by Robert Kinsler
Can veterans still break new ground? Deluxe reissues of ambitious titles from British rock heroes Def Leppard and Marillion, as well as a fiery disc from Northern California-based singer-blues guitar great Tommy Castro make for an especially diverse crop of recommended new releases.
Tell me more: Originally released in 1996, Def Leppard’s “Slang” was not a natural follow-up to the band’s multi-platinum successes “Pyromania” (1983), “Hysteria” (1987) and “Adrenalize” (1992). Indeed, whereas those albums boasted a big signature rock sound that spawned scores of huge hits for the band, the two-disc deluxe edition of “Slang” could be well described as the band’s own “White Album” with its mix of soulful R&B (“Breathe A Sigh”), confessional ballads (“All I Want Is Everything”), world music (“Turn to Dust”) and even neo-grunge (notably heard on the bonus track “Gift of Flesh” where guitarist Phil Collen handles lead vocals). Remastered and featuring five unreleased songs, “Slang” will surprise even hardcore fans of the band. Information: defleppard.com.
Tell me more: Fans of experimental rock (Radiohead, Porcupine Tree) and neo-progressive rock (ASIA, Dream Theater) will appreciate the determined and aspiring 17th studio album from Buckinghamshire, England-spawned Marillion. Not afraid to take on controversial socio-political issues (the album’s lead-off track “Gaza” measures well over 17 minutes and tackles the conflict in the Middle East), the musical chops and artful arrangements thrill with each listen. Originally released in 2012, the 8-song “Sounds That Can’t Be Made” has been reissued with a second disc boasting terrific radio broadcast recordings and crucial live tracks. There is also enhanced artwork on the reissued physical release. Information: www.marillion.com.
Tell me more: Those who love hard-hitting, electric guitar-anchored blues will want to get their hands on the latest release from Tommy Castro where the long-time blues scene favorite is joined by the new band the Pain Killers and a myriad of notable guests. The 13-track release is highlighted by a blistering “I’m Tired” (featuring guitarist Joe Bonamassa), the Cajun romp “Mojo Hannah” (with singer-pianist Marcia Ball) and upbeat Delta rocker “When I Cross the Mississippi” (featuring Louisiana singer-guitarist Tab Benoit). Information: tommycastro.com.
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