The Best Music of 2015″ by John The Rock Doctor

A full year of writing reviews has come down to this.  I’ve enjoyed so much of the music I’ve heard in the last year that it was tough to pare it down to this baker’s dozen- top 13, for those that don’t know a baker’s dozen is 12 plus 1.  I’ve also included some other categories too, to single out other discs that I felt worthy of mention as well.  If I hadn’t gotten Tom Jones’ new album (Long Lost Suitcase) after my self imposed deadline of the beginning of December, it probably would have made #1- so watch for it in my first column of reviews in January. This list in no way reflects chart position, copies sold, or popularity- it comes from the albums I have reviewed in the last year that I enjoyed most… simple.  So grab something cold to drink, put your feet up, and let’s have a go shall we? #13:  AMERICAN TRASH Beauvoir/ Free (Frontiers)Formerly the driving force behind “Crown Of Thorns”, Jean Beauvoir and Micki Free have made greasy and melodic magic in a real rock & roll way here.  This album has the bones to become a stone cold classic.BEST:  Shotgun To The Heart, Angels Cry, It’s Never Too Late#12:  BEFORE THIS WORLD James Taylor (Concord)Taylor’s first album of original material in over 10 years, and just the sort of record you would hope for from him; a disc that concerns itself mainly with the simple pleasures of life, things that filled our hearts before technology made us all so restless and bored.BEST:  Montana, Angels of Fenway, Far Afghanistan #11:  LEAD BELLY’S GOLD Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau (Stony Plain)A wonderful set of songs, recorded to honour Huddy Ledbetter.  This is a joyful, reverent, moving celebration of an amazing body of work, to be enjoyed by folk fans in particular and music fans in general.BEST: When That Train Comes Along, Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Midnight Special #10:  PULLING YOUR SWORD OUT OF THE DEVIL’S BACK Brock Zeman (Busted Flat)The cheap description of this disc is acoustic storytellin’ music, but not necessarily of the blues or folk variety- more a combination of Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Tom Waits.  When I first heard it, all I could say was “Oh wow.”BESTS:  title track, Drop In Your Bucket, Little Details #9:  MEET ME IN BLUESLAND The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson (Alligator)This is a hip-shaking dose of blues, roadhouse R&B and old school rock & roll, a combination of grease and groove akin to vintage Rolling Stones or Faces- a jubilant set of glorious good-time music.BEST: Little Queenie, Meet Me In Bluesland, Fast Train, Superman Blues  #8:  MIDNIGHT MIST Voo Davis (Butter & Bacon Records)The third album from this Chicago based blues ‘n’ roots guitarist is positively incendiary.  Produced by Davis himself and recorded in just 3 days in organic analog at Studio In The Country in Louisiana, this one’s a “gotta have”.BEST:  Find Me A Blackbone, Riverside Blues, Music In The Streets #7:  CRAZY THINGS Duane Rutter (Busted Flat)3rd disc for this Hamilton musician, a collection of songs that combine traditional country with outlaw sensibilities, tinged with modern sounds and even a hint of psychedelia.  An intriguing mix, and totally bad ass.BEST:  Don’t Forget, Crazy Things, Who Found Who #6:  FALLEN Stryper (Frontiers)Stryper has just put out one of the best sounding traditional metal albums of the year if not the decade.  Write them off as a ‘Christian rock band’ at your own peril- this is a seriously rockin’ set of songs, even to an unbeliever like me.BEST:  Big Screen Lies, Fallen, Jahweh, King Of Kings #5:  PERFECTAMUNDO Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s (Concord)ZZ Top’s guitarist/ main vocalist steps out for his first ever solo album.  This side trip into Afro-Cuban rhythms and sounds is unexpectedly exhilarating.BEST;  Piedras Negras, Treat Her Right, Baby Please Don’t Go  #4:  HOT STREAK The Winery Dogs (Loud & Proud)The sophomore release from the power trio that lends credence to the term ‘super-group’.  As much as I enjoyed their hard rockin’ debut, I like this one far better.BEST;  Captain Love, Empire, Devil You Know, War Machine #3:  THE WALL Roger Waters (Sony)I’ve heard the studio original literally hundreds of times and there have been other live representations of The Wall– so imagine my surprise at being thrilled anew with Waters’ latest interpretation of his master work.  Recorded during Roger’s 2012-2013 world tour, this is the definitive version of a well worn classic.BEST Mother, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell, The Ballad of Jean Charles de Menzes #2:  LIKE ELWAY Lee Palmer (On The Fly)This is Palmer`s 3rd album in as many years.  Like Elway not only builds on the success of the first two, it’s one of the best discs I’ve heard in the last decade.BEST:  Those Winter Blues, Maybe That’s Why, Lonely At The Top #1:  CROSSEYED HEART Keith Richards (Mindless/ Virgin)A new solo record from Keith, his first since 1992, is reason enough for celebration.  That the album is so solid, so bloody GOOD, is icing on the cake- this is wonderful!BEST:  Crosseyed Heart, Trouble, Amnesia, Blues In The Morning, Lover’s Plea BEST TRIBUTE ALBUMGREAT LEFT: LIVE FOREVER- TRIBUTE TO TONY IOMMI, GODFATHER OF METAL Various Artists (Tanzan Music)This double disc tribute to the man that arguably invented an entire genre (also my favourite guitarist) is a real treat.  Other than some of Tony’s former band mates these artists are largely unknown to most fans- but this is still one hell of an album.BEST:  Heaven & Hell (Kyle Cousins), Scarlet Pimpernel (Mario Parga), Behind The Wall Of Sleep (Phil Jakes), Paranoid (Rekuiem)BEST REISSUECODA: DELUXE REISSUE Led Zeppelin (Swan Song)The best of all the Zeppelin reissues from the last couple of years, we get the original album with 8 tracks, plus TWO discs including all of the bonus material that the other reissues missed.  Love the whole series, but this is the crown jewel.BEST:  Baby Come On Home, Sugar Mama, Hey Hey What Can I DoMOST VALUABLE BOX SETTHE COMPLETE EPIC RECORDINGS COLLECTION Stevie Ray Vaighan & Double Trouble (Epic/ Sony Legacy)A budget priced 10 disc box set of nearly everything SRV recorded between 1983 and 1990- it’s blues heaven.BEST:  too many to mentionBEST LIVE ALBUMNAVY METAL NIGHT U.D.O. (AFM) (best live album)A live CD/DVD from Udo Dirkschnieder and his band, featuring the German Navy Orchestra Marinemusikkorps Nordsee.  Live records featuring a hard rock act with orchestra is hardly a new idea, but rarely has it worked so spectacularly well.BEST:  Das Boot, Heart Of Gold, Trainride In Russia BEST COVERS ALBUMUNCOVERED Shawn Colvin (Fantasy)I haven’t followed every record Colvin has done, but have been enjoying her music since her debut Steady On in 1989.  This is her second album of cover songs, and it’s simply delightful.BEST:  Baker Street (with David Crosby), Tougher Than The Rest, Lodi\


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