‘Rebel’ Rod’s Top 10 or best of 2009
I see so many “Top (insert number here)” lists. I see “Top 100” lists; I see “Top 25” lists, and so on. You get the picture. I wish I had the time and the brain to do that many; but between my “paying” job, my son’s many sporting events, and my own personal problems, I have very little….I mean, no spare time!
However, that being said, I did take the time to come up with a Top 10 list (hey Kyle, sorry about missing your double-double the other night. I’m sure you’ll score 18 points and get 12 rebounds another time).
Anyway, here is my measly and unworthy Top Ten list for 2009.
1) Tom Russell’s Blood and Candle Smoke (Shout Factory) –
Mr. Russell has created many masterpieces over his long and illustrious career but this is his best yet to date. He poured his entire heart and soul into this one and hooking up with Calexico was pure genius. A lot of the record is an autobiography of sorts and gives us a glimpse of Tom Russell’s personal evolution from criminologist with guns pointed at him to singer/songwriter with guns pointed at him. Just listen to the record. You will know exactly what I mean. Some great recordings came out of 2009 and this is my favorite in a very tight race indeed.
2) Kris Kristofferson’s Closer to the Bone (New West Records) –
Is his voice what it once was? No. Hell, he’s in his 70’s. However, his voice is an exception to the rule of aging. It’s still very much Kris Kristofferson’s voice but with a heavy dose of wisdom added to it. You can hear the feeling, his entire being, is in every note, of every word he sings. The songs on this record are all very simple by design yet complex by nature. They are songs that are very close and personal to their creator, hence the name of the album, Closer to the Bone.
3) Guy Clark’s Somedays the Song Writes You (Dualtone Records) –
This is another batch of songs created by one of the best songwriters in the business. His songs are cut from the same cloth as Mr. Kristofferson’s but have that distinct West Texas flavor that has made him one of the most respected songwriters in the world. The songs on this record give us a snapshot of what it must be like to be around someone like Guy Clark. He surrounds himself buy some great artists on this one as well. Artists such as Verlon Thompson and Rodney Crowell who not only play on the record, they also co-wrote some of the songs with him as well. This record is absolutely one of Mr. Clark’s best. That’s saying a lot since he has many bests.
4) The Handsome Family’s Honey Moon (Carrot Top Records) –
Brett and Rennie Sparks released this one back in April as an anniversary gift to one another, celebrating 20 years of wedded bliss. We all get to reap the rewards of their successful union by being included in this event by allowing us to listen to this remarkable album, a collage of songs about how they feel about one another. It’s a very personal record indeed, and we all get to be a part of it.
5) Red Rooster’s Walk (Wondermore Records) –
I said it once (in my original review of this fine record) I’ll say it again:
“Walk” is a gem and is some of the most original material I have had the privilege to review so far this year…it was music of this caliber that got me into the Americana scene in the first place”
There is not a song on the record I didn’t absolutely enjoy. It’s a must have for anyone, especially for those true blue fans of the Americana (what ever that is) genre.
6) Doug and Telisha Williams’s Ghost of the Knoxville Girl (No Evil Records) –
I was turned on to this record by my friend Gordon Ames (no relation as far as we can tell) who hosts Big G’s Texas Road Show from midnight to 6 AM daily on the world wide web. I’m sure glad he did, otherwise I wouldn’t even know who they were. This is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, obviously (or it wouldn’t be here). I loved everything about this record; the words the music the production values, the whole nine yards. I especially love the way the record was laid out. Give it a listen. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
7) BettySoo’s Heart Sin Water Skin (BettySoo Records) –
This is another record that came at me this year, literally from out of nowhere. Bettysoo’s voice is as smooth as silk ( I know, it’s a cliché) but it truly is that smooth. Gurf Morlix had a great deal to do with this record. He even played Sitar on one cut. It’s an absolutely beautiful record from head to toe. Check it out and see for yourself.
8) Radney Foster and the Confessions’ Revival (Devil’s River Records) –
Mr. Foster chose to either write all of the songs himself or collaborate only with a few very close and trusted friends (Darrell Brown and Jay Clementi) due to the personal nature of the songs. This is one of the most spiritual and satisfying records I’ve heard this year. It is a great record and probably should be higher up on the list but there were just so many good ones this year.
9) The Krayolas – Long Leaf Pine (no smack gum) (Box Records) –
The Krayolas started out in the late 70’s by winning a battle of the bands contest in San Antonio, Texas and being featured on a local “American Band Stand” type of show called Jammin’. They have blossomed from those days into a very important band. This album truly showcases their talent as not only musicians but songwriters as well. This is an album that needs to be heard, and certainly belongs on my Top 10 list. If given the chance it should and will reside on other Top “whatever” lists also out there.
10) James McMurtry’s Live in Europe CD/DVD (Lightning Rod Records) –
There were so many great releases this year. This record, even though it’s a live recording of Mr. McMurtry’s previously recorded material, it still gets the number 10 spot. Why? Quite literally it’s because of the DVD and more specifically, the performance of Jon Dee Graham, of his song “Laredo”. It’s an unforgettable performance where Jon Dee Graham gives a special little “Fuck You” to a critic who gave Mr. Graham a less than favorable review of an earlier performance during this specific tour.
There you have it. This is my Top 10 of 2009. I could have done a Top 20 I guess, but I do have basketball game to attend tonight. I don’t want to miss the Ingram Tom Moore Warriors beating another opponent (Medina Valley) this evening. So, anyone who was left off of my list, hopefully will be on some one else’s list.