Saturday, September 17, 2016

Classic artists showcased via sterling releases

Classic rock fans know 2016 is their year; a number of legendary artists who earned their biggest hits in the '70s, '80s and '90s are back with new collections celebrating and building on their legacies. 

Artist: ZZ Top
Title: Live! Greatest Hits From Around the World (Suretone Records)
You might like if you enjoy: ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck
Tell me more: It's difficult to think of a classic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame outfit spawned in the late 1960s whose founding lineup remains unchanged while dishing out tasty versions of its best-known material as powerfully as ever. That's exactly the case with ZZ Top, the blues-rock trio formed in Houston, Texas in 1969 heard unleashing fiery versions of many of their best-known songs on Live! Greatest Hits From Around the World. The 15-track disc showcases singer-guitarist Billy F Gibbons, singer-bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard via recordings captured on three continents over the course of several recent tours. Standout tracks on this great collection include the driving "Got Me Under Pressure (recorded in New York City), aptly-dubbed Texas rocker "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" (tracked in Las Vegas), fiery "La Grange" (captured in Dallas) and infectious "Sharp Dressed Man" (nailed in Los Angeles). Fans of guitar legend Jeff Beck will also want to get the disc; the groundbreaking guitar virtuoso joins ZZ Top at a performance in London for the melodic blues nugget "Rough Boy" and blistering "Sixteen Tons." Information:

Artist: Toto
Title: Live at Montreux 1991 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Toto, Kansas
Tell me more: In the early 1990s, Toto returned to action as a quartet  featuring founding members Steve Lukather (guitar, lead vocals), David Paich (keyboards, vocals), and brothers Jeff Porcaro (drums, percussion) and Mike Porcaro (bass). That specific lineup is featured on the wonderful live collection Live at Montreux 1991 DVD+CD release (also available on Blu-ray + CD and via digital video) that kicks off with two original prog-rock selections ("On the Run" and the title track from what would be the band's 1992 album "Kingdom Of Desire"). Lukather's guitar playing is a wonder across the concert recording as evidenced by the crowd-pleasing version of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Red House" and amped funk-rock take on the Sly Stone classic"I Want to Take You Higher." Several of Toto's most beloved originals ("Africa," "Rosanna") are delivered in memorable new renditions. Information:

Artist: Styx
Title: Live at The Orleans Arena Las Vegas (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Styx, Kansas, Supertramp
Tell me more: Those who can't get enough of the wonderful 2015 audio CD release Styx: Live at the Orleans Arena are in luck. The July 2014 concert release has now been released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital video and was worth the wait. A number of the band's memorable songs are showcased, including a rousing "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" where lead guitarist Don Felder (the Eagles) trades fret work with Styx lead guitarists Tommy Shaw and James "JY" Young. The highlight of the concert is an astonishing version of "Crystal Ball," where Shaw begins the masterwork singing alone accompanied by his finger picking on an acoustic 12-sting guitar. The song artfully builds to include lush backing vocals and keyboard textures by the rest of the band as Shaw soon switches over to play electric guitar including a stunning solo. Other favorites on the set include "Too Much Time On My Hands," "Rockin' the Paradise" and "Renegade." Information:

Artist: Marillion
Title: F E A R (EarMusic)
You might like if you enjoy: Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Porcupine Tree
Tell me more: Few progressive rock artists can walk the tightrope between symphonic highs and sparse introspection like Marillion. The British troupe's 18th album F E A R demonstrates that great rock artists are not content to simply revisit past glories; the band's aptly-titled new album is personified by the line "F E A R is everywhere" (in "El Dorado iv. Fear"). There are institutions to be feared (religion, war, greed) in the big picture, and more personal demons like loneliness and mortality that greet our heroes in the mirror. The concept album is filled with memorable songs that resound with melody and texture. This is an album that grips the listener with a single listen, but will resonate even more strongly with subsequent listens. Information:

Artist: Journey
Title: Live in Manila (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Foreigner, Steve Perry, REO Speedwagon
Tell me more: Originally released seven years ago as a DVD stand-alone release, the oft-seen Journey concert filmed in Manila, Philippines on March 14, 2009 with the band's then-new lead vocalist Arnel Pineda has been reissued in a beautiful package. Journey Live In Manila has been reissued as a deluxe DVD+2CD version complete with an informative booklet (the title is also available as a Blu-ray+2CD or on digital). Fans of Journey will be won over by the mix of uptempo rockers ("Never Walk Away," Separate Ways," "Don't Stop Believin' ") and power ballads ("Only the Young," "Lights," "Faithfully") that are delivered across the two-hour performance. Information:

Robert Kinsler

No comments: