Tracks of 2014: Hardy Perennials

Our look back at the best tracks of the year continues with some old favourites

Manic Street Preachers - Walk Me To The Bridge This single was widely assumed to refer to the disappearance of Richey Edwards in 1995 (“So long my faithful friend”), but according to lyricist Nicky Wire, it was more about his feelings of detachment from the band itself. Its blend of throbbing bass and clanging ‘80s-style guitars were stirring enough whatever the story.

Uriah Heep - One Minute Mick Box’s men returned for the first time since the death of bassist Trevor Bolder in 2013, with a track that, on the extended album version, initially shaped up like a piano ballad before exploding into life as a vintage riff-driven rocker. Business as usual, despite everything.

Sixx: A.M. - Gotta Get It Right Nikki Sixx chose to release his, erm, other band’s third album during Motley Crue’s farewell tour, and this track epitomises the upbeat, new-lease-of-life feel of it all. A stomping glam-flecked blast of determined positivity, it suggests a man looking to his own future rather than his old Crue’s past.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Shore Power The opener of his new band’s third album pulled off his usual trick of combining retro stylings with gutsy skill, but there’s also a distinct whiff of hallucinogens about its blend of boogie, spacey sound effects and plinky piano. Not for everyone, but an ambitious effort nonetheless.

Nazareth - Speakeasy After Dan McCafferty announced his retirement from Nazareth in February, he only did it after recording a vintage set of songs as a farewell. It also shows that it certainly wasn’t his legendary voice that was giving up the ghost – he’s howling and wailing as well as he ever did.

Magnum - Live ’Til You Die A belting NWOBHM-style riff and ELO-style classical flourishes characterised this opener from the brummie pomp-rock veterans’ 17th studio album Escape From The Shadow Garden, and it’s a formula that never really dates.

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin - Thousand Little Pieces The former Georgia Satellite’s new album offers the usual heavy dose of high-octane blues rock, but this ballad proved a great pacebreaker, reflecting his songwriting versatility and showcasing some of the most emotionally resonant guitar playing he’s yet produced.

Buckcherry - Somebody Fucked With Me You’re clearly not too concerned with daytime airplay when you release an EP simply called Fuck, with that universally known expletive forming part of each song’s title. This RATM-esque rap-rock rant was particularly startling. Anger is one hell of an energy.

Black Label Society - Angel Of Mercy While Zakk Wylde and co didn’t stray too far from their tried and trusted Sabbath-meets-Southern rock formula on Catacombs of The Black Vatican, this beguiling acoustic ballad showed they can still spring some welcome surprises.

Asia - Valkyrie Swathed in their trademark majestic harmonies and rooted in a comfortingly familiar chugging soft-rock accompaniment, this lead single, despite being recorded without the recently departed Steve Howe, didn’t break much new ground. Instead, it did what Asia do best, and we weren’t complaning.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock