Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2006

A-Blessing-And-A-Curse

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 20, 2006

By Steve Newton

Throughout 2006, as in the previous few years, an American idiot named George inspired recording artists everywhere to lambaste his putrid foreign policies. Others just wanted to rock out.

Neil Young Living With War  Although it includes a couple of duds, Young’s antiwar offering is the year’s most important rock album. “Shock and Awe” is the most exhilarating tune he’s released since the mighty “Rockin’ in the Free World”. What’s also shocking is that the Yanks haven’t taken his plea, “Let’s Impeach the President”, to heart (yet).

Lee Rocker Racin’ the Devil  Who knew that the former Stray Cats standup bassist was such a great vocalist and roots-rock songwriter? And with snazzy guitarists like Brophy Dale and Buzz Campbell, who needs Brian Setzer anyway?

Gov’t Mule High & Mighty  The world’s finest blues-rock quartet lays the boots to warmonger George W. Bush on “Unring the Bell” (“Shadows of evil cast like giants on the wall/Do you even know how many people you appall”). The Gordie Johnson–coproduced disc is dedicated to the memory of Mississippi blues legend Little Milton.

Kill Cheerleader All Hail  The Hellacopters didn’t bother releasing an infinitely catchy rock album with soaring Thin Lizzy guitars, but these young rowdies were up to the task. Even the questionable production job can’t undermine the delight of this rough ’n’ tumble riff fest.

Peter Frampton Fingerprints  All that Frampton Comes Alive! nonsense in the ’70s made people forget that Frampton is first and foremost an awesome guitar player. He makes that perfectly clear on these 14 mostly original instrumentals, and gets some six-string help from the likes of Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, and the Shadows’ Hank Marvin.

Drive-By Truckers A Blessing and a Curse  The DBT’s twangiest offering yet, it resembles a raggedy collaboration between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young & Crazy Horse. It isn’t common knowledge, but Ronnie and Neil had a mutual appreciation, ya know.

Marah If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry  Philadelphia-raised, New York City–based brothers David and Serge Bielanko front one of the wickedest bar bands you’ve never heard of. The best party music since the heyday of the Faces.

Hank Williams III Straight to Hell  The original Hank’s grandson is one shit-kickin’ country hell-raiser. Essential listening at your next hillbilly hoedown, as long as moonshine and Jack Daniel’s are the only drinks on the menu.

Joe Satriani Super Colossal  Apart from the ho-hum closer, “Crowd Chant”, Satch’s latest is the same type of adventurous yet hook-filled instrumental rock you’ve come to expect from the Bay Area guitar god. Mixed right here in Van City by Langley’s own Mike Fraser, who also coproduced.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium  I can’t recall the last time a double album made my top 10 of the year. Of course, the Red Hots are no ordinary band. Anyone who saw them at GM Place in September would agree. Just don’t get me started on the opening act, Mars Revolta.

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