According to music historian and author David Hepworth, 1971 is “rock’s most exciting year”. There are a lot of music fans of a certain age who would agree with that: those keen record buyers who still treasure well worn copies of Uriah Heep’s ‘Salisbury’, Caravan’s ‘In The Land of Grey & Pink’, Hawkwind’s ‘In Search of Space’ and Rory Gallagher’s ‘Deuce’; people who’d hit their early twenties in time to hear Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ and Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s ‘Tarkus’ with fresh ears when the sounds of those hugely indulgent arrangements sounded like the future; and certainly not forgetting those for whom the first three Black Sabbath albums heralded the arrival of a whole new genre, but arguably hit perfection in ’71. There’s a lot of further weight to be added to the argument that 1971 is musically significant, with lesser known albums by Samurai and Jade Warrior propping up the art-rock scene, The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone delivering an absolutely killer solo debut with ‘One Year’ and Phil Collins making his first major appearance with Genesis. All of that barely scratches the surface, of course, but it’s fair to say there was always far more to 1971 than Led Zeppelin’s monolithic fourth platter and ‘Who’s Next’.
Although a lot of people still associate Sepultura with Max Cavalera, the Brazilian band has been on a long and interesting journey since his departure at the beginning of 1997. Replacing a much-loved vocalist is always hard, but the band worked tirelessly to keep a high profile and bring their blend of thrash and groove metal to the masses.
The first clutch of albums recorded with Derrick Green may not be as well known as the career defining ‘Chaos AD’ and ‘Roots’ but each one contains several Sepultura classics, and although their Roadrunner Records swansong, ‘Nation’ (released in 2001) sold poorly in relation to previous albums, it captured an angry band still giving their all, and still masters of a tightly wound riff. It might just be one of the era’s most underrated metal discs. It’s definitely worth re-evaluating, especially if you haven’t heard it in a long while.
Enuff Z’Nuff have never been shy of digging up old recordings in the name of a new release. The band began their “patchwork” approach to making albums as far back as 1996 when their sixth release ‘Peach Fuzz’ was constructed from material that wasn’t considered suitable for their 1994 album ‘Tweaked’ and then fleshed out with a couple of b-sides from 1991. In the case of that album, the old-for-new approach could be easily forgiven, since all of the material was first rate. ‘Peach Fuzz’, against the odds, rivals 1991’s ‘Strength’ as EZ’N’s finest hour.
Formed from the ashes of Dada, a huge jazz/blues rock band featuring guitarist Pete Gage, vocalist Elkie Brooks and (latterly) Robert Palmer, Vinegar Joe rode on the coattails of the British blues movement, releasing three albums in the early 70s. Over the years, their recordings haven’t been the easiest to track down, despite Lemon Records reissuing ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Gypsies’ (1972) and ‘Six Star General’ (1973) on CD in 2003, before giving the 1972 debut the same loving treatment somewhat belatedly in 2008. Bringing the Vinegar Joe legacy back to the masses once again, ‘Finer Things: The Island Recordings (1972-1973)’ rounds up absolutely everything the short-lived band ever recorded in the studio and issues it in one place for the first time. Although they never recorded what you’d call “a perfect album” they came pretty close on two occasions, and this set shows off a great band, even though the studio recordings supposedly never captured the fire of their live shows. There are enough great tracks scattered throughout the three discs to potentially attract a new generation of fans.
Of all of Black Sabbath’s Ozzy era albums, ‘Technical Ecstasy’ is arguably the LP that splits fan opinion the most. It doesn’t contain any hits. It doesn’t even feature anything that could be considered classic. It often gets overlooked, sandwiched between 1976’s ‘Sabotage’ – a release with some very vocal champions – and 1979’s ‘Never Say Die’, an inventive work that really saw the band beginning to stretch out.
‘Technical Ecstasy’ has always deserved a place in the world purely for the brilliant ‘Back Street Kids’ and the live favourite ‘Dirty Women’ (or as Ozzy was heard to say on the ‘Reunion’ live disc, “Doooorty Wimmin”!). It’s an album that’s overdue a reappraisal.