1) Lights Out - Royal Blood
The trendiest hot young rock things of 2014 (they were lapped up by just about everybody, us included), Royal Blood are back to prove that the success of their debut wasn’t a fluke. Lights Out takes the deep swagger and bluesy grit of their earlier tracks and adds a few more funky guitar touches. More of the same, essentially, but better.
2) Do Ya Feel Like Lovin’ - Rox
Championed by Classic Rock’s Geoff Barton back in the 1980s, Mancunian titans Rox were briefly fêted as Britain’s answer to Kiss, Angel and Starz. They’re now back in action with the three-song Teenteeze EP, and this little ditty will superglue itself into your head and remain there for days on end.
3) The White Crown - Nad Sylvan
Nad Sylvian (the singer with Steve Hackett’s current band) gathered a prog-tastic cast including Roine Stolt, Guthrie Govan, Tony Levin, Nick D’Virgilio and Hackett himself for his latest solo album, The Bride Said No. This unusual track mixes the vibe of a Victorian masked ball with pleasing levels of guitar punch.
4) Long Way From Home - Quatro-Scott-Powell
Suzi Quatro, Sweet’s Andy Scott and Slade drummer Don Powell pool forces for one of several original tracks featured on their album QSP. Long Way From Home, a fine mid-paced tune that doesn’t sound like any of their bands, is blessed with great vocals, strong harmonies and a hummable chorus.
5) How The West Was Won - Peter Perrett
Typically louche in his unmistakable delivery, former Only Ones frontman Peter Perrett returns in deliciously spiky form with an ennui-soaked lambast at America’s ongoing pursuit of trigger-happy, culturally fascistic manifest destiny. Sounding positively reborn, Perrett sugars the medicine of a timely message with rapier-like wit and a divine turn of plectrum.
6) Big Boys - Chuck Berry
From its stinging introductory riff, familiar from the repertoire of every bar band ever, this first single from the irreplaceable rock pioneer’s eponymous swansong captures Berry in excelsis. Evocative of fast cars, pony-tails and freedom, here’s a sound as welcome as the final bell of the final day of school.
7) Smell The Roses - Roger Waters
Now that we seem to be living in the kind of grim dystopia that the indefatigably disgusted Waters has been portentiously predicting for aeons, what better soundtrack to celebrate imminent global catastrophe than some of his freshest, if still distinctly Floydian, work in decades? Nigel Godrich’s imaginative production sparkles as Waters smoulders.
8) Mr Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
Right now it’s just another Jeff Lynne tune lying dormant, if much-loved, somewhere near the bottom of your internal jukebox playlist. You know it, but it’s a while since you hummed it. Enjoy that feeling. As the first track of Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Awesome Mix Volume 2, it’s about to go full-tilt viral on your ass.
9) I Want More - Can
Of all the tracks included on Can’s upcoming Singles compilation, this is the only one that ever truly touched the consciousness of the contemporary mainstream. Back in ’76, its bafflingly catchy, Deutsche discofied, pre-punk post-punk crawled out of worthy Krautrock obscurity and into suburbia via an unlikely appearance on Top Of The Pops.
10) Electric Intercourse - Prince
In many ways, Prince was an enigma, an immutable mauve mystery packed tightly into an all-singing, all-dancing compact conundrum. But, as this hitherto unreleased Darling Nikki-esque gem from the forthcoming deluxe Purple Rain reissue would seem to confirm, it’s an entirely irrefutable fact that he didn’t half like a shag.
11) Gemini - The Night Flight Orchestra
Members of Soilwork and Arch Enemy once again leave death metal behind to embrace a shared love of Whitesnake, Toto, Boston and Rainbow. The forthcoming album Amber Galactic is the Night Flight Orchestra’s third, and they’re getting pretty bloody good at it now.
12) The Optimist - Anathema
Heartbreaking title track from the Liverpudlians’ 11th studio album. After more than two decades of increasing popularity on the progressive scene, this band of brothers from Anfield are operating at their peak, as encapsulated in this introspective yet huge-sounding piece of modern rock.
13) You’re Never Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll - Rex Smith
First released back in 1977 as part of the album Where Do We Go From Here?, this increasingly appropriate little anthem is taken from a new six-disc set charting the meteoric rise and equally swift decline of Rex Smith, younger brother of Starz vocalist Michael Lee and sometime US teen TV heart-throb.
14) Go Down Fighting - Sinner
The opening track of a new album called Tequila Suicide, this nostalgic power-pop romp from German veterans Sinner celebrates the year 1984, ‘when Cliff [Burton] was still alive’ and ‘Lars [Ulrich] knew his place behind [the drum kit]’. It’s on the cheeky side, but it’s also a whole lot of fun.
15) Controversy - Low Cut Connie
Here at Classic Rock we’re big fans of Low Cut Connie – in all their boogieing, piano-thumping rock’n’roll glory – so were delighted to hear they’d covered Prince’s early earworm Controversy. It’s a super-sassy version, with a strutting, funked-up style and fearlessness that the Purple One would’ve been proud of.
16) Cumberland Gap - Jason Isbell
Part blue-collar romp, part pensive, southern-laced rock’n’roll, Cumberland Gap has former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell stepping into a higher-octane band situation after years of softer solo activity. A first-class songwriter with a proper rock pedigree, it’s good to have him back.