The following recordings are my choices for the best works of 1997. These CDs didnít shoot up the sales charts and most didnít even get the attention of the corporate-controlled mainstream press. They all, however, deserve further attention.
1. BLACKMOREíS NIGHT/Shadow Of The Moon
Itís not often that Iím surprised by anything in the music world these days. Ritchie Blackmore (of Deep Purple and Rainbow fame) surprised me with this album of mostly acoustic renaissance-style songs. This disc was only released in Europe this year but a US release is planned for early 1998. Keep an eye out for it because itís different, entertaining, and a great work. This album may make it onto otherís best of 1998 lists, remember you heard it here first. A full review is posted in my folk/acoustic section.
2. TINSLEY ELLIS/Fire It Up
Tinsley Ellis has been making great rocking blues albums for years, this one raises the bar. Ellis is an awesome guitarist who manages to stand out even in a very crowded field of great players. A full view is posted in my blues section.
3. STEVE EARLE/El Corazon
El corazon translates as the heart. Steve Earle has been writing straight from his heart since being released from prison a few years ago. His country-rock style doesnít fit well into either genre but his songwriting is impeccable. Earle is simply one of the best at what he does.
4. ROOMFUL OF BLUES/Under One Roof
The Roomful never gets much attention because theyíve been around for so long. This release is an exceptional entry into the horn-based jump blues field. Itís also one of the best CDs to have in the car for a long trip. A full review can be found in my blues section.
5. HARVEY REID/In Person
Harvey Reid is the modern-day equivalent to a traveling minstrel. He can play just about anything with strings and has been delighting audiences for over 20 years. This 2-disc live release is a great place for the uninitiated to begin. See a full review in my Folk/acoustic section.
6. 10,000 MANIACS/Love Among The Ruins
10KM decided to continue on after Natalie Merchantís departure. Itís sad that most of the world didnít notice, but thatís why I started this website. The band is as good as ever and Natalieís replacement, Mary Ramsey, not only sings and writes but also adds violin and viola to the bandís sound. A full review is available in my pop/rock section and a concert review is available in the concert section as well.
7. MARY BLACK/Shine
Mary truly does shine on this, her latest release. The Irish singer has moved a little more toward the pop market but continues to dazzle with her great voice. This album is just a real classy effort and truly enjoyable from start to finish. See the full review in my folk/acoustic section.
8. WIDESPREAD PANIC/Bombs And Butterflies
Widespread Panic got a little attention when they withdrew from the HORDE tour this year after being bumped down the lineup by Beck. The attention should have been for Bombs And Butterflies instead because this is just a great jam band album that rocks throughout. Watch out for Widespread Panic because I expect even greater things from them in the future.
9. BOB DYLAN/Time Out Of Mind
Bob got everyoneís attention with some health problems this year and then released his best collection in years. Itís nice to have Bob back with something to say. His live shows have always been good but he hasnít been able to get that feeling into the studio lately. This year he dug deep and produced what weíve been waiting for. Thanks Bob!
10. MASTERMIND/Live In Tokyo
Mastermind plays hard progressive rock music and is one of the best in the genre. This release was limited to a pressing of one thousand copies so itís not easy to find but worth the effort. You can check out the bandís previous 4 releases or wait for their next release this summer. Mastermind is a band to watch out for. I expect that weíll all be hearing a lot more from them soon.
The following CDs are hovering just below the top ten. 1. BLUES TRAVELER/Straight On Till Morning 2. SARAH McLACHLAN/Surfacing 3. THE SUBDUDES/Live At Last 4. SON VOLT/Straightaways 5. THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES/Lets Face It 6. THE BOTTLE ROCKETS/24 Hours a Day 7. NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE/Year Of The Horse 8. BYTHER SMITH/All Night Long
1.)Save Ferris: It Means Everything 2.) Ska Down Her Way: Women Of Ska 3.) Skarmogedon 3 - Jon Miller
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