For the latest installment of Comeback Special Kevin Wierzbicki takes a listen to long-awaited releases from Triumph, Toadies and Jimmy Cliff.
Live at Sweden Rock Festival
Triumph kept their fans waiting 20-years for a reunion effort before deciding to appear at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2008 to perform a 70-minute set of hits and favorites. A little bit nervous about the long-awaited show, Triumph purposely left North America for the reunion to ease their anxiety, not wanting to have to deal with whatever misgivings the Canadian and American press might have put on them before they even stepped on stage. They needn't have worried; vocalist Rik Emmett still does a pretty good job of hitting the high notes in "Lay it on the Line" and rhythm men Mike Levine and Gil Moore (along with second guitarist Dave Dunlop) do a fine job of rocking out "Allied Forces," the proggy "Blinding Light Show/Moon Child" and a take on Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way." The show closes with a powerful trio: "Magic Power," "Rock & Roll Machine" and "Fight the Good Fight." A DVD of the show is also included in this 2-disc set.
Toadies have had lots of career-stalling events over their 23-year lifespan including line-up changes and a momentum-killing shelving of their sophomore release. The overall result is that, despite ongoing popularity in their native Texas and assorted reunion efforts they have never been able to live up to the promise they showed with debut album Rubberneck and the big hit single "Possum Kingdom." Play.Rock.Music. isn't going to change that; while the musicianship here is fine there just aren't any hooks memorable enough to generate much excitement. A couple of songs like "Magic Bullet" come close but still miss the mark; this one is going to sell at gigs and to hard core fans only.
Cliff is one of reggae's legacy artists and early hits like "The Harder They Come," "Many Rivers to Cross" and "Wonderful World Beautiful People" long ago assured his place in musical history. Cliff is full of vim here with a set including the "Pressure Drop"-like "World Upside Down," the Marley-esque "One More" and the silky-smooth classic reggae of "Cry No More." Lots of punk rockers have been inspired by Cliff's work (Tim Armstrong of Rancid plays on and produced Rebirth) and here Jimmy returns the honor with versions of Rancid's "Ruby Soho" and the Clash's "Guns of Brixton." Fans of buoyant reggae that's fun to sing along with will love Rebirth, Cliff's first full-length effort in seven years.