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Sunday, January 2, 2011



Here’s my alphabetical 2010 Top Ten list of records, as they appear on my official ballot for this year’s annual Village Voice poll, which I’ve been voting in since 1975. Next week I’ll be serving up a sizzling platter of the best videos and books of 2010.


01. Bachman Turner OverdriveBachman & Turner (Box Of Songs) :: So what if this album is technically credited to “Bachman & Turner”? I’m never afraid to call a spade a spade, which is why I’m tellin’ ya that this is a BTO album as sure as the day is long—and the day’ll never end as long as you’ve got this hot wax drippin’ off your turntable on eternal auto-repeat. But don’t take my word for it: just listen to the infectious “That’s What It Is” with its thick hunka-chunka power chords and st-st-st-stuttering vocals ’cause in BTOland things ain’t never gonna change.

02. Marco BeneventoBetween The Needles And Nightfall (Royal Potato Family) :: Aided and more than ably abetted by Reed Mathis on bass and Andre Barr on percussion, quirky keyboardist Marco serves up eleven excellent eclectically inventive electro acoustic instrumental essays which evoke aural ambient echoes of earlier like-minded albums, none more so than Paul McCartney’s McCartney and Nash The Slash’s Bedside Companion.

03. Black Country CommunionBlack Country Communion (J&R Adventures) :: The vocals are of the scotch-garglin’ style that made Steve Marriott and Bon Scott benchmark wailers; the bass is a bowel-buffeting beast that’ll massage your innards from stench to stern; the slick-swervin’ guitar is straight outta mid ’60s studio nirvana; and the pulse-pounding drums with their thick bludgeoning beats sound uncannily just like John Bonham of Led Zeppelin—which they oughtta since the skin-smashin’ stick man is none other than Bonzo’s son Jason. Toss in some synth-soaked atmoogspherics and you’ve got a recipe for the kind of good old-fashioned “Black Country Rock” that Mom used to hate!

04. Kevin Eubanks – Zen Food (Mack Avenue) :: If all you know about Eubanks is his bandleader stint on the Tonight Show, then prepare to be very pleasantly surprised by this highly intelligent jazz album that starts out sounding like a cool classic cross between Stanley Clarke’s School Days and Jan Hammer’s Oh Yeah? before it veers into a vintage Prestige and Verve vein that alternates between being sensually spiritual and so seriously swingin’ with funk as to be borderline heavy.

05. The Flowers Of Hell“O” (Optical Sounds) :: The Flowers Of Hell made this album for you if you’re addicted to dreamy minimalist drone music as expertly exemplified by such album as: Terry Riley’s Persian Surgery Dervishes; Eno’s Discreet Music; Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking Of The Titanic; and Tony Conrad’s Outside The Dream Syndicate because during its languid 45 minute length, “O” will evoke all of these albums as everything coalesces to sculpt a seamless sonic soundscape that will transport your mind deep into an inner realm which records rarely seek to reach these days.

Tim HusHockeytown (Stony Plain) :: Tim rambles from coast to coast to coast on numbers like the rail-rumblin’ “Canadian Pacific,” the molten-hammerin’ “Hamilton Steel,” the fish-flounderin’ “North Atlantic Trawler” and the patriotic title track. There’s no mistakin’ that Tim is the heir—and boy is it ever apparent—to the wood-splinterin’ cowboy singin’ legacy of the legendary Stompin’ Tom Connors. But don’t take my word for it, just ask Stompin’ Tom yourself the next time you see him and Tim Hus sharin’ a stage.

07. ImmolateRuminate (MVD Audio) :: The album cover outside shows a skeleton awash in flames while the album music inside shows the vocalist buried alive in dense slabs of Spectorish sound; a sonic distinction that almost makes this the Exile On Aladdin Sane St. of death metal. Double bonus points for having a singer who actually sings instead of screams and for having a band that’s smart enough to take their musical cues from Powerman 5000—not that they’d ever admit it.

08. Betty MoonRollin Revolution (self released) :: This here Moonage Babedream is a heavy hard rockin’ revolutionary hellion who’s got a slinky ’n’ sly predatory eye on your danglin’ prize. Bonus points for having the refreshingly good taste to salute her roots by covering Grace Slick. Points deducted if she doesn’t call her next album Moonage Babedream.

09. Robert PlantBand Of Joy (Rounder) :: Although I may listen to Manic Nirvana more than any other Plant platter, I know deep down in my heart of hearts that Fate Of Nations is his artistic apex. Luckily, Band Of Joy happily straddles the sonic fence somewhere between the two in that it’s much less manic than Manic and far less fateful than Fate. In other words, it’s a relaxed romp that’s part honeydrippin’ desire, part flower power posy, and part tremolo trouble.

10. Randy Weston And His African Rhythms SextetThe Storyteller: Live At Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (Motéma) :: When ivory-tinkler Weston isn’t smearcasing Keith Jarrett at his own game on the Latin jazz pioneer tribute “Chano Pozo,” he’s hunkered down and hammering away on “Jus’ Blues” like a seriously schizoid Mike Garson. Then the band comes roaring in straight outta Heavytown like they’ve been depth charging Dizzy’s “Manteca” for breakfast with a four-sided Miles Dark Magus chaser.

Be seeing you!

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