Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
In this week’s New Releases Round-Up we’ve got an American guitarist going all Swedish. We’ve got a young Brit getting bluesy. We’ve got an old American AOR band going live. And a veteran British guitarist showcasing a large part of his past. Plus lots more. Come on inside…
Words: Malcolm Dome
If the name Ryan Roxie rings any bells, then that’s because of his association with both Alice Cooper and Slash. Now Casablanca showcase not only his abilities, but also those of an essentially Swedish band who really sound capable of going far. Apocalyptic Youth (Rocket Songs) is stuffed with trash-rock anthems that bristle with energy, style and tunefulness. It’s Hanoi Rocks with a modern edge and a surprising sophistication.
Mitch Laddie has got the likes of Walter Trout hailing him as the finest blues-rock guitarist of his generation. Well, the 21-year-old from North East England shows his prowess on Burning Bridges (Mystic Records). It is neither a guitar extravaganza, nor an overtly blues-related album. Rather, Laddie uses the opportunity to prove he has an individual flair and touch. The songs are thoughtful and the attention to musical detail is undeniable. But what really impresses is that the passion is never subsumed by technique. That’s a rare skill in itself.
There’s a dark shadow over the new Woods Of Yypres album Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light (Earache). Mainman David Gold died at the end of last year, which brings a poignancy to so many of the lyrics here, because they deal with embracing death and starkness of life. In fact, this is a fascinating and charismatic album, with considerable European folk influences coming through the icy veneer of the Canadians. To call it a fitting tribute to Gold is trite, but the progressive urges here make this a powerful album that will endure.
Jefferson Starship have often plotted an uncertain course. The Best Of Mick’s Picks (Retroworld) is a live double CD showcasing the band in more recent years. Shorn of Grace Slick, replaced by the unassuming Diane Mangano, this is a band who come across as a shadow of how they were in their prime, Even the presence of Starship giants Paul Kantner and Marty Balin cannot alter the uneven feel of the performances here. The first CD features a 2004 show from The Cavern in Liverpool, as well as five acoustic tracks from 1999. The second one has material from a German show in 2005, as well as selections from other shows around the same time period. While there are some special moments, nonetheless it really is only a release to appeal to the real diehards.
Freedom Hawk have a way of capturing early Sabbath and filtering this through Kyuss and Hawkwind. It works impressively on Holding On (Small Stone). Their third album, this bristles with sparkling riffs and a stoner groove that avoids being clichéd. They haven’t so much reinvented the whole notion of feeding off 70s hard rock as given it a fresh dimension.
New Jersey’s Infernal Overdrive also belong in that 70s box. Debut album Last Rays Of The Dying Sun (Small Stone) has a diversity that takes it from a cover of Ace Frehley’s Rip It Out to the epic Motor, which is reminiscent of early Hawkwind, but with a little doom dipped into the mix. This is a thoroughly entertaining and inventive band, who also have a little southern rock and Thin Lizzy about them.
The second part of Robin Trower’s tremendous career on the Chrysalis label is showcased on the triple CD Farther On Up The Road, 1977-1983. This not only underlines the man’s blues-rock prowess, but highlights Trower’s ability to diversify. When you take this compilation alongside the first volume, you really have a definitive chronicle of one of the true giants of British rock over the past four decades.
If you fancy listening to someone who sounds exactly like Status Quo, then Ian Hill’s your man. Keep On Rockin’ On is so much an imitation of Quo that it’s a relief to find out the album has been conceived as a direct tribute to them. Everything about this is so well pieced together that you have to admire the dedication and detail Hill (no relation to Judas Priest’s Ian Hill) has put in. Of course, it’s not as good as the real thing. Still, you can find out more here.
Tags: Ace Frehley, Alice Cooper Slash, Black Sabbath, Casablanca, David Gold, Diane Mangano, Freedom Hawk, Grace Slick, Hawkwind, Ian Hill, Infernal Overdrive, Jefferson Starship, Kyuss, Marty Balin, Mitch Laddie, Paul Kantner, Robin Trower, Ryan Roxie, Status Quo, Woods Of Ypres