It was Bob Dylan in “You’re a Big Girl Now” who sang “Time is a jet plane it moves so fast, oh but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last.” There’s more poetry on Blood On the Tracks than in most freshman lit classes but I’m getting off topic. That line, “time is a jet plane” has been stuck in my head lately. It always seems to pop up around this time of year. That line and Jackson Browne’s “I’ve been aware of the time passing by, they say in the end it’s the wink of an eye.” Each passing year seems to go by faster than the last. It seems like just yesterday I was moving to a new living space… but that was last January.
I can’t believe the NFL regular season is over already. I’ve only got about four or five more weeks before I have to go into sports hibernation until fall 2020. I really need to figure out hockey so I have something to do during the football off-season. At least I have rock and roll… And speaking of 2020, I can’t believe we’re up to 2020… when I was a kid I used to calculate how old I’d be in 2000… I never imagined adding the big 20 to it. All my trusty old concert t-shirts are getting even closer to being considered “vintage.” A guy at the car lot Saturday was fawning all over my Pearl Jam Vitalogy concert shirt.
If I have any regrets about 2019 it’s that I didn’t go to many concerts. I had foot surgery in May and that curtailed my concert going quite a bit. We missed the Cult’s Sonic Temple tour and the Rock Chick may never forgive me. I guess if I wanted to say it more positively, it’s my “New Year’s Resolution” to see more concerts next year. I’m not a big resolution guy… hence the bourbon part of this thing. It was a good year for me in terms of looking backward and expanding my musical horizons. I got into the Byrds and Modern Lovers (finally) this year. I went deeper into the Buffalo Springfield than I’d been previously. I continued to expand my working set of Tom Waits albums. The man is phenomenal. You haven’t lived until you’ve listened to the original version of “Jersey Girl” at three a.m. in New York city, drunk on gin.
I don’t know what to expect out of 2020 but we’ve already got a little bit of good news that John Frusciante has rejoined the Chili Peppers, a reunion I predicted would never happen (Rock N Reunions We’d Love To See But, Alas, Will Never Happen), which made it inevitable. There’s a Netflix documentary on Linda Rondstadt coming that I’m sure you’ll be reading about in these pages. And while 2020 will likely be a politically charged one – I saw political flags at the Chiefs game yesterday which was a first – I choose to hope for the best. Hell, the Stones may finally release that record they’ve been polishing for a couple of years. So much to look forward to.
But of course, the purpose of this post is not to look forward, this is our annual look backward to 2019. I think I’ve dropped the Don Henley quote, “It was a pretty good year for fashion, a lousy year for rock and roll,” into every annual recap I’ve done, but I’m not saying that this year. 2019 actually saw some really great music from some of our favorite B&V artists. I’ve compiled a list of our favorite new albums and then below, our favorite box sets, live albums and miscellaneous vault type releases.
I hope over the last year this blog has brought some good music into your lives out there. I truly hope that each of you have a great and truly happy New Year. This New Year’s Eve I’ll probably be home and in bed by 10… and not in a good way. New Year’s Eve used to be bloodsport for me but now I see it as Amateur Hour… not like St Patrick’s Day where the pros show us how to drink all day. Ahem… Have a great New Year out there everyone! Make it special – reach out to an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, put on an old LP you haven’t heard since way back when, pour a nice strong drink and lets make 2020 even better than 2019. A poet once said, people are like flowers. It’s been a pleasure sharing this garden with you…
2019 B&V Top New LPs
- Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars – Springsteen channels Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach and early Glenn Campbell on this fabulous solo record. “Hello Sunshine” ranks amongst his greatest songs.
- The Black Keys, “Let’s Rock” – The Keys triumphant return full of fuzzy guitar and stomping drums. Great, great garage rock.
- The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger – Jack White returns to his first side project, the Raconteurs and delivers a more structured set of tracks. Another great garage rock album.
- Van Morrison, Three Chords And the Truth – Van delivers his first set of all originals for his sixth album in four years. Laid back, Celtic soul.
- Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Colorado – Neil gets Crazy Horse back together, subs in Nils Lofgren for Frank Sampedro and delivers his best album in years.
- The Who, WHO – This might be my favorite album of the year. A truly spectacular return.
- Peter Frampton, All Blues – Frampton going back to his roots in Humble Pie to deliver a spectacular album of blues covers. My favorite track may be his Miles Davis cover, “All Blues.”
- Starcrawler, Devour You – Arrow de Wilde and the gang show up with a strong, strong sophomore LP. Go see these guys live wherever you are. They’re amazing.
- Liam Gallagher, Why Me? Why Not. – He’s a confounding man who once mocked my air-guitar skills, but damn if he doesn’t put out fabulous solo records.
- Norah Jones, Begin Again – At 7 tracks, more of an EP than an LP, but I just love this woman’s singing and songwriting. It’s on the mellow end, but we can’t all listen to “In-A-Gadda-Davida” every day.
- Leonard Cohen, Thanks for the Dance – Beautifully produced by Cohen’s son based on notes the late singer left behind, this was a great posthumous release. His voice more haunting than ever… He’s not afraid to get political with “Puppets,” but its on the songs of heartbreak that he was most affecting.
- Iggy Pop, Free – I doubt my constant praise of Iggy is winning any converts but everyone should listen to “James Bond” and do the twist.
2019 B&V Favorite Box Sets, Live & Vault LPs
- Prince, 1999 Super Deluxe Box Set – A deluxe treatment of a double-LP. There is so much great bonus material, it actually eclipses the deluxe treatment Purple Rain got.
- The Beatles, Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Box – Everything you’d ever want to hear out of the Abbey Road sessions. True collectors will find the original running order of the side 2 medley a must have.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival, Live At Woodstock – If this is CCR on bad night, where Fogerty is pissed, I can’t imagine what they were like on a good night. Essential for every CCR fan, and who isn’t a CCR fan?
- Paul McCartney, Amoeba Gig Live – A show McCartney did in a record store for a small crowd may just be favorite live album of his.
- Foreigner, Live Rainbow ’78 – Finishing up the tour for the first album with the second album in the can, these guys are on top of the world and you can hear it.
- Bob Dylan, Travelin’ Through ’67-’69 – Bootleg Series Vol 15 – Dylan with Johnny Cash. Need I say more?
- Neil Young & the Stray Gators, Tuscaloosa – Neil playing “Alabama” in Alabama in the 70s. He was a brave man.
- Keith Richards, Talk Is Cheap 30th Anniversary Box – A little light on bonus material, but what’s here is damn good. Plus it’s just a great, great rock and roll album.
- Gene Clark, No Other Box Set – The original masterpiece with two additional discs of alternate takes. I can’t believe I hadn’t discovered this album sooner.
- Bruce Springsteen, Live Archives – Passaic 9/19/78 and Winterland 12/15/78 & 12/16/78 – I love most of these concerts he’s been pulling out of the vaults but these two sets are must haves. Winterland and Passaic were widely bootlegged… the latter may be the best concert of Springsteen’s storied live career.
- Motley Crue, The Dirt, Soundtrack – Most of us have all the tracks that made the sound track to ‘The Dirt’ but I had to include this as they put 4 really nice new tracks on here… new Motley is always a cause for celebration.
There you have it. Check it out and let me know what you think. Cheers and Happy New Year.