Swedish retro rockers The Riven are set to return on March 1st with their new self-titled opus. ‘The Riven’ follows 2017’s ‘Blackbird’ EP and is better in almost every respect.
Fans of the EP can expect similar 70s influenced sounds on the upcoming full-length, only this time, the great riffs are complimented with better songwriting and much better production values. The album is a hard rock highlight of 2019’s first quarter.
In 2017, Hear No Evil Recordings released an excellent REO Speedwagon box set entitled ‘The Early Years’. The mid-priced release rounded up the band’s fist seven studio albums and 1977’s double live set ‘Live: You Get What You Play For’ in one handy package, making some of the albums available on CD in the UK for the first time in a long while…and in the case of the unedited version of the live disc, for the first time ever. Given the love that went into that set, it seemed inevitable a similar set covering the band’s next decade – the period that brought them the most commercial success and some massive hits – should follow. Such a box would be an essential release, especially since a few of the albums from that period have become equally hard to find despite selling in huge numbers.
With the release of two massive Small Faces box sets, two Humble Pie bootleg boxes, an expanded reissue of Humble Pie’s ‘Watch Your Step’ and a four disc set of the final performances of Steve Marriott’s Packet of Three all issued within just over a year, the stretch between April 2017 and the summer of 2018 was a wondrous time to be a Marriott fan. …And then, at the beginning of 2019, Cleopatra Records offered fans something extra from the archives – a long overdue vinyl release of ‘Joint Effort’, Humble Pie’s “lost” album from 1974.
The origins of ‘Joint Effort’ were already somewhat troubled. In the lead up to recording, Marriott had briefly quit Humble Pie hoping to join The Rolling Stones (the vacant guitarist’s role was filled by Faces man Ron Wood) and guitarist Clem Clempson had moonlighted with Greenslade [appearing on their ‘Spyglass Guest’ album, his contributions are fantastic]. To be fair, at that point, the future of the band looked uncertain. However, the reconvening of Clempson and Marriott in 1974 led to various recording sessions which, while perhaps not as coherent as ‘Street Rats’ (the album that eventually hit the shelves the following year), make an interesting album in their own right.
Iron Maiden’s second album ‘Killers’ was released in the UK in February 1981, just ten months after their debut LP. Not so much “born into a scene of angriness and greed, dominance and persecution” as born of haste following EMI’s request for a speedy follow up, it was a “second album” in almost every conceivable sense. Faced with the prospect of having to deliver a new product amid relentless touring, they looked to their archive of already written material and plundered it for all it was worth. Years of honing their sound on the road and the fact the debut included just eight tracks, they found themselves in the fortunate position of having a cushion of material – and while it’s sometimes obvious why some of the tracks were not considered first division material when compiling the debut, Maiden’s “leftovers” were still strong, with some tracks having already become firm fan favourites by the time Steve Harris and company re-entered the studio.
With the release of ‘Killer’ in 1971, Alice Cooper – the band, as they were then and not just the man – had perfected a blend of hard rock, art rock and glam. Tracks like ‘Under My Wheels’ had – and continue to have – a destructive brilliance, while even the more throwaway material like ‘You Drive Me Nervous’ provided a great, rough hewn alternative to the closest British equivalent in the Sweet. Somewhere between, the dark artistry of ‘Halo of Flies’ and ‘Dead Babies’ transpired the horror schlock of the band’s notorious live show into the kind of audio nightmares that irked America’s moral guardians.
Perfection doesn’t come over night of course, and it had taken the band three albums to really hit their stride. Their 1969 debut ‘Pretties For You’ – aside from one obvious exception – bears absolutely no resemblance to their not too distant hit making future. The Alice Cooper of the late 60s were a chaotic art band and most of the music that filled their debut (released on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records in the summer of that year) is certainly closer to Mothers of Invention than the glam/proto-metal that would gain them worldwide acclaim.