New Releases: Santa’s Sack Of Odds And Sods
This week, we have been mostly listening to some Manfred Mann bootlegs, a Slade alumni gone all mature, old Anthrax, an album in a box. Oh, and some bloke who was on Appetite For Destruction…Words: Malcolm Dome
It might be Christmas, but does that mean the rocking stops? Not when we’ve got a chimneyful of chunky chuckers. So, get aboard the sleigh(er), whip up the rein(inblood)deer and off we go.
First up, is a hotch potch from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Bootleg Archives Volumes 1-5 (MM Archive) is a collection of raw live recordings covering the 26 years from 1981. The quality is variable, and the only reason the band appear to have released this set is to ensure they make the money, not bootleggers. But it is one for collectors only.
James Whild Lea? You probably know him as Jim Lea of Slade fame. But if you’re expecting Therapy (Jim Jam Rcords) to be full of those classic Slade style stompers, then look elsewhere. The studio CD here is classy, introspective, beautifully crafted mature rock, which nods at Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham. It is understated, yet compelling. The Smile Of Elvis and Universe are just terrific. Spicing up the package is a live recording on a second CD from the Robin 2 in Bilston. This is full of rock ‘n’ roll standards belched out with a full-on energy by Lea.
It’s been 30 years – gawd – since Public Image released the Metal Box (Virgin) in…a metal box. Now it’s back out, again in a metal box. Now all of this would seem to be no more than a cash in. But the music is still smart and smarting. Industrial before that term was hijacked by others rather less worthy.
Chris Walker is a guitarist with a touch that brings to mind Steve Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana and Gary Moore. The Pine Cone Incident has a blues-rock pulse, but an effusively melodic and slightly soulful touch. Surprisingly it’s not at all self-indulgent, and is rather entertaining. Get a copy from www.myspace.com/chriswalkerguitars
Angels of Babylon feature former Manowar drummer Rhino and ex-Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. A hefty rhythm section. Kingdom Of Evil (Metal Heaven) is a solid metal faculty, lacking perhaps the driving force of a real power metal anthem, but entertaining enough. Although quite what would tempt you to more than one listen is a little questionable.
Anthrax celebrate 1987 with the release of Caught In A Mosh (Island). A double CD with one featuring the band’s headlining gig at the Hammersmith Odeon (ah, remember that iconic name?). The other is their set at the Monsters Of Rock, Donington. There’s inevitable overlap, but both underscore the band’s right to be judged as true metal titans, with the latter just outpointing the former.
Finally, let’s applaud the return of Izzy Stradlin, who has retained his dignity, health and independence away from Guns n’ Roses. Like so much he’s released in nearly two decades on his own, Smoke is a close approximation to Mick Taylor era Stones, and all the better for it. Get a copy through iTunes.
That’s it. Now, get back to the turkey and listening to granny complaining about the Xmas Number One single.