In Classic Rock 200 we counted down the 200 greatest songs of the magazine's lifetime, 1998-2014. Today, it's part five of a short series in which our writers tell stories about some of these these songs, and about the bands that made them. Today: Classic Rock's News/Live Editor Dave Ling.
Four songs from 200, Part Five
FM, H.e.a.t., Gotthard and Heaven & Hell
FM – Over You (2010)
Reunions can be shabby, disrespectful affairs. When UK rockers FM broke up in 1995, it had seemed permanent. They’d had their chance; two albums for CBS; supports with Bon Jovi (on Slippery When Wet), Foreigner, Gary Moore, Magnum, REO Speedwagon, Tina Turner among others, and although subsequent releases were well received the breakthrough continued to elude them.
After a triumphant return to action in 2007 for the first time in 12 years at the Firefest in Nottingham, they kept their powder dry. We’d bump into band members at gigs and ask the inevitable question: “How’s the album going, fella?”
Each time they’d roll their eyes and the answer would be the same: “It’s not ready yet.”
When Merv Goldsworthy sat a few rows away one night at Wembley Arena, the bass player elaborated: “After so long away, and given the way it ended [with the lukewarm Dead Man’s Shoes], we can’t come back with just any old FM album… it’s got to be the FM album.”
2010’s Metropolis was to prove more than worth the wait, attracting daytime Radio 2 airplay and securing the band a slot at the following year’s Download Festival – their debut appearance at Donington Park. Since reconvening FM have enjoyed more success than during their first 11-year run.
An irresistible Foreigner-meets-Queen rocker with some Thin Lizzy-esque twin geetars thrown in, stage favourite Over You reveals why they continue to buck the trend by going from strength to strength.
H.e.a.t. – Living On The Run (2012)
Sweden’s H.e.a.t. have been hailed as the saviours of melodic hard rock, a band feted as heirs to the throne once occupied by Bon Jovi.
Theirs is a fascinating story. Formed in Upplands Väsby, the same Stockholm suburb that Europe call home, the band, who had tried and failed to represent their homeland in the Eurovision Song Contest, were two albums into their stride when dreams of stardom seemed shattered by the exit of Kenny Leckremo, a Coverdale-esque singer regarded as the group’s ace-in-the-pack.
Few foresaw them recruiting Erik Grönwall, a snot-nosed, spiky-haired upstart who had won Swedish Idol by wowing the judges with Skid Row’s 18 And Life, The Final Countdown by Europe and Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills.
Amazingly, Grönwall turned out a perfect fit vocally and personality-wise, and Classic Rock joined many other titles in hailing the group’s third album, Address The Nation, among the finest releases of 2012.
This year’s Tearing Down The Walls continued the fine work but despite steady progress, H.e.a.t. are still struggling to break out of their niche to find more mainstream-based acclaim. It’s a crying shame, as this writer once made a ‘money back guarantee’ offer to a friend – “get yourself a copy of Tearing Down The Walls and if you don’t like it, I will personally refund your cash.” Several days later he called back, exclaiming: “Bastard! It was so good that I had to pick up the other three.”
If you’re among those that think Bon Jovi have well and truly lost the plot then chances are you’ll love this band, too.
Gotthard – Lift U Up (2005)
Sometimes a song and an occasion just belong together. When Swiss band Gotthard appeared beneath headliners Winger at melodic rock all-dayer Firefest in 2006, on paper it had seemed like just another gig.
But something strange happened when the group kicked into Lift U Up, a rhythmically enhanced, lighter-waving anthem from their then-current seventh studio album, Lipservice.
From the first beat to the last the crowd at Nottingham’s Rock City began leaping along with gleeful abandon to the song’s irrepressible, tribal rhythm. Up in the balcony looking down at the hullabaloo, it made for quite a sight.
Along with Tyketto’s perennial Forever Young, Lift U Up has since been adopted as the unofficial national anthem of Firefest – which takes place for the final time in October.
Gotthard bravely continued with new singer Nic Maeder after the tragic death of Steve Lee in 2010, and when they returned to the Firefest two years afterwards those epic scenes were repeated, albeit in miniature.
But Gotthard at the 2006 edition of Firefest? Well, you really had to be there.
Heaven & Hell – Bible Black (2009)
Classic Rock was the first magazine in the world to hear this song, one of many highlights from The Devil You Know, a final studio record to feature the vocals of Ronnie James Dio.
In December 2008 your correspondent was invited to Rockfield Studios in Wales as the album was in its final stages of completion, where I was to be filmed asking the band questions for an electronic press kit (EPK)… a tough job, but someone had to do it.
Everyone was hung over from the night before and it was great seeing the band so at ease in one another’s presence. Tony Iommi had secretly slipped some flour into drummer Vinny Appice’s hair dryer, belching a flurry of white cloud across the room, and in what was to be the last time we spoke, RJD and I sat in the studio’s kitchen, gazing out into the countryside and shooting the breeze about sports, music, TV and life in general. Dio had the knack of making you feel comfortable; that he was listening and interested in what you had to say.
When the engineer hit the ‘play’ button to reveal three unmixed songs, Bible Black growled ominously from the speakers, a wonderfully timeless reminder of how comfortable these four musicians always were together.
Five months later, to the world’s astonishment and sadness, Dio would be gone. But as we all know, his music lives on.
You can view the entire 200 tracks in issue 200 of Classic Rock, which can be ordered online from MyFavouriteMagazines.
Alternatively, you can download the Classic Rock magazine app from iTunes.