Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week we rummage around with Enuff Z’Nuff and Little Caesar. Get all AOR-y with Pendulum. Get Hammered with Grand Magus. Relive 1973 with Uriah Heep. Oh, and indulge in a spot of swindling with The Sex Pistols….
Words: Malcolm Dome
The estimable Rock Candy label is spreading its ambitions just a little further. Now they’re offering new albums from classic rock bands, via the Grind That Axe subsidiary. The first two releases prove there is life in older acts – at least sometimes.
Enuff Z’Nuff hit us with Dissonance, with the usual Cheap Trick pop-rockisms. It could do with having a few tracks trimmed off, and much of this is decent without being stunning. But Lazy Dazy and High see the band right on bouncy form.
Little Caesar‘s Redemption perhaps lacks that biker fire of old. But there’s enough kick here to suggest the fellas still have the passion to saddle up.
Pendulum the new AOR masters? Actually, yes! Immersion (Warner Bros) might come from the drum’n'bass area of music. But it has a lot in common with, say, Foreigner or Survivor (seriously!), and one song (Self Vs Self) is a real metal riot, as guests In Flames join in the fun.
Grand Magus have long since combined a stoner mentality with a penchant for Dio-era Black Sabbath. The Swedes get even closer to merging the styles on Hammer Of The North (Roadrunner), which is possibly their best album yet. Lots of striking melodies here – hitting the target with a Rooney-esque consistency!
Uriah Heep continue to have their back catalogue reimagined (to use an American term). Live ’73 (Universal) is the latest album to be reissued. It comes with a bonus CD, but the interest still lies in the original recordings. Quite why this is overlooked when people talk about great live records has long been a mystery – well, to me anyway. It features arguably the band’s best line-up in strong form.
Only Marillion fanatics will want copies of the eight-CD The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol. 2 (EMI) – and that’s the whole purpose. It deals with the Steve Hogarth years, from 1990-1994. Of course, some songs turn up again and again. But will those at whom this set is aimed give a damn? Hardly. Besides, this has been put together rather well. And Prog editor Jerry Ewing’s sleeve notes are informative, entertaining and balanced.
The Sex Pistols‘ infamous The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle (EMI) is a quite brilliant collection of random recordings, now re-released in a fully remastered format. On the surface, it’s a real hotch-potch of originals and covers. But how can you not love the way they tackle The Who’s Substitute, while the late Malcolm McLaren’s take on Max Bygraves’ You Need Hands is so out there it meets itself coming round the other side, and ends up as an affectionate tribute. And we all know what Sid Vicious did to My Way!
Obviously, one of the reasons behind Angel Air’s compilation Do You Dream? UK Pop And Psychedelia 1965-1970 is to promote their back catalogue. So what? This is actually a really enjoyable romp through a time when pods were for peas not music, when downloading was a druggie expression and when Doctor Who was a curmudgeonly old git not a hypertalking kid. Some of the names here – Atomic Rooster, Family, Andromeda – will be familiar. But others are rather more obscure. Come on, though, aren’t you intrigued to find out what The Treacle, Ancient Grease and the Stormsville Shakers all sound like?
For our heavy brethren, Ramesses kick up a nice line in downtrodden doom on Take The Curse (Relic Productions). This is what it must feel like having dust-filled lungs – very agitating and uncomfortable. But it’s rather fun as well.
Finally, to the latest demo courtesy of the hotly tipped From Great Height. Their latest three-tracker continues the band’s intriguing ability to mix early-80s Brit prog (think IQ or Pallas) with touches of Tool and Ziggy era Bowie. Check out more at www.myspace.com/fromgreatheight
Tags: Ancient Grease, Andromeda, Atomic Rooster, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Classic Rock Presents Prog, David Bowie, Enuff Z'Nuff, Family, Foreigner, From.Great.Height, Grand Magus, In Flames, IQ, Little Caesar, Malcolm McLaren, Marillion, Pallas, Pendulum, Ramesses, Ronnie James Dio, Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious, Steve Hogarth, Stormsville Shakers, Survivor, The Treacle, The Who, Tool, Uriah Heep