What a year it's been for a baby boomer like me.
We've seen strong fresh offerings from stalwarts like Paul McCartney, John Fogerty, America, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Hornsby, James Taylor, Jean-Luc Ponty, John Mellencamp and yes, even the Eagles. What's more, the old stuff pulled from the vaults for the first time from luminaries like Neil Young and Miles Davis were of good quality too, adding up to a solid year for the Old School.
Furthermore, many of the newer and/or more obscure acts added to an already splendid batch of material.
So, in looking back on 2007 and forward to Christmas gift giving, it's time to assess the releases over the last 12 months and choose the outstanding ones. In doing so, I'm going to leave out a lot of records that I genuinely liked, even though the list is a long one as it stands.
Now, I can't claim to have even listened to even 0.1% of all the new releases out there and this isn't about saying what is the best for every taste. It's simply a collection of records I liked the best without regard for genre, artist or popularity.
It pains me that I don't have a blues offering in the bunch; that's more of a function of my not listening to enough new blues records rather than it being a down year for blues; chances are I'll figure it out in 2008 much as I figured out in 2007 that Charlie Musselwhite's Delta Hardware was a 2006 winner.
In putting together this collection, I thought of it much along the lines of sports; Every year you have your best players starting in the all-star or all-pro game with those who were just a cut below selected as alternates. The single most outstanding player is the MVP. This is the approach I'm going to take in making my selections; The flawless or nearly flawless are the "starters," the generally solid ones with few weaknesses are my "alternates" and my favorite release of the year is the MVP. Oh, and what the hell, I'll throw in 2007's best song in my book, too, called "One Track of The Year."
A little unusual, perhaps, but I just can't rank them any more specifically. It was even difficult to sort out which are starters, which are alternates and which didn't even make the team at all. But it's a pretty good indicator of what moved me this year. I'll break 'em out into four distinct articles, starting with the alternates. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays: