By Steve Newton
This year I picked some instrumental rock, some hard rock, some southern rock, and some Beatles, but the underlying thread running through most of this stuff is the blues. You just can’t beat the blues.
Joe Satriani What Happens Next Bay Area guitar wizard hooks up once again with Langley producer Mike Fraser and–with the no-frills help of bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers)–concocts an even dozen tracks of technically dazzling and beautifully melodic music.
Joe Bonamassa Redemption I saw Joe Bonamassa play the first of three nights at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last month, and the sound was so bad that the show was ruined for me. Fortunately the sound is great on Redemption, as is Bonamassa’s famously intense guitar playing, especially on tunes like the soul-stirring “Self-Inflicted Wounds”.
The Marcus King Band Carolina Confessions When I interviewed Warren Haynes in advance of a Gov’t Mule show in Vancouver last year, I asked him if there were any guitar players who’d blown him away recently, and he mentioned Marcus King without skipping a beat. Carolina Confessions proves why.
Rich Hope I’m All Yours Vancouver’s hometown hero ups his local legend status with an album that raucously blends world-class blues, R&B, garage-rock, and a hint of country. And holy crap can his drummer keep a beat.
Blackberry Smoke Find a Light Anyone else who misses the down-home, southern-tinged boogie of the Georgia Satellites would do well to check out this quintet from Atlanta. Tracks like “Crooked Kind”, “Nobody Gives a Damn”, and “Best Seat in the House” are catchy AF.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators Living the Dream It’s getting harder and harder to find decent hard-rock music these days, but you can always rely on the top-hatted one to bring the dynamite when he’s in the stellar company of Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators. Who needs Guns N’ Roses when you’ve got these guys?
John Mellencamp Other People’s Stuff John Mellencamp is one helluva songwriter–as anyone who’s heard “Rain On the Scarecrow” knows–but I also love how he interprets other people’s songs. His powerful cover of Jimmy Rodgers’ “Gambling Bar Room Blues” is a standout.
Buddy Guy The Blues is Alive and Well Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards crank up the guitars, churn out the wild licks, and head straight to blues-rock heaven on “Cognac”. ‘Nuff said.
Robert Connely Farr & the Rebeltone Boys Dirty South Blues Who knew that music this raw and honest and true to the Southern-blues vibe was being made in Vancouver by a transplanted Mississippian? Keep ’em coming, I say.
The Beatles The White Album 50th Anniversary Editions I believe that The White Album is the best Beatles album ever, so hearing previously unreleased demo versions of tunes like “Cry Baby Cry”, “Sexy Sadie”, and “Mother Nature’s Son” just makes me happy as all hell.