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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Top 10 of 2009

I'm obviously quite late in comparison to most other best of 2009 lists, but in all reality I would have preferred to do this list even later. How can I judge an album after only having listened to it once or twice and cursory at that? This list might look completely different in a few months then, but I tried anyway:

10 - Beausoleil - Alligator Purse
Even while also Americana, this is to some extent and outlier on this list. A truly appealing Cajun album, with an absolute killer, the French/English Bobby Charles cover 'Spent All My Money Loving You'.

9 - Levon Helm - Electric Dirt
No, this is not on the same level as the 'Dirt Farmer' (but then what could feasibly be?). Yet, it is a good album and Levon Helm covering one of my favorite Muddy Waters titles (You can't lose what you ain't never had) is a sight to behold (well, you know what I mean).

8 - Wu-Tang Clan - Chamber Music
The Wu is back. Even if it might sound surprising, they are quite simply still really good. Not even that there is anything extremely outstanding, just another confirmation for me that these older guys are quite simply better than their Hip Hop successors. On a related note, there are only two rap albums on this list. I am not sure whether this is a reflection of my age or the state of Hip Hop today, that is up to the beholder I guess.

7 - Wayne Hancock - Viper of Melody
Honky tonk music from 2009. Sounds quite incredible I know. Yet, that's what Wayne Hancock does and he is real good at it. His topics don't really change, neither has he innovated a lot since Thunderstorm and Neon Signs, but then why change a winning formula?

6 - Bob Dylan - Together Through Life
Dylan. Again. Even coming out with two albums in 2009, one of which is an actually listenable Christmas album! Together through Life is a blues tribute album really. There is only one non-Dylan composition (a collaboration with the (dead) Willie Dixon, but the Chicago Blues Spirit can be heard throughout and while an unusual Dylan album I really liked it.

5 - John Fogerty - The Blue Ridge Ranger Rides Again
I often (well, sometimes) wonder with regret what John Fogerty would have done inbetween his decade-long hiatus from the music industry after having been sued for plagiarizing himself. As the title implies this really is a return to this solo-act roots debut The Blue Ridge Rangers. Another wonderful album of his.

4 - BK-One - Rádio do Canibal
The highest placed non-Americana guy on this list and the only semi-non-American one (I should maybe branch out a bit more, but then there is simply so much good stuff already). BK-One basically produces Brazilian-tinged beats and has guys like Brother Ali rap over them. Works really well I found.

3 - Justin Townes Earle - Midnight At The Movies
This guy is without a doubt my young discovery artist of the last few years. Another beautiful melancholic album (why is good music of literature most often sad and pensive). He is his father's son, he (luckily) never knows when to shut up.

2 - Steve Earle - Townes
The father (still?) before the son. Playing songs by the guy he named his son for. I love Steve Earle. I adore Townes Van Zandt. I didn't like this album on the first run through. I've listened to it repeatedly by now and it seemingly becomes better every time I listen to it. At first I only enjoyed the first disc (which includes band-backing), by now I also find the second disc (with just an acoustic guitar) amazing. This guy has really become one of my most favorite musicians alive and kickin, I hope he won't let up this kind of quality anytime soon.

1 - Allen Toussaint - The Bright Mississippi
Finally, a true gem. I would not be able to tell you whether Mr. Toussaint has had even one big hit in his life (Southern Nights maybe?), but he has been instrumental for the development of New Orleans RnB like no one else, as a compositor, an arranger, a producer, a musician. His new album (I only have two others anyway) is nearly exclusively instrumental and simply great. It cannot be overheard or in any case I seem to be incapable to reach that point. Some of the songs are well-known classics (St James Infirmary), others I didn't know (but might of course very well be such classics as well), but if you like music of any kind you need to get this album. If you know who Professor Longhair is and what New Orleans means to rhythm and blues ever more sos.

Not yet heard often enough/honorable mention:
Buddy & Julie Miller - Written In Chalk
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt II
Booker T Jones - Potato Soul
Brother Ali - Us
Kris Kristofferson - Closer to the Bone
Loudon Wainwright III - High Wide & Lonesome
Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel - Willie and the Wheel
The Flatlanders - Hills and Valleys
Wax Tailor - In the Mood for Life

Older editions:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice and intrestingss story.