Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This time out, there’s a new compilation from the metal gods put together by other metal gods, a Sudanese lot who aren’t Sudanese, a Transylvanian live album not recorded in Transylvania and a female singer who delivers a stormer.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Judas Priest have had so many compilations released, it’s hard to see the point of The Chosen Few (Sony). Except that all the tracks have been specifically selected by other musicians. The likes of Ozzy, Lemmy, members of Metallica and Slayer all come up with their fave Priest moments, which means this is more than just another excuse for a quick cash-in. However, there’s nothing rare or unreleased here. Just some of best songs in metal history. But is the cachet of having such major names choosing them enough to persuade people to shell out for this collection? Your choice.
The Union have jumped up a notch or two with second album Siren’s Song (Payola Music). Luke Morley and Pete Shoulder seem a lot more at ease with each other now, and the result s a blues-based record that then takes off in different but coherent directions. There’s even a spot of jazz. What makes the album work, though, is the strength of the songs.
Back in the late 80s, everyone who was vaguely sleazy and could write a half-decent song got a deal in America as Guns N’ Roses mania reached a crescendo. Electric Angels were among those who got onto a major label, and then released a self-titled debut album that failed to take off. This 1990 record is back out on Rock Candy. To be honest, while it’s decent enough, there’s very little to suggest they could really compete even with the likes of Circus Of Power. And the presence of producer Tony Visconti doesn’t add much magic.
The Sudanese Playboys have a folk-rock sound that’s comparable to The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash. It might seem daft to suggest these North Londoners are drawing from the heritage of these West Coast greats, but their approach is definitely in that direction on their self-titled first album. While it’s no classic, this is enjoyable and shows the ability and potential are there for bigger things. Find out more at www.sudaneseplayboys.com
Savatage became a major progressive metal band in the mid-80s, and Hall Of The Mountain King (earMUSIC) began the process. First released in 1987, it was a step forward for the band who showed flair and purpose which took them beyond their power metal and thrash roots. It still sounds formidable.
Veteran British acoustic folkies Amazing Blondel are showcased to great effect on Dead – Live In Transylvania (Talking Elephant). There’s no info here as to when it was recorded, but it’s probably around a decade ago, and the quality is unmistakable on all fronts, from performance to recording. One prog fans will adore. Oh, and it wasn’t recorded in Transylvania – the title is an old joke that harks back to a live album which references Tokyo, even though it was done in Europe!
Norwegian singer Issa returns with her second album. And The Storm (Frontiers) sees her really developing as a vocalist. The songs are not as immediate as those on her debut. But they do have more depth. The result is classy, creative and an album to prove Issa has a worth that goes beyond her model looks. It’s the type of record Pat Benatar would be proud to put out.
Power metal masters Iced Earth are back with Dystopia (Century Media), an album that doesn’t so much revitalize the band as give a fresh perspective on their well-established style. If you enjoy metal that’s slightly overblown but never ridiculous, coupled to the concept of dystopian themes in literature and movies linking most of the songs, then this is an album for you. One of the band’s best, and the debut of new singer Stu Block is impressive.
Tags: Amazing Blondel, Circus Of Power, Crosby Stills & Nash, Electric Angels, Guns N' Roses, Iced Earth, Issa, Judas Priest, Lemmy, Luke Morley, Metallica, ozzy Osbourne, Pat Benatar, Pete Shoulder, Savatage, Slayer, Stu Block, Sudanese Playboys, The Byrds, The Union