Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week, we’ve got new releases from old boys Saxon and Quo, a young lady called Sarah Fimm, some chaps with a King Crimson relationship, a Journey biography and Sammy Hagar’s story in his own larger-than-life style.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Saxon reckon that Call To Arms (Militia Guard Music) is their best album in about 20 years. That probably says more about the paucity of quality on previous albums than how great this new one is. Not that Call To Arms is a poor record – far from it – but it’s not really the sort of release you can expect fans to hail as a masterpiece. Still, there are still enjoyable moments here, and leaving aside all the hyperbole (plus a blatant borrowing from Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir), it proves there’s more to this band than nostalgia.
On first listen, you’d be hard pushed to rate Quid Pro Quo (Fourth Chord Records) as anything other than yet another shrug of the shoulders from Status Quo. But after a few plays, this 29th studio album from the veterans actually becomes a lot more palatable. No, it’s not gonna rival any of those classic 70s moments, but there’s enough energy and verve here to show this isn’t a case of going the motions. Messrs. Rossi and Parfitt clearly do still care. So, rush out to Tesco’s now and get a copy, along with your jar of Marmite and copy of OK magazine.
Sarah Fimm has a dark vulnerability that brings to mind Kate Bush and Tori Amos. Yet there’s also an elaborate sensibility about this American singer/songwriter which has something in common Robin Beck or Leigh Matty. The album Near Infinite Possibility is a mix of erudite alt. rock and more strident melodic rock. But it’s never less than inviting. Find out more at www.sarahfimm.com
Molly Hatchet prvide proof with their Greatest Hits II (SPV/Steamhammer) that they’ve done little since 1996 of any value. That’s the period covered by two CDs, and it’s hard to be positive about anything here. A travesty when compared to their glory days.
My Dying Bride have chosen to celebrate their 20th anniversary by revisiting some of their past songs and revamping them with an orchestral arrangement. It works superbly on Evinta (Peaceville), which gives an extra dimension to the material, without any loss of the original darkness or eerie atmosphere. Sorrowfully spectacular.
Jakszyk, Fripp & Collins have called their album A Scarcity Of Miracles – A King Crimson ProjeKt (Panegryc) Well, this is Robert Fripp, so the mention of the Crimson ones is perfectly reasonable. Obviously, there is a musical connection to his past (and both Jakko Jakszyk and Mel Collins have also been involved with KC), but the trio also have their own style, which is romantically melodramatic. This album really only works as a whole – you can’t dip in and out, otherwise you’ll not get the full spectrum.
Finally let’s browse through a couple of books. And they are very contrasting. On the one hand there’s Sammy Hagar’s autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock (!t/Harper Collins), while on the other there’s The Untold Story Of Journey (Omnibus), written by Neil Daniels. Now, if you want an accurate and obviously well researched biography, then the latter is the one to go for. But what it never gives out is any excitement or pizzazz about Journey. For all its accuracy and attention to detail, this leaves you feeling that everything about these AOR gods is decidedly dull.
On the other hand, Hagar’s book is never less than fun and entertaining. A hilarious romp, with enough sex ’n’ drugs to satisfy any sybarite. Yet, he comes across as a bullish, arrogant, money-obsessed egomaniac; some of his tales, although very amusing, are clearly factually inaccurate.
So, which do you prefer: a detailed and correct history or a wild ride? Yeah, the latter every time.
Tags: Francis Rossi, Jakko Jakszyk, Jakszyk Fripp & Collins, Journey, Kate Bush, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Leigh Matty, Mel Collins, Molly Hatchet, My Dying Bride, Rick Parfitt, Robert Fripp, Robin Beck, Sammy Hagar, Sarah Fimm, Saxon, Status Quo, Tori Amos