I had posted my personal album charts during the last two years already (2006, 2007), welcome to the third installement thus. As last year I haven't actually discovered enough good music (or, more accurately, haven't actually listened to enough music published during the course of 2008) for a Top 10 and will have to limit myself to 8 albums only.
8 - Solomon Burke - Like A Fire
On a roll ever since Nashville (2006), just another beautiful soul production by Solomon Burke.
7 - Otis Taylor - Recapturing the Banjo
A black blues musician repossesses the banjo which today is associated virtually only with white musicians. I am not quite sure what kind of music this is. Blues? Folk? Americana, yes, but what does that even mean? A wonderful, modern folksy artist.
6 - GZA - Pro Tools
A Wu-Tang album in 2008? Yes, and it's a good one too. The ODB might be dead, but the GZA is still around. Great beats, great rhymes. As simple as that.
5 - Dr John & The Lower 911 - City That Care Forgot
By now one of the elder statesmen of New Orleans piano music, Dr John seems to be like a fine wine, he only gets better with age. Ever since Katrina he basically sings about New Orleans having disappeared, which, culturally speaking, seems brutally true and sad at the same time. What would modern American music even be like without New Orleans? And from everything I've read and heard about this, New Orleans will only come back as a kind of Disneyland or Las Vegas with the touristy parts of the French Quarter dominating a once thriving (if poor and violent) city. Dr John laments his demise and he does so beautifully.
4 - Nas - Untitled
Nas always seems to suffer from the simple fact that he recorded some of the best rap albums ever, in comparison some of his other stuff simply cannot compete. This is a great album though when compared to virtually everything else. Political as always (the original title was supposed to be a 6-letter word starting with N, his record company refused to release it as such), Nas (luckily) is not going away.
3 - BB King - One Kind of Favor
How old is BB King by now? 80 something? 83 actually, I looked it up. Can one still record great records at that age? Hell, some people cannot even walk anymore at that age, but evidently this is not a problem for the Blues Boy (or is he too old for this moniker by now?). Covering the immortal Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson and even the Mississippi Sheiks, BB King seems to move back to a more traditional sound on this album, away from some of the more poppy Blues that made him so famous, and obviously I appreciate this. Finally, Dr John's presence on and T-Bone Burnett's production of this record are noticeable and positively so.
2 - Immortal Technique - The 3rd World
One of the most politically aware rappers is back. Hailing from New York, Puerto Rican, Technique gives us that rare breed of socially conscious rap, I wish this kind of stuff would actually chart every once in a while. Sampling the early (and sadly unknown) Wailers (I Made a Mistake), my personal highlight of the album is a song about learning processes (Mistakes)
1 - John Hiatt - Same Old Man
I never knew much about John Hiatt, nor do I particularly like some of his older stuff, I deleted one of his older albums a few days ago in fact, but his two most recent albums are great (Master of Disaster in 2005, Same Old Man in 2008). How did a friend of mine describe it once? Old men picking a guitar, singing about dying. John Hiatt sings about the Old Days, about the men he toured with, he encountered, who have passed on ever since. Wonderful.
This then leaves us with some honourable mentions that I have not listened to sufficiently yet, in a few months they could have very well made or prolonged this list:
Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
Black Milk - Tronic
Devin the Dude - Landing Gear
Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life
Nach - Un Dia En Suburbia
Q Tip - The Renaissance
Scarface - Emeritus
Snoop Dogg - Ego Trippin'
The Blind Boys of Alabama - Down in New Orleans
Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis - Two Men With The Blues