As usual there are still some interesting albums/song being released that appeal to old guys like me (though I have to wonder how many people know them or buy them). Concert-wise there were 3 great shows for us in 2022. Aerosmith in Las Vegas was darn impressive for a bunch of 70-somethings (they rocked like mad). While I don’t count Trans-Siberian Orchestra as a concert per se (it feels more like a play with choreographed music), that show was outstanding as ever. The clear winner for me was Skerryvore who to a sadly sparse Colorado crowd put on one of the greatest concerts I have attended since 1965. Celtic rock with 2 bagpipers/tin whistlers and a fiddle player along with the usual rock instrumentation. You must go to see them!!
Every year we lose some great musicians and this year included Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Jerry Lee Lewis, Olivia Newton-John and a man who is still stupidly not in the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame – Bill Fries/C.W. McCall (Convoy). I guess the biggest loss for me was my dear friend Jon Stormy Patterson from The Astronauts. The whole band is gone but not forgotten so here is their biggest hit before we launch in to 2022:
Yearly disclaimer: As a 70 year old white male I tend to like ’60s type pop/rock music, ’70s progressive and old school guitar blues or rock (sorry, but I’ll never get hiphop or diva pop). I fear I would rather listen to Badfinger than Bad Bunny. An awful lot of this is conventional old white-guy music, so reader beware, though I do tend to dig deep for my music. Hopefully you will add comments at the end with your 2022 faves. The top 3 albums have all moved in and out of the #1 spot while I was debating this list so really it should read 1a., 1b. and 1c. but since we have to pick a winner for 2022:
Doc Krieger’s Top 20 Albums 2021
1.Jethro Tull – The Zealot Gene
With Martin Barre and his great guitar work ousted from the band, only Ian Anderson knows the difference between a solo album and a Jethro Tull album Either way, this CD came totally out of the blue for your reviewer as the Anderson solo albums since 2003’s Christmas Album have not moved me and frankly most of the Tull output since the late ’80s. If Anderson’s voice wasn’t so fragile sounding, this would be the equal of their best albums from the early days. The songs are interesting, the lyrics which apparently were each inspired by a Biblical passage are intriguing and Anderson’s flute work is outstanding. While it does taper off a bit near the end, all the songs are at least good and the first 6 some of their best in decades. “Mrs. Tibbets” takes its name from the mother of the man who flew the plane that dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima. “Jacob’s Tales” is the rare song where Anderson trades the flute for a harmonica. “Shoshana Sleeping” according to Ian is about ‘respectful, worshipful voyerism.’
2.The Feeling – Loss-Hope-Love
This is the 6th album by a group totally unknown in the U.S. which is a crime against pop music. Since 2006 they have charted 9 tunes in the U.K. top 100 including my fave song by them “Love It When You Call” from their debut Twelve Stops & Home. This new record is their best since that debut and includes great pop tunes like “For The Future, “No One To Blame” and “Love People”. Since he is gay, singer Dan Gillespie Sells’ falsetto at times gets likened to Freddie Mercury, but Sells doesn’t have his histrionics and has more Beatley influences.
3.Orville Peck – Bronco
Well here is a totally left-field choice for your Dentist. Apparently Peck is the pseudonym of a heavily-tattooed gay Canadian punk-rock drummer who performs his country music with a fringed mask on to disguise his identity. Picture “Suspicious Minds” era Elvis singing Marty Robbins story-songs with Duane Eddy on guitar and you get the sound. Opener “Daytona Sand” is churning country-rock while “The Curse Of The Blackened Eye” makes you want to get on your horse and ride out in to the prairie. “Outta Time” lyrically does have gay references but they are subtle (‘met a man in Denver’). There are no bad songs on the record including “C’mon Baby, Cry” (which is Phil Spector gone country) and “Any Turn” which feels like “I’ve Been Everywhere” with its recited verses. My fave is “Bronco”.
4.Sloan – Steady
Once again we have a band successful in their home country (Canada), but pretty much unknown in the U.S. Since their 1992 debut through to this their 13th album, they have consistently hit the LP charts up north. They are one of those rare bands where each member not only writes, but writes well. They wear their Beatles influences plainly on tracks like “Nice Work If You Can Get It” which sounds like “Daytripper” sideways or the 12-string ballad “I Dream Of Sleep”. “Dream It All Over Again” ropes me in as all songs are better with handclaps.
5.Mary Fahl – Can’t Get It Out Of My Head
The album title alludes to the ELO song she does and also the fact that these cover versions are generally all songs you have in your brain from years of listening (if you are old like me). By far my fave cover here is of the Neil Young After The Gold Rush song “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”. That highlights not only Mary’s amazing voice, but also the instrumental prowess of Mark Doyle. Since leaving October Project, this for me is her strongest solo album. Great covers abound like “Ruby Tuesday”, “Beware Of Darkness” and “Got A Feelin'”, an obscure Mamas & Papas track from their first album that is haunting.
6.Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos
The title refers to a T Rex lyric and some of the best tracks here are indeed glam rock including “Kick” and “Fire It Up”. “Take What You Want”, “U Rok Mi” and SOS Emergency” are classic Leppard arena-rock. Gotta say I’m not in love with the 2 country tracks (“This Guitar”, “Lifeless”) but I do like the closer “From Here To Eternity” which recalls Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”.
7.Judy Collins – Spellbound
Ms. Collins is simply an ageless wonder. I didn’t expect this 82 year-old to put out one of her best albums in 2022 – and her first with all original compositions. The songs are autobiographical and mostly wistful such as “When I Was A Girl In Colorado”, “Gilded Rooms” and “Grand Canyon”. The piano runs on a song like “So Alive” are a highlight. The most uptempo tune is “Hell On Wheels” about driving back to Boulder (one assumes) from a gig at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.
8.Dorothy – Gifts From The Holy Ghost
Well here is the third female singer in our top 10, but Dorothy Martin couldn’t be any more different than Mary Fahl and Judy Collins. She possesses a great blues-rock voice and she, plus her band from L.A., churn out classic ’70s rock riffage. “Beautiful Life” and “Big Guns” get things cooking right away. “Hurricane” is my top track. The video for the track “Rest In Peace” is all leather, studs and black lipstick.
9.Cirkus Prutz – Blues Revolution
Well by now this 70-year old has heard all this, but ‘it’s only rock n roll and I like it’ to steal a phrase. These guys are from Sweden but sound like Chuck Berry on “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll”. They conjure up ZZ Top (“Modern Day Gentlemen”), Led Zep (“Boogie Woogie Man” plus cop the tune to “Black Magic Woman” on “Let’s Join Hands”.
10.Journey – Freedom
Apparently guitarist Neil Schon and keys man Jonathan Cain are now at odds so who knows about the future of Journey, but heck they managed to weather the loss of singer Steve Perry who is replaced here by Arnel Pineda. This is actually a pretty good if generic album of classic Journey sounds like “Don’t Go” and “The Way We Used To Be”. I like the fact that several of the songs are pretty hard guitar rockers (“You Got The Best Of Me”, “Let It Rain”).
11.Julian Lennon – Jude
Unlike his dad, Julian is all moodiness with none of the rockin’ John which isn’t bad – just different. I admit to being just like every other Beatles fan who hears the familiar Lennon voice and wants another “Strawberry Fields Forever” or whatever – and that is terribly unfair to Julian who is talented but not his dad. The best tracks feel like late-at-night in the dark music “Save Me”, “Love Won’t Let Me Down” and “Love Never Dies”. “Every Little Moment” is classic era Julian with my fave being “Lucky Ones”.
12.Men Without Hats – Again, Pt. 2
For some reason, Canadian Ivan Doroschuk’s maddeningly catchy but repetitive songs appeal to your Dentist beginning with “The Safety Dance”. Since they reformed I have had each of their records on my best of the year lists and this continues that streak. There are the usual synth-pop confections (“The Love Inside your Heart”, “Heaven” and “All Into Stars”), but there are also ballads this time out (“Where The Wild Go”). “My Own Advice” feels like “Penny Lane” on synths.
13.Eddie Vedder – Earthling
For me the weakest part of the music of Pearl Jam has been the vocals of Eddie Vedder so it was a huge surprise how much I liked his new solo album. “Invincible” sounds like The Call while “Power Of Right” and “Rose Of Jericho” are punky rockers. Chad and Josh from Red Hot Chili Peppers help out with drums and guitar. The big names are those of Stevie Wonder (harmonica on “Try”), Ringo Starr (drums on the Pepperesque “Mrs. Mills”) and especially Elton John on the great song “Picture”.
14.Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates
This symphonic metal band is from Austria and feature both male and female lead singers. “Master The Hurricane” is 7:18 of operatic metal music. “Clocks” is about as catchy as their music gets. “In My World” has some nice flute work. The album cover is eye-catching.
15.The New Roses – Sweet Poison
Here we have a German band that conjures bands like Cinderella and Motley Crue on their fifth album. “My Kind Of Crazy”, “Sweet Gloria”, “Warpaint” – either you like the arena guitar riffs or you don’t. If do like how “The Usual Suspects” has a Bryan Adams rock feel.
16.Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point
To some degree this reunion LP is all about Roland Orzabal’s pain of losing his wife but that is simplistic as Curt Smith also contributes songs like “Stay” and “Break The Man”. It appears that “The Tipping Point” is that line between life and death. That song and “My Demons” feel like classic Tears For Fears while “Master Plan” is psychedelic Beatles. You can hear the pain in “Please Be Happy”.
17.Ghost – Impera
Swede Tobias Forge’s band’s fifth album finds them as modern metal saviors. It doesn’t have the prog that made me love Meloria, but it is still good melodic metal. “Kaisarion” is churning rock and “Griftwood” has a good riff. “Call Me Little Sunshine” is pure Alice Cooper while “Spillways” is classic Ghost. “Hunters Moon” is from the Halloween Kills soundtrack.
18.Birth – Born
Somebody should tell these prog-rockers that in this day and age having a band name Birth and an album title Born guarantees that nobody can Google you – just try, you get a bunch of baby links. The album cover is great and the music is pure ’70s progressive. Conor Riley (vocals/keys) and Brian Ellis (guitar) from the San Diego group Astra are the leaders here. “For Yesterday” is the long classic mellotron song. “Another Time” feels like Caravan. “Cosmic Tears” is a nice prog instrumental.
19.Liam Gallagher – C’mon You Know
Of the Gallagher brothers, Liam has been the most consistent of the two Oasis leaders. Well you know there are going to be John Lennon references (‘now they know how many holes it takes to’ from the “Diamond In The Dark” indeed). “Don’t Go Halfway” is good psychedelic Oasis while I prefer the ballads like “Too Good For Giving Up”. “Better Days” is blatantly “Tomorrow Never Knows” which is pretty good actually. “Oh Sweet Children” is a nice latter-day Lennonesque ballad that builds in intensity.
20.Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If
Elvis’ 32nd album! – yikes. This one surprised the heck out of me as your blogger hadn’t cared about Elvis for decades. This harkens back to his early stuff like My Aim Is True which is the Elvis I liked. The opening track is an in-your-face rocker – “Farewell, OK”. The farfisa organ on “Magnificent Hurt” conjures the old Elvis as well. “Penelope Halfpenny”, “The Difference”, “Paint The Red Roses Blue” – all fine songs.
Top EP 2022
The Heavy Heavy-Life & Life Only
Sunshine 60’s psych/pop with some 70’s Fleetwood Mac also (they apparently love The Mamas & The Papas for instance). The EP has gorgeous harmonies from this male/female duo from the U.K. “Why Don’t You Call?” with the farfisa organ it my fave with #2 being “Miles & Miles”.
Top 20 Orphan Songs 2022-downloads, singles or isolated tracks on so-so albums.
1.Porcupine Tree – Dignity
At this point Steven Wilson is the man when it comes to modern progressive rock music, but I have always preferred his solo or Blackfield material to that of his band Porcupine Tree. I was prepared to ignore his new album Closure/Continuation, but my pal Mr. D played me some excerpts and this track blew me away. I must admit that editing could have made it a better song. I would have at least eliminated the first 49 seconds and another 1:20 from the middle of quiet sounds. It is good ethereal Pink Floydian music no matter what.
2.Simple Minds – The Walls Came Down
The late Michael Been of The Call (“Let The Day Begin”) wrote this epic for his band’s 1983 album Modern Romans. It wasn’t a big hit which was a crime, but the important people got it. Apparently Jim Kerr’s band Simple Minds got it and have used it as the album closer from their new record DIRECTION > of > the > HEART. Their music has always been bombastic and this is a great cover. Kerr’s voice doesn’t sound the same as when he sang “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, but he still sings well.
3.The Hanging Stars – I Don’t Want To Feel So Bad Anymore
Americana out of Great Britain from the album The Hollow Heart. They look like Poco and sound like The Byrds on this track. There are some good songs on the rest of the album but it isn’t up to their last one A New Kind Of Sky which was my #4 album in 2020.
4.Lonely Robot – Starlit Stardust
John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena) has put out 5 Lonely Robot albums and they all have been good (though this one – A Model Life – isn’t up to his first 3 which are essential prog-rock). Other than Craig Blundell on drums, he plays all the instruments which is quite a feat – check out his searing lead guitar on this song.
5.Richie Furay – Somebody Like You
Richie sounds just like he did back in the old days with Poco on this excellent Keith Urban track from his covers album In the Country. With production by Val Garay (James Taylor, Kim Carnes, etc.) the sound is real in-your-face. I am not in love with many of his cover choices (“Walking In Memphis”, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”) and wish he would have written a few new ones himself. Frankly it is great that he sounds so good still.
6.The Sadies – Stop & Start
Sadly Dallas Good (vocals/guitar) passed away earlier this year, but not before completing work on the album Colder Streams. Psychedelic-Americana from Toronto is The Sadies m.o. The rest of the album isn’t bad, but this opener is the best track.
7.Fastball – I Only Remember The Good
You have to give Fastball credit for continuing to plug away putting out fine music, but never getting back to “The Way” their hit in 1998. The Deep End again has some good tunes on it with this old-school country-rock tune the stand-out. Sorta like mixing The Mavericks with The Beatles of “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party”.
8.Edenbridge – Savage Land
Boy the album Shangri-La was a tough one to omit from the album list as there were a few songs that were pretty darn good, but much of it is also way too metal for your Dentist so let’s go with this ethereal ballad. Singer Sabine Edelsbacher and guitarist Arne “Lanvall” Stockhammer front this Austrian symphonic metal band. This song has almost a “Dog & Butterfly” (Heart) feel for me with some nice flute near the end.
9.Alan Parsons – Don’t Fade Now
The singing of the late Eric Woolfson was part of what made The Alan Parsons Project memorable and since his passing Parsons has tried his hand at vocals (along with using guests). Honestly Parsons is a producer, not a singer yet his fragile voice fits this ballad well and he wisely uses others to flesh out the chorus. Most of From The New World didn’t do much for me, but this song stands out.
10.Kula Shaker – Farewell Beautiful Dreamer
Crispian Mills’ U.K. psychedelic band have issued some fine albums but I have to say that 1st Congregational Church of Eternal Love and Free Hugs isn’t one of them. Too much dopey faux church moments (likely meant as humor) ruin the record plus Mills’ voice doesn’t move me much this time. That being said, this tune is really charming and you can almost see minstrels leaping about.
11.The Proclaimers – The World That Was
Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid will likely always be a one-hit wonder in the U.S with “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” from 1993. They have continued to issue fine music over the years and while I don’t much like their new album Dentures Out, this Stones-like riff rocker is nifty.
12.5 Seconds Of Summer – Bad Omens
This band is a big success in their native Australia, but have managed a few hits in the U.S. as well. This pop track is from their fifth LP 5SOS5.
13.Enuff Z’nuff – Hurricane
Since Donnie Vie quit and Chip Z’nuff took over on lead vocals they continue to put out good pop music (though I do miss Vie’s vocals). From the Chicago area, they continue to put out Beatle tinged power pop. Their new album Finer That Sin has a couple of good tracks on it with this being the best.
14.John Mellencamp + Bruce Springsteen – Did You Say Such A Thing
Hearing that Mellencamp and Springsteen were collaborating on the album Strictly A One-Eyed Jack whetted your Dentist’s appetite for good rock and roll. The tracks they do together are the highlights, but there aren’t enough and frankly it is shocking how bad Mellencamp’s voice has gotten. He sounds like Tom Waits which isn’t a good thing. The rocker Mellencamp was always my fave (“Hurt So Good”, “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.”) and this is really the only song on the album like that with a Stones-like groove.
15.Bryan Adams – I’ve Been Looking For You
Once again here is a case of your blogger buying an album on reputation alone and being terribly disappointed. Much of his 15th studio album So Happy It Hurts just laid there. This neo-rockabilly track cooked pretty good however.
16.Stabbing Westward – Cold
From their album Chasing Ghosts, this is the third version of “Cold” they have released and the best. The song has an evil insistent feel to it. This Illinois band are considered industrial-metal.
17.Starcrawler – Roadkill
Led by singer Arrow de Wilde, this L.A. band goes punk on this rocker from the album She Said.
18.Stars – To Feel What They Feel
Your blogger was not familiar with Canadian band Stars before From Capelton Hill which is actually their 9th album (first in 5 years). “This band has always been us trying to navigate what it means to be inside a life that is going to end,” says vocalist and guitarist Amy Millan. Wow, they don’t sound very happy do they?
19.The Black Keys – Wild Child
The last Black Keys related album your Dentist liked all the way through was the Dan Auerbach solo album Waiting On A Song (2017). Dropout Boogie (their 11th) again was uneven, but I did like this lead-off single.
20.Muse – Liberation
U.K. band Muse’s best moments for me evoke Queen at their most bombastic and this song is no exception. Their new album Will Of The People is way too aggressive generally for me though frankly it came real close to making my album list. I suspect if I was 17 I would think it was the best record ever recorded, but I’m a 70 year old cynic and have heard it all by now.