Touring and recording non-stop can sometimes take its toll on a band. As much as the band members are good friends with each other, there comes a time when they can’t stand their company any longer and so they split.
Sometimes the whole band stops for a while, but oftentimes one or two members split and the rest carry on. After a few (or a lot) of a years they came to the conclusion that everything that happened was bullshit, they were young, there were too many drugs involved and now that they are older and wiser (and needing some money) they are going back together.
Before we get down to the brass tacks, let me just clarify something: these are all REUNION albums, that is, the original, classical (or in Maiden’s case an adaptation of the classical) line-up is back together after the band had carried on with other members. Therefore records from bands that stopped and later returned without ever changing a member are out.
So, let’s get on with it.
#5: Kiss – Psycho Circus
A lot of Kiss fans frown upon this record and as a Kiss fan myself, I can totally understand that. Once we learned the hideous circumstances that it was recorded, it kinda lost its aura. Gene Simmons didn’t play bass in almost none of the tracks (Bruce Kulick did) and Peter Criss (as usual) couldn’t drum. It was supposed to be the culmination of a highly successful Reunion tour, but the recording was anything but. However, if you take into consideration just the songs there are pretty good stuff in here. “Psycho Circus”, “I Pledge Allegiance To The State Of Rock And Roll”, “Within”, “Into The Void”, “We Are One”, “You Wanted The Best” and “Raise Your Glasses” (this last one, in my opinion, a bonafide Kiss classic) are all rather decent tunes and make Psycho Circus and enjoyable listening experience.
#4: Europe – Start from The Dark
Europe decided to release this album six years after they decided to reunite with their original guitar player, John Norum. Not that Norum’s return to the band was that essential, as Europe’s albums with his replacement, Kee Marcello are very, very, good, but, for all intents and purposes, he was the guitarist on the seminal The Final Countdown. And the result of such reunion was surprisingly good. Managing to modernize their sound without losing their melodic edge, this album produced some excellent tunes: “Got to Have Faith”, the title track and “Hero” (which was accompanied by a beautiful video) are three of the songs that can be played in any Europe show forever. One of the great prides of my life was to witness their concert at Sweden Rock Fest in 2004, where they played songs from it live for the first time.
#3: Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers
Well, this one was kind of a given. Eleven years after they last played together, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and Ritchie Blackmore found themselves back in the Deep Purple fold. Despite all tension that was still in the air (Gillian and Glover would leave again after only three years), Deep Purple managed to release what is today regarded as a classic in the Rock pantheon. The title-track with its “Kashmir” inspired riff is just immortal and, honestly, it is played so often in Rock clubs around the world that I personally can’t stand it anymore. But it is one hell of a song. The opening with the brilliant “Knocking at Your Back Door” is also worth noticing as are some lesser known tunes like “Under the Gun”, “A Gypsy’s Kiss” and “Nobody’s Home”. Actually Deep Purple specialized itself in reunion records. When they reunited again in 1993 they came up with The Battle Rages On, which is also good.
#2: Judas Priest – Angel of Retribution
Judas Priest was so shocked after they parted ways with Rob Halford that it took seven years to release something. And Jugulator and Demolition, featuring new singer Tim Owens, were decent albums, but of course there was something missing. As good as Tim was, he was no Halford. After reuniting in ’04, Priest released this reunion album, honoring all their traditions as one of the best Heavy Metal bands of all time. Adapting their approach to a Rob Halford that couldn’t scream like he did on past albums, this was a somber and mid-tempo record, focused on riffs and interpretation rather than speed and screams. “Judas Rising” opens the record already sending a message and “Angel” shows why despite all Tim Owen’s vocal talent, Halford was so missed. It’s one of the greatest moments in his career. The last tune, “Lochness” has echoes of Priest’s hometown peers, Black Sabbath.
#1: Iron Maiden – Brave New World
Okay, so it was not actually the return of the classical line up due to the presence of Janick Gers which was a huge mistake. But if Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith are back in a reunion that no fan saw it coming, than I can overlook Janick’s presence. If Adrian’s exit from the band was though for the fans, Bruce was almost unbearable. And it was made worst because both albums released by the band without him were far from good. Iron Maiden seemed doomed to end. Luckily, pressure from the record company that needed some better results (second album with new singer Blaze Bayley, Virtual XI, was the only Maiden album ever to not enter the British Top 10) and a simple conversation between the parts brought not only Bruce but also Adrian back. After a very well succeeded Reunion Tour, the result was an album that honored all Maiden traditions. The opening track “Wicker Man” with its riff “stolen” from Judas Priest’s “Running Wild” and its wonderful bridge was worth the album alone. But there was also “Ghost of the Navigator”, “Blood Brothers”, “Mercenary”, the title track, “Fallen Angel”, “Out of the Silent Planet” and “The Thin Line Between Love and Hate”. It was more progressive and a sign of things to come regarding Maiden albums, but it proved how the classical line-up could still deliver.
Slash – World On Fire
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