Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top 5 of 2012 - Keltie Harding

Keltie was feeling a bit under the weather over the holidays so he is a little late getting these on the blog but I am super happy to post them now!

Take it away Keltie!

In no preferential order...and the ones I have on vinyl are noted..

Julie Doiron -  So Many Days  (Vinyl)

This latest offering from the Canadian chanteuse shows Julie has not lost her touch, crafting beautiful, melodic and deeply personal songs.  Songs of sadness, joy, & being in love all earmarked by Julie's beautiful voice.  This album was recorded soley by Julie and collaborator/ friend/ex-Eric's Trip bandmate Rick White at his Elder Schoolhouse studio. 

B.A. Johnston -  Hi Dudes! (Vinyl)

B.A. is a one-man travelling party.  Seeing him live is always  a blast.  And he definitely is one of the hardest working men in show biz, next to Ron Jeremy!  I saw him no less than 4 times this year alone.  He's always touring and his latest offering "Hi Dudes" was released this past April.   The record is chock full of B.A.'s humorous songs.  Songs about convenience stores, watching TV and being in a bar full of douchebags are part of the hilarious fare here.   This is a great record, a fun listen.  Do yourself a favour and go see B.A. when he comes to your town.  Hell, if you gotta drive an hour to get there, DO IT. 

Elvis Presley -  A Boy From Tupelo

OK, here's where rock & roll began to take shape.  Sure there have been other songs before that lay claim to having birthed Rock & Roll, but Elvis's classic Sun recordings are the first collective.   This has to be the reissue of the year.  ALL of The King's recorded output from 1953 to 1955 is here.  Every existing Sun records master and outtake, every existing known live recording!  All in the best ever sound quality!!!  The people who did the restoration work on this material has to be given a Grammy or something.  The Sun recordings have never sounded better.  Bonus points are scored for having OFFICIALLY re-issued Elvis' debut "That's All Right" with its ORIGINAL sound. (The version we have heard for years had added echo to the recording, courtesy of RCA.  This is the first time since 1955 that the song is presented in the original  "dry" mix, how Sam Phillips wanted it to be.)  Some material had to be put together from different and multiple sources (even original Sun 78's and 45's) but was done with skill and perfection. (Elvis's private demo recordings from 1953 & 1954 are a little TOO filtered, however and are a bit muffled. But thats just my opinion.)  Most of the live stuff on Disc 3 is very scratchy and isn't an easy listen, but the engineers cleaned the sound up as best they could.  Only so much you can do with old, battered acetate recordings.  Look (and listen!)  beyond the flaws and you hear the early Elvis ripping it up on the Lousiana Hayride radio show.  Amazing stuff.  Unfortunately this was a limited release on BMG's "fan" label "Follow That Dream" and came with a huge book (512 pages!!).  (If you can't get this release, look for "Elvis At Sun", from 2004 which is a collection of all the Sun "masters" which also has stunning sound quality!!)

Outtacontroller -  Don't Play Dumb (Vinyl)

From Halifax, NS, Outtacontroller are fun, high energy rock with lotsa punk thrown in for good measure.  Their debut LP "Don't Play Dumb"  is a great collection of Ramone-esque tunes gauranteed to make you wana get up and dance around the room.  I've seen these guys live at least 4 times this year and ALWAYS have fun at their shows.  This is definitely a band to watch for.  And the vinyl record itself sounds really great.  You can check out Outtacontroller online at their Bandcamp page, where you can now get a digital copy of the album for free.

The Beach Boys - Smiley Smile (2012 Mono Remaster and Stereo Remix)

Smiley Smile.  "A bunt, instead of a grand slam" as described by Carl Wilson.  One of the most misunderstood and appallingly unappreciated albums in the whole Beach Boys canon.  After the demise of the "Smile" album in 1967, Brian Wilson took a step back, scaled back production duties and re-thought some of his "Smile" ideas into something totally new.  "Psychedelic Acapella" is what I call it, as this record IS pretty much an acapella record, with very minimal instrumentation (apart from the addition of "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes And Villians".  )  Sadly, it was never released in true stereo.  Thanks to longtime BB engineer Mark Linett, he created a full stereo version of "Smiley Smile" from existing multitrack elements in the archives.  The stereo remix is glorious, sounds great and stays true to the intent of the original mono record.  The 2012 reissue combines the remastered mono album and the newly created stereo mix.  This is the BEST of the 2012 Beach Boys reissues.  Even if this ISN'T your favorite BB record, get it and dig deep, admire the counter-point vocals, the lush harmonies and the eerie wierdness that is Smiley Smile.  It wasn't my favorite when I first got turned onto it way back when, but years of repeated listening has placed this in my top 5 favorite Beach Boys albums. 

Led Zeppelin -  Celebration Day

OK, so I chose 6 instead of 5.  Sue me!  This release CAN NOT go unnoticed.  The long awaited release of Zep's triumphant reunion concert at London's O2 Arena back in 2007, and it sure didn't disapoint.  The Zeps are in fine form, and sound great.  Sure they are much older (and definitely wiser) but they proved to the world that they can still shake rock's foundations to the ground.  This appears to be the final swan song for the mighty Zeppelin, and what a swan song this is.  Seeing this in the theatre was a major thrill and now I can relive it thanks to the magic of CD and DVD.  Yes there is a vinyl release of the show, but I opted for the CD/DVD out of economics. 

Happy 2013 everyone.  Thanks to Brad for this awesome blog! 

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