Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week we experience a prog orgasm from King Crimson, get behind the wheel with Top Gear and Four Wheel Drive, find out if Skunk Anansie stink, enter the world of Bon Jovi with trepidation…plus get to grips with lots of other new albums.
Prog fans will think they’d died and gone to noodling heaven. King Crimson have just reissued three albums – In The Court Of The Crimson King, Red and Lizard (Panegyric). Lovingly remixed by Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, with input from Robert Fripp of course, each comes with a mass of extra material. More time changes than the Tardis has seen in 46 years.
The Top Gear compilation Seriously Rock ‘N’ Roll! (Universal) is a real rag bag. You’ll love The Who, Bowie, Iggy, Thin Lizzy and Motorhead, but spare us from the Kaiser Chiefs, Snow Patrol and (ulp!) Quincy Jones. Still nice to hear a different Steppenwolf track to the usual Born To Be Wild (namely, Magic Carpet Ride), and The Troggs always amuse.
Young Brits Four Wheel Drive are getting some serious attention right now. High Roller (Half Ton) gives every indication that this lot aren’t being overrated. It’s Quireboys style good old fashioned rock ‘n’ stroll. Time to boogie once more. It could be Drive time in 2010.
Steve Conte is the New York Dolls guitarist. And Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth (Colosseum) is the self-titled debut album from his other project. Yes, there are Dolls style references, but it’s also got some choppy, gutter-chugging riffage. The songs aren’t the best you’ve ever heard, but you can’t fault the trashy groove.
Grand Prix were early 1980s British melodic hard rock wannabes. They got nowhere, and the reissue of their eponymous debut from 1980 (Rock Candy) tells you all you need to know about why they bought a one-way ticket to obscurity. Not that it’s bad, but nothing about this really strikes a chord. Still, the band did launch the careers of current Uriah Heep pair Bernie Shaw (vocals) and Phil Lanzon (bass).
Skunk Anansie celebrate their reformation with Smashes & Trashes (One Little Indian). The question is, are the three new tracks here being used to sell the album, or are the hits providing the launching pad for the new stuff? Whatever, Skunk fans will love it – all of it.
Within Temptation don’t waste time with obscure, clever album titles. One Night At The Theatre (Roadrunner) is a live unplugged record, which has one new song – Utopia – and a lot of fine performances. Sorry, but these Dutch dynamos are better than Evanescence, Nightwish and Epica. Cue an avalanche of hate mail.
Bon Jovi have vaguely returned to their pop-rock roots with The Circle (Mercury). On first listen, very little stands out, and it all comes across as if Jovi are pandering to their audience of housewives – because, let’s face it, most rock fans gave up on them ages ago. But the more you listen to it, the better this album becomes. Not in the same league as Slippery When Wet, but far from the disaster it might have been.
Gun have been making such a fuss recently of how they don’t want to be a nostalgia act that Pop Killer (Townsend Records) had to be a corker, or else the band risked shooting their career in the foot. Thankfully, the five tracks here are mighty indeed. Really indelible stabs of melodic hard rock. There are hints of The Police and Squeeze. But that’s because the songs are so hummable.
Queen continue to have their back catalogue repackaged and re-repackaged. And Absolute Greatest (EMI) offers nothing you won’t have already. The track listing is obvious, but with a title like that would you expect anything else?
Damage Control are Pete Way, Robin George, Chris Slade. In theory a strong combination. But as the reissue of their debut album, RAW (Angel Air), proves sometimes theories are best burnt at the stake. There’s a song here called Redundant – says it all.
– Malcolm Dome
Tags: Bon Jovi, Damage Control, David Bowie, Epica, Evanescence, Four Wheel Drive, Grand Prix, Gun, Iggy Pop, King Crimson, Motorhead, New york Dolls, Nightwish, Queen, skunk anansie, Steppenwolf, Steve Conte, The Who, Thin Lizzy, Top Gear, Uriah Heep, Within Temptation