2012: A Great Year For Classic Rock

2012 was a great year for the return of good ole’ American classic hard rock.  We saw some of the greatest bands from the 1970s and beyond release what should be considered more than mere comeback albums.

They offered up inspired material fusing their classic sounds with a renewed passion for what they do; an affront to the current state of over-produced music these days.  There are quite a few to mention but I will limit this column to my Top 3 of 2012.

KISS released Monster in October of this year, complete with powerful hooks, crunchy guitars, dynamic melodies and energetic (yet slightly aged) vocal harmonies from track to track.

It picks up from where 2009’s surprisingly good Sonic Boom left off.  The modern stuff is mixed with signature gritty guitars that take you back to, say 1976 with Destroyer.  Hear any of the new stuff live and it will take you back to the energy of Alive.

Most die-hard KISS fans have a hard time with the band in make-up without Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, original guitarist and drummer respectively.  However I think you’ll find current axe man Tommy Thayer’s fret work pays a fitting homage to Frehley while remarkably holding its own vibrancy.

Aerosmith also managed to get back to some heritage with Music From Another Dimension, released in October as well.  The band came back with the infamous Steven Tyler/Joe Perry vocal dualities, and thunderous backbone of drummer Joey Kramer among other key traits.

Lead single “Legendary Child” is actually a demo from the 1991 Get A Grip sessions.

It’s the sound you know from the era of Liv Tyler/Alicia Silverstone music videos, part of the band’s popular culture peak.

“What Could Have Been Love” gets you back to the band’s more heartfelt emotion while “Street Jesus” takes you back even farther.

The latter is probably my favorite track which is a direct call back to their golden age.  Tyler’s fast talkin’, bluesy howl is akin to say “Mama Kin” and the rugged strut of guitar work will get you about as close to Toys in the Attic and Rocks as you can get.  I’ll take it.

Last but not least, I have to give the most impactful release of 2012 to the Mighty Van Halen.  They came back in January of 2012 with A Different Kind of Truth, their first studio release with Diamond Dave since “1984.”

Eddie Van Halen sounds phenomenal.  Better than ever.  He’s sober and serious. It also helps to re-work some old demos to get back into the groove you were in during your glory years, much like Aerosmith did.  Van Halen did that with “She’s The Woman”, an explosive track with Roth at his clever, double entendre-driven best.

And by the way, how about young Wolfgang Van Halen on that bass?  He is a top-notch talent (as one would expect coming from such a musical family) and his keen development over the years deserves the respect of fans all over.

I’m about as dismayed at Michael Anthony not being in the mix as the next guy.  His participation would have only cemented this as true original Van Halen effort.  However, knowing how unpredictable the nature of aging rock and roll bands can be, we should truly be grateful for a triumphant return of quality music.

There are some other numbers out that deserve honorable mentions.  Clockwork Angels by Rush is strong and bold.  Ex-Gn’R gunslinger Slash also released Apocalypic Love.  The sound is raw and energetic with an amazing vocal performance by Myles Kennedy.

Again, 2012 has been great.  Who knows what 2013 has in store!

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