PAUL DI’ANNO’S BATTLEZONE – Killers In The Battlezone (1986-2000)

Paul Di’Anno’s contributions to the first two Iron Maiden albums would be enough alone to secure him a legendary status. His rough edged, almost punky style did so much to give those now classic recordings a real energy, and both ‘Iron Maiden’ and ‘Killers’ have continued to receive a massive amount of love, even decades after fans heard them for the very first time.

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HOWARD JONES – The 12″ Album & 12″ers Vol. 2

Since the release of the ‘Human’s Lib’ box set in 2018, the Howard Jones reissue programme from Cherry Red has been very well curated, but in terms of giving the bigger fan something long overdue and exciting, a five disc box set of BBC recordings (released at the end of 2021) proved essential. It rounded up lots of early radio sessions and also gave an official release to a couple of oft-bootlegged gigs, creating a listening experience that felt comprehensive without being overwhelming. Also, by being offered at a sensible price, it showed how a premium product need not be exclusive to those with deep pockets. In many ways, this collection should set the benchmark for a decent box set. [Read a full review of the Howard Jones BBC box here.]

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FASTER PUSSYCAT – Babylon: The Elektra Years 1987-1992

Before the arrival of grunge, the US was awash with sleazy bands sporting huge hairstyles and huge attitudes. Guns N’ Roses would go on to achieve world domination, and MTV made huge stars out of many others, including Ratt, Motley Crue and Poison. For every band that hit the big time, of course, there were many that didn’t achieve quite the same levels of success. Kik Tracee, Tuff, and Jetboy were bands that very much fell into this category, along with LA’s Faster Pussycat, but even these “also rans” gained more than their fifteen minutes of fame at the height of the music television boom.

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HOWARD JONES – At The BBC

Beginning with their massive box set celebrating ‘Human’s Lib’ issued in November 2019, Cherry Red Records have really gone the extra mile with their Howard Jones reissues. Each release has been afforded a wealth of extras, including bonus DVDs featuring archive live footage and TV appearances where available, and the addition of demos and alternate takes accompanying the main albums has been a fan’s dream. It was especially pleasing to see some love for Howard’s 1992 release ‘In The Running’, an album which saw him transition from 80s synth pop hero to a slicker, older singer-songwriter. Although overlooked by many at the time, it now stands proudly as one of the most enduring albums in the artist’s catalogue.

Complimenting the vastly expanded studio albums, this five disc box set of live materials allows for a different kind of exploration of HoJo’s past, but in hearing performances recorded between 1983-87 it really brings home the fact that he was, arguably, the greatest synth pop performer of the era.

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Listen: Marillion – Buffalo, July 1983

For years, the ‘Recital of The Script’ VHS was only available document of Marillion’s earliest live shows. Recorded at Hammersmith Odeon in 1983, the gig was drummer Mick Pointer’s last public appearance with the band. Although visually brilliant, the performance is rather slow in retrospect, not always doing full justice to some great material.

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