10. Sonic Boom – KISS One of the best surprises of 2009 for me was the announcement early in the year that KISS was working on a new album. They hadn’t released an album of new material since the putrid Psycho Circus over a decade ago. The memory of that disc, however, was blown away after just the opening track of Sonic Boom, an instant KISS classic, “Modern Day Delilah.” More ballsy rockers follow with “Never Enough,” “Danger Us,” and “I’m An Animal” being among the best of them. A great return to form from possibly the best KISS lineup ever.
His new Christmas album aside, Dylan has continued along his merry way this year, playing around a hundred shows and adding a new album to his catalogue. With very short notice and virtually no publicity (news that Bob had recorded a new album surprised not only his fans but his record label also), Together Through Life appeared – and, in my opinion, improved on his overlong and slightly plodding Modern Times. The songs here are shorter and along with Robert Hunter (from The Grateful Dead), Dylan has written some of his most direct and focused lyrics for some time. I love this because it’s basically a blues album, and from start to finish I find it completely intoxicating.
9. Together Through Life - Bob Dylan
8. Reneessance: An Acoustic Journey, The Best Of Renee Geyer - Renee GeyerAustralia’s greatest soul singer reworked some of her most loved songs to brilliant effect. This woman is a class act, and she has never sounded better.
7. The Latest - Cheap Trick A fat, heavy dose of guitar-driven power pop is how I can best describe the back-to-basics sound of The Trickster’s fifteenth studio album, The Latest. Highlights are a-plenty including a blistering cover of Slade’s “When The Lights Are Out” and some stellar original cuts with “Sick Man Of Europe” and “Everyday You Make Me Crazy.” Their best album since Dream Police? You bet!
Once a member of one of the great Aussie bands, Cold Chisel, Ian Moss has in recent times reinvented himself as one of our great exponents of all things soul, blues, and rock. His series of acoustic gems for the Liberation label continued this year with the release of Soul On West 53rd. This disc covers some of the greatest songs ever, recorded in a laid back and heartfelt way. Moss gives his all on cuts like “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” and “Good Times” all the while making hay with love songs like “Let’s Stay Together” and “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted.” Simply brilliant in every way.
6. Soul On West 53rd - Ian Moss
5. The Soundstage Sessions (DVD/CD) - Stevie Nicks
The beguiling and ever-enchanting Stevie Nicks finally delivered a full live recording of her 2007 show for Soundstage this year. Nicks has never looked better and still has no trouble weaving her intricate web of seduction for her adoring fans. Showing a good deal of power on the rockers “Fall From Grace” and “Edge Of Seventeen,” Nicks delivers some of her greatest songs with her crack band and is joined by Vanessa Carlton for a couple of tracks, including a superb reading of Bonnie Raitt‘s “Circle Dance.” A must-have for any Nicks fan.
4. The List - Roseanne Cash When Roseanne Cash was a young lass, her father Johnny gave her a list of what he considered to be the hundred greatest songs ever. Roseanne has obviously kept the list and finally decided to put it to use to record an album of songs from it. Following on from her harrowing Black Cadillac in 2006, Cash delivered a lighter and touching album of songs that she has easily made her own. Prime cuts included “Miss The Mississippi And You,” “Sea Of Heartbreak,” and “500 Miles.” I am fast becoming this woman’s biggest fan – one listen to this and you’ll know why.
3. Live In London - Leonard Cohen Also released as a DVD, this sublime show was released in full earlier this year as a double-disc set. Cohen returned to the road out of necessity, but at no point on this sprawling set does he sound the least bit pedestrian or out of touch. Instead, it’s a vigorous and energized man that graces this album of gems delivered in his trademark style and accompanied by a stellar band. No point mentioning any standouts because this one is gold from top to bottom.
2. Easy Come, Easy Go - Marianne FaithfullThe incomparable Ms. Faithfull once again delivers the goods with a covers album that is quite frankly in a class of its own. Expertly produced by Hal Willner, Faithfull glides through this set with heartfelt soul and an unwavering conviction.
1. Tina Live (DVD/CD) - Tina Turner
In a world where aging dinosaur rockers trek the globe like robots every few years, delivering their sets with a sense of self-indulgence and outstaying their welcome, it has taken a 70-year-old woman to bust out of retirement and show them how it should be done. This spectacular show, filmed during Turner’s 50th Anniversary Tour this year, captures the undisputed Queen Of Rock in rare form. What’s nostalgia got to do with it? Nothing at all, it seems, for this show is as heavy, soulful, sexy, and powerful as it gets. A staggering achievement by an at times criminally overlooked entertainer.