5. Garland Jeffreys – The King of in Between
A solid 11-song disc with a great band, this is Garland’s best effort in some time. One of the best overall records of the year.
4. Chuck Leavell – Back to the Woods
This is a heartfelt tribute to the pioneers of blues piano and songs made famous before the guitar became the prominent instrument of choice in the blues. Chuck was recruited by Ian Stewart to first play with the Rolling Stones in 1982 due to his Barrelhouse and Boogie Woogie prowess, and it shows brightly here. Chuck covers songs by Leroy Carr, Little Brother Montgomery, Otis Spann, Barrelhouse Buck McFarland and Memphis Slim with energetic style. Best blues record of the year!
3. The Rolling Stones & Muddy Waters – Live at the Checkerboard Lounge ’81
While in Chicago for a three-night stand during their 1981 US tour, the Stones snuck down to Buddy Guy’s Checkerboard Lounge for a show with one their earliest and biggest influences: Muddy Waters. This is a true gem, capturing authentic Chicago blues in its natural environment. Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Left Dizz and John Primer also show. This is a must-have document for any fans of Chicago blues or The Rolling Stones.
2. The Rolling Stones – Charlie Is My Darling
While it was great to finally see this early rock documentary clearly after decades of poor bootlegs, the real treat here is the bonus disc of the Stones recorded live in England in 1965. We typically associate the screaming and crying teenagers of the ’60s with The Beatles. However, the Stones worked their audiences into an uncontrollable frenzy often ending in riots that forced the band from the stage. Unlike The Beatles, the Stones thrived on the energy, forged through the storm and continued to make some of the greatest music of our time.
1. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
This is a disc full of topical and inspirational songs, perfect for trying times. Bruce departed from the sound of his previous recent efforts and even made the record without most of the E Street Band. Worthy of many repeated listenings. As with all great musicians, the record sounded even better live!