People who know me know my musical preference has always been classic rock. Growing up, the chances of me listening to KSHE-95 were much greater than listening to whatever pop station was on the air at the time. Over the years, my musical tastes have expanded, but I still love me some Bad Company.
I also am a big fan of several ?classic? bands who? still are putting out great music, refusing to sit back and bask in past glories. Below are my thoughts on two recent releases from groups who went a long way toward defining their respective genres.
Heart ?Red Velvet Car?- Along with Grace Slick and The Runaways, Heart bucked the system when it came to a woman?s place in rock during its younger years. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson proved that girls could get out there and ROCK. The group achieved worldwide success in the 1970s before streamlining their sound into synthesizer-drenched power pop in the 1980s, alienating some of their loyal fans but gaining a whole new audience. In the years since, the sisters have eschewed their pop sound and have been returning to their roots, although never more so than on their new album, ?Red Velvet Car.?
Choosing acoustic guitars and rocking beats over a multilayered, manufactured sound, the new release focuses on straightforward rock, blues and soft balladry, reminiscent of their earliest music. While the album never sounds dated, one listen to the harmony of strings, mandolin, and Earth Mother Ann?s husky vocals on ?Safronia?s Mark? and it is 1978 all over again.
Other highlights include the acoustic-heavy ?Wheels? and the poignant ?Sand.?
If you are a fan of ?All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You,? you probably won?t be getting much out of this release. If, on the other hand, you cranked up ?Crazy on You? in the car on Saturday nights, then this is the CD for you.
With ?Red Velvet Car?, Heart?s return to rock is complete, and the girls have once again earned the nickname ?Little Led Zeppelin.?
Iron Maiden ?The Final Frontier?- In a time when most heavy metal bands were singing about whiskey, women and Satan, Iron Maiden?s songs were exploring the American Revolution and the Babylonian Empire (I always thought ?History Lesson? would have made the perfect title of a greatest hits album). The English band proved there was more to heavy metal than throwaway riffs and second-rate makeup.
?The Final Frontier? is the band?s 15th (and rumored to be final) release, and, like Heart, they also have returned to the sound that once made them great. The dual-guitar signature that defined their 1980s albums is back in force, and Bruce Dickinson?s siren wail vocals are just as powerful as when he was a pup.
?Coming Home? is a standout track, as is the 11-minute opus ?When the Wild Wind Blows? (Iron Maiden was notorious for its excessively long, musically complex songs?many were epic and sweeping, while others were just?..long).
Reviews for the new release have been overwhelmingly positive, with some calling it the best Maiden album to date. If this truly is the band?s curtain call, then the boys from London definitely are going out on a high note.