ufoDue to what we call ‘production problems’ Self Made Man‘s latest musings have been delayed – but don’t despair. Our classic rock king is back!

And this week he celebrates the return of one of the genre’s most definitive voices.

Read Self Made Man exclusively on RUSHONROCK every week. 

The Voice is back.

No not that one but classic rock’s finest-ever vocalist.

I give you Paul Rodgers, who’s newly released album confirms his reputation as the genre’s greatest and most durable singer.

The Royal Sessions is an outstanding album in its own right, a collection of R & B and soul classics adapted by Rodgers in studios in Memphis, where musicians such as Otis Redding played on the original tracks

It’s clearly been a labour of love for the North East frontman, who, ever since his days with Free, was heavily influenced by the likes of Redding,  Albert King and Ann Peebles.

What is so remarkable about The Royal Sessions over and above his remarkable interpretation of their works, is that  Rodgers sounds as good today as he did back in 1968 with Free.

I’ve seen Rodgers several times in the past decade or so, as a solo artist, performing songs from his own back catalogue with Free, Bad Company and The Firm, with a reformed Bad Company and, more recently, twice alongside Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor.

On each occasion, I’ve been mesmerised by that voice. Silky, soulful, bluesy and rich but above all note-perfect.

Of course, he may not have the vocal range of the late Freddie Mercury and there were a few famous Queen tracks he passed over during his two world tours with the truncated band.

But putting his own stamp on classic such as We Will Rock You, Fat Bottomed Girls and We Are The Champions, he breathed new life into them.

Many of his peers are still performing – and singing well – today but the vast majority have had to adapt their delivery style.

Robert Plant remains one of the best vocalists of his or any other generation but anyone who listens to his performance during Led Zeppelin’s 2007 O2 reunion and compares it to The Song Remains The Same for example will notice a vast difference in style.

Many would argue and I may even include myself here, that modern-day Plant is a more versatile, rounded performer today than in Zeppelin’s heyday. Cited evidence would include his delicious collaboration with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss and his latest record with Band Of Joy.

David Coverdale’s voice has come in for fierce criticism over the past decade and even his most loyal advocate would have to acknowledge he’s not quite as good as he was back in the seventies with Deep Purple and blues-tinged Whitesnake or ten years later when he ruled the world of Hair Metal.

Today, he requires backing vocals from his band members and clearly struggles to reach the high notes which have been such a feature of his performances.

And yet, I was impressed with Coverdale on his last tour when his singing was a vast improvement on the previous one.

His Deep Purple predecessor – and ultimately, his successor – Ian Gillan was also in fine form when I last saw him – infinitely better than what I had been led to believe  – though these days, Child In Time is definitely off the setlist! 

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, Klaus Meine of The Scorpions and the late Ronnie James Dio are all vocalists who I’ve heard produce outstanding vocal performances since the turn of the millennium 

But it’s Rodgers who seems to have defied the ageing process more than anyone and if you don’t believe me, just listen to the Royal Sessions.

Ian Murtagh