Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week we’ve got mayhem and madness from Rose Kemp; a live milestone from Therapy?; a gothic metallic extravaganza from Alice Cooper; Motörhead delivering a patented dose of flesh-tearing viciousness; Japanese shenanigans from The Michael Scehnker Group; a quirky’n'crazed EP of Eddie Cochran covers; Megadeth rusting in peace all over again; and a candy-filled box of AOR delights from Houston.
We’re big fans of Rose Kemp here at ClassicRockMagazine.com – and in case you’ve never heard of her, she’s the daughter of Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp from folk legends Steeleye Span. Golden Shroud (12 Year Stretch) is being promoted as an EP – even though two of its three tracks clock in at over the over the 15-minute mark. This is a dense, hypnotic and powerful offering, and quite what Kemp is purging from her soul is unknown. But as she chants, shrieks and hollers on Black Medik II like an arcane PJ Harvey cast on to a lake of Neurosis fire, her unconventional invocations offer few get-out clauses for the listener. Bloody good, though.
There’s something comforting about having Therapy? around after 20 years. So it’s fitting that they celebrated this milestone with a series of sweaty gigs in London’s tiny Water Rats venue, released on We’re Here To The End (Global Music) for posterity. While live albums always preach to the converted, this one shines because the band sound so ridiculously happy to be on stage.
Alice Cooper is in no mood to quit. Maximum performance entertainment is his mantra, and Theatre Of Death: Live At Hammersmith 2009 (Universal), a CD/ DVD package, delivers that in blood-soaked spades. Twin guitarists Keri Kelli and Damon Johnson are the best thing to happen to the Alice Band since the great Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter were at his flanks, and there’s a funny-smart element to the gothic metallic extravaganza which ensures songs like Dirty Diamonds and The Ballad Of Dwight Fry stay as reliable as old leather.
Motörhead are back with The World Is Yours (Motörhead Music) and, natch, the sound of Lemmy’s band blasting cheerfully away with the accelerator floored remains one of heavy music’s most consistently reliable pleasures. There are no ballads here, no acoustic excursions and absolutely nothing that suggests that Mr Kilmister is going soft in his old age. In fact, this is as vicious as anything Motörhead have produced, with careering skull-crackers like I Know How To Die, Get Back In Line and Outlaw offering a straightforward diet of unstoppable riffs and rib-snapping kicks.
So to the Land Of The Rising Sun and The Michael Schenker Group’s 30th Anniversary Concert Live In Tokyo (Inakustik). Metal Mickey’s got legendary session drummer Simon Phillips (who played on that classic first MSG album) and bassist Neil Murray as his rhythm section, and on top of that there’s a killer setlist. The only drawback is Gary Barden’s voice – too often sounding flat, tired and just a touch wince-inducing.
The most bonkers release of the week has gotta be an EP of mischievous Eddie Cochran covers. The the aptly titled Eddie Cochran Instrumental EP (Fruits de Mer) features three bands, kicking off with Head South By Weaving‘s version of Rain (allegedly a song written by Cochran for Duane Eddy). This begins with some depetively gentle, pastoral guitar and spooky chorals, then develops/degenerates into a jarring krautrock workout. Vibravoid‘s take on the Shotgun Wedding Theme sounds like the James Bond theme played on a sitar, and Baking Research Station‘s Jam Sand-Witch recalls Hawkwind’s Dik Mik leading a jam session in a late-nite cocktail lounge. Amazing!
On March 31, 2010, Megadeth celebrated the 20th anniversary of Rust In Peace – for many, their best album – by playing it live in its entirety at the Hollywood Palladium. What made the event even more special was the return of errant bassist David Ellefson after an eight-year absence. On Rust In Peace Live (Universal) the ’Deth sound sharper than they ever did back in the old, drug-fuelled daze. The standout tracks – Holy Wars… The Punishment Due and Hangar 18 – confirm Rust In Peace as a genuine landmark in metal music.
In AOR terms, we’ve left the best until last – cos Sweden’s Houston will have melodic rock fans frothing at the mouth with enthusiasm. Their self-titled debut (Spinefarm) is an album that could easily have battled for racking space with Bon Jovi and Dokken during the big-haired mid-80s. Just check out the delights of Hold On or Give Me Back My Feelings… sheesh, if you like the idea of Toto crossed with Loverboy, Houston are your guiltiest of guilty pleasures.