Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week, we corral Dan Reed, John Waite, FM and Pain Of Salvation. Ride through a jamboree of styles, from progressive music to the trash teen tidings of a 1970s all girl band. And also don reading glasses for a new book on Led Zeppelin…
Words: Malcolm Dome
Dan Reed is a man who understands and appreciates the depth and value of a song. On Coming Up For Air (Zerone), he presents a mature, sensitive collection of ideas and ideals. It’s beautifully crafted and has true emotional impact. Perhaps far removed from the Network days, but time has given Reed increased value.
John Waite boasts that In Real Time (Frontiers) is a genuine live album. No frills, no overdubs. He’s right. And what comes across is that Waite really comes into his own onstage. This has fire and power. You can tell he idolises Humble Pie. Oh, both Missing You and When I See You Smile are here.
Anathema have long since left behind their death-goth roots, in the process becoming one of Britain’s most original and fascinating bands. We’re Here Because We’re Here (Kscope) sees the band moving away from the Pink Floydisms which have coloured their recent releases and more into Radiohead/Muse territory. It is a spellbinding record. Surely they’re about to make the jump into the major league?
Dire Straits guitarist John Illsley shocks everyone on Streets Of Heaven (Creek Records) by delivering a black metal masterclass…nah. Just kiddin’. In actuality, it’s what you’d expect from someone so closely associated with the Straits. This is soft rock, but performed at a very high level. If you love the Mark Knopfler approach, then indulge yourself here. This is sturdy stuff. Black metal fans, you have been warned!
Pain Of Salvation are among Europe’s best progressive metal bands. Mainman Daniel Gildenlow is the fifth member of Transatlantic. Road Salt One (Century Media) is the first part of a two-album concept. It’s sophisticated, yet also has enough musical barbs to trip up the unwary.
The Runaways were always more about myth and outrage than music. The Mercury Albums Anthology (Mercury) packages up everything they put out on that label. And it’s patchy at best. Obviously released to cash in on the upcoming band biopic, it’s mostly forgettable teen angst drivel. Both Girlschool and Rock Goddess were – and are – so much better. Much of these songs sound like a bunch kids thrown together with little in common. Seriously, it’s a mess. But then, that was probably their appeal.
Pearl has enough connections to make a star-studded album. Little Immaculate White Fox (Powerage) does boast her hubbie Scott Ian, plus Jerry Cantrell and Ted Nugent. But it’s not about riding on the coattails of these major players. Pearl can belt out the rockers and even handles a cover of Nutbush City Limits with the sort of swagger that would impress Tina Turner.
The return of FM, Britain’s pre-eminent AOR mavens, is truly consummated on Metropolis (Riff City). It’s as if they’ve never been away. The songs flow, the music undulates and the vocals from Steve Overland drip with pure ambrosia. The band have nothing to prove, which unlocks them from having to make commercial sacrifices. This is who they are – and we should be proud they’re British!
I’ve mentioned Saint Jude before.And their album, Diary Of A Soul Fiend (Saint Jude) is a right smiter. If the idea of Jenny Hahn fronting The Faces (gotta be better than Mick Hucknall, right?) appeals, then this is a drea,. Find out more at www.saintjude.biz
A gratuitous mention for Celebration Day – The Led Zeppelin Encyclopedia (Cherry Red). Co-written by two misbegotten larrikins – Malcolm Dome and Jerry Ewing – it’s not a biography, but a reference work, a primer.
Finally, mention of a really intriguing London band. Astrohenge have a doomy, almost Big Business approach to space rock, and their set at The Unicorn in London was a revelation. Check them out at www.myspace.com/astrohenge.
Tags: Anathema, Astrohenge, Big Business, Dan Reed, Dan Reed Network, Daniel Gildenlow, Dire Straits, FM, Girlschool, Jenny Hahn, Jerry Cantrell, John Illsley, John Waite, Led Zeppelin, Mark Knopfler, Mick Hucknall, muse, Pain Of Salvation, Pearl, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Rock Goddess, Runaways, Saint Jude, Scott Ian, Ted Nugent, The Faces, Tina Turner, Transatlantic