & Hell, Mob Rules, Live Evil… a fitting testament to Dio’s talent, and how he helped to transform Sabbath in the early 1980s.
A book worth buying if you’re into early 1980s pioneers of extreme metal is Only Death Is Real (Bazillion Points). Written by Thomas Gabriel Fischer, it opens up the can on the history of Hellhammer and early Celtic Frost. And there some astonishing revelations. Mind you, keep a bucket handy when he deals with living with a house full of cats!
Finally, check out the Lipstick Melodies, if you get the chance. I saw them at Punk, a trendy-ish bar in Central London, and they impressed. Sorta early 1970s Stones, with a slight strut of The Flamin’ Groovies and a pop-rockism straight from Squeeze. Listen to them out at www.myspace.com/lefthandband
Tags: Bad Company, Black Crowes, Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi, Cauldron, Celtic Frost, Crobar, Egypt, Enforcer, Flamin' Groovies, Fleetwood Mac, Gun, Hellhammer, Lacuna Coil, Lipstick Melodies, Little Angels, Love Crave, Rolling Stones, Ronnie James Dio, Saxon, Silverwing, Squeeze, The Groundhogs, Thomas Gabriel Fischer, Toby Jepson, Triumph, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Velvet Revolver, Virginmarys, White Wizzard, Within Temptation