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Best Of 2010 - 2011 (EnglandAshes)

ARTICLE: Best Of 2010 (EnglandAshes)
YEAR: 2011


My perspective of 2010.

Well it's already well into March so I'm not sure how relevant my picks of 2010 are? well probably as relevant as my previous year, but who cares!. However it does coincide neatly with my visit to London on a record buying spree for the first time in a year. Well there was a time when you walked down Berwick Street, Soho and every other shop was a possible den of dirty record sleeves and smelly damp corners stacked to those low ceilings with CD's and vinyl, going for a quid. Now only a couple survive, although Reckless Records still managed to provides an oasis to vinyl junkies, as behind the counter turntables spin, cleaning machines touching up the long forgotten vinyl, and the classic words that I also hear from my wife' we need more shelf space'. However when you buy the likes of the new Michael Bormann cd for 7, compare this to the major national HMV on Oxford Street, which has Ransom - Better Days priced 20 you begin to understand why the value of shares have dropped so significantly for this one great music mecca. Actually the flag ship store for HMV in Oxford Street had a distinct lack of stock, and what it does have provides a confusing picture, you see they are still stocking the likes of NOW and Place Vendome, not knocking those releases but are they still waiting for some mug to purchase them at 17? but missing the likes of new releases from the likes of Bad Habit, Miss Behaviour and Moritz. Some things better change.

Ok, moving on or back to 2010, again a mixed batch of picks, with more AOR and melodic compared to previously picks concentrating in Black or Pagan Metal. I definitely feel AOR underwent so sort of minor renaissance last year with the likes of Houston and Reckless Love being signed to some majors, although with the former, I brought the expensive import version, rather than the recent issue which contains extra tracks, loyalty gets hit again, but all power to them. Plus in the world of publications saw Fireworks venturing into the High Street, via WH Smith's, (although not as far as Rushden or Bedford), Classic Rock goes AOR not once but for another round in the next year. Powerplay seems to have replaced Kerrang as the mainstay of the high shelf, but I would love to see a 'fair' (not David Cameron's definition of fair I might add) review of the Rock Candy products, sorry not all of them are exceptional, intriguing or whatever you want to finish the review on, my little dig there, sorry!.

Biggest surprise of last year, was my attendance of a Paramore concert, which I saw with my daughter in November at the 02. Remarkable band with a very good singer in the shape of Hayley Williams, (but unfortunately I'm old enough to be her father too!)

Re-issues of the year, would include the likes of Nazareth, Hammers of Misfortune and the best easily with the recent Black Sabbath collection, featuring Tony Martin and a chance to hear the Ray Gillen versions plus the ultimate singer, Ronnie James Dio. Who of course being the greatest loss of the year, he will be greatly missed, cheerio Ronnie.

Anyway, enough of my warbling, lets hear from some groups who have warbled a lot better than me during the year.

In Summary

01 - NEGATIVE - Neon
These Finns reappeared with incredibly their fifth and by far their best opus to date (sixth if you include 'God Likes Your Style', a collection of unreleased, B-sides etc.) and it's taken me this long to fully appreciate them. It would be too easy to mention The Rasmus, HIM and Bon Jovi as a description of this album, yes while all those bands can be heard on this, it just so much more and stepping away from more Glam origins. They are just great clinical melodic rock, add some Hanoi Rocks silks and they have easily attain my best album of the year. Step away from the Frontiers label for once and discover some high grade melodic rock, with songs that contain those essential hooks, be ready for the melodic onslaught, tempestuous, positive, and highly enjoyable.

Initially purchased solely for an amazing cover of Journey's, 'Of A Lifetime', while even the original version passed me by, I am sorry to admit, but putting this to one side, it soon became obvious the depth and quality of the other tracks, that form into mini operas. Slowly they creep into your mind and resonant into your soul, my biggest discovery and surprise of the year.

03 - GHOST - Opus Eponymous
It's time to burn some witches, watch the Wicker Man and have a cup of tea, delightful. Coveted by the extreme magazines, although they are not really that extreme as they fall into 70's rock and mixing melody with the occult. These Swedish guys have re-invented the 70's while still engaging the 80's. The mystery band with the mystery sound, well not that much of a mystery because yes it has all been heard before, but few have managed to cross the likes of Mercyful Fate, Cathedral and the odd apparition of Beggars Opera. So how do these Scot's became an important ingredient into the cauldron? well listen to the 'The Witch' off 'Pathfinder' and you will understand where Ghost are currently living. Whether their anonymity is questionable or sustainable in the long term is something for the future but I feel they would have got away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids.

04 - BOYS OF THE BAND - Does I Can
Sometimes it's worth going off piste to fulfil your melodic desires and this is what I did to find the return of Kimmo Blom once of Urban Tale and Heartplay. A formidable set of interesting tunes, evolving to provide many a cherished and pleasing hook. Those big hooks are all around this album, and no need to have a barbed hook to maintain your attention as there is no chance of slipping away quietly with this one.

05 - ANDERS CHRISS - Volatility
Of all my picks this year, I would wager that this one by the relatively unknown Swede sold the least, but really that is not a good measure. Slapful of genuine interesting tunes, sometimes a little odd, mildly challenging but immensely superior to many albums released this year. Underneath the CD case it contains my song of the year, in the shape of 'Little Man' this still remains a pounding, uplifting find and the effect this song had on me was like the first time I encountered the mighty T-Ride. Concerning the point of the amount of record sales well quoting A J Cook, 'Figures can lie, and liars can figure'.

06 - HOUSTON - Houston
This duo provided comfort food for AOR listeners during 2010. Yes, lots of Tommy Denander and his welcome returning ally Ricky B Delin influences here. The ditties are superb and AOR finally has a future. Strains of Fergie Frederiksen from the wonderfully named Hampus Hank Erix, equalled by the talented drummer and songwriter Freddie Allen, which just leaves me to say 'Houston, we don't seem to have a problem'.

07 - BUCKCHERRY - All Night Long
A troupe that I have always intentionally avoided (like Airbourne really, much to my loss), until I caught the back end of 'Don't Go Away' from the Black Butterfly album on of all things, the David Letterman show, together with the odd tune appearing on TV's blood fest 'Harpers Island'. Those sound bytes got me reaching for my wallet to buy that album, so was looking forward to this new release, and I was not disappointed. This is probably their best, most mature sounding, very addictive and I was so happy I nearly went to get my body covered with tattoos in homage to Josh Todd, one excellent vocalist. Instant kick in the teeth, rock with dirty melodies, brilliant.

08 - UNRULY CHILD - Worlds Collide
If there was one glaring omission from the Top 40 best AOR singers of all time, recently featured in Classic Rock, then surely it was the great Marcie Free, shame on you Mr Oliver, when the likes of Bryan Adams and Sammy Hagar appeared. Yes of course this album was never going to match the debut of 1992 but when the new album contains the likes of Tell Another Lie, Love Is Blind and the Led Zeppelin calming influence on Talk To Me, all containing those little melodies hidden in each of these songs, that make them stand out from the run of the mill AOR bands. Whether it has enough gems to move it from good to great is debatable, but maybe the return (did they ever perform?)of Unruly Child to the live stage, may be the tipping point of moving to the 'great' arena. I do hope so, being a veteran on the incredible performance of Marcie at the original 'Gods' in Milton Keynes.

09 - WHILE HEAVEN WEPT - Triumph: Tragedy: Transcendence (Live at the Hammer of Doom Festival)
I could have plumped for the young pretenders to these guys crown (The Atlantean Kodex with their excellent 'The Golden Bough'), but the ancient melodic doom merchants keep producing exceptional results so again they win through. This time it is a live recording bundled with a DVD, together they make a thoroughly enjoyable representation of my favourite band of the last 12 months, please investigate.

Just pipping the amazing Foxy Shazam comes the Foo Fighters drummer, who would have thought such a good album would have come from such a source. With the beautiful retro cover, together with the vinyl wear, come some genuinely well-crafted tunes, with aspects from multiple musical genres. Essentially a drum full of hit singles and when you have mates like Brian May and Roger Taylor helping out on the odd tune you know you are onto a winner.

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#1 | gdazegod on March 28 2011 06:22:24
Should really get around to reviewing that Houston CD sometime.. i wish
#2 | swazi on March 28 2011 17:42:46
Yep, you should, George! Great disc! Although playing live they were beaten 10 times by VEGA.
#3 | swazi on March 31 2011 17:16:39
Your review of the Taylor Hawkins sounded intriguing, so I bought it. It has been spinning the whole day today. GREAT stuff! Thanks for the tip, Chris! clap
#4 | englandashes on March 31 2011 18:51:21
No worries, Swazi, glad you enjoyed the record. I have seen it going real cheap, maybe its a tax loss cd, going back to the odd days of cut out vinyl, which the albums cover is trying to represent!
#5 | reyno-roxx on March 31 2011 21:58:13
That Taylor Hawkins album is excellent. His first solo CD is worth tracking down as well.
Man, he's come an awful long way since the days of talking about Angel with me backstage when he was playing in Sass Jordan's touring band alongside Stevie Salas and Nick Lashley!
#6 | Eric on March 31 2011 22:49:11
Which reminds me we've yet to cover Sass Jordan here at GD. Saw her open for Steve Perry in '94- heckuva a performer and voice.
#7 | gdazegod on April 01 2011 01:01:07
Haha Eric.. wasn't so much as interested in Sass as a performer or her voice.. but those looks.. OMG.. she is gorgeous!
#8 | reyno-roxx on April 01 2011 19:51:35
Sass IS gorgeous, even without make-up. Lovely lady too, but, boy, she's got a temper on her. She was absolutely furious after that gig at something that happened on stage and was as mad as hell slamming doors and stomping back to the tour bus. Never did find out the reason.
#9 | Eric on April 02 2011 03:12:36
Yeah, I do remember she came on stage in a maroon crushed velvet jacket and took it off mid-set and... very attractive, even more so since I was front love
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