MONTROSE – I Got The Fire: The Complete Recordings 1973-76

1973 was a fantastic year for rock music. Pink Floyd released a world beater with ‘Dark Side of The Moon’; Led Zeppelin offered ‘Houses of The Holy’ – one of their most varied and adventurous works to date – and Queen introduced the world to their mix of pomp and pop with a confident, if flawed, first album. With other superb albums by Paul McCartney & Wings (‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Red Rose Speedway’), two great works from Elton (‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘Don’t Shoot Me’), two from future megastar Bruce Springsteen, the Stones’ branching out on ‘Goat’s Head Soup’, and Yes disappearing up their collective backsides on ‘Tales of Topographic Oceans’, the year offered the discerning music fan something interesting at every turn.

Somewhere among the noise, US hard rockers Montrose made their breakthrough. Their self-titled debut album is as powerful as the Van Halen debut from ’77, with riff after riff on a filler free, half hour slab of plastic. As raucous as New York Dolls, and as groove laden as the best Johnny & Edgar Winter tomes, decades on, it remains a near perfect example of American hard rock. In the UK, neither Montrose or their debut album get talked about as often as they should be, but ‘I’ve Got The Fire’, a 6CD box set from Cherry Red certainly aims to change that by shining a massive light upon an all too short time at the top, bringing together pretty much everything the band recorded during a very prolific four years.

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STRANGEWAYS – Complete Recordings Volume 1: 1985-1994

When thinking about 80s AOR, there are a few bands that immediately spring to mind: Journey, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and Survivor. Legends all, but rock’s most radio-friendly subgenre spawned a truckload of other great bands, and during the 80s, this most American sound even influenced a few British musicians. FM remain one of the best known and most successful exponents of the UK contingent; much has been said about Magnum’s most commercial period from 1986-90, and at the end of the decade, Little Angels scored chart success by taking an AOR core and injecting it with a couple of rockier influences. For all the hitmakers, there are several great bands that aren’t mentioned anywhere near as much. And the greatest of those? That, without doubt, would be Scotland’s Strangeways.

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Madfish announces a massive Al Stewart box set

If you think Cherry Red had been spoiling Al Stewart fans with their reissue campaign, think again. The UK label’s 3CD/DVD box sets of both ‘Year of The Cat’ and ‘Time Passages’ were very smart, and a massively expanded ’24 Carrots’ appeared to be fairly comprehensive, but they’ve got nothing on the planned box set that’s due for release in June 2022.

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Elton John’s classic 1971 album ‘Madman Across The Water’ to get deluxe box set treatment

Elton John’s fourth album ‘Madman Across The Water’ is something of a fan favourite. The 1971 release didn’t score Elton any UK hits at the time, and beyond ‘Tiny Dancer’, most of its songs are largely unknown outside of his fan base, and yet the album has endured the decades. If anything, it’s found itself sounding better with each passing year.

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