At their best, cover albums have a strange way of galvanizing an artist by returning to the songs that inspired them; the artists can find the reason why they made music in the first place, perhaps finding a new reason to make music. Robert Plant's Dreamland – his first solo album in nearly ten years and one of the best records he's ever done, either as a solo artist or as a member of Led Zeppelin – fulfills that simple definition of a covers album and goes beyond it, finding Plant sounding reinvigorated and as restless as a new artist. Part of the reason why this album works so well is that he has a new band – not a group of supporting musicians, but a real band whose members can challenge him because they tap into the same eerie, post-folk mysticism that fueled Led Zeppelin III, among other haunting moments in the Zep catalog. Another reason why this album works so well is that it finds the band working from a similar aesthetic point as classic Zeppelin, who, at their peak, often reinterpreted and extrapolated their inspirations, piecing them together to create something startlingly original.
Seventy-one minutes of live Pearl Jam plus an unreleased song? It's aural nirvana for fans of the reclusive, integrity-driven Seattle quintet. Pearl Jam are nothing if not passionate and unabashedly rocking, and this 16-track offering, recorded during their Yield tour, illustrates why the mumbly voiced rock deity and his band of merry men inspire such ardor in their followers. Eddie Vedder's emotive vocals, Mike McCready and Stone Gossard's raw and raging fretwork and edgy, catchy, whisper-to-a-scream dynamics are deftly and inspiringly captured. Though a few staples (including "Jeremy") are missing, songs running the gamut of the band's seven-year career–from "Corduroy" to "Nothingman" to the Neil Young-penned "F*ckin' Up"–more than make up for any exclusions. The breadth and scope found on Live on Two Legs (a take on the Queen song, "Death on Two Legs"?) proves the once über-"alternative" Pearl Jam have struck a loud chord in the mainstream…and that's not a bad thing.
Them Crooked Vultures is a rock supergroup formed in Los Angeles in 2009 by John Paul Jones (former member of Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters and former member of Nirvana), and Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age and former member of Kyuss). The group also includes guitarist Alain Johannes during live performances. The band's first single "New Fang" was released in October 2009, followed by the group's self-titled debut album the following month, debuting at number 12 on the Billboard 200. The group won the 2011 Grammy Awards Best Hard Rock Performance category for "New Fang".
On the 13th Day is the 17th studio album from the rock group Magnum (including Keeping the Nite Light Burning and ignoring Evolution), which was released in September 2012, under the label of Steamhammer Records/SPV. The album entered the charts at number 3 in the UK Rock & Metal Charts, number 5 in the UK Indie Charts, number 28 in the German Album Charts, #36 Swedish Album Charts, #43 UK Album Charts during its first week, making it their most successful album since their reformation in 2002 at the time of its release. Bob Catley has stated that he considers On the 13th Day to be Magnum's rockiest album to date, with the track Dance of the Black Tattoo standing out as particularly heavy for a Magnum album.
Wings of Heaven is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Magnum, released in 1988. The original choice of producers for Wings of Heaven was Roger Taylor and Dave Richards, who had produced Vigilante. This was not realised because of conflicting schedules. Albert Boekholt was suggested at Wisseloord Studios, the Netherlands. The album was mixed at Sarm West Studios in London in January 1988. One song was announced, "That's How The Blues Must Start", but was dropped from the album. The album is certified Silver in the UK.
Alicia Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, made a significant impact upon its release in the summer of 2001, catapulting the young singer/songwriter to the front of the neo-soul pack. Critics and audiences were captivated by a 19-year-old singer whose taste and influences ran back further than her years, encompassing everything from Prince to smooth '70s soul, even a little Billie Holiday. In retrospect, it was the idea of Alicia Keys that was as attractive as the record, since soul fans were hungering for a singer/songwriter who seemed part of the tradition without being as spacy as Macy Gray or as hippie mystic as Erykah Badu while being more reliable than Lauryn Hill. Keys was all that, and she had style to spare – elegant, sexy style accentuated by how she never oversang, giving the music a richer feel. It was rich enough to compensate for some thinness in the writing – though it was a big hit, "Fallin'" doesn't have much body to it – which is a testament to Keys' skills as a musician.
Return of Saturn is an almost defiantly mature record about two things: Stefani's exploration of a troubled romance and her own romantic ideals, plus a serious attempt by the group to not only keep new wave alive, but to make that adolescent music relevant to an older audience. It's a high concept, but Return of Saturn is filled with satisfying contradictions. It's melodic, but deceptively complex; it can seem frothy, but it's never frivolous. No Doubt's desire to expand the emotional template of new wave is the perfect match for Stefani's themes – she may be writing about love, but she's not writing adolescent love songs. Fragments of her teenaged romantic fantasies remain, but she's writing as a woman in her late 20s. She's tired of being another "ex-girlfriend" – she wants to fall in love, get married, and have a family. It's a subject that's surprisingly uncommon in pop music, which would alone make Return of Saturn an interesting album. What makes it a successful one is that the band delivers an aural equivalent of Stefani's lyrical themes.