Top 10 2017 Tom Cornell

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Be sure to check out the Decibel Geek website contributor’s collective compilation of the top albums: Best of 2017 Article

A little bit about the choices that made my top 10.

In a year where there were many excellent new releases from older artists to younger bands and across different rock styles it was difficult to pin down an exact ten.

Within the ten there is quite a bit of progressive music, not only as it is the one style that I particularly enjoy, but with it being a more involved form of music, it means that most of the albums are not immediate, and that then requires more listening to really “get into” them so quite often as a listener you tend to listen to them more and dig deeper so the songs take on a stronger connection.

There are two albums that find themselves rooted in “blues” music, that being the wonderful, in fact if I may say joyous, album by Walter Trout where he wrote songs for friends and fellow blues players to jam on. As an album it celebrates life (for those unaware Walter Trout a couple of years ago was critically ill, he made an album about that harrowing experience which is very good indeed, but now he is back to full fitness he is LIVING every moment musically). The unions are terrific and make me smile every listen.

The other blues-based album is the stunning new Living Colour album. The way it brings in hip-hop and metal amongst other styles and stands up for unity and love, politically intelligent and as direct as their first album is a credit to them. Check out my review of Living Color’s Shade.

This year I am delighted to say brought us a brand new album by pomp rockers Styx. I almost feel like saying “about time too”! It is also a concept. It is marvelous. As a band, they have been touring but just playing the standards. Much as though it is always good to see them (they are so entertaining live, the energy and fun they exude is something else) I personally wanted new material. It is up there with their best albums. A real return. Get in!

I will mention a couple of the other choices as well if I may. One being the album by British outfit The Tangent. If I was to summarise it up in a sentence it could be “it’s like the new Roger Waters but with tunes”. This is a vicious piece railing against things like Brexit, Trump, the far right and the UK paper (or rag?) the Daily Mail! Thought provoking and not easy at times to listen to veering between rock, jazz, punk, ballads etc, with some tracks featuring all of these styles in the same song. Anyone who likes challenging music and has wide tastes will, I believe, find this to be a really interesting and rewarding listen.

My number one album of the year has actually never changed throughout. Pain Of Salvation’s latest was the first thing I heard this year. Despite many albums getting very close each time I went back to listen to it, the album still stayed there. Once again I use the word “challenging”. Also once again not an easy listen.  But this is a masterpiece.

Strangely like Walter Trout who I mentioned earlier, main man of the band Pain Of Salvation, Daniel Gildenlow also had a serious health problem two to three years ago. He caught Necrotising Fascilitis also known as the “flesh-eating bug” which is as bad as it sounds. For a while, it was touch and go as to whether he would live or die.

The album tells the story of the day before the operation, so is confused (due to meds), angry, mournful, questioning, regretful and loving in equal measures. You kind of live in that short space of time with him as he contemplates the end. The music matches every mood and emotion along with the words. The album title song “The Passing Light Of Day” is also simply the most beautiful haunting and brilliant love song I have heard in many years.

I believe in years to come this will be put in as one of the classics of progressive rock music. It really is that good.

So there is a little low down on some of my choices. Hopefully, some of you kind readers may check these artists and albums out and find the same sort of pleasure as I have had from them.

Here is to 2018! Let’s hope for another bumper year of quality music.

My Top Ten of 2017:

10. Alice Cooper – “Paranormal

9. Leprous – “Malina

8. Soul Enema – “Of Clans And Clones And Clowns

7. Living Colour – “Shade

6. Styx – “The Mission” 

5. Lifesigns – “Cardington

4. Von Hertzen Brothers – “War Is Over

3. The Tangent – “The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery

2. Walter Trout – “We’re All In This Together

  1. Pain Of Salvation – “In The Passing Light Of Day

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