On Paul McCartney’s ‘Egypt Station,’ Uriah Heep’s ‘Living the Dream’ + other new releases

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Just trying to catch up on recent releases (from up to a few months back) by old artists (from up to a few decades back). Considering that rock ‘n’ roll as an art form has always placed such a high value on capturing the magic of the moment, it’s surprising how many bands and solo performers have managed over time to sustain sometimes rather lengthy careers, often cranking out new tunes that feel familiar without sounding stale. It’s a good rule of thumb: go with what you know.

In no particular order:

Paul McCartney – Egypt Station: For many, Paul will always be the cute Beatle, but realistically, he’s been the Big Macca for a good deal longer. And he’s been cranking out solo albums all that time, or Wings’ albums, or electronica experiments, or making guest appearances, or touring … you get the picture.

In a nutshell, Egypt Station contains a couple of solid rockers, some well-crafted pop songs, and a few tunes that only a writer of McCartney’s stature can attempt or release. In short: it’s a typical Paul McCartney album – a contemporary pop recording which sounds like it’s actually been there all along.

The Vines – In Miracle Land: Australia’s the Vines burst out in 2002 with their debut Highly Evolved. And though they continued making albums, it seems they never regained their initial popularity, at least in North America.

In Miracle Land, their seventh release, shows that their first album wasn’t a fluke. There’s always a place for garage punk guitars and catchy vocal hooks, and one can only hope that the Vines will be around for quite a few more years to crank out some more great tunes.

Sloan – 12: Long-running Canadian indie rock/power pop outfit Sloan have been releasing records since the early 1990s, which is about 25 years or so if you want to do the math. More amazing is that the band still consists of the original four members.

Their most recent album, 12, is also their twelfth studio long player. Of interest is that the songwriting credits don’t go to the individual members as usual, but to the band as a whole. Still, long-time fans will probably recognize each particular writer’s compositional fingerprints of particular styles and turns of phrase. But other than this musical game of Clue, suffice it to say that this is another solid entry in the Sloan catalogue.

Uriah Heep – Living the Dream: In North America, Uriah Heep is often remembered as one of the more successful bands that roamed the stadiums and concert halls of the early 1970s, touring such successful prog rock/hard rock platters as Demons and Wizards, The Magician’s Birthday, and Look at Yourself. But like many of those groups from that era, they seem to be absent from the current music scene.

Why did Uriah Heep fall off the radar? These travelers in time continue to grow in a career now well into four decades and counting. However, they have a strong following in other parts of the world, and have periodically produced studio recordings of high-quality new material.

This year’s long player Living the Dream showcases the talents of longtime members Mick Box, Phil Lanzon, and Bernie Shaw. Sitting in the producer’s chair this time is Jay Ruston, who gives the band a great sonic punch, particularly on the rockers. Of special note is the song “Waters Flowin’,” which conjures up a recollection of Uriah Heep’s 1972 hit “The Wizard.” It’s a really fine example of how the old informs the new.

And a few short notes:

Jack White – Boarding House Reach: Jack White’s new project will almost certainly be infuriating and mystifying to some, daring and innovative to others, but never boring.

Judas Priest – Firepower: There’s probably an obvious gag here about the Old Wave Of British Heavy Metal, but the most recent offering from Rob Halford and the gang sounds tight and professional without sounding like oldsters going through the motions.

Paul Collins – Out Of My Head: A well-written power pop collection from the prime mover behind Paul Collins & the Beat, who put out a couple of classics of the genre back in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Wilko Johnson – Blow Your Mind: Veteran guitarist who made his name back in the 1970s with pub rock pioneers Dr. Feelgood dodges a health scare bullet and gets another chance to show his stuff.

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito spends most of his day keeping the wolves from the door. When he's not occupied with this pastime, he's interested in all things rock and roll -- which may or may not have died back in the late 1950s, the late 1970s, or the early '90s, depending on who you believe. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
JC Mosquito
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