Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
What’s going on this week? Bach is back. Heep get armed and ready in Armenia. There’s a pile of live stuff from Rockpile. Fastway make a speedy return. And LA Guns fire off an acoustic set.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Let’s kick into gear with Sebastian Bach’s latest solo outing Kicking & Screaming (Frontiers). The man himself reckons it’s right up there with anything he’s done before. And the Canadian frontman’s right. There’s a lot of restless action in the music, and the songs drive along with that hellbent fury which made Bach’s name in the first place.
Uriah Heep have released a dozen previous live albums in the 40-year career. So, do we need Live In Armenia (Frontiers)? Actually, it’s got a lot of energy and verve, proving that while the songs are certainly familiar, they are still capable of providing a new twist of freshness. It also represents the first time the band played in that country, so a historic documentation.
Rockpile are one of those undervalued bands who have always deserved greater respect than they’ve been afforded. But their rock ‘n’ roll style is well presented on Live At Montreux 1980 (Eagle). You can hear Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe et al striding and strutting with consummate ease through this set, one that captures the essence of what them so damn good. No frills, all thrills.
Spider were one of those 80s British bands who for some reason made a lot of people smirk. Sure, they were very much in the Quo tradition, but their honest endeavour and earnest songwriting actually made them a lot better than many believed. You can hear this on the double CD compilation The Singles Collection (Lemon Recordings). Simple, basic tracks about simple, basic subjects played in a simple, basic style. And the reason why Spider did so much better than a lot of more vaunted bands.
Fastway haven’t released a new studio album for over 20 years. So much might be expected of Eat Dog Eat (SPV). Well, it might not be in the same class as the band’s first two albums, but it is still more than adequate. The combination of Fast Eddie Clarke’s guitar and vocalist Toby Jepson works well on a series of nicely constructed British hard rock songs.
Riot were once among the most celebrated and pre-eminent of the young metal lions threatening to take on the world. But that was back in the NWOBHM era, and this seems like another universe when you hear Immortal Soul (SPV). Not that is a bad album, but it is a little odd to hear Riot trying to sound like a German power metal band, even if they do it rather confidently. Still, once you get past the comparisons to years – and albums – long gone, this is actually very enjoyable. The band do have this sort of thing well worked out.
The first question you have to ask when faced with a new LA Guns album is: which LA Guns are we talking about? In this case it’s Tracii Guns’ version. But he and the lads do themselves no favours on Acoustic Gypsy Live (Favored Nations). Does anybody want acoustic renderings of Sex Action, Rip And Tear or Electric Gypsy? Come on, the band (well, both of them) are at their best when plugging in and shooting out. The notion if the Guns going all acoustic is about as convincing as Ted Nugent’s application to join PETA. Fine band, bad mistake.
Finally, a word of praise for Keel. Faced earlier this week by a virtually empty venue in London when they played their first UK show for 25 years, the band could have pulled a right strop and refused to play. However, Keel got up there and delivered a storming set. All of which makes you want to revisit last year’s Streets Of Rock & Roll (Frontiers). And it is actually a really good album of high energy Keel style hard rock. It would be fitting to see this repromoted now – and to encourage the band to return here to play in front of a much bigger crowd.