Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Year in Review

Well, we've come to the end of another year of music. How was it, you ask? It could've been worse. There were a few new albums I bought from my favorite artists and some well done reissues. Sadly, we had to say our goodbyes to some music legends. Believe it or not, this was what 2010 was like.

Albums



 Ringo Starr - Y Not
Ringo Starr
Y Not
Rating: ***

Ringo Starr celebrated his 70th birthday this year. In January of this year, he released an album called Y Not. Let me get one thing straight: I love all the Beatles equally. However I've got to be honest when I say that Ringo's albums tend to be on the weak side (excluding his 1973 Ringo album and maybe even Goodnight Vienna). Still, Y Not isn't bad at all. There are some good songs on here. The best of them is "Walk With You", which features Ringo's old friend Sir Paul McCartney on backing vocals.

 Slash - Slash
Slash
Slash
Rating: *** 1/2 or ****

On paper, it sounds like a good idea: take a bunch of Slash's rock n roll buddies, put them in a studio, and record an album. The result: Disappointing at first but as time goes by, I'm enjoying the album more. Each song, except two, have a different lead singer. Slash makes some magic with legends such as Ozzy Osbourne ("Crucify the Dead") and Lemmy ("Doctor Alibi"). Then there are some songs that Slash does with newer acts such as Myles Kennedy ("Back from Cali" and "Starlight") and even Fergie ("Beautiful Dangerous", which is a kick-ass song and shows that Fergie has what it takes to front a rock band...though she may have to work on her bladder control). However my favorite song on here is "We're All Gonna Die", which is sung by the one and only Iggy Pop. A very entertaining album, for sure.

 Ratt - Infestation
Ratt
Infestation
Rating: ****

I've got to be honest: Although this album was released in April, I just bought it yesterday! Still, I've got to say this is a really great album. Infestation is Ratt's first album in 11 years. Original members Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini, and Bobby Blotzer are joined by long time bassist Robbie Crane and former Quiet Riot axeman Carlos Cavazo. This is a very "old-school" sounding Ratt album as it follows in the vein of the band's first two albums, Out of the Cellar and Invasion of Your Privacy. From a first listen, I can say my favorite songs are "Best of Me", "Eat Me Up Alive", "As Good As It Gets", and "Garden of Eden". Overall, a great album!

 Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
Iron Maiden
The Final Frontier
Rating: *** 1/2

Iron Maiden's latest album is actually their longest to date, as it clocks in at almost 76 minutes. Also, there's something up with the mixing of this album. Still, Maiden have managed to make a decent album. There are a couple of good songs. If you're new to the band, go and get The Number of the Beast and Powerslave for more simple music.


 Robert Plant - Band of Joy
Robert Plant
Band of Joy
Rating: *** 1/2

Although Led Zeppelin performed a one-off gig in 2007, people will still not shut up about a reunion tour. What was keeping them from doing this? Their lead singer, Robert Plant. In 2007, Plant collaborated with country chick Alison Krauss. This unlikely duo actually scored a Grammy or two in 2009. Now in 2010, Plant decides to reform his pre-Zeppelin group, Band of Joy. This album is pretty good. If you're expecting some kick-ass hard rock on this album, forget it. The album shows off Plant's ability to sing Americana and folk music. There are a few good songs: "Angel Dance", "Monkey", and "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" just to name a few. 

 Ron Wood - I Feel Like Playing
Ron Wood
I Feel Like Playing
Rating: ****

Despite a bitter split from his wife of 20 years, dating teenage models, and his constant drinking habits, Woody has actually made a great album here! The Rolling Stone's guitarist made this album with a few of his friends and the outcome is surprisingly good. The songs are all good and the sound is fantastic. 


Reissues/Archival Releases

Jimi Hendrix
Reissues (Are You Experienced?, Axis: As Bold As Love, Electric Ladyland, First Rays of the New Rising Sun)
Are You Experienced? Rating: **** 1/2
Electric Ladyland and First Rays of the New Rising Sun Rating: ****

Due to the excitement over the new Valleys of Neptune album, Jimi's estate and adopted sister Janie Hendrix decided to reissue most of Hendrix's classic albums. Although these albums are still great, these reissues were completely unnecessary. There really isn't a change in sound. I only got them since I own Experienced and Ladyland on CD-R copied from other CDs. The reissues do come with a bonus DVD, where Jimi's band mates and managers are interviewed (most of who are dead: Noel Redding, Chas Chandler, Mitch Mitchel). The DVD's are slightly interesting but still, there was no need for these reissues. What bothers me about the Hendrix estate is their need to release something every 15 minutes. At this rate, Jimi Hendrix almost like Tupac: Where the hell is all this material coming from?! 


The Rolling Stones, The Stooges, Paul McCartney and Wings
  Exile On Main Street, Raw Power, and Band on the Run
Exile and Band Rating: **** 1/2
Raw Power Rating: **** 1/2

The reason why I put all these reissues together is because they all have something in common: they were released in similar ways. Along with the original albums, these reissues came with and extra disc or two of goodies. So I'll judge by both the original album and the extras.

Original Album
For the Stones and Wings, there isn't too much of a change in the sound. Of the two, Band On the Run needed the remaster treatment more. Both albums sound great and are still timeless classics. The only thing about Band On the Run is that it stays true to the UK release of the album, meaning that "Helen Wheels" (which was the eighth track on the US and international releases) is missing but can be found on the second disc. Still, I was able to work things out the way I wanted it to be. For Raw Power, this was a very special release. If you are a fan of Iggy and/or the Stooges, you may know that Raw Power was re-released and remixed by Iggy himself in 1997. Iggy's remix has been met with mixed reviews. Some complain that Iggy's remix is too "muddy" and was just way too loud. The original album's mix, produced by David Bowie, was released on CD back in the late 80's but has been out of the print...until now. While this release is important, Bowie's mix is very quiet and it sounds like there wasn't any remastering done on this mix. Honestly, I prefer Iggy's remix. I mean, they don't call it Raw Power for nothing right? Can you feel it?

Bonus Disc (s)
For Exile, the deluxe edition comes with a disc of ten previously unreleased tracks from the 1972 sessions. The songs are impressive. Of them, "Plundered My Soul" is my favorite along with "Pass the Wine". As for Wings, there are unreleased cuts from the documentary One Hand Clapping plus some singles. Raw Power comes with the infamous live bootleg Georgia Peaches. Also, Band on The Run has a brilliant DVD. Along with promo videos and other things, the long lost One Hand Clapping documentary has finally seen the light of day.

John Lennon
Reissues (Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Sometime In New York City, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges, Rock N Roll, Double Fantasy, and Milk and Honey)
Walls and Bridges and Double Fantasy: Stripped Down Rating: ****
Sometime In New York City and Rock N Roll: *** 1/2

The Lennon reissues this year honor what would've been his 70th birthday. Again, these reissues weren't necessary but whatever. I just bought what I didn't have. All the albums are good. I do own Double Fantasy but my copy was old and I wanted to hear the stripped version. Well worth the money!

Dio
Dio at Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987
Rating: ****

A very good archival release from the greatest singer in metal music. I want to get this post over with so click here for my review from November.

What to expect in 2011
The New York Dolls will have an album out in March. Alice Cooper will have one out at some point. Also we may get albums from Van Halen, Riot, and Kiss. As for reissues, there should be more from Paul McCartney and Queen's first five albums will be reissued in March.

Rest In Peace
Doug Fieger (1952-2010)- frontman for The Knack. Click here for short obituary. 
Alex Chilton (1950-2010)- Singer/songwriter from legendary power pop band, Big Star.
Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)- Singer for Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Dio. Click here for obituary and click here for another tribute.
Pete Quaife (1943-2010)- Original bassist for The Kinks. Click here for short obituary.
Bill Aucoin (1943-2010)- First manager for Kiss. Click here for obituary.
Andy Hummel (1951-2010)- Bassist for Big Star.
Captain Beefheart/Don Van Vliet (1941-2010)- Avant-garde musician that was ahead of his time. Click here for obituary and tribute. Below is a tribute video of me talking.



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