My top 30 albums of the year…

1. Duckworth Lewis Method – superb cricket themed album that includes the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon. Perfect quirky pop bliss.
2. Places Of Power ‘Now Is The Hour’ (Frontiers) – the best album Foreigner never made.

3. Jeff Scott Soto ‘Beautiful Mess’ (Frontiers) – an album that JSS shows his more funkier side. Worth it alone for the song ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’.

4. W.E.T. (Frontiers) – its that man Mr Soto again doing his melodic hard rock thing and sounding at times how you’d imagine Journey sounding had he been able to record with the band. Essential.

5. House Of Lords ‘Cartesian Dreams’ (Frontiers) – their best album since reforming and nearly as good as ‘Sahara’!

6. Dream Theater ‘Black Clouds And Silver Linings’ (Roadrunner) – made me fall in love again with the band as they focused again on melody.

7. Magnum ‘Into The Valley Of The Moonking’ (SPV) – they just keep getting better since they returned. Good to see a couple of straight ahead hard rockers on this album.

8. IQ ‘Frequency’ (GEP/SPV) – their best album to date and just marvel at the soundscapes they create.

9. The Jokers ‘The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Show’ – amazing debut album that mixes 70’s Aerosmith/Stones with a more modern feel. No a single filler.

10. Cheap Trick ‘The Latest’ – they just keep getting better. The masters of pop rock.

11. On The Rise (Frontiers) – top notch AOR.

12. The Wildhearts ‘Chutzpah!’ after a couple of average release they are back on top form. They even mix pop with thrash metal on one song!

13. Astra ‘From Within’ (Lion Music) – the only band I know to successfully meld melodic metal with AOR/melodic rock. Includes a cracking tribute to Freddie Mercury.

14. Radio Silence  (Escape Music) – AOR/pop rock – damn fine tunes whatever you label it as.

15. Sacred Heart ‘Darkness Falls’ – UK based hard rockers who have pulled out the stops to produce their best album to date.

16. Saxon ‘Into The Labyrinth’ (SPV) – Biff & the boys come good again. They were frankly s*** in the 90’s but have found their muse again.

15. The Trews ‘No Time For Later’amazed this band never break in the UK as they have the songs to  appeal to a wide audience.

16. 101 South ‘No Un Turns’ (AOR Heaven) – perfect US AOR and not a duff song in sight.

17. Kiss ‘Sonic Boom’ (Roadrunner) – never though these guys would make one of my year end ‘best of’ lists but this is a damn fine album.

18. Firenote S/T – another top Finnish band and not unlike Brother Firetribe with their 80’s rock sound.

19. Danger Danger ‘Revolve’ (Frontiers) – not a band I have liked much before but this album is melodic hard rock with a smile 🙂

20. Kyle Vincent ‘Where You Are’ – laid back pop.

21. Steel Panther ‘Feel The Steel’ – definitely not PC and a 80’s hair metal tribute band meets a foul mouthed Spinal Tap.

22. Oliver Weeks ‘Get Ready’ – Swedish X Factor finalist unleashes a debut album chock full of catchy hard rock tunes.

23. Saga ‘The Human Condition’ (Inside Out) – new vocalist but still these Canadian prog rockers delight.

24. Queensryche ‘American Soldier’ (Rhino/Atlantic) – their best album in ages.

25. Mastedon ‘3’ (Frontiers) – not the US metal band but the long lost Christian hard rock band return. Pomp up the volume…

26. Aynsley Lister ‘Equilibrium’ – blues rock meets pop by a very talented UK bluesman.

27. Jon Amor – mixes blues, rock, acoustic and pop to make a satisfying listen.
28. Govt. Mule ‘By A Thread’ – if you like classic 70’s rock by bands like the Allman Brothers this album is a must.

29. Grand Design ‘Time Elevation’ (AOR Heaven) – the best album Def Leppard never made.

30. Masters Of Reality ‘Pine’/’Crossed Over’ – the musician’s band and sadly underrated. They mix stoner rock with Beatles harmonies and some frankly bizarre lyrics

Top 5 Reissue Albums

Twisted Sister ‘Stay Hungry’ – some of the unreleased tracks should have made the original release

Europe ‘Out Of This World’/’Prisoners In Paradise’

Uriah Heep ‘Celebration’ (yes they are re-recordings but the songs are old)

The Storys ‘Town Between The Trees’ Angel Air (great album and just catching up on an album raved about by fellow GRTR! reviewers)

The Babys re-issues on Rock Candy – they still sound great today.

Top 5 Gigs

Rick Wakeman @ Hampton Court OTT as you’d expect and a close call as to who stole the show, Rick Wakeman or the narrator, Brian Blessed

Chris Singleton @ Troubador – good to hear some new tunes which bode well for the new album

Ultravox @ Hammersmith Apollo waited years to see them live and they were superb

Power Quest @ Islington Academy – new line-up did extremely well and can’t wait for the new album

Europe @ Relentless Garage – a very hard rocking set and included a cracking UFO cover

Plus Guilfest which is always a pleasure to attend and this year enjoyed sets by the Lightning Seeds & Brian Wilson.



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