Considering that I've been thinking about nothing but music since I posted My Picks For The Best 15 Films of 2010 a week ago (partly due to the fact I've been writing this and partly because I went to see Ween in concert a few days ago, in a show some considered a "train wreck" and others, like myself, considered a bit bizarre but thoroughly entertaining), I guess it's finally time to get my Best Music picks of 2010 finished up.
It's been a pretty lousy decade in many ways (think George W. Bush, etc.), but, when it comes to music at least, it's been a great ten years.
From Bob Dylan's continued renaissance, to the emergence of Jack White as one of music's most inspired artists, to the revolutionary new sounds being created by the likes of M.I.A., to the hip hop genius of Jay-Z and Kanye West, it's sure been an exciting time to be a music fan.
So here they are, my picks for the best music of the last ten years:
What's with the whole "Top 10" thing anyway? What are we, pre-school kids counting on our fingers? Why not a Top 15? Because that's what I'm offering up here: My 15 favorite albums of the past year.
Even though, overall, 2009 wasn't the greatest year for music, there were still some terrific albums released.
Terrific albums, yes, BUT, unless I missed them, no classics. I mean, where was this year's Kala, or Modern Times, or Elephant, or East Nashville Skyline, or Is This It, or Late Registration, or Stankonia, or Heartbreaker, or Love and Theft, or Tell Tale Signs. If an all-time classic album was out there this year I'm pretty sure I didn't hear it.
That said, the year did produce some pretty damn great music. And so here, in no particular order, are MY PICKS FOR THE TOP 15 ALBUMS OF 2009:
"Lily had two queens, she was hopin' for a third to match her pair"
- Bob Dylan, "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts"
Few things in life are quite as uplifting and inspiring as the onset of an early summer - a week of glorious, sunny, warm, summer-like days right in the middle of April. Well, at least for those of us living here in the rain forest known as British Columbia. However, one thing does come pretty close in the whole uplifting and inspiring department and that's receiving - for free, no less - a $175 Bob Dylan CD. Especially one as good as the third disc of Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, Rare and Unreleased 1999-2006.
In the room where fortune falls
On a day when chance is all
In the dark of this exile
I felt the grace of your smile
Honey you're my lucky day
- Bruce Springsteen, "My Lucky Day"
Lucky day indeed. Yesterday marked not only the release of Bruce Springsteen's new album, Working On A Dream, but also the release of Woody Allen's wonderful Vicky Cristina Barcelona on DVD. And it sure made for one heck of a terrific day for all us fans of great music and film.
As for the Bruce album, after six good listens I can now say with quite some certainty that Working On A Dream is one of his greatest albums of the past two decades, if not his whole career.
Finally, more than two weeks into 2009, here they are: My Picks For The Best Music of 2008:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
1. Bob Dylan: "Tell Tale Signs"
Who would have thought that a collection of outtakes and alternate versions of previously released tracks from the years 1989-2006 would be this good and would sound so little like a compilation and so much like an incredibly coherent album? But it does. And it's not just good, it's the Best Album Of The Year... an album that just gets better and better with each listen. Proof to any doubters out there that Bob remains as relevant, essential and important as ever.
"It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don't know by now"
- Bob Dylan, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
I've never before written two reviews of the same album, but this time, it seems, Bob's simply left me no other choice. And, yes, I know all the Dylan haters out there must be shaking their heads in bewilderment, but, as Bob himself once sang, "don't criticize what you can't understand".
The fact of the matter is, the more I listen to Bob's new album, Tell Tale Signs, the more I feel I have something extra I need to say. Something more substantial. Something more decisive. Something, perhaps, a bit more radical.
In my earlier piece, Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement, I raved about this ninth installment of The Bootleg Series being a stunning classic, but, after a full month of listening bliss, I can now see that it's much more than just that. Which is why I'm now willing to go out on a limb and say that I think this 2-disc collection of 27 songs taken from the past two decades is - and this may strike some people as a tell tale sign of my own mental demise - possibly the best Dylan album of the last 20 years.
This is truly a special week for all fans of great music. I mean, how often do you get treated to new albums from the likes of Bob Dylan, Todd Snider and Lucinda Williams all within a few short days? For me, personally, we're talking about new albums from three of my all-time favorite artists - all within an 8-day span. It doesn't get much better than that.
"Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now"
Bob Dylan, "Mississippi"
Tell Tale Signs, the eighth installment of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series, came out earlier this week and after three solid days of listening pleasure, I'm ready to report that it's yet another classic.
Here they are, finally, My Picks For The Best 15 Albums and 40 Songs of 2007. I'm not necessarily claiming these are "The Best" albums and songs of the past year since there were thousands of albums and tens of thousands of songs released over the year and I simply haven't heard them all. What I am claiming, however, is that the selections you'll find below are my favorite tunes and discs from the past 12 months - damn good music, all of it. Enjoy! And let me know anything I've missed.