It’s another great week for rock and metal releases and as usual we’ve got a whole mix of genres covered. From the sleaze rock fury of returning heroes The Glitterati to the NWOBHM angst that is Judas Priest thru the agric-rock of Legendary Shack Shakers – we’ve got it all!

Plus there’s a look at the latest offerings from the fantastic Frontiers Records stable with John Waite‘s new solo live album and the newie from Scando stars Pretty Maids taking centre stage.

Judas Priest – British Steel 3oth Anniversary Edition (Columbia)

This double disc edition of one of the defining records of the NWOBHM comes replete with a DVD filmed in Hollywood in 2009 and that’s just one of the reasons for investing in a piece of true metal history. There are many more, including Dave Shack’s brief but heartfelt liner notes and every one of the album’s original nine tracks remastered and revamped for the modern era.

If you don’t already own the key songs on this definitive release – we’re talking Metal Gods, Breaking The Law, United and Living After Midnight – then you’re probably not that interested in heavy metal at it’s very best. If you are then the majority of the anthems here will be all too familiar but, in truth, they have never sounded better.

So many records of the early 80s were turned around so quickly that a less than satisfactory production was the inevitable result. That, coupled with technological advances during the last 30 years, means the 2010 version of British Steel is a bullish follow-up to the original, losing none of its aggression but benefiting from a slick new polish.

And what becomes obvious is that the Priest served up a record rich in diversity at a time when they were making a play to be the post-punk guitar band of choice. There’s plenty of metal but there are elements of classic rock and even a hint of ska and northern soul. Look beyond the blunt gusto of Breaking The Law and there are enough twists and turns here to make the streets of Monaco look like the easiest F1 circuit in the world.

Ultimately Judas Priest became the masters of metal but this might be where they were at their majestic best. Revisit it  and feel the steel. You won’t be disappointed.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Best Of British

The Glitterati – Are You One Of Us? (DR2 Records)

There’s a reason The Glitterati burst all over the rock and roll scene like a rash in 2005. Their super-confident self-titled debut was chock full of made-for-arena anthems and live the boys performed with a swagger belying their young age and inexperience.

Support slots with everyone from Jet to Kings Of Leon and The Killers to Evanescence took those killer tunes to a wide and varied audience and the future was paved with sleaze rock gold. Five years on and a major label dumping later it’s time for one of the UK’s most exciting bands to reclaim their crown as this country’s next big thing.

Put simply Are You One Of Us? is bloody brilliant. If you like your rock with singalong choruses, dirty riffs and a reliably rough charm then this record will take pride of place in your picks of 2010. Those of us who caught the band ripping through last year’s Hard Rock Hell set had an idea they were back and this time they meant business – this 12-track showcase proves the point.

We love Too Many Girls (who doesn’t?) and Overnight Superstar is a fabulously tongue-in-cheek look back on how life once was for these one-time major label darlings. The sooner The Glitterati are back in the big arenas the better but for now this belter of a record should restore their faded reputation.

rushonrock rated: 10/10 All That Glitteratis Is Gold

John Waite – In Real Time (Frontiers Records)

When compiling a list of rock’s greatest vocalists John Waite would always feature alongside the likes of Rodgers, Coverdale, Dio, Jagger and Bowie. The man has a knack for squeezing every last drop of emotion out of any song he cares to deliver and this live album, recorded last year, attempts to portray the former Babys/Bad English singer in his very best light.

Strangely it doesn’t quite achieve that goal. There are highs – most notably the brilliant When I See You Smile – and yet the strained version of his biggest solo hit, Missing You, falls disappointingly flat. Inconsistency dogs a short but never entirely sweet set and what should have been a match made in heaven sees neither Waite nor Frontiers emerge with the credit this partnership could expect.

Recording as a three-piece and going back to basics was designed to throw the focus on one of rock’s finest vocalists. But Waite’s voice always sounded best complemented by the big production jobs of the 1980s and this almost-unplugged approach is a noble experiment gone wrong. Every Time I Think Of You captures the essence of the man but it’s a rare diamond in the rough.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Waite Before You Buy

Pretty Maids – Pandemonium (Frontiers Records)

It’s almost 30 years since Ken Hammer and Ronnie Atkins joined forces to unleash the Danish hard rock combo Pretty Maids on an unsuspecting public and 1987’s Future World still holds a place in the hearts of metal fans everywhere.

But does this first long player in four years – and the band’s second for Frontiers – prove they still deserve that place? Or are former glories simply being rehashed with a 2010 gloss? Probably a bit of both.

Atkins’ vocals still have the propensity to jar when juxtaposed with Pretty Maids’ more melodic moments and that’s the case throughout Pandemonium. More of a metal singer than a classic rock crooner, his aggressive approach doesn’t always suit a band seemingly made for soaring melody. Yet when Pretty Maids rock Atkins is the perfect frontman with his passionate, powerful and punchy delivery.

There’s every likelihood this mixed record will go down a storm with the band’s die-hard European and Japanese fan base. But in an era when melodic rock and metal is enjoying a renaissance Pandemonium is in no position to compete with the best the genre can offer.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Pretty Average

Legendary Shack Shakers – Agridustrial (Colenal Knowledge Records)

Welcome to the wildcard pick of the week as southern rock meets folk rock meets farmyard rock. It’s as weird and as wonderful as it sounds and all the better for the real-life samples of hammers, anvils, tongs, cranks and chains taken from the local blacksmith’s forge. Where else do you get that kind of commitment to one’s art in 2010?

The sneering Sin Eater is like Christian rock aboard a combine harvester while Night Ride is rich in emotion and an acute sense of history. The lyrics are meaningful, the music often pretty menacing and the whole idea of a rock band with agricultural leanings never anything less than ludicrous.

It’s incredible to think that Agridustrial is LSS’s seventh studio album and in singer JD Wilkes this most genre-defying of bands possess a genuine star. How they haven’t hit the big time long before now is anyone’s guess but their time might be now. Don’t be left behind – join the revolution.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Shakers Stirred