We are at the final month of 2020 and thank the Heavens. I hope 2021 sees an end to Covid, but not an end to my music buying. This month we have another treasure trove of stuff I have obtained over not just the month, but the last 6 months as a couple things I ordered in prior months finally arrived. And being December, there is everything I got for Christmas that is music related.
First up this month are a couple things I bought back in April/May timeframe, right when Covid started. My brother saw these on the Facebook market from a friend of his and knew I would like it so I told him I wanted them and he bought them (I paid him back of course). I told him to hold them and I would be down to Atlanta soon and boy was I wrong. We are now in December and I haven’t been down. I eventually asked him to mail them. I got another Kiss Tour Book and this was from the Alive/Worldwide Tour (1996-97) and the other is The Ultimate Kiss Fanzine Phenomenon 1976-2009 hard back book. They are both awesome and will be reviewed in detail in 2021.
The year is almost over so it is time to look back at what was awesome in music during the year. I have already looked back at the Top Rock Albums of 2020 (click to read). This list will cover all other genres that I listened to over the year including Pop, Country, Christian and whatever other genre you want to classify these albums. Rock is my favorite genre and that is why it gets it’s own list, but that doesn’t take away from any of these choices as I think they are great on their own.
I feel I didn’t get to as many as I would have liked as the year seem to got away from me with all that went on with Covid. I did spend a lot of time on a few series such as finishing The David Coverdale Series, The Gene Simmons ‘The Vault’ Series and starting the epic Kiss Review Series. These consumed a lot of my time. What I am trying to say is I missed a lot.
Note: These albums were my favorites and not necessarily the most played on the radio (which I hate the radio) or even the biggest sellers. There aren’t the trendy indie bands on everyone else’s top albums list (okay, there might be one or two). These are just what I came across during the year and connected with me in some way and some thanks to my kids. So, we might as well get started…
#10 – Richard Marx – Limitless:
I have a soft spot for Richard Marx. I think he is a hell of singer and songwriter. I also have a soft spot for pop ballads and he is the King. This album always put me in a good mood and would relax me when I needed a break from the heavy rock. The songs “Another One Down” and “Limitless” really show off those vocals and are so beautiful. And then when your throw in “Front Row Seats” and “Let Go” well, you get an incredible pop masterpiece.
2020 was probably the strangest year yet. With the Covid virus running rampant, many new releases were either postponed until late in the year or we never saw the release at all. There were a flurry of albums at the beginning of the year, then basically nothing for a few months until we got to the Fall and now there are too many to get through. But there were some great releases and I am sure I missed a number of great albums and if you look around the web, there will be tons of Top Album lists you can get a pretty good idea of what you should check out in case you missed any of these.
This list will be my favorite “Rock” albums of the year. All other types of music will be for another post tomorrow. I am going to leave this one to my favorite genre. It is a broad genre, but these are the albums that I consider to be ROCK!!
Also note, these are MY FAVORITES!! These are not the most popular or trendy albums. You won’t find the cool trendy bands, because they are usually here today gone tomorrow. These are the albums that I connected with during the year and I kept coming back to again and again. And without further adieu, here are the Top Rock Albums of 2020:
#10 – Storm Force – Age of Fear:
Thanks to some fellow bloggers in the name of LeBrain and SuperDekes, I was introduced to this Canadian band that unapologetically brought us a classic 80’s rock album full of songs that rocked you out and songs that were actually relevant to the events going on in the world which is amazing considering this song came out prior to the Covid shutdowns. I believe these guys can see the future and with music like this, I can see their future being very bright. You need to hear the songs “Breathe”, “Because of You” and “Dirty Vegas because once you do, you will be caught in the Storm!!
The second bonus edition post for the ‘Crazy Nights’ album is this UK 12″ Picture Disc I have for the song “Reason to Live”. The picture disc has a band snapshot on the front in the box shape with the Kiss logo at the top. I will say that it is quite disappointing as the picture isn’t the whole disc. The back snapshot is much better with the full vinyl being taken in to use with a great live shot of the band with individual shots over the live shot. It is more of what I like in a picture disc.
The song was released as the second single from the album and was released on November 12, 1987. It was a minor hit for the band breaking the Top 40 in the UK hitting at #33 on the charts, but in the US, it only went to #64 despite the massive airplay it had on MTV. It was written by Paul Stanley and Desmond Child who had a knack at making hit songs.
I tried researching this disc and couldn’t find a whole lot about it other than it is UK pressing and they are fairly easy to buy so it isn’t too rare. Like with “Crazy, Crazy Nights” 12″ Single, there are 4 tracks of which 2 are from Crazy Nights and the other two are off older albums so you get a taste of what else by the band is out there. They songs don’t seem to be special mixes and seem to be album tracks, but it being a picture disc makes it all worth it.
For My Sunday Song #228, we are going to discuss the song “The Invisible Man” by Queen from the band’s 1989 album ‘The Miracle’. The song was the third single on the album and reached #12 on the UK Charts. It did not chart in the U.S. In fact, the album didn’t do all that well in the U.S. despite reaching #24 on Billboard. But the song is still one of my favorites on the album and I wanted to have something from ‘The Miracle’ in my 10 song set.
The song was written by Roger Taylor and was inspired by a book he was reading in which the bass line came to him immediately while reading. He titled the song after a book by H.G. Wells called “The Invisible Man”. I am sure you’ve heard of it. Roger doesn’t sing much on the song. He opens the song with saying “I’m the Invisible Man”, but Freddie does all the heavy lifting in the song. And one interesting fact about the song is that is the only Queen song to actually feature every band member’s name in the song. When they say Freddie Mercury, he starts singing. When they John Deacon, there is a heavy bass line going. When they say Brian May, they say it twice and he goes in to a solo. When they say Roger Taylor, he has a quick drum fill. It is all pretty cool.
The song is about a guy he becomes invisible after being rejected by a woman. Now, he actually isn’t invisible physically, only in the fact he is ignored by people and only feels invisible. He can now see right through her and her hidden emotions and the woman suddenly can’t stop thinking of him. He becomes her meanest thought and her darkest fear as the lyrics say. It is an interesting take on invisibility.
I am not big on Christmas albums. Not my favorite thing in the world. I don’t mind compilation albums with numerous different people singing various Christmas songs, but one album, by one person doing only Christmas songs. Not my thing. So when Matt Nathanson announced a Christmas album, I wasn’t thrilled, but at the same time, it was Matt Nathanson who is one of my favorite artists. So, I gave it try and now I’m glad I did.
The digital only album is nothing but covers, but it is okay as how do you write a new Christmas song when there are so many out there. He starts off with the sweet, tender “Christmas Time Is Hear” which features the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. It is a hauntingly beautiful interpretation, short and sweet and a great opener. Matt kicks things up a notch with the English/Spanish song “Donde Esta Santa Claus” which is a fun, energetic romp full of Latin flavors. It is a tasty treat and one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Matt covers “Blue Christmas” and he plays it softer than Elvis and thankfully he doesn’t try to copy that approach as it would sound too Karaoke. Matt’s version has a country flair to it and is quite pleasant as Matt’s voice is as slick as melted butter. To keep the color theme going he goes in to “White Christmas” which is amazing short at only 51 seconds so not sure why even bother including it. It is an all acoustic short instrumental that is actually quite beautiful.
We are going to take a little break and highlight a couple singles I have in my collection. This is a little bonus material for you in the series. First up is the 12″ single for the band’s first single off ‘Crazy Nights’. It is the title track, but called “Crazy, Crazy Night” because one crazy wasn’t enough. The single was released on August 18, 1987 and was the highest charting song for the band in the UK hitting at #4 and selling over 200,000 copies (that would be the 7″ single I am sure). In the US, it only reached #64 on the Top 100 songs, but I do remember seeing the video on MTV a lot.
This 12″ single does come with 4 songs, but I can’t find much about this release at all. It does not appear that any of these songs are anything other than the album release version. I do know this version is the UK release and was not in the US so glad I was able to find a copy. The picture sleeve is nothing new as it is basically the album cover. The cool thing about it are those Vertigo Labels. Strange not seeing Mercury or Casablanca.
Imagine this, you are extremely young and you get a record deal. You are set to make your first album and the label picks the great Bruce Fairbairn to produce your album. How stoked you must be. You are about to make it big time and be famous worldwide and be the big rock star you were meant to be. All your dreams were about to come true. I am sure that was what Paul Laine was thinking…I know I would have been.
But for some strange reason, that didn’t happen with this album. However, Paul would go on to make it in the industry and he is still very active today and I bet makes a pretty good living with his music. I don’t know why this album didn’t take off, but for some reason it didn’t. It was 1990 and we were at the tail end of the 80’s Rock scene and Grunge was coming on fast so I am writing it off to that as the issue because it sure as hell wasn’t the music’s fault.
We are now in 1987 in the Kiss timeline and something odd has happened. For the first time in Kisstory, Kiss did not release an album in a given year. 1986 did not see a Kiss studio album release. For a band that started out doing 2 a year and then one a year, it is a huge surprise that 1986 saw nothing. Not even a greatest hits package. After the Asylum Tour ended, Kiss took a break as they had been going strong for 12 years non-stop. Gene went off and produced other albums such as Black N’ Blue and Paul, well Paul was left trying to keep Kiss alive (no pun intended).
By this time, Paul was pretty sick of Gene’s lack of commitment and confronted Gene about. He told Gene that it wasn’t fair that he was off doing all these side projects while reaping the benefits of Kiss thanks to Paul doing all the work and heavy lifting and you know, Paul is right. Paul was the one to save Kiss and keep the wheel’s turning. I don’t know how much that worked, because Gene’s input on this album is still pretty minimal with only 4 of the 11 songs on the album. Heck, Bruce had 4 writing credits on this album and Eric had one. Paul brought in some of the same people to help write the album including Adam Mitchell, Desmond Child and even Diane Warren. The band took on a more pop, radio-friendly sound with this one and saw them use synthesizers a great deal more with Paul, Bruce and Phil Ashley helping out on that instrument. The one cool thing about the album is that the line-up is unchanged from ‘Asylum’. Kiss saw no turnover this time around and this band would stay together for at least one more album.
In the last few years, David Coverdale has been quite busy rehashing old material, but in a good way. He has brought us deluxe box sets for albums such as ‘Slide It In’, ‘1987’, ‘Slip of the Tongue’ and even ‘Unzipped’ the all acoustic box set. And next year in 2021, we will get ‘Restless Heart’. But for now, he is rehashing old material yet again.
This time it is a series called ‘Red, White & Blue’ Trilogy. The Rock Album (White) was up first and now we are on Love Songs (Red) and I believe The Blues Album (Blue, duh) will come in early 2021 (February was last I heard but that has not been confirmed yet). Each album is really a glorified greatest hits albums each with its own theme and the titles give you those themes quite nicely.
The big difference on these albums is more than just a remastering. The songs have been tinkered with and given a little touch-up with some re-mixing and even a little touch-up on arrangements and other little surprises. The songs aren’t completely re-imagined, thankfully it is no Bon Jovi “This Left Feels Right”. The songs are still very much recognizable, just enhanced ever so slightly.