Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Best Of 2012 List

I love end of year best of lists.  I still get a kick out of reading other people's opinions and I also end up finding a bunch of things that I missed this year.  I am going with a top 10 for 2012 with all but #1 listed in no particular order.  Was 2012 a great year for my opinion it was a weak year that had some rather good releases.  So here goes nothing...
One of two really good country records that I found over on Triggerman's site.  Just some really great, heartfelt honky tonk music.  Easily better than 99% of what comes out of Nashville in 2012.

This is the other killer from Saving Country Music.  Jason Eady has crafted a piece of classic country music with the title track and the Patty Loveless duet "Man on the Mountain" just two of many high points.
Ian Hunter has crafted some great records over the past decade or so since he started working with the Rant Band.  This is another one.  Ian has his Rock & Roll shoes on for this one.
This live album from Jason Isbell has been on heavy rotation since it came out.  I am liking this more than any of the DBT albums and his solo work.  Jason and the 400 unit belong on stage in front of a crowd.  A great live album.
Bonnie Raitt is one of those artists that doesn't make bad records, it's just that some are better than others.  Slipstream is my favorite record of hers since Nick of Time.  The Dylan covers are exceptional.
I first heard the Hillbenders a couple of years back at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.  Bluegrass purists?  Nope?  Loads of great musicians and songwriters and a load of fun live?  You bet.  I play this one a lot.
I haven't really paid much attention to Graham Parker over the years since Squeezing Out Sparks.  Perhaps I should have.  This record has been on in my car almost as much as the Jason Isbell over the past month.  GP & the Rumour have made a good one.  Check them out live if you get the chance...great show with Ian Hunter last week.
I'm not advocating downloading but getting to hear a leaked copy a month or so back made grabbing this on vinyl a no brainer.  Two roots music legends combine to make a really, really good country record.
John Hiatt is another of those artists who never makes a bad record.  For two years in a row he has made a very good one.  It's seems almost effortless for him to write great songs.

Some Honorable Mentions:
Dwight Yoakam - Three Pairs
Melody Walker - Gold Dust Goddess
Tesdeshi Trucks Band - Everybody's Talking
Marty Stuart - Nashville Volume 1:  Tear the Wood Pile Down
Turnpike Troubadours - Goodbye Normal Street

And my choice for the Best Album of 2012...
Some folks hate it, some sort of like it.  I loved it.  After the disappointing Working On a Dream, Bruce returned angry and confrontational with some of the most pointed protest music of his career.  At times introspective, raging and others uplifting and renewing.  Probably my favorite Springsteen album since Tunnel of Love.  Looking forward to the Wrecking Ball Tour part 2 in 2013. 
 So that's my take on 2012.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Recent Vinyl Releases

I've been getting a little lazy getting reviews out so I am going to try to shorten them up a bit and do more at once.  I spent a lot of years working in a record store and I used to slap short review blurbs on the inventory sleeve to "entice" potential buyers so I figured I'd go with that format for a bit.

Record Store Day Black Friday Releases

This limited release (7500 copies) features most of the second set from 5/30/71.  This was recorded during the same run as Skull and Roses and has that same kind of vibe.  Do we need another 15 minute version of Lovelight?  Why yes.  Yes we do.  And the sound is fantastic.
Released in 1968 but still reflecting that Summer of Love "glow", Forever Changes has grown in stature over the past 40 or so years.  In fact it was #40 on the Rolling Stone Top 500 of all time (if that means anything to you).  It has some really high points but does sound very much of that era so if you've missed this over the years give it a listen.

This was released as a numbered limited edition of 1000.  The album sees its official release on 12/9 so I was happy to grab it early.  The great Buddy Miller who can pretty much do no wrong teams up with roots legend Jim Lauderdale.  Great music pours out of your speakers and massive smiles pop up around the room.  Love it.

Some Other Recent Releases

I kind of dig the Drive By Truckers and found Jason Isbell's last couple of albums interesting, but I absolutely love this live CD.  A great band playing great songs and a kick ass Neil Young cover.  What else could you ask for.

The first two Marshall Tucker Band albums recently got the 180 gram treatment and were quietly released a couple of weeks back.  Does anyone care?  Damn right they should.  Two stone cold classics from the early 70's hey day of southern rock.  Much more country than the Allman Brothers and tastier playing than the Charlie Daniels Band.  There is way more to these albums than Can't You See.  Two classics from one of my all time favorite bands.

One of rock music's original angry young men is no longer very young, but he is still a little angry and his pen still writes razor sharp lyrics.  Politicians, hipsters, and society in general are all targets that are attacked with wit and wisdom.  Nothing really rocks but that's OK...we're all a bit older.
Last but certainly not least...The Beatles Remasters on Vinyl!  I wasn't going to buy them yet again, but I have begun to cave.  I picked up 4 recently (Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be) and the sound quality ranges from good to pretty damn wonderful.  Rubber Soul in particular is just tremendous.  I have some complaints with parts of Sgt. Pepper but the rest of what I have heard is worth the investment.  Am I going to buy the rest?  Probably.