Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
We’ve got reissues from three great bands, a new arrival who sound like old friends, a live release from a reunited band and some Germans celebrating NWOBHM. All this and more in this week’s box of goodies.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Let’s start with a band who are causing much discussion at the moment, and will doubtless carry on doing so. Rival Sons are a definite blues rock band for the current era. And new album Pressure & Time (Earache) is sensational. Yes, it does bring to mind Led Zeppelin, but also the Black Crowes, Bad Company and Humble Pie. But it also has a appeal that stretches back to blues legends like Muddy Waters and Leadbelly. Authentic and charismatic, it’s gonna be one of the best albums this year.
Bad Company’s show at London’s Wembley Arena in April 2010 was an impressive return for the classic English rockers. And it’s well represented on the CD and DVD Live At Wembley (Armoury Records). You get a strong feel not only for the performance, but also the vibe of the night. And you also notice Paul Rodgers is very much the man directing everything onstage.
Roxxcalibur have gone somewhat deep underground for their covers album Lords Of The NWOBHM (Limb Music/Soulfood). As well as some of the usual suspects, they also pay homage to Cryer, Blood Money, Oxym and Sparta. Abnd have even done a previously unreleased song by Saxon. Now some might guffaw at these German’s NWOBHM obsession (which seems to be endemic in that country), but this album is very enjoyable, and is a nice reminder to me that I should dig out my Cryer cassette!
Spirit remain of the cult psychedelic bands, able to mix in virtuoso musicianship and a deft surrealism at will. On The Original Potatoland (Floating World) you hear how inventive they could be, with the conceptual former being perhaps the finest of all Spirit releases (although claims for Spirit Of ’76 must be considered). Then there’s Tales From The Westside (Floating World) a collection of live recordings from 1990 that, while patchy, does hint at the power of this band onstage and, especially, Randy California’s surging guitar runs.
Judge Smith, a founder of Van Der Graaf Generator, is never dull. His music has a daft, dense other worldly timbre, while always delighting in a macabre humour. He draws from all sources for Orfeus (Masters Of Art). This recounts the mythic story of Orpheus, with help from the likes of Lene Lovich, John Ellis and Dave Jackson. It’s the most famous of all tales about Orpheus: how he travelled to the Underworld to persuade them to release his dead wife Eurydice back to the land of the living, succeeds only for his own foibles to eventually foil him. Judge Smith does it with a resonant sympathy yet also a darkly devious humour.
Death remain of the most respected of all extreme metal bands. The reissue of their 1991 album Human (Relapse) reinforces their stature. It was them becoming more progressive and rounded, with a lyrical approach that was far less about comic book gore and now looked within. This remastered version comes with two bonus CD, with various tracks in states of undress and development as it were. While the extra discs might delight true diehards, just being reminded of the potency and vision of the late Chuck Schuldiner et al is meaningful enough.
Finally to the three latest Thin Lizzy reissues on Universal: Bad Reputation, Black Rose and Chinatown. Nobody needs telling that the originals are dynamic. And they still sound magnificent. The latter two now come in deluxe packages, each with a bonus CD. But all three are worth revisiting at any time.
Tags: Bad Company, Black Crowes, Blood Money, Chuck Schuldiner, Cryer, Dave Jackson, Death, Humble Pie, John Ellis, Judge Smith, Leadbelly, Led Zeppelin, Lene Lovich, Muddy Waters, Oxym, Paul Rodgers, Randy California, Rival Sons, Roxxcalibur, Sparta, Spirit, Thin Lizzy, Van Der Graaf Generator