New Releases: This Week’s Mixed Bag Of Riffs
This week, we’ve got instrumentals, prog, Aussie punk, a stoner supergroup, Finnish goth metal, a box set of one album (!) and even a saucy festive single…
Words: Malcolm Dome
The Steve Morse Band…sounds like a recipe for self-indulgent guitar histrionics, right? Wrong. Out Standing In Their Field (Ear Music) actually allows the Deep Purple guitarist the opportunity to stretch out on a series of neatly folded instrumentals that never become too overbearing. They range from early ’70s jams through to jazz-rock. Interesting and worthwhile.
Big Big Train are a British prog band with a real penchant for a sound sprung from the well springs of Hogarth era Marillion and early It Bites. On The Underfall Yard (English Electric Recordings) all the parts fall into place. Intelligent yet never superior, this is a creative record that allows easy access.
For Selena And Sin are Finns with a passion for Lacuna Coil. That’s obvious on Primrose Path (Mascot). But there are some quite brilliant moments, as on Confide In Me and Broken Mirror. It’s here that the band show their paces, proving they could make their mark on the goth-metal scene with real dark menace.
The Living End‘s sense of fun Aussie punkery holds up well on White Noise (Cooperative Music). There’s nothing here that’s gonna change the world, but it’s a damn good rollicking ride.
You might know Jamie Mallender from his stint as bassist in former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin’s band. There again, perhaps you won’t. Now usually, the thought of a bassist doing a solo album has as much appeal as Thierry Henry in an Irish pub. But against all the odds, Return To Bass is listenable and entertaining. Lots of cool noodling from a man who understands how to ride the balance betweem being accessible without compromising his musical integrity. No obvious pop-rock hits here, but if Billy Sheehan style presentation is your bag get a copy from www.jamiemallender.co.uk
For those who regard Slade as nothing more than a ’70s hit machine, Live At The BBC (Union Square) is gonna be a right old shock. This is Slade before the hits, a raw, rocking high paced crew. But then, if you ever saw them live, you’ll know how good this lot were – one of the best.
King Crimson have come up with the ultimate way to repackage a classic. In The Court Of The Crimson King (Panegyric) has now been expanded to a…box set! This has five CDs, with the original album, plus the remaster, a US radio promo, the alternative album a live from 1969 concert. Then there’s a DVD with all manner of audio niceties. Phew! Any Crimson fan would be delighted to find this is their elongated and slightly obtuse stocking on Christmas Day.
The Company Band features members of Clutch, Fireball Ministry and CK.Y. Their self-titled, debut album (Venture Capital Records) is closer to Clutch than anything else – due mainly to Neil Fallon’s unmistakably rich throaty vocals – but has a touch more metal around the edges. It kicks, but with a glazed stoner glint in the eye.
It might be a single, but mention has to be made of the new Steel Panther single Sexy Santa (Universal). It’s the sort of suitably salacious seasonal smut that one would expect from the priapic Panthers. Stick that up yer Merry Xmas!