The Best of 2010
By Paul Rosano - January 6, 2011 - TheTrickIsMusic.com
Here’s my Top 10 for the past year along with a few bonus selections and various related categories:
1. The Union, Elton John & Leon Russell: A collaboration made in heaven and one wonders why it took so long for these two to get together. The record brings out their similarities, differences and a wonderful melding of their talents with some of their best songwriting in years. A truly inspirational collection.
2. Band Of Joy, Robert Plant: Another entry on the road of Americana from the transplanted Led Zeppelin lead man. Almost every bit as good as The Union with interesting and well-executed covers as only Plant has been able to deliver in recent years.
3. I’m New Here, Gil Scott-Heron: 28 minutes of bliss from the commander of narrative R&B. Scott-Heron is still here and as relevant as ever.
4. San Patricio, The Chieftains with Ry Cooder: A mythical adventure, cloaked in reality, that brings together Mexican, Celtic and American blues and country into one steaming pot of influences.
5. Tears, Lies & Alibis, Shelby Lynne: Stripped-down Shelby Lynne and she greatly benefits from the sparse arrangements putting the emphasis on her singing and songwriting.
6. Have One On Me, Joanna Newsom: It took a while to warm to this unusual songwriter with the reedy, young girl voice but this triple album is captivating and expressive.
7. The Stanley Clarke Band, Stanley Clarke: A bass hero for the ages re-engages with his jazz-rock roots on new and revisited material with a sympathetic and proficient group of musicians.
8. Chamber Music Society, Esperanza Spalding: One of the most unusual and ultimately satisfying collection of songs from a performer/composer who continually surprises and delivers.
9. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (self-titled): Fourth outing from a group with all the signs of breaking out big-time and it appears they’re finally starting to catch on in a bigger way.
10 Naked Honest, Kala Farnham: Honest, heartfelt, poignant lyricism backed with prodigious keyboard chops and crystal clear vocal styling from this rising solo artist.
Bubbling under the Top 10:
Emotion & Commotion, Jeff Beck: How can Beck not make the Top 10? Another vibrant entry more voice-oriented than most of his other recent releases.
Dream Attic, Richard Thompson: Stellar collection from one of the most productive writers today. And the playing isn’t too shabby either.
Road Songs, Derek Trucks Band: Live document of the band’s last year on the road featuring excellent track choices.
Together, The New Pornographers: Return to pop-rock form. Why? Because there’s more Neko Case on it this time around.
Valleys Of Neptune, Jimi Hendrix: What you might call a rediscovered album of sorts, a what-if experiment, mostly from the original Experience in what might have been after Electric Ladyland if they had stayed together. Some worthy alternate takes and a near-complete treatment of the title track.
Tin Can Trust, Los Lobos: An engaging collection of Southern Cal-Latin fused rock ‘n roll from a somewhat overlooked American band of fire and purpose.
Anomaly, Lenny White: Another fusion pioneer putting the rock back in jazz-rock.
Reissues of the Year:
Exile On Main Street, The Rolling Stones: Decent remastering with a compelling collection of bonus tracks on the second disc.
The Mercury Albums Anthology, The Runaways: Nice roundup of the group’s efforts. A fun band at its best.
James Taylor, James Taylor: His debut on Apple. I had forgotten how compelling this album is.
West Coast Seattle Boy, Jimi Hendrix: The first disc is priceless with early pre-Experience performances as a sideman. The rest are alternates of well-traveled ground but interesting nonetheless.
The Sandy Denny Box Set: Gargantuan 19-disc box from England with all the official releases, solo and in groups such as Fairport Convention and Fotheringay, and a plethora of unreleased recordings and demos. For an overlooked, underappreciated artist, she has had quite a few compilation treatments. This one is the one for the premier voice of English folk-rock. It brings a greater appreciation for her earliest work pre-Fairport, which was top-notch.
Music DVDs of the Year:
Stones In Exile, The Rolling Stones: The retelling of the making of Exile On Main Street, a landmark and watershed release from the bad boys or rock, told through insightful interviews and the stunning black and white photography of Dominique Tarle.
Ladies And Gentleman, The Rolling Stones: Live tour in support of Exile with Mick Taylor on lead guitar. The Stones at their best as a live band.
Concerts of the Year:
Les Dudek, Infinity Music Hall: Finally get to see a guitar hero at the state’s best venue. Dudek is still in fine form. One of the best and most singular players who melds southern-rock, jazz-rock, blues and country. Powerful three-piece band.
Mick Taylor, Iron Horse Music Hall: Long-delayed arrival to U.S. from British bluesman brings a strong performance on Taylor’s first night of touring. We were lucky. The tour ended one show later because of illness.