We live in an era of classic-rock revivalism. We go crazy for reunions, we buy as many tickets as we can, and sometimes we even pay attention to the new records these bands put out, even though the general consensus is that no reunited band will ever put out a record as good as the ones they did in their prime.
Of course, not every band can generate the same level of excitement surrounding their new recordings. After all, not every band was all that popular in their prime. Their one or two hits may still get daily play on 93.7 The Arrow, but I mean, nobody's really seriously asking for new music from most of those bands.
Yet they produce it anyway, and I have tasked myself to enlighten you all on their continued existence. With 2012 coming to a close, we now take a look back on all the classic-rock bands who recorded new music this year that you never even knew about or wanted.
6. The Fixx, Beautiful Friction Remembered For: The classic New Wave jam ""One Thing Leads to Another."
New Album: Beautiful Friction, which wants for some detail on the Internet, is apparently the return of bassist Dan K. Brown, exciting the one guy who knows who that is. As for the rest of us, we can be content to fantasize that it's The Da Vinci Code guy and we just never realized he was The Fixx's bassist.
Is It Good?: Not really, no, although fans will be delighted to hear that The Fixx has not changed their sound in 30 years. New single ""Anyone Else" is a little bit heavier on guitars, but sounds no less like it was recorded in 1985. So if you're into that sort of thing, this might be for you.
New Album: Sunken Condos, which apparently some people got decently excited about. It made it to No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and, oddly enough, went to No. 28 in Japan. Fagen went for a "lighter feel" on this one, whatever that means in respect to his albums, because seriously, who listened to his last three solo records?
Is It Good?: You remember that movie 50 First Dates? It's a lot like that. Apparently Fagen developed that kind of amnesia sometime around the late '70s, when smooth jazz and disco were the flavors of the day, and has been working on this album ever since, thinking that those styles are still popular.
His handlers, to their credit, have apparently gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve a studio exactly as it would have appeared in 1979, because the new single "I'm Not the Same Without You" sounds exactly like a recording from that year. It's remarkable really. But is it good? No, of course not, it's fucking awful. It's like Bobby Caldwell if he was even whiter.
4. Asia, XXX
Remembered For: "Heat of the Moment," and being the exact moment we realized prog rock was dead forever. Asia featured some of the best and the brightest of all our favorite prog-rock bands, and proceeded to stick the knife in the genre over and over again while we looked on and cried.
New Album: XXX, the most difficult album to Google in the world. Seriously, type "Asia XXX" in Google. You're not getting any results about John Wetton, Steve Howe, or Geoff Downes, I assure you.
Is It Good?: In case you couldn't tell, I have a personal vendetta against Asia so I may not be the most qualified to comment here. But I will anyway. Fuck no, it's not good. Like everyone else on this list, Asia isn't aware the '80s ended either. Shocking, I know. Although it strangely sounds like they have been listening to some Coldplay in recent years in the chorus of "Face on the Bridge," the single from XXX,. Anyway, the only thing sadder than this song is the way the band looks in the video, like they've clearly given up on their appearance entirely.
3. Trevor Rabin, Jacaranda
Remembered For: Rabin was the guitar player for Yes on 90125, which gave the world "Owner of a Lonely Heart." He also played on all the awful dreck that followed that album, but let's not talk about Big Generator now or ever again, deal?
New Album: Jacaranda, an instrumental jazz-fusion release that represents Rabin's first solo material since 1989. It also features the inestimable Zappa alum Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, so that counts for something. Rabin plays almost every other instrument on the album himself.
Is It Good?: Surprisingly, yes. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you enjoy progressive rock and jazz fusion, but Rabin is exceptionally talented, as are his collaborators on the record, and it's a no-bullshit album that makes no effort to have "hits." It's just pure musicality, which is what you want from guys like these.
2. Pat Travers, Blues on Fire
Remembered For: "Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)" and the fact that one time Kirk Hammett of Metallica cited him as an influence, which is now a permanent fixture of every single Pat Travers bio ever written.
New Album: Blues on Fire is apparently a collection of blues standards, some of which go back to the 1920s. It's also promoted as having "full-on classic rock production," which I assume is supposed to impress me.
Is It Good?: If you own a bar in Texas, yeah. This is pretty standard stuff, but Travers can definitely play the guitar. I wouldn't mind hearing this over a beer somewhere. Then again, there's probably a hundred local guys in the South who make blues records a lot better than this one these days.
New Album: Lazily titled Ringo 2012, this one features a lot of guest stars at least: Joe Walsh, Don Was, Van Dyke Parks, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd all show up here. It also notably features some re-recordings of older songs including lead single "Wings," which originally showed up on 1977's Ringo the 4th. And while you might say, "who could forget about Ringo Starr?," just admit it to yourself: You don't pay attention to when Ringo releases new albums. Nobody does.
Is It Good?: Oh my, no. First off, Ringo could never really sing to begin with. With age, his voice is even more deadpan and flat. Second, Ringo could never really write a song.
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Here, all but one song is co-written for him, but each is by a different writer so the album has absolutely no coherence or consistency. He also apparently didn't feel like paying for good songwriters, so he gets matched up with lame '60s and '70s throwbacks.