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Epitaph: Five Decades Of Classic Rock

Even with a break between 1985 and 2000, Epitaph can boast a long history dating back to 1969 and as such it should be no surprise that this three disc best of career retrospective is called Five Decades Of Classic Rock. It’s an apt description of a compilation split into three separate sections - Disc 1 : 1971-1985, Disc 2 : 2000 - 2019 and Disc 3 : Covers, Demos and Jams.

That final disc ensures that long term followers of the band will feel the need to catch up with some rarities as they relive the different eras and sounds their heroes have offered over the years. For more casual observers like myself, there’s also the opportunity to discover an interesting back catalogue that makes for an entertaining journey.

My only previous dalliance with the band came in the form of what I believe is their most recent studio album, Fire From The Soul in 2016, which is an album that while good fun, felt a little derivative and lost for direction. Thankfully, disc one here, which takes in live, acoustic and studio performances of songs culled from the 1971 self titled debut through to 82’s Danger Man (a total of five studio albums) is much more authentic. As you might expect, the touching points come from some reasonably expected sources. A sound that pulls from the likes of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash quite expertly demonstrated on songs like “Reflections”, the quite excellent live take of “Early Morning” - although vocalist Bernd Kolbe may prove something of an acquired taste when he lets fly - and the sprawling excellence of “Return To Reality”, which may be the stand out track.

After having moved into a more chanting heavy rock direction, as evidenced on “Ain’t No Liar” from 85’s Danger Man album, the band went on hiatus, reconvening in 1999. Disc two focuses on the post-reformation years and they too offer up some tight heavy rock that harks back to the early days while not simply seeking to relive them. Based round three classic era members - Kolbe (who also handles bass) and guitarists Heinz Glass and Cliff Jackson, the line-up is now rounded out by drummer Carsten Steinkämper, although many others (including some of the current band) have come and gone over the years. However, the highlights from disc two are also impressive, “Cold Rain” hitting like something latter day Uriah Heep would be happy to call their own, while “Windy City” is an undoubted boogie powerhouse.

Disc three, by its very nature, should have been a hit or miss affair, but in truth the ‘odds and sods’ collection it houses holds up really well, with a new cover version of Rare Bird’s “Sympathy” a lumbering juggernaut, while the Fleetwood Mac classic “Albatross” is given a good, if maybe too reverential reworking. With a well intentioned acoustic take on the Hendrix trailblazer, “All Along The Watchtower”, well handled and an acoustic offering in the shape of “Villanova Junction” capturing the imagination, the standard is kept high, even if it’s not quite possible to call everything here essential.

Epitaph may, in the long run, be seen as minor players in the classic rock arena, but even with that in mind, their highlights really are worthy of more attention. And as such, Five Decades Of Classic Rock will make a solid addition to the collection of any aficionado of the scene this band have so clearly lived and breathed since 1969.


Track Listing
CD 1 = 1971 - 1985
Stop Look And Listen - Live
Visions - Acoustic-Live
Early Morning - Live
Crossroads - Live
Little Maggie - Acoustic
Reflections
Woman
Big City
In your eyes
Return To Reality
On The Road - Live
Bad Feeling - Live
Summer Sky - Acoustic
Heartless
Ain't no liar


CD 2 = 2000 - 2019
Hole In My Head
Cold Rain
Evermore
Remember The Daze
Ships In The Dark
East Of The Moon
Dancing With Ghosts
Ride the storm
Can't You See - Live
Nightmare
One Of These Days - Live
Sad song
Windy City
Lost in America
Keep Standing Like A Rock

CD 1 = Bonus - Covers, Demos & Jams
What's Going On - New
Are You Ready - New
Sympathy - New
Albatross - New
All Along The Watchtower - Acoustic
Edge Of The Knife
Villanova Junction - Acoustic
Love Child
Good Times
Who Do You Love - Live
Train To The City - Demo
Outside The Law - Acoustic Jam
Sad Song - A Capella

Added: November 2nd 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Epitaph on facebook
Hits: 209
Language: english

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