Contrary to the title and as most of my friends know, I don’t do “best of the year” lists. My “best of” list always includes material released in previous years which I discovered during the current year. Purists always call me down on it, but it is what it is.
Frankly, it’s a catch-22. Some years there isn’t enough quality material to compose a decent list and other years there’s simply too much. And I don’t even kid myself … there’s no way that I can keep up with everything. Sometimes it takes me a year or two to find the good stuff.
And there’s never a set number. Every year several of my friends exchange the “Best 50 of The Year”. My list might contain 50 entries, but more often than not it’ll be like 11 or 63. I’m not a manager. This isn’t a job. I can’t be bothered with these arbitrary limitations. My list is my list. Live with it.
So, without further ado and in no particular order, here is my list of the Best Music of 2006.
Burden Brothers - Buried In Your Black Heart (Amazon Original Release Date: November 18, 2003
If you’re familiar with Toadies, you’ll love these guys. The Toadies were an underground sensation and their demise made me very sad. Fortunately, Vaden Todd Lewis (the lead vocalist for the Toadies) found new life with Burden Brothers. While Wikipedia makes them out to be some Texas supergroup, it’s heavy on the Toadies because Lewis rocks. You might want to pad - or start and finish - your Toadies collection while you’re at it.
Deathstars - Termination Bliss (Amazon) Original Release Date: January 30, 2006
iTunes used to have this feature where they would recommend CDs based on past purchases. This feature never made it out of the beta stage, but I used it often. It was awesome and I’ll never understand why they ditched it. This album was one of their recommendations and it rocks. These guys are the future of metal. Check ‘em out.
Motorhead - Kiss of Death (Amazon) Original Release Date: August 29, 2006
This is quite possibly Motorhead’s best album. There isn’t a bad song, and they all stand out as potential classics. Lemmy might be 60, but he’s cranking out rock and roll that 20-year-olds can only dream of. If I had to pick only one album for the year, this would be it. It’s just that good.
The Bones - Straight Flush Ghetto (Amazon Original Release Date: April 20, 2004
I found these guys on a sampler CD included with a Fireball Ministry CD I purchased. (Note the absence of Fireball Ministry on this list.) Simply put, these guys are awesome. They’re a sweet mix of punk and metal, with a little 50s chord structures thrown in for good measure. If the song Do You Wanna doesn’t convince you, move on. You’re already dead. And speaking of checking your pulse …
Children of Bodom - Are You Dead Yet? (Amazon) Original Release Date: October 11, 2005
The Japanese release contains covers of Poison’s Talk Dirty To Me and Britney Spears’ Oops … I Did It Again. This version, with The Ramones Somebody Put Something in My Drink, is easily worth the price of admission. How can you not love a metal band who covers Poison, Spears and The Ramones? While I ended up purchasing most of their CDs this year, this album is easily their most approachable. Their drummer is a machine.
Nightwish - Once (Amazon) Original Release Date: August 17, 2004
How can you not love Wish I Had An Angel? It’s one of those songs that resonates at the center of your being. Creek Mary’s Blood is another awesome track. Once you’ve finished listening to this CD, you’ll wonder whether these guys walk in a different world. It’s symphonic metal the way it was meant to be. Only time will tell if they can recover from firing Tarja Turunen. I’m holding high hopes.
Therion - Lemuria/Sirius B (Amazon Original Release Date: June 1, 2004
This one is still growing on me and it might be too early to include, but it’s strong enough that I feel confident it’ll be in heavy rotation over the coming months. This is actually a 2-CD set, so even at $20.00 it’s a good buy. These guys are more into orchestration and choirs mixed with some fairly heavy metal. It’s along the same lines as Nightwish but, at the same time, they’re in a completely different league. They started out as a death metal band and have evolved to this. And this is a very good thing.
Crucified Barbara - In Distortion We Trust (Amazon) Original Release Date: May 30, 2006
This all-girl band is serious stuff. It’s good, straight-ahead rock and roll. They’d make Girlschool proud, and have probably opened for them several times. I discovered them on the same sampler disc I found The Bones and could not be happier. If you’re complaining that there isn’t any good rock/metal being put out these days, you obviously haven’t heard these ladies.
7 Seconds - Walk Together, Rock Together (Amazon Original Release Date: 1985
I’m recommending this album on the strength of one song, a remake of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons. This album is available via eMusic, which has a 30-day free trial so you can snag the song (or album) for free. It’s punk, minimally polished, and sounds much more raw than Nena’s version. Which is a Good Thing. Rock on, Maynard.
Rammstein - Mutter (Amazon) Original Release Date: April 3, 2001
If you’ve seen XXX, you’re already familiar with Feuer frei!. Rammstein performs the song in that movie. I meant to buy this CD when it was released, but got busy with other things while waiting for it to be imported. For years, the only Rammstein CD I owned was _Live Aus Berlin _ (which I don’t recommend). I finally got back around to Rammstein this year, and I’m glad I did. While I now have all their CDs, this is the one that really stands out.
Joey Ramone - Don’t Worry About Me (Amazon) Original Release Date: February 19, 2002
In 2001, at the age of 49, Joey died, making this his farewell album. I’ve always been a fan of the Ramones and I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to this album. Many people point to What a Wonderful World and the title track as the only worthwhile songs. Those people are wrong. From start to finish, this CD is worth it.
Lordi - The Arockalypse (Amazon) Original Release Date: May 26, 2006
Giving credit where it’s due, my wife turned me on to these guys. Most people in the U.S. haven’t even heard of them, but Lordi is ripping Europe apart. They’re huge, and rightfully so. They’re not as heavy metal as they look. I’d classify them closer to rock and roll, but that’s a judgment call. Who’s Your Daddy? and Hard Rock Hallelujah are the stand-out tracks. If you like this album, check out their Get Heavy album. It’s just as good.
And that’s it for the “new” stuff. All in all, it’s been an awesome year. But along with new discoveries comes my favorite, the rediscoveries. These are bands and albums that I’ve heard before but, over time, have forgotten and rediscovered this year.
Girlschool - The Collection (Amazon) Original Release Date: August 1, 1995
I saw Girlschool open for Ted Nugent back in the early 80s and they were great. Unfortunately, this collection (along with Girlschool’s entire career) has gotten almost zero attention in the U.S., and that’s a crime. This collection really opens your eyes as to just how good they were. It’s more than a greatest hits package. It’s truly a collection. Good stuff. And they’re still touring, after all these years.
Axe - Offering (Amazon) Original Release Date: 1982
I bought this on cassette when it was first released and played the thing repeatedly. Rock n’ Roll Party in the Streets is the song most people remember, but it’s hardly the best song on this album. I saw them open for Cheap Trick around ‘82 or ‘83 and they blew Cheap Trick off the stage. A couple of years later, I met and spoke briefly with Wayne Hauer, their bass player. In 1984, their guitarist (Mike Osbourne) was killed in a car crash and the band broke up shortly thereafter. This album is an underground classic.
Adam and the Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier (Amazon) Adam and the Ants - Prince Charming (Amazon) Adam Ant - Friend of Foe (Amazon) Adam Ant - Strip (Amazon) Adam Ant - Vive Le Rock (Amazon) In 2005, most of Adam Ant’s catalog was remastered. These five represent the cream of the crop. I’ve been a fan since my friend Kelly first played Kings of the Wild Frontier for me. I saw him live on the Vive Le Rock tour and he killed. He’s fallen on some hard times lately, but when he stays on his medication he seems to do alright. These CDs represent his prime. The guy is truly one-of-a-kind. Nobody layers vocals like Adam did.
The Cars - Anthology: Just What I Needed (Amazon) Original Release Date: November 7, 1995
At one time, I had all of their albums. On 8-track. And I listened to them incessantly. I purchased this compilation shortly after it was released and never paid much attention to it. I just never could get into it. It seemed to be too much. I couldn’t sit through 5-6 songs before I was looking for something else. But with iTunes, it’s just right. I hear a song every day or so and that seems to be just the right amount. Every time a Cars song comes on, my mood immediately improves. These guys were awesome.
Motley Crue - New Tattoo (Amazon) Original Release Date: July 11, 2000
This was the Crue’s return to form. It’s the solid, hard rock and roll that made them famous in the 80s. This is kind of album that, when in rotation with 50 other CDs, will sneak up on you. The songs just stand out from the crowd. With a lot of catchy tunes and hooks, these guys prove they still have what it takes.
Eve 6 - Eve 6 (Amazon) Original Release Date: April 28, 1998
Inside Out is the song most people remember. I think the whole album is good. While I don’t consider it a classic by any stretch of the imagination, it’s fast and fun. And that’s all that really matters.
Murderdolls - Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls (Amazon) Original Release Date: August 20, 2002
I’ve never understood how anyone can like Motley Crue and not like Murderdolls. It’s fast, fun and in-your-face rock and roll. There really is not a bad track on the album, but stand-outs include Slit My Wrist, Twist My Sister, Dead in Hollywood, Grave Robbing U.S.A. and Kill Miss America. Sadly, it appears that this will be the Murderdolls one and only album. Fortunately, Wednesday 13’s Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying, and the Dead continues the tradition.
And that pretty much wraps up the year. With a list like this, I’m really looking forward to 2007. Maybe we’ll finally get the new Guns ‘N Roses album, Chinese Democracy (although if they bump the release date again, I’m giving up).
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