Top 10 albums of 2013 critics' picks: Steve Newton
Whatever happened to the Gangnam style?
Mule fans got a double dose of their favourite southern-flavoured blues/jam-rock outfit this time around, as all 11 tracks on Shout! were rerecorded on a second disc with a stellar cast of guest singers, including Ben Harper, Dr. John, Steve Winwood, Grace Potter, and West Van resident Elvis Costello.
It was definitely a bummer that original drummer Bill Ward wasn’t on it, but Sabbath’s first studio album in 35 years was still a potent reminder of what the godfathers of metal stood for in the ’70s. Even Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals—notoriously painful in concert—sounded fine on the Rick Rubin–produced riff-fest.
Rock Candy Funk Party
We Want Groove
RCFP is an improv-based, ’70s-style jazz-rock side project of guitarists Joe Bonamassa and Ron Dejesus, bassist Mike Merritt, keyboardist Renato Neto, and drummer Tal Bergman. “We’re just doing this for fun,” says producer Bergman on We Want Groove’s accompanying “making of” DVD. “That’s really why it’s called Rock Candy Funk Party.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Made Up Mind
A hugely talented 11-piece groove band featuring a Duane Allman–style slide-guitar virtuoso and a singer with the voice of a bluesy angel. What’s not to like?
Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses)
The Low Highway
The American songwriting great lays on the social commentary with tunes supporting the homeless (“Invisible”) and deriding Wal-Mart (“Burnin’ It Down”). The Low Highway also includes a couple of tracks from the post-Katrina TV series, Treme.
Rhythm & Blues
Like a force of nature, the 77-year-old blues legend shows no signs of slowing down on this 21-track, two-disc release. Guests include Gary Clark Jr., Beth Hart, Kid Rock, Keith Urban, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Brad Whitford.
Best known as a guitarist-vocalist, the Atlanta bluesman went the all-instrumental route on 10 originals, and the result is manna from heaven for blues-loving guitar freaks. The snapshot in the CD of Ellis as a little kid in his pajamas strumming a chord tells it all.
With a band composed of keyboardist Mike Keneally, bassist Chris Chaney, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, the Bay Area guitar hero unleashes 11 tracks of his typically adventurous instrumental hard rock. The disc was coproduced, recorded, and engineered by Satch’s long-time right-hand man, Langley’s own Mike Fraser.
Anyone who saw Americana artist Patty Griffin performing with Robert Plant’s Band of Joy in Vancouver a couple of years back knows what a captivating vocalist she is. Plant sings on three songs, and the North Mississippi Allstars’ Luther and Cody Dickinson provide rootsy accompaniment on most of the tracks.
Sound City—Real to Reel
The soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s documentary about the legendary Sound City studio, recorded on the custom-built Neve 8028 analogue console Grohl bought and had reinstalled in the Foo Fighters’ 606 Studios. Just the fact that it includes Paul McCartney’s heaviest tune since “Helter Skelter” makes this one a keeper.