Best of 2013 – Celtic Bob
2013 was one of the best years for music. Some fantastic new artists hit the scene and we lost lost some at the same time. We were hit with a few surprise releases and comebacks plus some just reinvented themselves. This was the hardest year yet to choose a Top 10. There were some borderline artists that put out terrific albums but were they Metal enough for Metal-Rules or do they belong on Lets Get Rocked? Either way, here is my list of favorite’s from this past year.
1. Motorhead – Aftershock
Just when we thought Lemmy and the guys were finished we get hit with this incredible album.
2. Black Sabbath – 13
The first ‘Real’ Sabbath album in decades. Too bad Bill wasn’t a part of it to make it a full return.
3. Beasto Blanco – Live Fast, Die Loud
This hit me BIG TIME when I first heard it. I cannot stop listening to this release. The rawness and grittiness help make it refreshing and new in a world of overproduction. Debut of the year from a ‘New’ band
4. Famous Underground
The debut from FU (formerly Revolver) is one I loved from initial listen. Hints of Nick’s old band Slik Toxik are present which helps the listener identify with it a bit more. Another killer debut of 2013.
5. KiLLeR DWaRfS – Start @ One
Tough call on this one. Recorded in ’92 but released in 2013. Hmmm…? It was released in 2013 so it made the cut. Russ and Dunk are now back playing shows with Gerry “Cod Dwarf” Finn and a new bassist Johnny “Dwarf’ Fenton. Dwarf Nation is in full swing again……Go Dunk!
6. Kadavar – Abra Kadavar
This was the album that introduced me to the ‘Stoner/Doom’ genre. It’s a wonderful mix of Metal and the 70’s.
7. Orchid – The Mouths Of Madness
Similar to Kadavar, this was the other release that helped me discover a new genre of music. Fantastic album with Sabbath overtones.
8. Scorpion Child
Yet again, a killer debut. I love this style of music and cannot get enough. Easily one of my most listened to albums of the year.
9. Oliva – Raise The Curtain
Jon gives the fans the perfect blend of TSO and Savatage on RAISE THE CURTAIN.
10. Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood
Never a huge Death Angel fan. I did own THE ULTRA-VIOLENCE and FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK on tape back in the day and remember EvilG having ACT III but that was about it. I saw the deadly artwork, read a review then bought the LP. Excellent choice. The ultimate in old school Speed/Thrash.
11. Annihilator – Feast
Lost track of these guys over the years but loved their METAL album from a few years ago then lost track again. Enter 2013 and a new album and I am back listening to this killer Canadian band. Everything about this album screams Metal.
2013 saw two Queensryche releases from two totally different bands. I anticipated that the Tate fronted one would be the better of the batch. Was I wrong on that prediction. Tate’s was a solo CD backed up by a cast of special guests. The ‘Band’ album with singer Todd LaTorre is Queensryche of old. All they need is to get DeGarmo back.
13. Voodoo Highway – Showdown
It was the cover that caught my attention. Voodoo Highway have been around awhile and worth checking out. Taking a gamble on an album based solely on cover art pays off at times.
14. Lord – Digital Lies
Australian Metal band Lord was a surprise this year. I liked previous efforts but they were too Power Metal for my day to day listening. DIGITAL LIES was the perfect mix for me. The musicianship and just the overall quality made this one of 2013’s greatest albums. Hopefully they continue on this path and we get more of this in the future.
15. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol. 2
We saw both volumes of 5FDP’s THE WRONG SIDE OF HEAVEN AND THE RIGHTEOS SIDE OF HELL get released in 2013. I loved Volume one but when the second volume got released a few months later it was clearly the stronger of the two even with the Metal God guesting on the first volume.
16. Voodoo Circle – More Than One Way Home
An interesting album to say the least. Very melodic with a huge Whitesnake influence. Another album that received a lot of plays at the Celtic house.
17. Michael Schenker – Bridge The Gap
With only a couple of spins so far this new release created quite the positive initial impression. This album is sure to get many, many more plays in the near future and for years to come.
18. Flotsam & Jetsam – Ugly Noise
Another old band rediscovered in 2013. Haven’t listened to these guys since DOOMSDAY FOR THE DECEIVER tape way back when. Upon hearing the title track I was hooked and it has seen many plays throughout the year.
19. Krokus – Dirty Dynamite
Like many bands or artists you lose track over the years. When I saw this was coming out I took the gamble and ordered it. Glad I did as it’s an enjoyable Hard Rock album. Similarities will be made to AC/DC but this is better than anything AC/DC have issued in decades.
20. Ghost B.C. – Infestissunam
After discovering these guys last year I was anticipating the new album and delivered.
Top Rock Albums of 2013 (LGR Top 10)
1. Deep Purple – Now What?!
One of my all-time favorite bands. This is their best album since PERFECT STRANGERS. Every song is excellent.
2. Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose
A highly anticipated album that delivered. Ricky’s vocal’s add that Irish flair that is needed and the Lizzy influence is strong.
3. David Bowie – The Next Day
The years biggest surprise as nobody knew it was coming. Rock comeback of the year!
4. Mike Tramp – Cobblestone Street
White Lion singer’s most honest and heartfelt release to date. Total surprise and not what I was expecting to hear. Amazing album!
5. The Answer – New Horizon
The cover artwork is what drew me to this album initially. It was done by the late Storm Thorgeson and it brought out some curiosity and after listening to it, it became a favorite of the year.
6. Coney Hatch – Four
Hatch is back! It took a bad situation to make it happen but the result is on par with the early albums.
7. Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes
Long overdue solo album from the Cinderella frontman. Like the Tramp album it is different from the band that made him famous except in Keifer’s case this is what you’d expect to hear. Very well done and enjoyable.
8. Dave Davies – I Will Be Me
A 60’s icon solo release. Kink’s guitarist Dave Davies, the man responsible for the infamous guitar sound of “You Really Got Me”. One of my most listened to releases of the year.
9. Eric Burdon – ‘Til Your River Runs Dry
Known as the singer of the 60’s band The Animals, Eric Burdon has never left the business. Another blind buy early in the year that has been consistently listened to.
10. Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
Took a chance on this as PJ lost their spark after the first three albums for me. A few good songs here and there but that was it. This one is closer to PJ of old and quite an enjoyable album.
Honorable Mention: Todd Kerns – Borrowing Trouble / Near Life Experience
Comeback of the year
Their new album 13 was one of the years greatest Metal albums. It would have been much better had they put aside differences and Bill Ward was part of the project.
David Bowie (LGR):
His THE NEXT DAY came out of nowhere and his coming out of retirement was welcomed by fans and critics. We even got treated to an EP of Extras later in the year. There are rumors floating that he is to tour this year making for a full comeback.
The Beatles – On Air; Live At The BBC Vol. 2
The second volume to 1994’s LIVE AT THE BBC release came from out of nowhere. It wasn’t expected but welcomed. To keep everything uniform they went back and redid the first volume to improve the sound quality and made a couple of small changes, including the cover from Sepia to B&W.
This came out on Record Store Day. It is both LP’s by Marc Bell’s band before he joined The Ramones and became Marky Ramone. Easily the best reissue of the year. I cannot for the life of me figure out why these guys weren’t huge.
Best Live Rock Album
Neil Young – At The Cellar Door
I love Neil Young’s music and I am a sucker for all his Archive and Performance Series releases. Always high quality and done correctly. This one is a nice mellow, acoustic performance but it’s time for Neil to move past this era and give the fans some newer shows and the next volume of ARCHIVES or at least gives us the first one on LP. Keep them comin’ Shakey.
1. Ugly Kid Joe – Stairway To Hell
UKJ are back! I wasn’t sure if this was an EP or a full length but decided on EP as there is technically only 6 ‘New’ songs. Whit and band are back and I couldn’t be happier about it. I loved these guys back in the day and missed their style when they disbanded. Good to have them back and hopefully it won’t be too long before we get a proper full length LP.
2. Blues Pills – Devil Man
Heavy Metal Janis Joplin is the best way to describe Blues Pills debut EP DEVIL MAN. Fantastic EP from start to finish. Definitely a band to watch out for.
3. Metal On Ice
The EP that goes with Sean Kelly’s book of the same name. This EP features some of Canada’s best doing one of their signature songs along with a new title track written by Sean and Nick.
Best Remake album
Russ Dwarf – Wireless
Best Covers album
Anthrax – Anthems
Not normally a fan of cover songs or albums but this was a fun and enjoyable listen.
Metal On Ice
I connected to Sean’s book in a big way. Many of his memories were similar to mine in discovering bands and listening to the same albums. Excellent book on Canadian Hard Rock and Metal.
Runner up, is a tie:
Al Jorgensen’s THE LOST GOSPEL’S ACCORDING TO and Stephen Pearcy’s SEX, DRUGS, RATT & ROLL. Both are filled with Sex, Drugs and Debauchery. Many similarities between the two but yet very different. Amazing that Uncl Al is still alive.
Honorable Mention: Bobbie Brown’s DIRTY ROCKER BOYS
Best Live Video
Def Leppard – Viva! Hysteria (Blu-Ray)
The most enjoyable concert Blu-Ray this year. They played the entire Hysteria album along with a couple of hits from PYROMANIA as an encore. The kicker was they opened for themselves under the Ded Flatbird moniker playing other Lep hits and deep cuts. Excellent release all around.
The Rolling Stones – Sweet Summer Sun (DVD)
Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers Live (DVD)
Steel Panther – Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World
In pure Panther style this video has it all. The lead off single from their upcoming album is a Rock n’ Roll party, Steel Panther style.
Got to see KISS twice this year in back to back shows. Seeing them on Saturday night was a great deal fun. Shooting pics from the pit then watching the show from the stands on Gene’s side then again the next night from about 6 rows up side stage on Tommy’s side. An eye opening experience seeing some of the workings of a KISS event. Always a great time.
Best New Band
Beasto Blanco: Longtime Alice Cooper guitarist’s side band Beasto Blanco released a killer debut in the latter part of the year. It’s raw, grittty and loud, the way it’s suposed to be. This CD was the only disc in my car’s player for well over a month. Fantastic album that I cannot say enough good things about.
Best New Band Runner’s Up:
Black Star Riders – Basically the touring Thin Lizzy without Brian Robertson. Fantastic debut album.
Famous Underground -Similar to Black Star Riders in that it is another band redefined, this time it’s Canada’s Revolver. Vocalist Nick Walsh (Slik Toxik) delivers a solid Hard Rock album with some Metal overtones. Another fantastic ‘New’ band that gave us a killer debut album.
Debut of 2013
Beasto Blanco’s LIVE FAST DIE LOUD
This was the debut that hit me full on. There is nothing negative I can say about this album. Killer album from start to finish.
Discovery of 2013
Doom/Stoner Metal genre: This year I heard Kadavar for the first time and was literally blown away by how great they were. This was followed by Orchid, then Scorpion Child, The Sword, Trouble…etc. All of them fantastic.
Metal Headline of The Year
Jeff Hanneman: The loss of Hanneman was devastating. In a way you kind of expected it but not so soon. A huge, huge loss to the Metal community. Slayer will never be the same without his distinct guitar sound.
Disappointment of 2013
I never really had a disappointment so to speak as every release I had hopes for delivered. There was one release however that deserves to be mentioned and this is the proper place for it.
Bret Michaels: This album is a complete and utter train wreck. Not even in the way that you can’t stop listening. This is pure 100% Shit, and I am a Poison/Bret fan. It is all over the map and with the special guests it should have been a stellar release. Avoid this release at all costs.
Predictions for 2014
Led Zeppelin Reissues: Page has been hard at work prepping the Zep catalog for re-release this year. Hope these are done correctly and he used the original analogue master tapes and they are issued on LP.
Steel Panther’s All You Can Eat album: I have been a fan since the day I heard them. These guys are extremely talented and the music is good time party music. Hopes for a killer third album.
Blues Pills: Their debut EP DEVIL MAN was amazing. I am really excited to hear a full length album from them later this year.
Packaging Of The Year
EvilG gave me this idea in reference to my LP purchasing. For those of you that do not know, I am a vinyl guy. This year (on RSD to be precise) I became more serious about my buying and all my music purchases from that point were on LP (except where LP wasn’t an option). G suggested that I let the readers know my favorite pressing of the year. Here goes…..
Without a doubt the single coolest pressing I bought this year was the recent Black Friday press of Ghost’s debut album which came on White and transparent Blue vinyl. The split was right down the center and looks very nice.
I also have to mention that Music On Vinyl did some remarkable pressings this past year, especially the Faith No More catalog with limited colored pressings of each. The ‘Epic’ Green for THE REAL THING was beautiful. They should also be commended for their double purple edition of the Mother Love Bone compilation. It sounds as good as it looks as did the Rory Gallagher KICKBACK CITY compilation complete with postcards and comic novel.
For ‘New’ releases the silver press of the Black Star Riders 2LP debut set stood out amongst the pact, especially with it’s mirror-like gatefold cover.
I could not do this without mentioning Nuclear Blast. I ordered many nice, colorful editions from them. The white Death Angel, blue Blues Pills EP, along with colored Orchid and Kadavar.