Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week, we go flying with UFO and Hawkwind, get grounded with two Earth type bands and get the smell for early Napalm Death.
Words: Malcolm Dome
While the likes of Michael Schenker and Pete Way might be gone, there’s no doubt that UFO are currently in a rich vein of form. The band have a togetherness and spirit which comes across well on Seven Deadly (SPV/Steamhammer). The current line-up has significant musical quality which has given the veteran band a new lease of life. Phil Mogg’s vocals sound as fine as ever and the songs are thoughtfully and thoroughly developed. A welcome addition to the UFO catalogue.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band celebrate their 40th anniversary with a box set featuring 18 CDs, plus two more previously unreleased albums, an extensive booklet, a collection of Manfred Mann’s stories and a double-sided poster. On the Creature Music label, this is a reminder of the talents and music which have made this band so consistently powerful and creative in the progressive world. Real cause for celebration. And to think, Manfred Mann had, prior to the Earth Band, given us such essential 60s hits as Do Wah Diddy Diddy. Makes you wonder if Freddie And The Dreamers could have also carved out an enduring career as prog rock icons – nah!
Hawkwind’s back catalogue continues to be reissued by Esoteric Records. The latest is It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous. Originally released in 1993, it showcases the band’s then trio format to strong effect. Each track flows into the next one, there are some strongly political statements and there are a few surprising musical twists; even a hint of reggae at one point. Not the greatest album of Hawkwind’s vast catalogue, nonetheless this has more than moments of merit from the space rockers.
While Saxon continue to deliver quality live and in the studio, Oliver Dawson Saxon never quite match what Biff’s boys do. Motorbiker (Angel Air) is really no more than an average club rock plodder. Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson, members of Saxon in their 80s heyday, are surely capable of better than this sort of mediocre NWOBHM fare.
German power metalheads Freedom Call always deliver at a decent standard. And Land Of The Crimson Dawn (SPV/Steamhammer) upholds the Freedom Call reputation. Nobody would suggest this is innovative, but it’s well crafted, overblown fun. And that’s what this genre is surely all about?
There are few, if any, more important albums in the history of grindcore than the debut Napalm Death album Scum (Earache). Released in 1987, it was a shock to the system at a time, when Bon Jovi were in imperious and dominant form. This even made Slayer sound limp. Now remastered, it’s still as dynamic and ferocious as ever, and still stands out as a landmark album. The CD comes with a rough mix, which has ad libs and off the cuff comments, plus an alternative take of the title track. There are also four different coloured vinyl versions. Choose from black and white, lime green, lilac and magenta.
Earth prove they really are still able to make something individual in the ambient drone area with Angels of Darkness, Demons Of Light II (Southern Lord). There are so many bands now in this genre, many influenced by these originals, that sometimes it all becomes a continuous blur. But here, Earth create a majestic, doomy yet avant-garde atmosphere. This could easily be described as what might have happened if Led Zeppelin had ever worked with Philip Glass.
Finally, Deadly Circus Fire are one of the most strking young prog metal bands to come on the scene in the past couple of years. Currently, they are selling their debut EP online – and you decide how much you want to pay for this. The quality here is exceptionally high, so it would be reasonable to dig a little deeper to support a creative talent. To get a copy, go here.
Tags: Biff Byford, Bon Jovi, Deadly Circus Fire, Earth, Freedom Call, Graham Oliver, Hawkwind, Led Zeppelin, Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Michael Schenker, Napalm Death, Oliver-Dawson Saxon, Pete Way, Phil Mogg, Philip Glass, Saxon, Slayer, Steve Dawson, UFO