- DAVID BOWIE: THE NEXT DAY: 2013: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Bowie’s first album after a decade of silence came as a pleasant surprise especially after hearing the album. Although the final album Blackstar is a much different sounding album- taken together The Next Day and Blackstar- a remarkable late career/ life comeback that may not be equaled in rock history. After ten years I think everyone pretty much thought we’d never hear from Bowie again but he has always been full of surprises.
- DAVID BOWIE: BLACKSTAR: 2016: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Released just two days before his death on his 69th birthday. The album was his farewell and parting gift. This album has gotten better every time I’ve listened to it. Although its hard to listen to this and not think of his death right after its release- the album was getting rave reviews in those couple days while he was living whereas John and Yoko’s Double Fantasy was getting mixed reviews before his assassination- which has colored how many view the album. This album here earned all of its accolades.
- NEIL YOUNG: HARVEST MOON: 1992: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: After the garage rock of Freedom- Neil returns with a quieter acoustic album with many of the same musicians that played on his Harvest album a couple decades earlier. a sequel to his most popular album commercially At this point Neil’s slum in the mid 80’s was forgotten. A very enjoyable listen.
- OTIS REDDING: OTIS BLUE: 1965: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Otis’s 3rd album in less than 2 years. Mostly covers but he did write three of the eleven songs -Sam Cooke also wrote three. The three originals- Ole Man Trouble, Respect[ make into a classic by Aretha} and I’ve Been Loving You too Long- are standouts. Otis was backed up by the best on this album- Booker T. & The MG’s- The Bar-Keys, the Memphis Horns and a pianist named Isaac Hayes. On the 1001 albums to hear list.
- THE BEATLES: PLEASE PLEASE ME: 1963: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: My third trip through The Beatles catalog this year begins. Ranking the songs as to how I like them- 1- Twist And Shout 2-Please Please Me, 3-I Saw Her Standing There 4-Love Me Do 5-There’s A Place 6-P.S. I Love You 7-Ask Me Why 8-Misery 9-Baby It’s You 10-Chains 11-Boys 12- Do You Want To Know A Secret? 13 Anna 14- A Taste Of Honey.
- VAN MORRISON: A PERIOD OF TRANSITION: 1977: 3 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: After releasing seven albums in a seven year period- after 1974’s Veedon Fleece nothing for 2 1/2 years which seemed like an eternity. This is a disappointing album when compared with his career up to this point but there are some good tunes among the 7 on the album- The Eternal Kansas City, Cold Wind In August, Flamingo’s Fly. The album was co-produced by Dr. John.
- VAN MORRISON: WAVELENGTH: 1978: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: My first Van album. The moment I became aware of Van was his appearance as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live- on November 4, 1978. I went out and bought this album the next week and started buying up his catalog. This was a commercial return to form his best selling album at the time. Favorites- Wavelength, Kingdom Hall, Checking It Out and Natalia.
- RON SEXSMITH: LONG PLAYER, LATE BLOOMER: 2011: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: Sexsmith seems incapable of making a bad album- I have them all and like them all of course some are better than others but the vast majority are full of finely written and performed songs. This album had Bob Rock known for his heavy metal production credits as producer to try and expand Ron’s audience [no this isn’t a heavy metal album} it didn’t but it was another consistently fine album.
- JONI MITCHELL: DOG EAT DOG: 1985: 2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: A very different sounding Joni Mitchell album with Thomas Dolby and his synthesiser being prominent. Her songs are dealing with issues that were topical during that period. This was her 14th album- and up to that point – my least favorite so far. She does have a bunch of star guests appearing but they can’t even pull this one out of the ditch.