Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week we have a band who’ve been around for 50 years, plus a couple of others who are not far off that venerable age. Oh, and one or two who are a fair way off the zimmer frame era. Something for all ages.
Words: Malcolm Dome
The Zombies are currently celebrating their 50th anniversary. Yep, they’ve got there ahead of the Rolling Stones. But this is not about nostalgia, as they show on new album Breathe Out, Breathe In (Red House). Their first studio album in seven years, and only their sixth overall, it’s stylish, classy and mature. But also has the sort of verve and energy that could only come from a band who really still believe in the present and the future, An excellent addition to The Zombies’ canon.
There’s still a tendency to overlook Deep Purple Mk IV, but Phoenix Rising (EarMUSIC) proves just how good the Bolin era could. There’s a live CD, drawn from shows in Japan and Longbeach, California, plus a DVD with footage of the band in action in Japan, as well as a documentary on the line-up. There’s no doubting the joyous rhythm and groove into which the five are locked. Tommy Bolin’s playing is more than effective, and this proves what he brought to the band. At times the performances are irresistible.
Black Stone Cherry have taken things to a new level on Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea (Roadrunner). The Kentucky band have always had a cunning methodology for combining traditional southern rock and a more modern dynamic. But this time it sounds edgier and more striking than ever. Despite relocating to Los Angeles, the band have avoided all the trappings of pop-rock artifice. They’ve even done a cracking version of the Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See.
Alt. rockers Urge Overkill return with their first album in 16 years. And Rock & Roll Submarine proves that the Chicago band, who are still mostly known for the song Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon (used on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack) have lost none of their ability to marry an indie flavour to intimate and tasteful melodies. In many ways, Urge Overkill had a lot in common with Live, in that both could relay pop-rock songs that sounded personal and low key, yet also make them jump out at you. The talent’s still intact. Find out more at http://urgeoverkill.com/
Back in the mid-1980s, a lot of people believed that Black ’N Blue would be one of the biggest bands of the era. Based in Los Angeles, their slightly bluesy approach to metal and glam set them up as real contenders. It never happened for them, but Hell Yeah! (Frontiers) shows the band still have a huge desire, matched by bombastic musical skills. In many ways, this is a nod towards the band’s self-titled debut, released in 1984. It has the same drive and songwriting sensibility, with every song sounding like it’s ready to burst several blood vessels just to get into the limelight. But don’t confuse this approach with anything superficial. The Blue boys still have the chops and the attitude to get right beneath the surface. Their first new studio album since 1988, and it’s been worth the wait.
Two more reissues from Twisted Sister on the Armoury label, and it’s a mixed bag. What 1982’s Under The Blade, the band’s debut, may lack in skill and sophistication is more than compensated for by a no holds barred, totally committed barrel of charisma and bullish belief. Oh, and the songs are rather splendid. Who needs state-of-the art production? On the other hand, Still Hungry was the band’s attempt in 2004 to re-record the Stay Hungry album from 20 years earlier. They claimed to be better musicians and to have a greater grasp of studio technology than had been the case in 1984. Both these statements are true, so why does Still Hungry pale alongside Stay Hungry? Because the original had a serendipity that ensured it became hugely successful. This wasn’t about studios or instrumentation, but more about attitude and passion. So, it’s better to stick with Stay Hungry.
Finally, let’s get heavy with Singapore’s Wormrot. Dirge (Earache) is something of a grindcore classic. Every track is a total brutal orgy, a wipeout of all known senses. The sort of music that’s guaranteed to clear your sinuses and burst your ganglia, one way or another.