1977 all over again

I have to say that the current ‘Jubilee’ edition of Classic Rock magazine (173) is an absolute corker, proving beyond doubt what an incredibly rich, as well as a turbulent and tumultuous, year for rock music 1977 was. It will have you scurrying back to a plethora of towering albums, and will probably open your eyes to some gems you might have missed from what is conventionally regarded as a ‘difficult’ year for artists now grouped together under the ‘classic rock’ banner. My only little gripe with the issue is that CR seem not to have noticed that Uriah Heep delivered two studio albums in ’77 – Firefly and Innocent Victim, both featuring new singer John Lawton and surely meriting at least a passing nod for some fine moments in a pivotal period for the band. They also neglect to mention that the year was also notable for marking the solo debut of a certain Sir Glenn of Hughes, with his groovy Play Me Out platter. However, the mention of Mr Hughes does bring me back to another of the issue’s chief recommendations: a truly stonking cover-mounted CD featuring versions of 1977 classics from a fantastic roster of artists. As soon as I saw Glenn’s name next to Kings and Queens – arguably the finest track from the mess of flawed brilliance that was Aerosmith’s Draw the Line – I was practically rubbing my hands with glee. And I was not to be disappointed; his version of the song, from an Aerosmith tribute album, is terrific. As I suspected, his voice and that classic fit together perfectly, and he delivers it beautifully. On top of that, we have Europe exercising their not inconsiderable chops on UFO’s Love to Love, a superb romp through Styx anthem Come Sail Away by Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and Randy George, and Rick Derringer paying homage to Skynyrd with the Steve Gaines showpiece You Got that Right. Perhaps best of all, though, is the wonderfully sensitive cover of Thin Lizzy’s Southbound contributed by rising Irish blues star Grainne Duffy, in an exclusive recording for the magazine: sheer bliss. She is definitely one to keep an eye on.

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