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Give New Material By Vintage Rock n' Roll Acts A Chance!

06/02/2017 14:19

It is a habit that has become all too prevalent. Go to see a concert by a vintage artist like Paul McCartney or Elton John, get your fix of "Hey Jude" or Rocket Man" and, when they have the audacity to stray from being a greatest hits jukebox, head to the bog or for another hot dog and a beer.

The limited attention span and lack of respect that we have for new material released by artists who have already proven themselves to be great is quite saddening. Not all artists who first made their name in the 60s or 70s are still writing songs. Many of those who are, however, are producing work that ranks alongside the finest of their career.

This selection of ten 21st century records made by some of the biggest musicians of the 60s and 70s emphasises that it is definitely worth giving the fresh stuff a chance, on the albums and when played live in concert (though sadly it is unlikely some of these acts will play live again).

Bruce Springsteen, "Radio Nowhere", 2007

Classic, uptempo Springsteen. This won a Grammy in 2008 and lyrically manages to indulge in nostalgia without ruining the song - "I was driving through the misty rain" references "Downbound Train" from Born in the U.S.A and "Dancing down a dark hole" recalls "Dancing in the Dark" from the same record.

Eagles, "What Do I Do With My Heart", 2007

Long Road Out of Eden was the final Eagles album and their only full studio recording after their reunion in 1994, following a fourteen year split. It's a wonderful record, with Timothy B Schmit's sublime vocal on "I Don't Want To Hear Anymore" also well worth checking out. "What Do I Do With My Heart" is arguably the best track on Eden, however, showcasing their signature harmonies and featuring some amazing vocal interplay between Frey and Henley at the end.

Electric Light Orchestra, "All My Life", 2015

It's so pleasing to see that Jeff Lynne and ELO have made a triumphant comeback to the live circuit. 2015's Alone In The Universe went platinum too and it provides firm proof of the fact that vintage acts can release quite brilliant new records. "All My Life" is one of many examples on the album of what makes Jeff Lynne one of the best producers in the world, as well as a great all round musician - every single instrument on Alone In The Universe was played by him.

Elton John & Leon Russell, "When Love Is Dying", 2011

Elton John is probably the major artist in the world whose new records are most underrated. In the 21st century, Songs From The West Coast was a huge commercial success but Peachtree Road, The Captain & The Kid and Wonderful Crazy Night, featuring the classic Elton John band and sound, are criminally overlooked by many. This is largely due to the sheer volume of material he has released: he charted a Top 40 hit single every year between 1970 and 1996. This cut, "When Love Is Dying", is from his superb duet album with Leon Russell and features backing vocals by Brian Wilson.

Paul McCartney, "Your Loving Flame", 2002

This was written about Heather Mills, so the bitter divorce (and fact he couldn't possibly mean what he's singing) probably puts Macca off adding this to the set. It's one of his finest solo ballads though, a sort of sequel to "Maybe I'm Amazed".

Glen Campbell, "I'm Not Gonna Miss You", 2014

Oscar nominated as part of the soundtrack to the heartbreaking documentary I'll Be Me, which charts Campbell's battle with Alzheimers during his final tour. It's surprising he didn't win an Oscar for this. Not only was it the best song up for the award, it is one of the most beautiful of all time.

The Beach Boys, "That's Why God Made The Radio", 2012

The single from their 2012 reunion. Mike Love has since, sadly, broken up the band once again and continues to use the "Beach Boys" moniker, which he legally owns, for another group fronted by him. Briefly getting back together was a great decision though, the harmonies here show they've still got it.

Nigel Olsson, "Say You Feel The Same", 2001

From 2001's Move The Universe, this could be the best song in his solo catalogue. His singing on the likes of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" had already proven that he is one of the finest rock backing vocalists in the world but "Say You Feel The Same" really showcases it. A stunning ballad.

Bob Dylan, "Workingman's Blues #2", 2006

One of the best 21st century lyrics penned by the new Nobel laureate but also a great song melodically. 2006's Modern Times is what older rock n' roll artists should aspire to when making new records.

James Taylor, "Stretch Of The Highway", 2015

James Taylor always had a remarkable voice but it is astonishing how well it has aged. 2015 saw him release his first ever album to top the Billboard Album Charts and this cut from it shows why it was so well received.

Tom Cridland is a designer and songwriter. Find out more at tomcridland.com or watch this video:

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