10 Intriguing Classic Rock Albums to Watch for in 2012

Most all of us know the deal when it comes to new music from a famous, old school rock artist:

It's a waiting game.

A waiting game daunted with a lot of vague answers, and sometimes pretty flaky behavior. Some would say this is due to the pace set by successful artists who are no longer as hungry to get that new stuff out, but rather, are used to very long breaks in between very long (and hopefully profitable) nostalgia or reunion tours.

Key phrases like "slated for," and "anticipating" a new release aren't much help for us fans. Not to mention shit like "pushed back indefinitely." It's cause for a big sigh. And in many cases, cause to move forward and explore new music instead (not too shabby of an idea at all).

However, dammit, we just can't help but wonder when those new Van Halen songs will emerge, and (of course) if they're any damn good at all! Speaking of--the VH camp has easily been the worst culprit of rockstar-new-release-flakiness in 2011, after reportedly beginning work on the new songs over 11 months ago, and keeping a complete mum on any word of a release date.

Still, 2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year for classic rock artists releasing new songs. Whether or not they're any good or not, remains to be seen, but the anticipation for those of us who are fans from way back, the anticipation is undeniable.

Let's see what we can see as of press time from a big stack of rock artists' vague agendas:

10. RUSH When: Roughly Spring of 2012.

Rush claim they're starting work on their new LP this winter, and have been so bold as to already indicate a time window and title for the release, "Clockwork Angels". Rush have been on a roll lately as more elder statesmen of prog--what with a riveting documentary on the history of the band, and a retrospective tour spanning their entire catalogue, called "Time Machine."

9. ZZ TOP When: March or April 2012.

ZZ's new Rick Rubin-produced material has been baking most of 2011, and looks to finally be golden brown around the edges and ready to come out in 2012. Despite delays, they did manage to burn a CD of their newest single, "Flyin' High," and send it up with Astronaut Michael Fossum aboard the Russian Soyuz Spacecraft TMA-02M. The track now sits in the International Space Station. Pretty cool sign that you've arrived as a rock star ... when your music makes it into space.

8. SLAYER When: Unknown, still in writing stages.

Not as many details available as of press time on this one, but the metal band that just won't slow down with age has gone so far as to recently announce that they are underway with the writing phase, on a new release that looks likely for a release sometime in 2012.

7. AEROSMITH When: Spring 2012.

Aerosmith has been plagued by delays in 2011 as well (due largely to drama between Stephen Tyler and the rest of the band, and his ensuing reaction to sign on to American Idol), but still have been recording some new songs in L.A., as well as Joe Perry's home studio, The Boneyard, in suburban Boston. They've enlisted old-school producer Jack Douglas for this one (Get Your Wings, Rocks, Toys in the Attic), promised the new stuff sounds more "dirty and nasty" than the last decade or so of songs, and it's tentatively due in spring 2012. 6. KISS When: Early 2012.

KISS' Paul Stanley has gone public on the sound of the new in-progress KISS LP, "Monster", as being "a mix between Destroyer and Revenge." KISS have also apparently ripped a page from the Foo Fighters' playbook, and decided to record digital-free and totally analog for the new record, direct to good ol' two-inch tape. Naturally, the band plans a huge world tour behind it's release, probably adorned with a lucrative corporate sponsor.

5. BOB SEGER When: Tentatively fall of 2012.

Silver hair or not, Seger has been scorching U.S. arena stages in 2011, and is nearing his fiftieth year of touring. Except for summer (he says he hates to tour in the summer; doesn't like the sound of the summer sheds), when he hunkered down in a studio, knocking out a couple cool covers by Leonard Cohen and Little Richard (available for free download on his site), and starting piecing together new songs for his first studio LP since 2006. Seger claims to have eight songs done, and is shooting for a fall 2012 release.

4. BLACK SABBATH When: Fall of 2012.

Not much more is known about this new album, other than Tony Iommi alluding to have been on a riff-writing streak in 2011, and that the band (together with announcing their intentions to tour in 2012) will enter the studio in 2012 with producer Rick Rubin, for the band's first classic-lineup studio LP since, just over 33 years ago. 3. SOUNDGARDEN When: Spring 2012.

After initial public statements about their new material in which they stated that new Soundgarden LP "will be ready whenever it's ready", Chris Cornell recently changed his tune with the press, and has said that the new Soundgarden tunes are just about ready to go, and should be out this Spring. 2. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (and, apparently, the E-Street band) When: Sometime in 2012. An announcement only days old, Springsteen's fan sites have been speculating about this one for weeks. The Boss is notorious for keeping his writing and recording agenda very tight-lipped, but made it official this fall, announcing not only a tour to begin next summer, but that a Springsteen release is almost ready, and will drop in the new year. The only question remaining is, what does Bruce plan to do to fill those big shiny leather shows left behind by the great Clarence Clemons (Clemons passed away in June of 2011)? E-street guitarist Nils Lofrgen has said he "Hasn't a clue," nor does anyone else in the band, apparently. Yet.

1. VAN HALEN When: Tentatively in February 2012.

After numerous delays dating all the way through 2011 (and constant jeers from former bandmate Sammy Hagar along the way), it appears that the major delay with new VH (featuring Wolfgang VH on bass and, thank goodness, David Lee Roth returning to the mic). Supposedly, the delays were not due to rifts between Roth and the VH camp, but rather their choice to jump ship from Warner Brothers Records (their label home since the beginning), and sign up with Jimmy Iovine and gang at Interscope records. The few folks who have heard pieces and parts of the new stuff have said it's a return to their old school sound, and if they know what's god-damned good for them, they'll turn it loose in February with no further hassles to the fans.

Hopefully all of these will stay on schedule for the new year. Who knows, right? We'll keep you posted.

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