Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week we’ve got the return of a melodic rock queen, US greats revisiting their past, a London band named after the biblical Jezabel’s hubbie, some Irish blokes aiming for some Free-dom and a reissue from a classic Aussie band. Plus a lot more.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Fiona returns after an absence of two decades with Unbroken (Life On The Moon/Cargo), which is a simply tremendous melodic hard rock album. If there had been any justice she’d have been a massive star in the 1980s. The talent’s still so obvious on what is probably Fiona’s most consummate ever release. Easily among the genre’s best releases this year.
Styx are the latest band to reimagine their back catalogue.Regeneration Volume I & II (Eagle Rock) features 13 of the band’s finest career moments now re-recorded. The new versions are perfectly fine, but al they rally do is remind you why the originals are classics. Still, there’s new song Difference In The World, which is actually rather splendid. Oh, Damn Yankees’ High Enough and Coming Of Age are also included, thanks to the Tommy Shaw connection. Wonder what Ted Nugent will make of these?
Londoners ahab are a band with a real handle on multiple harmonies. They prove their worth on the EP kmvt (Navigator), which rides the wave between folk and pop-rock, doing it very neatly indeed. Check out their recent Track Of The Day for an insight into what’s makes them tick.
The Answer have long been on the verge of something special. The time might have arrived with Revival (Spinefarm). It’s got all the classic rock traits we’ve come to associate with the Irishmen, however this time they’ve taken a significant step up. The songs are better constructed and realised, the performances have an extra 10 percent. Finally, The Answer sound like they’re becoming the world class band we knew was their destiny. The new Free?
Angel City have long been among Australia’s finest bands. Also known as The Angels, they had a quirky take on the sort of boogie which AC/DC and others made so much a part of Aussie heritage. Their 1978 album Face To Face (Rock Candy) is a prime example of their band’s wares. The second Angel City album, it has groove, melody and just a touch of eccentricity. Still sounds magnificent.
Be-Bop Deluxe remain among the most intelligent, articulate and undervalued rock bands of the 1970s. To call them art rock is be naive, but there was always something of that ilk in their style. Futurist Manifesto 1974-1978 (EMI) features all five of their albums for the Harvest label, plus a disc of previously unreleased tracks. It is a spellbinding collection.
These days Adrian Vandenberg is probably most renowned for his spell in Whitesnake. But prior to that, he led Vandenberg, a Dutch band with much to commend them in the early 1980s. Their self-titled, debut (Rock Candy) originally came out in 1982, and its anthemic hard rock manifesto has held up well. It makes you wonder why this band never gained enough commercial momentum to make a bigger impact.
Finally, to young Brits Emerald, who prove on debut album Master I Am (Phantom) that they’re old school enough to appreciate the influence of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and even The Who. However, there’s something about this lot’s often obvious power metal approach which hints at a deep-lying ability that, given the chance, will really blossom. Master I Am is far from being essential, but could be the birth of something that will be more than worthwhile.
Tags: AC/DC, Adrian Vandenberg, ahab, Angel City, be-Bop Deluxe, Damn Yankees, Emerald, Fiona, Free, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Styx, Ted Nugent, The Angels, The Answer, The Who, Tommy Shaw, Vandenberg, Whitesnake