Top 5 Albums By Classic Rock Artists Who Have No Business Continuing to Release Music in 2012
Some artists just do not know when to quit. There's just something about bands from the classic rock era of the 70s and 80s that makes them continue to put out music long past their intended life span. And every once in a while, despite the odds, those albums actually turn out to be pretty good. Here are five classic rock artists who have, somehow, managed to continue creating quality music well past their expiration date:
Rush - Clockwork Angels
This album is still perplexing. Rush have been going on for well over forty years straight at this point (since 1968, for those of you keeping score at home), and though they've continued to release generally good albums, the consensus was usually that Rush's best days are long behind them, back in the 1970s. And then, earlier this year, they released Clockwork Angels and immediately did away with all of their critics. This is one of the finest albums of their entire career, matching the already high standards of classic albums like 2112 and Moving Pictures. That any band could even fathom releasing an album this good so late in their career is, frankly, astounding. Instead of sliding into the dustbin of bands past, Rush have managed to adapt to the changing musical landscape and are, somehow, still one of the major players in the modern progressive scene. Hats off to these three, and let's hope they have a few more tricks up their sleeve.
Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
Okay, we're cheating a little bit here--this one is a live album, not a new studio recording, and from a concert recorded in 2007, no less. But of all the bands on this list, Led Zeppelin without a doubt generates the most prestige, and the fact that this performance is as good as it is with three quarters of the original lineup is incredible. These guys are rocking out so damn hard that it's hard to believe that they're not part of the modern heavy metal scene. Every part about this performance is perfect, from the fantastic renditions of classic tracks like "Stairway to Heaven" and "Kashmir" to the sick jams on tracks like "Dazed and Confused" and, especially, "No Quarter." What that every band could give a performance this spectacular so far past their time.
Ian Anderson - Thick as a Brick 2
There's no doubt that releasing an album called Thick as a Brick 2 without the rest of Jethro Tull around is just a bit pretentious, but their frontman Ian Anderson has somehow managed to give an album of that title a deserving performance. This album is somehow the perfect sequel to Thick as a Brick despite having almost nothing in common with the original. Where the original was a 40-minute prog opus, this sequel is a collection of short, tangentially-related vignettes, focused more on the spoken word than ridiculous endurance musicianship. It's hard to imagine that this works as well as it does, but Anderson has clearly given a deserving performance.
Soundgarden - King Animal
80s grunge rockers Soundgarden seemed to be running out of steam, not having a proper release since the late 90s, and a pretty underwhelming one, at that. Yet King Animal proves that these guys still have some vitality in them, channeling their alternative rock/grunge persona into a new heavy metal/psychedelic sound. Despite the differences, you can tell it's the same old band at work, even sixteen years after their last release.
Squackett - A Life Within a Day
As collaborative projects go, Squackett certainly was not what we expected. Since the personalities involved were Yes bassist Chris Squire and ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, it's safe to say that everyone was expecting some kind of prog super-album. What we got instead was an interesting collection of piano rock-based ballads and other gentle sounds, which turned out to be surprisingly good in their own right. We may still be waiting on that ultimate prog collaboration, but there's no doubt that these two are still as capable as they were in their heyday.