Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
We’ve got some real goodies this week. Some female fronted prog. Some male fronted prog. The debut solo release from a guitar great. Reissues from Savatage and Derek And The Dominos. Oh, and the welcome return of the ’Snake.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Holland’s Within Temptation return with The Unforgiven (Roadrunner). Their best album to date, this is a symphonic tour de force, with some tremendous songs all given a real over the top treatment. The record that should finally lift the band out of the shadow of Nightwish.
In case you’re wondering whether to get a copy of the Whitesnake Fan Pack, it’s worth pointing out that the band’s new album, Forevermore (Frontiers), is one of the best they’ve done in the past two decades. The songs are strident and melodic, the playing first rate and David Coverdale’s vocals are better than many might have feared. You get this album free with the magazine – bargain.
Van Der Graaf Generator are in fine form with A Grounding In Numbers (Esoteric). It’ll remind fans of their early days, but is also a definite step into a modern era. Prog rock for those who love to be dazzled by sophisticated yet eerie sounds and a sense of surreal humour.
Having the chance to revisit the classic Derek And The Dominos’ debut album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (Polydor) compounds the fact that this is one of the great albums of the 1970s. Now 40 years old, the record is stunning, with a lot more to offer besides the astonishing Layla itself. This does pose the question as to whether Eric Clapton ever actually did a better album – and yes, this does take into account Cream and Blind Faith.
Savatage were one of those bands who helped to define power metal in the 1980s, and introduced elements of progressive music. This can easily be felt on perhaps their finest album, Streets: A Rock Opera (eARmusic). Originally put out in 1991, this reissue helps to confirm that it’s still a concept record that hits hard and cogently. The late Criss Oliva’s guitar work is staggering and puts many so-called current virtuosos in the shade.
Heather Findlay made her name as vocalist with Mostly Autumn. Now she’s out on her own. And The Phoenix Suite (Black Sand) is proof that she’s lost none of her special allure. A five-tracker this will not only appeal to those who enjoyed her work with the former band, but should also ensure Heather picks up new fans among anyone who likes their prog to be invitingly melodic, while also having a certain introspective atmosphere.
If you’re expecting something unexpected from Duff McKagan’s Loaded on The Taking (Armoury), then prepare to be disappointed. This is in the same vein as everything else from the band. Namely powerhouse melodic rock with a punk syringe stuck right up the grooves. An album that has little in common with Guns N’ Roses or Velvet Revolver, nonetheless it is Duff really showing his roots and where his musical devotion lies.
Finally, guitar hero Brian Robertson releases his first ever solo album. Diamonds And Dirt (SPV/Steamhammer) has elements from his days with Thin Lizzy and Motorhead, but stands in its own right. The songs are strong (including writing collaborations with Phil Lynott and Frankie Miller), the playing impassioned and the presence of musicians from Europe, MSG and Treat adds a Euro flavour. Hopefully, this will revive Robertson’s profile.
Tags: Blind Faith, Brian Robertson, Cream, Criss Oliva, David Coverdale, Derek And The Dominos, duff mckagans loaded, Eric Clapton, Frankie Miller, Guns N' Roses, Heather Findlay, Mostly Autumn, Motorhead, Nightwish, Phil Lynott, Savatage, Thin Lizzy, Van Der Graaf Generator, Velvet Revolver, Whitesnake, Within Temptation