Guns N’ Roses
Appetite For Destruction – Locked N’ Loaded
Debut albums don’t come much better than this touchstone for all hard rock entrees. Blending a fistful of original fine ingredients, this remaster has collected together associated recordings; over half of which have never been released before and some that have a few times over.
A sparkling casket of B sides, outtakes and demo sessions rub along nicely with the superior sounding remaster of original tracks to exhaust the ears of the most ardent fan. Early versions of Welcome To The Jungle and November Rain differ remarkably from their final waxed up release.
Acoustic versions of the album’s songs and fun-filled covers of Elvis, AC/DC and The Stones lift the lid on a band striving to finally produce this seminal masterpiece.
Devin Townsend Project
Ocean Machine Live
This 20th-anniversary celebration of his landmark studio release Ocean Machine, finds Townsend dedicating the second part of the concert to the album in full and the first part to a judicious pick of his career highlights.
Recorded at the Ancient Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria this live album thrums with ostentatious progressive metal precision. The multi-layering of sounds, for which Townsend is renowned, is painstakingly reproduced with his lusty vocal range lending an operatic feel to the sonic swirl of Stormbending, Gaia and Deadhead.
Yet it’s the sublime blend of band orchestration on Ocean Machine that makes this an essential CD/DVD.
Exotic Birds And Fruit
Many bands become legends by surviving the slings and arrows of outrageous rock ‘n’ roll behaviour. Then there are those who quietly toil away producing legendary albums for their dedicated and passionate audience. Procol Harum fall slap bang into the latter category as evidenced by the re-release of this pair of mid 70s classics.
Somewhat of a transitional album at the time, the grandeur of song arrangements, with strings attached, on Grand Hotel benefit from the re-mastering on this expanded redux, especially stand out tracks A Rum Tale, For Liquorice John and the majestic title song.
Five bonus tracks, a DVD of a Belgian TV film and a lavishly illustrated booklet are eminently served up by this room service of musical delights.
Despite its eye-catching title, during its original recording Exotic Birds And Fruit was beset by power cuts due to the industrial troubles of 1973. Even so, it still stands tall as Harum’s best album from that decade. Gary Brooker’s stomping piano on Nothing But The Truth barrels along and Beyond The Pale, As Strong As Samson and The Idol, maintain the gold standard. With the immersive lyrics of Keith Reid, this album burns brightly with creative fire. An additional two discs of live shows recorded by the BBC and a concert in Texas reveal a band right on top of their game.
ELP Legacy Live
The creative collision of musical talent between Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer resulted in memorable, monumental music and musicianship. With the recent deaths of both his band chums, last man standing Palmer pays a lovingly crafted homage to the music that they composed as ELP on this searing double live album.
Leading from the front behind his barrage of percussion, Palmer’s power trio of Simon Fitzpatrick on bass and guitarist Paul Bielatowicz dynamically re-work a no synths take on original ELP staples. Keeping the faith, there are vigorous and powerful takes on Fanfare For The Common Man, Knife-Edge and Lucky Man and a head shrinking 21st Century Schizoid Man is tossed in for good measure.
The second disc is a two-hour long tour-de-force live DVD from the tribute to Keith Emerson. Featuring top-notch special guest Steve Hackett, the band play to the maximum throughout. Karn Evil 9, Pictures At An Exhibition and Nutrocker, which is preceded by a master class drum solo by Palmer, remind what an elite band ELP once were. Palmer has served up a near perfect paean to his former comrades with his own band of spirited players.