15. Eric Clapton & Friends – The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale
Slowhand may be beginning to start feeling his age and giving touring the heave-ho but there is no slowing down his studio output as this tribute to his longtime friend, the recently deceased, J.J. Cale.
Being Eric Clapton has many benefits I’m sure, but few would be better than being able to call on a host of legendary artists to assist him in his latest venture. Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson and John Mayer all take part and add their distinctive flavour to this appreciation of the talented Tulsa Sound originator.
It’s a brilliant testament to the creative genius of Cale and is no more than the man deserved. Tracks like “They Call Me The Breeze” and “Train To Nowhere” are indications and interpretations are some of his classic works.
14. Corrosion Of Conformity – IX
As the imaginative title suggests this is COC’s ninth studio release and although it doesn’t quite stand toe-to-toe with albums like Wiseblood, America’s Volume Dealer or Deliverance it nonetheless is still a cracking record. COC are a different proposition these days since the departure of Pepper Keenan. The remaining threesome are tighter than ever and have returned to the roots of their first albums.
“Elphyn”, “On Your Way” and “The Hanged Man” are fine examples of what COC can deliver in 2014 and beyond.
13. Judas Priest – Redeemer Of Souls
Many bands would struggle with losing such a key member of the band as Priest suffered due to the departure of K.K. Downing. Some would say KK was irreplaceable and a fair proportion of fans would not argue with that. However, an injection of fresh, and young, blood in the form of guitarist Richie Faulkner has not only kept the band afloat it has positively jumped aboard a yacht and set sail for the mainland.
As with COC this album doesn’t quite rank amongst the genre-defining standards in their extensive back catalogue but it does give a timely reminder that we should still celebrate our idols whilst they are still with us. Opener “Dragonaut” is instantly a Priest classic as to is “Sword Of Damocles”.
The Priest just keep on dishing out quality metal year after year. Raise your hands and fists to them whilst they are still around.
12. The Hip Priests – Black Denim Blitz
No album released this year has set it’s stall out so early in proceedings as the UK’s premier punk purveyors of filth and excess. “Vodkacoma Casanova” spells out everything that is great about the fury, power and intensity of the band and the rest of the album dares you to keep up.
“Evil Sweat”, “Jesus Died So We Could Ride”, “Instant Delinquent” are all standard bearers for the future of the sleazier side of punk rock genre.
There is no shame in taking time out halfway through this album just to regain your senses. In short, if the Misfits thought more about sex and less about horror movies then they would be The Hip Priests.
11. Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Goin’ Home
The fact that this is a covers album would in normal circumstances render it unfit for a place in my Top 20 albums of the year. However, this is Kenny Wayne Shepherd and this is no bog standard covers album.
Whether the band is picking up where the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan left off with a thunderous and high octane “The House Is Rockin’” or the super slinky “Cut You Loose” or the shady blues club feel of “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” there is simply no let up in the quality and respect in the delivery of the music.
After seeing the band perform many of the tracks on the album live just a couple of months ago I can certainly vouch for the fact that if there is any originality to be found in the blues scene, even with a covers album, the KWS is most likely the man in which it resides. This is just class.