It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! At least, the traditional Christmas movies are on TV again. Last night, we watched for the 28th Christmas in a row, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. That movie still rings so close to home. Which, of course, got me to thinking about those Christmas movies on my shortlist. So, in addition to Christmas Vacation, my favorites are A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Home Alone II, Elf, Trading Places and Die Hard I and II. Okay, the last three are just taking place during the holiday season, but I always like to throw them in the mix.
Wait! Why am I talking about movies?!?! I don’t know! Let’s just get back to the music of 2018. Once again, this was a year signaling a changing of the guard. Like back in 1981 through 1983, we are witnessing some of the better music being created by newer artists. As a matter of fact, there are very few artists on this year’s list who were part of my youth. So, in order to see which artists are part of my Top 50 Albums, let’s get back to the countdown.
20. The James Hunter Six – Whatever It Takes. Good old-fashioned R&B and soul is The James Hunter Six’ specialty. And, they do it like no one today. Now that Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley have passed, from the sounds on this album, The James Hunter Six is poised to carry the torch for this genre of music.
19. Graham Parker – Cloud Symbols. Believe it or not, Graham Parker has been on a roll since his appearance in the Paul Rudd movie This Is 40. Since then, he has been back in touch with his muse from the Seventies, bringing back that R&B-based, punk-infused sound that he made famous back in the day. Young’uns start here to learn how music was done back in the day.
18. Prince – Piano & a Microphone 1983. Who cares about the circumstances surrounding this album’s release. This album proves the true musical genius of Prince since this album is stripped down like the album title says. The man proved how his songs stand up with different arrangements, stripped down to its basics. I can’t wait to hear what other music will be found in The Vault.
17. The Late Show – Sha La La. Who cares that it took this Indianapolis-based power pop band 38 years to record a follow up. Their debut is a bonafide masterpiece, and this is a brilliant sophomore effort. The Late Show definitely still a great band.
16. Steve Perry – Traces. Finally! Steve Perry’s voice is back for all of us to enjoy. And, it was not a moment too late. Forget his replacement in Journey, because that guy is missing Perry’s soulfulness in his vocals.
15. Lady Gaga & Various Artists – A Star Is Born OST. Listen to me youngsters! Appreciate Lady Gaga’s artistic vision! This young lady is the real deal, a true artist willing to take risks, much like Queen and David Bowie. Back when I was younger (God, I sound like a grandfather…uh…which I am), people still purchased those artists’ albums no matter what turns they took. But, if Lady Gaga moves away from pop music, people whine and cry without recognizing her vision. Now, she’s moving into Barbra Streisand area, proving she IS more than a pop star.
14. The Genuine Flakes – Issues. Power pop is alive and well thanks to, among many others, The Genuine Flakes. Sweet harmonies, jangly guitars, everything that makes life worth living.
13. Paul Weller – True Meanings. Weller’s career is in its 4th decade, and he just keeps getting better and better. True Meanings is Weller stripped down, much like Prince’s most recent album, to Weller and his ACOUSTIC guitar. This album displays the true genius of the man. Now, if only the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would just recognize Weller’s brilliance and put him in the Hall as a member of The Jam AND a solo artist. I’m NOT asking for much!
12. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs. Indie rockers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have brought rock music into the 21st century, as they break down the barriers that separated pop and rock, punk and new wave, power pop and glam, all rolled up in one brilliant album.
11. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour. Thank goodness that we are moving past the Taylor Swift-era of country music. Kacey Musgraves is like a latter-day Loretta Lynne or Dolly Parton, bringing real life back into the rural soul music of country. Musgraves, along with Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson, are saving country music from their run as being new versions of bad Eighties songs with a fiddle.
Forty albums down, and the Top 10 to go! Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up this whole countdown for my favorite albums of 2018. Later!