I know most metal fans prefer the Dio-fronted Rainbow but round these parts Joe Lynn Turner rules. So here’s a superb version of the classic Rainbow track I Surrender. It’s taken from the Live in Japan 1984 double live album that was made available recently as bonus discs with the Ritchie Blackmore Story box set. It’s a bonus extra that outstrips the main feature easily. Listening to Ritchie Blackmore reminiscing about his career is one thing: listening to him play is another entirely. And if you’ve never listened to The Man in Black’s live playing, you’ve never really heard him at all. No criticism of his studio output – it’s adorned with legendary guitar work – but this is a man that likens studio recording to “being at the dentists”. Unshackled from the studio, his playing reaches a transcendent level of inspiration and excitement. The whole band is on great form here, especially Joe Lynn Turner who sings with passion and commitment. But Blackmore grabs this great AOR track by the balls, lifting it to another level with one of his ingeniously messy, improvisational and thrilling solos. There’s a tag I use on this site: The World’s Greatest Guitarist. It’s reserved for The Man in Black and performances like this are why.
Greg Lake’s passing has cast a right pall over the HMO Mission Control this week. There’s only one thing for it… some retail therapy. Get some music down ye!
Terra – Mors Secunda
UK black metallers Terra release the follow-up to their debut Untitled. Two dark and atmostpheric epics with some uplifting crescendos but mostly dank, raw, dirty and rhythmic. I singled their drummer Luke Braddick out for praise last year and he excels himself again here with a dynamic and intense performance. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of bands like Wolves in the Throne Room.
Deep Purple – California Jam 1974
The film of Purple’s legendary headliner restored for a new release on Blu Ray and DVD. If you don’t have it, this is a totally essential performance. Blackmore’s climatic solo is the stuff of rock legend, both in terms of music and antics. As well as the restorative spit and polish this version has supposedly been re-edited with different camera angles and stuff like that. Not sure that’s enough for me to buy it again but this is worth getting if you’ve never seen it, or if there’s a big Deep Purple fan in your life that you need to buy a Xmas gift for (cough).
Isengard – Traditional Doom Cult
A new Darkthrone album, then an archive release from them and now this! Fenriz fans (and that’s everyone surely?) really are getting spoiled rotten these days. Here are two unheard recordings from his old Bathory-esque side project on a sexy 7” single. Might be a bit of a barrel-scraper but I’ll bite. I’ve got this pre-ordered and if all this Fenriz-related activity keeps up I might have to just arrange a direct debit straight into his bloody bank account.
Root – Hell Symphony
Root’s new album came out recently and I said that, because I only have their debut, I’d rather get more of their older stuff first. Well, the Eternal Death label, were apparently paying attention because here’s a reissue of their second album (on CD and vinyl) with extra live tracks. Bugger. They went to all this bother so I’m going to have to buy this now aren’t I?
The Doors – London Fog 1966
Fog! This week’s over-egged and over-priced award goes to the new release from The Doors. Fog fog! It’s a recording of a very early show called London Fog 1966 and the set has both the CD and LP in it FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER and all sorts of trinkets and tat just to pop the price up. Fog Fog Fog! It’s also got a track on it called Tuning. I’m sure that’ll be exciting.
And on top of all this there’s also the new Gnaw Their Tongues album Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent. I didn’t really “get” their last album so I’ll probably pass but I do feel like I’m maybe missing out on something. Shape of Despair’s album Monotony Fields had a buzz about it last year. Seems like it might be up my street but I still haven’t got round to checking it out. And now here’s Alone in the Mist, an album of their old demos from when they were called Raven. I’m sure I’ll catch up with all this stuff eventually… when Fenriz gives me some time off.
And that’s the lot for this week. Let me know if there’s anything cool I’ve missed and if there’s anything you’re rushing out to buy today. Happy hunting!
Here’s an upcoming release that manages to bring together a lot of my favourite things: music documentary DVDs, live albums, concert DVDs and… the world’s greatest ever guitarist (accept no substitutes) Ritchie Blackmore!
On November 6th 2015, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release The Ritchie Blackmore Story on various formats. The one that interests me most is the 2DVD/2CD edition that, in addition to the documentary on the great man, will also include a live Rainbow concert on DVD and the CDs: the first official release of the 1984 concert recording Live in Tokyo.
Exciting stuff. I’ve not paid much attention to Ritchie’s musical output since he formed Blackmore’s Night but I will always remain a huge fan of his guitar playing and his work with Rainbow and Deep Purple. There was an excellent documentary on Purple frontman/legend Ian Gillan a few years back called Highway Star. Unsurprisingly, Blackmore was mentioned a lot in that but was not interviewed for it. This documentary will be an interesting counterpoint to the Gillan doc I’m sure.
And to add to all the Ritchie excitement he has also announced a return to the world of Heavy Rock with some concerts. Details are a bit sketchy but supposedly these shows will be a best of Rainbow and Purple but the where, when and who all remains a mystery so far. Not like The Man in Black to be so mysterious!
A lot to look forward to for Blackmore fans but, in the meantime, here’s one of my favourite Rainbow tunes for ya. (And one of my favourite keyboard solos while we’re at it too!) Enjoy.
Looks like slim pickings on the new release front this July. Either that or I’m just a bit maxed out with new music at the moment and overlooking some stuff. I feel like taking stock, catching up on my recent purchases and working on that “to listen to” pile! And excuse me if this all leans more on the Classic Rock side of things, that’s just the way my listening mood is swinging these days. I think it’s the hot weather.
The high profile release of the month is Redeemer of Souls (2CDs – out July 14th), the return of Judas Priest sans KK Downing. I’m a bit on the fence with this, nothing I’ve heard so far has been particularly inspiring. But it’s JP so hopefully it’ll have some redeeming qualities, some soul? And that Mark Wilkinson cover… it’s starting to move towards Marillion territory isn’t it? Just a little? Hopefully the next Priest album will be adorned with some sort of robojester!
New York Thrashers Overkill release White Devil Armory (21st July.) I’m going to have to fess up here and admit I’m hugely unfamiliar with this band but I’ve been meaning to get round to them. Now seems as good a time as any. On the down side, like their NY buddies Anthrax, they seem really good at reissuing their albums with extra stuff a few months down the line. Maybe worth holding out a bit longer?
HMO favourite, Richard Thompson brings out Acoustic Classics (21st July.) Presumably in contrast to his last album Electric, this features newly-recorded acoustic versions of RT tunes done in the style of his solo acoustic shows. I’d rather be getting some new tunes but RT is always a joy so I’m sure I’ll be buying this.
And I’ll also be buying the reissue of Ian Hunter’s The Artful Dodger (7th July.) This album has been out of print for some time and I’ve been after it for ages! It has a bonus track but the main appeal is that it’s finally available and priced reasonably!
The Allman Brothers Band’s complete 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (28th July) rounds up their legendary performances into one luxury boxed thingy. I was going to pass on this given the £70 price tag but Amazon just dropped it down to £40 so it’s starting to become a contender. I think I could probably live with the original and the deluxe edition though. The original just has that perfect running order that seems to get lost with expansion. Still, this is sublime music and might be hard to pass up.
The Nuge returns to studio action after 7 years with the appallingly titled and covered Shutup&jam (7th July.) I do have a lot of time for Ted but I’m not feeling too enthusiastic about this. I quite liked Craveman but Love Grenade didn’t really grab my attention and I rarely listen to The Nuge these days so this might not be for me just yet.
I was actually starting to think that there wasn’t going to be any Deep Purple stuff out this month but …phew!… turns out there is. A double-check through the release schedules revealed Hard Road: The Mark 1 Studio Recordings ‘1968-69’ (28th July) compiling the first three Purps platters and featuring the sartorial elegance of Rod “Gold Lamé Trousers” Evans on vocals. Lots of rarities on here, most notably mono versions of the first two albums… looks like a nice set for the price. But I think if I had box set money I’d be giving it to the Allmans right now. Sorry Rod!
And that’s about the lot for July. It’s highly likely I’ve overlooked something so please let me know if there’s anything awesome coming out that I haven’t mentioned. As it looks just now Richard Thompson and Ian Hunter are my must-buys, Judas Priest a strong possibility and the Allmans box is a wild-card if I’m feeling reckless! Until next time, happy hunting!
Right, I said I was going to buy less this month and I meant it! So really, the last thing I ought to be doing is poring over the new release schedules… but fearlessness and iron will come with the territory when you’re the Heavy Metal Overlord so I’m going to do it anyway. So you don’t have to.
I prefer the cover with the bum on it
Cheer up Wizard! Have an Irn-Bru
The one true must-buy of the month has got to be Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven: 20th AnniversaryEdition (out 24th March) with a bonus CD of their 1994 Donington set. I’m not a big fan of re-recorded albums but Manowar have unleashed Kings of Metal MMXIV (out now), a re-recording of their classic album. I’m a little tempted but I can’t help feeling this kind of thing is just pointless. Do I buy it just to stay in the loop? I haven’t kept pace with Magnum’s recent output since Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow in 2007 so I’m not sure if I’m interested in Escape From the Shadow Garden (out 24th March). I’m tempted to check in on them and see what they’re up to though.
The Cattle Grazes On?
Deep Purple Live album no 258
There are a couple of Deep Purple reissues to think about in March. Hear No Evil have just released a double disc of The Battle Rages On paired with the Come Hell or High Water live album (out now). Nothing new there if you already own both but I don’t have either of those so it’s enticingly cheap and looks nice too! For completists there is a 2CD/DVD reissue of their Stockholm 1970 live set (out 10th March.) I have a version of that already and it’s excellent but now it’s bolstered with some two bonus live tracks recorded in Paris in 1970 (I’m thinking these are audio from the “Pop Deux” tracks on the History, Hits and Highlights DVD?) and the full “Doing Their Thing” set from Granada TV on DVD. Apparently this is the first full DVD outing for the Granada set (Blackmore playing his Gibson!) but not sure about the Paris tracks. Worth buying again?
Rod Stewart’s monster four-disc live anthology, Live 1976-1998: Tonight’s The Night (out 17th March) looks like a blast if you like that sort of thing (I do) and his old Faces chum Ronnie Lane (with his band Slim Chance) gets anthologised in the 2CD Ooh La La: An Island Harvest (10th March). The Slim Chance albums have become fairly hard to come by lately so a good compilation is very welcome.
Scott Ian, front and centre, for no reason whatsoever
There’s an unofficial archive Rush live album due out called Spirit of the Airwaves (1980 Live Radio Broadcast) (10th March). I don’t see any rare tracks being aired here so I don’t know how appealing that will be to all you Rush fanatics out there. I’ll pass.
Anyone heard The Gathering album Always…? I haven’t but it did appear on a Terrorizer “Top Doom albums” type list so that puts it on my radar straight away. Not sure about that cover though…
And speaking of album covers… there is the Ronnie James Dio tribute album This Is Your Life (31st March). The list of participating acts is absolutely stellar which tells you everything you need to know about the great man but I don’t like tribute albums and the cover genuinely makes my skin crawl. It’s so bad. There are definitely some songs on it that I’d like to hear but, if I’m honest, I don’t want the whole thing.
And that’s the March releases that especially stand out to me. If there’s anything cool I may have missed, or anything I really should have missed, please tell me about it. Expect to see the Pantera reissue show up in the next Buying Round-Up but, apart from that, it’s really anyone’s guess!