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Patrick's picks 2016

There were a lot of classic rock artists releasing new music in 2016. Some did it because they had something to say and some did it for some vain unknown reasons.

Here are my top 4 albums: 


Rik Emmett & RESolution9 - RES9

You might remember Rik Emmett from the Canadian band Triumph. They were considered the other great rock trio from Canada. 
First off, this is a great rock album. It starts with a opening song "Stand Still". This song is anything but still. It moves, it boogies, it reminds of great rock n roll records of yesteryear. Next song is "Human Race". Another great rock song song that could/should be a radio hit. It has everything, great singing, great guitar playing with a little help from Alex Lifeson, the guitar player, from the greatest rock trio from Canada, RUSH. Almost every song leaves you with a different feeling, like "My Cathedral" a wonderful slow song that could be another radio hit.

I should mention the band who do a great job. Dave Dunlop (guitar), Steve Skingley (bass, keyboards), and Paul Delong (drums). I should point out at the very end of the album there is a full Triumph reunion with Rik Emmett (vocal, guitar), Gil Moore (drums), and Mike Levine (bass) playing on the "Grand Parade".


The Rolling Stones - Blue & Lonesome

This might not seem fair to put an album out in late November and to have it near the top of the 2016 list, but damn it, this is one of the best albums the Stones have put out in many years - maybe, in decades!

This is a collection of blues covers that has more energy then we have any right to expect for these aging rock stars. It starts off with "Just Your Fool". Not only is Mick Jagger's voice great but his harp playing is the real surprise here.  He sounds like a real pro's pro. "Commit A Crime," "Blue And Lonesome," "I Gotta Go" and the rest give you the feeling of real Chicago blues.

Charlie Watts drumming sounds just perfect, setting the tempo for every song. Keith Richards' and Ronnie Wood's guitar playing compliment each other so well well that it never sounds like two gunslingers trying to out duel each other. Rumor has it that this album came about because they were stuck on recording new songs, so they started playing the blues. Very live and very real, and within a week they had this album.

Eric Clapton plays on a couple of songs (Everybody knows about "My Good Thing" and "I Can't Quit You Baby"). His playing sounds so inspired. A lot more inspired then his disastrous Me and Mr. Johnson (2004).

If you are skeptical person then I suggest you check the video of the Stones playing "Hate To See You Go" on YouTube. If you ever loved The Rolling Stones but felt short-changed with their recent compilations, give Blue & Lonesome a chance because this is worth every penny.


The Monkees - Good Times!

This album is the biggest shocker of 2016. Even their most die hard fans will tell you, The Monkees music output has been a mixed bag since their heyday of the late sixties. I've given a review earlier this year so I won't rehash too much. Let me give you some details on the album and how it has performed.
This is the last album with all three surviving members Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork, plus a vocal performance from the late Davy Jones. This album blends old and new songs very well. This album reached #14 on Billboard - Number #1 on Billboard Vinyl. Number #1 on Amazon. Heck, even their arch nemesis, Rolling Stone Magazine, put Good Times! in their top 50 albums of 2016 (#44).

I caught The Monkees twice on tour and they had to add songs from the new album to the set list. When was the last time that ever happened to them?


David Bowie - Blackstar

The number one album of 2016.
The last great album from a great artist. 
Bowie made a career of not doing what people expected of him. He could've easily made a conventional album and the people would've loved it because it was to be his last. Instead, he gave us jazz influenced music that sounded like it could've come from the 40's.

Blackstar starts off with a contra back beat and, in the middle, you have this slow beautiful music with Bowie singing "How many times does an angel fall?" "Lazarus" is a mid tempo, sax-driven song that gives the feel of a John Coltrane performance. "Sue" is a guitar update to "Modern Love" with a totally different melody and lyrics on top. Bowie can make buzzing cables sound like music. In "Girl Loves Me" he shows he can still do alternative music with a chorus, with a lyric we can all relate to....  "Where the fuck Monday go." "Dollar Days" is yet another lovely sound of music with a great melody/lyrics with wonderful sax playing again by Donny McCaslin. "I Can't Give Everything Away" is David Bowie's last. A fitting end to a true artist. It's funny, this album was his only U.S. number 1.

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You read the best of 2016.
Now, I must tell you the worst of 2016!


Whitford/St. Holmes - 
Reunion

You are probably asking yourself "who are these guys?" Whitford/St. Holmes is Brad Whitford, the guitar player from Boston's own Aerosmith, and Derek St. Holmes from early Ted Nugent. Apparently, these guys had nothing better to do so they decided to go to the studio and record album. That would be a good idea if they had any good songs to record.

This album starts off with "Shapes," which is a rewrite of a Yardbirds hit "Shapes Of Things". Brad Whitford knows something about the Yardbirds music because one of Aerosmith's early hits was a Yardbirds cover, "Train Kept  A Rollin'." Funny thing is, Whitford/St. Holmes claim they wrote it.

Next is an appearance of Paul Stanley from Kiss on several songs. No, wait, that's Derek St. Holmes sounding like the singer from Kiss on songs like "Shake It" and "Hot For You" and a couple more. "Gotta Keep On Movin'" sounds like Derek doing his best Steven Tyler imitation. In fact, it sounds like they rewrote the Aerosmith song "Rag Doll". The guitar generally sounds good but one can only polish a turd so much. If you buy this CD at the store, they give you a copy of their 1981 debut to prove they actually existed. It's that kind of CD. It is hard to understand what possessed them to put this out.

This is the worst of 2016.

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