Best of 2014 – Celtic Bob

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Best of 2014 – Celtic Bob

2014 was filled with a lot of great music. Reflecting back on it for this list it became blatantly obvious that the majority of the music I enjoyed this past year was released by older artists. Be it my Rock or Metal list it was ruled by musicians that have been around for awhile and have established careers in the industry. The album title may be different but this could easily have been my list back in senor year of high school. Let us hope 1989 never ends.

Top 20

1. Helix  – Bastard Of The Blues

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Helix has been a longtime favorite band of mine. This year they released their 13th studio album BASTARD OF THE BLUES. The band is now 3/5’s the classic 80’s line-up (Brian, Daryl and Fritz). This new album is the best release they’ve done since WILD IN THE STREETS and my most listened to disc of the year.

2. Steel Panther – All You Can Eat

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Since discovering these guys a few years back I have been a fan. This is their third album and it is everything you’d expect cumming from them. Fantastic 80’s Metal with a message.

3. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – World On Fire

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Amazing album from Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. Every song is enjoyable on the album with no filler. Stronger and tighter than the last album. A true winner.

4. Red Dragon Cartel

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The debut from Jake E. Lee’s new project featuring Darren James Smith on vocals. Lead off single “Deceived” is sure to grab you instantaneously. Guest appearances on the album include Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander as well as Canadian singer Sass Jordan who adds a different vibe to the disc.

5. Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell

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Bas does it again with another killer album. His ALIVE AND SCREAMING album from a few years back was one that I enjoyed immensely that year (and still do). GIVE ‘EM HELL picks up where that one left off and gives us more of the music he is known for.

6. Judas Priest – Redeemer Of Souls

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For myself this is the return of Priest. I do not recall anything from the last Priest album and to be honest I haven’t really enjoyed one of their album’s since TURBO. Yes, TURBO. I was never big on PAINKILLER even though I owned the CD since the day it was released. This to me is the return to the Priest I once loved.

7. Mr. Big – …The Stories We Could Tell

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Three years ago Mr. Big returned with WHAT IF… which was their first studio album in many, many years. 2014 saw it’s follow-up …AND THE STORIES WE COULD TELL. A solid album of great songs but unfortunately nothing really stood out amongst the rest. The more I listened, the more I liked it. It’s one of those albums that is consistently enjoyable from start to finish.

8. Prong – Ruining Lives

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Prong fell off the radar for me for awhile. Loved BEG TO DIFFER then lost track. The last album from a few years ago was enjoyable so when this one was announced I was interested. Immediately I enjoyed the album and it has gotten many spins since it’s release.

9. Kix – Rock Your Face Off

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All I remember from these guys was “Blow My Fuse”. 2014 saw their return and ROCK YOUR FACE OFF was one of the year’s most enjoyable releases. A good-time party album.

10. Winger – Better Days Comin’

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Winger were a band that I liked back in the day but still joked about. It wasn’t until I saw them live that I really began to appreciate their musicianship. The last couple of discs have been really enjoyable. Highly underrated band.

11. Ace Frehley – Space Invader

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Ace is back with his follow-up to ANOMALY. While I enjoyed ANOMALY I find this new one more memorable.

12. Overkill – White Devil Armory

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Like many releases this year the new Overkill was an excellent follow-up to their previous release; THE ELECTRIC AGE which was the album where I rediscovered the band.

13. Accept – Blind Rage

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Accept returned a few years back with a new singer. BLIND RAGE is the group’s third release with him and like the previous pair, fantastic Metal album that holds up alongside Classic Accept.

14. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out

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Exodus reunite with vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza for one of the year’s greatest Thrash album’s. I’d put this up alongside FABULOUS DISASTER and IMPACT IS IMMINENT.

15. KXM – S/T

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KXM is the “Supergroup” featuring Dug Pinnick (King’s X), George Lynch (Lynch Mob/Dokken) and Ray Luzier (Korn). Never a King’s X fan and definitely NOT a Korn fan this was the album I took a chance on soley based on my love of George Lynch’s playing. I also wanted to try again to enjoy and appreciate dUg’s singing. He is highly praised but I never could get into his music. This is a fantastic debut on many levels.

16. Lacuna Coil – Broken Crown Halo

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A recent discovery the past few years. Their SHALLOW LIFE album was where I became a fan and that was my Top album of 2009. It’s follow-up (and predecessor to BROKEN CROWN HALO), DARK ADRENALINE was another LP that made my list in the year of it’s release. With three killer album’s in a row this Italian Metal band is one to check out if you already haven’t. They are the originators of a style that bands such as Evanesence copied.

17. Lynch Mob – Sun Red Sun

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George Lynch and Oni Logan pick up where WICKED SENSATION left off. Another band I rediscovered in the past couple of years sparked by the SOUND MOUNTAIN SESSIONS CD. As you’d expect George’s playing is flawless and amazing without being over the top and flashy.

18. Jeff LaBar – One For The Road

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Cinderella guitarist makes his solo debut this year with a short yet enjoyable CD. Some similarities to early Cinderella songs but that is expected. Not a big departure from the band but seeing how it’s been decades since they’ve released a new album this is much welcomed.

19. Tesla – Simplicity

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Another band I loved since the debut and bought each and every release as it came out. After my initial listen to FOREVER MORE although an enjoyable album there was something missing. I looked at the liner notes and saw that Tommy Skeoch was gone and Dave Rude had taken his place. After listening to SIMPLICITY I had the exact same impression, great album but something was missing. Tommy had that certain something that is critical to the band’s sound. Hopefully we will see them reunite in the near future.

20. Soulbender

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Michael Wilton of Queensryche’s side project is a bit questionable for inclusion. It was released in 2014 but contained some previously issued material along with new. A must for all ‘ryche fans.

Top 10 (LGR)

1. Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey  – Going Back Home

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Easily my most listened to Rock album of 2014. Daltrey has never sounded better. Amazing LP

2. Ricky Warwick – When Patsy Kline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)

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My introduction to Ricky came many years ago with his LOVE MANY, TRUST FEW album. Since then I have enjoyed his work especially last year’s Black Star Riders LP. When he launched his PledgeMusic page to make 2 albums I signed on immediately. A couple of weeks ago I got the FLAC files (LP’s will be shipped in the new year) and have been enjoying them ever since. This is the full on Rock album while it’s counterpart; HEARTS ON TREES is an acoustic album but equally as good.

3. Bobnoxious – E.O.A.

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Another longtime favourite. London, Ontario’s Bobnoxious released E.O.A. this year and caused a bit of a stir in the community due to the title track. Regardless if you live E.O.A. (as does Bob) or have never been to London you cannot deny that this is one Hard Rock record that needs to be cranked up and enjoyed.

4. Brian Setzer – Rockabilly Riot! All Original

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The perfect Rockabilly album. It has the classic feel of some of the old Sun material yet fresh and vibrant. A definite must for all Rockabilly, Stray Cat and Setzer fans or just fans of good 50’s style Rock n’ Roll.

5. Imelda May – Tribal

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Heard some stuff by Imelda May over the past few years but it never did anything for me. I appreciated that she was a good singer but did nothing for me musically. When I had the opportunity to hear the new album I gave it a spin and enjoyed it immensely. Similar to the Setzer with the Rockabilly style of Rock n’ Roll. Between them both the 50’s live on.

6. Uriah Heep – Outsider

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An old band that I knew very little by. Decided to give them a listen and was very impressed with what I heard. Was not expecting such fantastic music. It has me wanting to check out their back catalog which I plan to do in 2015 and I already have their new live double LP pre-ordered.

7. Harem Scarem – Thirteen

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Another PledgeMusic campaign that I took part in this past year. The LP has yet to arrive but the high resolution digital copies have. A fantastic Melodic Rock album that rates up there with the debut and MOOD SWINGS. I would even go as far as saying that this one is stronger musically.

8. Nazareth – Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone

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Sadly this is the last Nazareth album with vocalist Dan McCafferty who departed just prior to the album’s release. This is the group’s twenty third album and one of their best. Dan’s vocals are as good as ever and it’s a shame he had to leave the band due to health reasons. Us fans wish him the best but wish he could continue to give us more wonderful music to enjoy.

9. California Breed – S/T

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Somewhat of a ‘Supergroup’ as it features Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham. This is one of those albums that grows on you. It took me many, many plays before I really began to enjoy it. The first single “Sweet Tea” was catchy and what made me buy the disc. Musically the talent is second to none but at first it appears that everyone is playing what they want despite what the others are doing. Initially it sounds noisy but once you get it it is a great album.

10. Mike Tramp – Museum

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Last year I took a chance on Mike Tramp’s new LP, COBBLESTONE STREET and really enjoyed it. It was quite a departure from what he did with White Lion all those years ago which was refreshing. When a new album was announced for 2014 I immediately ordered it. Similar to his last one, Museum is an honest album with emotion.

Honorable Mention:
Robert Plant – lullaby and… THE CEASELESS ROAR

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Robert Plant reinvents himself again as he refuses to live in the past like many of his contemporaries playing the Classic Rock “Milk Run” circuit. Not a vast difference in this and BAND OF JOY but just enough to keep it new and interesting.

Best Live Album

Deep Purple – Graz 1975

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Never listened to alot of ‘Live’ albums this year but this one was the one that stood out.

Whitesnake – Live In 1984: Back To The Bone

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Mid 80’s Whitesnake was the greatest Whitesnake in my opinion. Hearing live versions of these great songs is simply amazing. Raw and heavy as it’s supposed to be.

Best EP

Roxie 77 – Ameriswede

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Alice Cooper guitarist Ryan Roxie’s new release was a bit different. Each side of the EP contained the same songs just different mixes. One side was the Swedish mix and the other the American. Interesting idea that was executed perfectly. Whether it’s a Roxie 77 or Casablanca release Ryan never disappoints with his music. One of my favorite musicians. A true professional on many levels.

Best Remake album

Lord – The Dungeon Years
Australian band LORD went and re-recorded the Dungeon material and re-issued it as a 4 CD set complete with a credit card sized USB drive containing the artwork, band history and high resolution FLAC files of the music. All bands should take note as fans want quality.

Best Covers album

Down n Outz  – The Further Adventures Of

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Joe Elliot’s side project give us a new disc of Mott The Hoople songs endorsed by Ian Hunter. These are not your standard Mott songs, these are deep cuts. An excellent and fun release.

Archival

Stones – From The Vault series
A few years back The Rolling Stones offered fans the opportunity to purchase digital copies of live music from different era’s of the bands history. In 2014 we were fortunate enough for them to issue 2 of those releases on LP and video.  Fan’s were offered many configurations to purchase these shows, the LA FORUM 1975 was issued on DVD while HAMPTON 1981 received a Blu-Ray issue along with the DVD. Hopefully 2015 will bring the BRUSSELS AFFAIR ’73 to LP along with the rest of the series.

Best Reissue

2014 was the year of reissues for me. I got the opportunity to fill in many gaps in my collection along with repurchasing some long gone albums I once had on tape but never bought on CD (or LP).

The Beatles

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The mono albums by the fab four showed the world how a reissue is supposed to be done. The utmost care was taken and the original analog master tapes were used. Hopefully they will go back and re-do the stereo ABBEY ROAD, LET IT BE and YELLOW SUBMARINE from the original tapes and not digital files.

Iron Maiden

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Finally we get decent copies of the first eight Maiden albums on black vinyl. Marketed as from the original tapes which is what fans have been wanting for years Despite some online chat forums that say a couple of the albums sound like a wet blanket is placed over the speakers I myself think they sound great. While I never owned any of these albums on LP except for LIVE AFTER DEATH (which I never repurchased) these to me are fantastic. Some of the artwork is a bit off while some is better. I think they should have contacted Derek Riggs and worked something out to make these LP’s and Singles something that people will be raving about for years. I am crossing my fingers with hopes they continue on releasing the rest of the catalog.

Kiss

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Being a Kiss fan in the 80’s I owned just about every album on tape and LP be it a new reissue or from a second hand shop. Kiss were a favorite of mine and they still are. While I purchased many of the new reissues I never double dipped on all of them. I did have issues with 2 copies of THE ELDER and have yet to re-buy it. As much as I wanted a CREATURES OF THE NIGHT there was no way I was going to buy the 85 mix over the original. Why reissue the catalog and put the 85 mix in the 82 jacket? Once those error’s get corrected I will buy them instant. As with the Maiden releases, some of the artwork is not the greatest. Overall, a great reissue campaign.

Led Zeppelin

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I am thoroughly enjoying these Led Zeppelin LP reissues. Unfortunately the Super Deluxe sets are out of budget but the Deluxe Editions are within in budget and allowing me to get the original albums on LP along with bonus material. The only complaint I have is that they were digitally sourced and the bonus material is mainly demos or the album track sans vocals. I did encounter one issue with HOUSES OF THE HOLY but that was corrected quickly by the label. I look forward to the remainder of the catalog coming out in the upcoming year.

Best Book

1. The Youngs by Jesse Fink

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A fine read on AC/DC with a little too much technical info on recording. The early years are covered quite well while the 80’s, 90’s and beyoned are skimmed over. An enjoyable read and possibly the closest we will get to an official bio on the band.

2. Paul Stanley – Face The Music
The most interesting autobiography I read this year. It was the second Kiss book I read (Ace was the first) so it was interesting to get another side to the history of the band. Reading Paul’s story and overcoming his handicap is inspiring. While he does come off a bit as self centered he does appear to be the most grounded.

3. Smokin’ Valves – Martin Popoff

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Not so much a readable story but an essential book on the NWOBHM with a wealth of information. Hopefully Martin does another this year telling the story of the genre.

4. Hair Metal – Martin Popoff

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A fantastic and beautiful hardcover book on the most colorful musical genre of the 20th century. A spectacular visual documentary from it’s humble beginnings to it’s painful decline.

Best Blu-Ray

1. Alice Cooper – Raise The Dead: Live At Wacken

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Alice Cooper arguably puts on the greatest Rock n’ Roll show in the world. He was the originator of live musical performances. Before Alice bands and musicians went on stage and played, Alice kicked it up and gave the audience a show and even today very few, if anyone can top him. Kiss, Motley Crue and Rob Zombie are the only ones that come close.

2. The Zombie Horror Picture Show (Live)

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Similar to Alice, Rob Zombie puts on a real show. An amazing concert with some great visuals but most of all, excellent music.

3. Super Duper Alice Cooper (Doc)

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The best documentary of the year by far. Nothing comes close. One of the best I have seen ever. Extremely well put together with great visuals and not your standard cut and paste interview segments.

Best Concert (Tie)

Slash
I never got to see many shows this year but Slash was the one that stood out. They opened for Aerosmith at an outdoor festival in mid-September in Atlantic Canada. It was the last night of the tour and a week before the new Slash LP was released. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators literally blew Aerosmith off the stage. After the show and the next morning people raved about how good Slash was and how they blew Aerosmith away.

Vince Neil w/ Slaughter
After a postponement from 2013 Vince FINALLY made it to The Rock. Opening were Slaughter whom I have never seen live. They put on a short but energetic set warming up the crowd for Vince. Drummer Zoltan Chaney stole the show. He is the son of Keith Moon and Animal from The Muppets. The most energetic drummer I have ever witnessed and never misses a beat. How he can play with Slaughter then immediately after with Vince is beyond me. The guy should be wiped and need to sleep for the next 19 hours. Vince was excellent and really seemed to be having a good time. He even asked if we wanted him to come back with Motley and the place erupted with cheers. Let us hope he delivers on this as Motley Crue have NEVER played Newfoundland.

Best local band

Category VI
Local NL Metal band Category VI released their debut in 2014 along with 2 videos filmed on the rugged coastlines of the Province. They are the local band to watch out for in 2015.

Best new band

Red Dragon Cartel
From the moment I heard this album I knew it would be the debut of the year. Nothing came close to it.

Runner Up: California Breed and KXM (Tie)
2 ‘Supergroups’ that made their debut this year that are equally as enjoyable.

Best Discovery

Never discovered anything “New” this year unfortunately. I did however gain a greater appreciation for Thin Lizzy thanks in part to Martin Popoff’s trilogy of books on the band. I then acquired a few albums of the band that were missing from my small collection and will be adding the remainder of their catalog later the year. Along with this new appreciation for Lizzy I began digging deeper into the NWOBHM, thanks again to Martin Popoff and his SMOKIN’ VALVES book. I always loved old Maiden and early Def Leppard but never really dug deeper into the genre. This book helped me search out some fantastic music by Cloven Hoof, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Budgie. Through an exchange of emails with Martin it was recommended to me to check out Chris Pike’s books on Budgie. I am almost finished the first one and looking forward to the second. Chris is working on the third volume so it will be a great year for NWOBHM, especially if Martin does another as well. I will have review’s of Chris’ books for you all very soon.

Major events in the Metal world

Motley Crue announced they are to break up after their Final Tour of 2014/15.
Passing of Oderus Urungus

Disappointments of 2014

Not so much a disappointment as I never had high expectations to begin with but the NASHVILLE OUTLAWS: A Country Tribute To Motley Crue was a travesty. Had it not been for the fact that the band was involved I probably never would have even checked this out.

Neil Young on many levels. From the low-fi A LETTER HOME to STORYTONE to his consistent political ramblings. Just re-issue the back catalog on LP and give the fans ARCHIVES Vol.2, 3…etc and retire.

Predictions, hopes and looking forwards for 2015

Faith No More’s first new album in nearly 2 decades will live up to the legacy.

Dustin Rabin Photography, Faith No More, FNM, Dustin Rabin

Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct will live up to the standard they set with their debut.

Four By Fate’s debut album. The debut album I am looking forward to. Four By Fate is the new project of Sean Kelly (Crash Kelly/ex-Helix), Todd Howarth and John Regan from Frehley’s Comet and Set Howland (W.A.S.P.).

JD McPhearson; His SIGNS & SIGNIFIERS LP was phenomenal and all indications indicate the new one; LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL will be just as good.

Anthrax; Hoping the new album is as enjoyable as WORSHIP MUSIC

Scorpions new LP RETURN TO FOREVER, the first new ‘Real’ studio album since 2010’s STING IN THE TAIL

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U.D.O. – Decadent

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The follow-up to STEELHAMMER, which was one of the top albums from last year will be out shortly after this list is released.

Revolution Saints

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Self-titled debut featuring Deen Castronovo (Drums, Vocals), Jack Blades (Bass) and Doug Aldrich (Guitars). All the makings of a great Melodic Hard Rock album.

New album from Ghost

New LP by Keith Richards

Packaging of the year
TSO – The Christmas Attic (LP)
Audiophile label Audio Fidelity released Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s THE CHRISTMAS ATTIC LP this year on heavyweight vinyl. Ultimate in sound quality, nice gatefold cover complete with large booklet.

The Beatles in mono
The mono reissues of The Beatles’ albums. The quality and care that went into recreating the original UK LP’s is second to none.