Classic Rockers, Fall 2008


The fall is here and the time is right for dancin’ to the sounds of some classic rock.   A handful of new releases (and one older one) are here for your perusal today. 

Let’s start with The Cosmos Rocks by Queen + Paul Rodgers, as they are calling themselves.  Of course, you know Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury died in 1991 and since 2005 the remaining group members (Brian May, guitar; Roger Taylor, drums) have been performing with singer Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company).  The Cosmos Rocks kinda sounds like Queen, kinda sounds like Bad Company, and it’s a pretty good effort.  “Cosmos Rockin’,” which kicks off the album, indeed rocks, as does the single “C-Lebrity” (written by Roger Taylor and with background vocals from the Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins).   One of my favorites is “Call Me,” a loping country-rock goof with a lead guitar part lifted straight out of “Killer Queen.”  Rodgers fits right in with this band, the album is great – we shall see them on tour later this fall.

Lindsey Buckingham is known as the guy who turned around Fleetwood Mac and he’s back with Gift Of Screws, a rockin’ little solo album with some guest appearances by a couple of blokes named Fleetwood and McVie.  In both songwriting and guitar playing modes Buckingham is in prime form, especially on the scorching “Great Day” and the Mac soundalikes “Love Runs Deeper” and “The Right Place to Fade.”  Excellent. 

Edgar Winter, the homie from Beaumont, Texas, is a classic rocker thanks to his hits “Free Ride” and of course “Frankenstein” but lately he’s been doing some serious jazz and blues inflected rock.  Rebel Road is a sort-of all-star gathering with guests (Johnny Winter, Slash and country singer Clint Black) and it is in turn bluesy (“Rockin’ The Blues” with bro Johnny), sorta country and very pleasant.   

Elvin Bishop is best known for his 1976 southern-rock classic “Fooled Around And Fell In Love.”  Since then, he’s been a blues rocker and his latest, The Blues Rolls On, assembles a guest list of blues and rock players (B.B. King, George Thorogood, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band) for a satisfying set of modern blues.

The Doors might have been fronted by one of the most intriguing singers in rock history, but they were anchored by master musician Ray Manzarek, the keyboard whiz whose tantalizing fills glued together many of the Doors’ classics.  Manzarek now teams up with guitarist Roy Rogers for Ballads Before The Rain, an album of all instrumentals including versions of the Doors’ “Crystal Ship” and “Riders On The Storm.”  Weird, but it may work if you’re high.

Deborah Bonham is the younger sister of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.  On Duchess, her new solo, Deborah turns a set of meat-and-potatoes 1970s-style chick rock.  Not bad, but not great.  The album includes guest appearances by once-and-future Zep drummer Jason Bonham and once-and-future Queen singer Paul Rodgers.

You may not consider former Parliament-Funkadelic maestro George Clinton a classic rocker, but many of his friends do.  On the new George Clinton & His Gangsters Of Love, he goes the all-star guest route on an album of classic R&B covers.  You get yer Red Hot Chili Peppers rockin’ the New Orleans classic “Let The Good Times Roll,” Sly Stone his own bad self turns up on “Ain’t That Peculiar” and Carlos Santana’s guitar lick spices up “Gypsy Woman” (with vocals by El DeBarge!).

Blue Cheer, once cited by the Guinness Book Of World Records as the world’s loudest band, reunited last year for What Doesn’t Kill You …, their 13th album since 1968.  If you ask “Why?” the reply can only be “Yes.”

Finally, keep an eye out for Bob Dylan‘s Tell Tale Signs, an album of unreleased outtakes and rarities.  You can get it in a number of configurations but all will come with this version of “Mississippi,” covered by Sheryl Crow.              

MP3: “C-Lebrity” by Queen + Paul Rodgers

MP3: “Texas Tornado” by Edgar Winter

MP3: “Struttin’ My Stuff” by Elvin Bishop (feat. Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks)

MP3: “Riders On The Storm” by Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers

MP3: “Maladjusted Child” by Blue Cheer

MP3: “Grace” by Deborah Bonham

MP3: “Gypsy Woman” by George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love (feat. Carlos Santana and El DeBarge)

MP3: “Great Day” by Lindsey Buckingham

MP3: “Mississippi” by Bob Dylan (unreleased version)

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