Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This time, we look at the Lou Reed/Metallica project, check out the latest Megadeth offering, get web-wise with Black Widow and reassess the first two Lone Star albums.
Words: Malcolm Dome
It appears to have become a habit to slag off the Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration, even before hearing a note of Lulu (Vertigo). Metallica fans seem to hate the very idea of their faves working with Reed. And this isn’t recognisable as a Metallica album. But why should it be? It’s something separate. Perhaps if a project name had been used instead of the various protagonists being so readily identified, then people would have more of an open mind. The truth is that the album is interesting and arresting. Far from being instant, there’s enough here to keep you returning. What does it sound like? It’s Lou Reed with a heavy, progressively atmospheric rock approach. In some respects, not far removed from Opeth taking on board a Peter Gabriel influence. Not the disaster some believe. And if you want to listen to the whole album before buying a copy, it’s being streamed at www.loureedmetallica.com
Far more obvious is the new Megadeth album Th1rt3en (Roadrunner). Yes, the spelling of the title is either cunning or just plain daft, but the music is vibrant on what is the best Megadeth album in years. The return of bassist David Ellefson has given everything a lift, and the band have returned to a style not far removed from Rust In Peace The future for this lot now appears healthier than ever.
Last year Alter Bridge put out the AB III album. Now they’ve got a deluxe edition called AB 3.5 (Roadrunner). There are three extra tracks on the CD, all of which are the equal of anything on the original. Plus a bonus DVD titled One By One, which is a documentary featuring interviews with all the band. One could argue that the whole thing is a gratuitous attempt to exploit an old album. However, nobody’s forcing you to buy a copy. And with those extra songs, not to mention a new DVD, the package is worthwhile.
Foreigner are the latest band to revisit their back catalogue. On Acoustique (earMUSIC), they present some of their great moments in an acoustic setting, It doesn’t all work, but the approach pays dividends more often than not, and Long, Long Way From Home and Starrider are particular triumphs. There’s also new song Save Me, which proves this line-up don’t just have to rely on past glories.
Black Widow will always be known for Come To The Sabbat, and for once having a daring occult stage set. But can they still offer anything these days? Perhaps against the odds, Sleeping With Demons (Cargo) is more than decent. The blues-rock approach is intact, added to which is lustre of foreboding in both the lyrics and the music. Some of it is patent, camp nonsense, but if the impact is more Hammer than Crowley, then it’s still entertaining.
Jane’s Addiction have their own style, which makes The Great Escape Artist (EMI) unmistakably them. And this band really don’t make bad albums. However, while the songs are strong enough to match anything on 2003’s Strays, nonetheless it does fall short of Nothing’s Shocking or Ritual De Lo Habitual. Maybe the problem is that the musicians fall so easily into the Jane’s groove and are a little too comfortable with it all.
Armored Saint are one of those bands who should have been so much bigger than they were.The reissue of second album Delirious Nomad (Rock Candy) proves the point . Orginally put out in 1985, it has an intelligent approach to metal that transcends genres such as thrash and power metal. This lot wrote and delivered multi-faceted songs, which set them apart from most of their contemporaries, and the quality still shines through.
There’s a perceived wisdom that the second album from Lone Star was far superior to their debut. Well, both have now been re-released by Rock Candy, and it may make people reassess their evaluation of the fine 70s Welsh band. The self-titled debut actually sounds really strong, full of powerful moments, and possessed of a vibrancy and expertise that underscores why so much was expected of this band on the album’s release in 1976. However, second album Firing On All Six (first put out in 77) hasn’t fared quite so well. Despite having the evergreen Bells Of Berlin, the production here (from Gary Lyons) is stilted and stuttering, which means the album now sounds rather dull. A pity, because there are some fine songs here, and the band clearly were playing at a high level. But while Roy Thomas Baker got his production spot on for the debut, Lyons is way off the mark.