Blogarrhea: Top 10 CDs Best of 2015 List

By Mike Greenblatt on Dec 30, 2015 10:26 PM EST
David Crosby and Mike Greenblatt in Harmony Backstage with David Crosby. (Photo : Janet Kirk-Greenblatt)

I love lists. When I was a kid, I made lists of baseball players, professional wrestlers, girls at school I liked, TV shows, movies, cartoons, comedians, super heroes and rock stars. Now, at 64, I'm still making lists. Plus, I did get to have one sterling moment-in-time after thrilling to the music of David Crosby, and that was meeting the man and totally gushing. Here is my top 10 CD of 2015 list to go with that absolutely awesome moment of the year.

Top 10 CDs of 2015

Steve Earle & The Dukes, Terraplane

If his streetwise character, Harley Wyatt, on Treme's first two brilliant seasons ever found himself in a recording studio, this is what it probably would've sounded like. It's Earle's first all-blues album after 14 other gem CDs. It's in the voice. It's in his guitar. And it's in his profoundly moving originals. He once sang, "come back, Woody Guthrie." Steve Earle is my Woody Guthrie.

Shelby Lynne, I Can't Imagine

I can't imagine a Top 10 list without my musical soul mate, Shelby Lynne. Only her 2010 Christmas album and her second and third albums ('90 and '91) haven't made one of my Top 10s since 1989 (that's 11 out of 14 that did, for those at home keeping score). I love this woman with all my heart, and my wife knows my love for her knows no boundaries. Coincidently enough, she's the former sister-in-law of Steve Earle. This is Americana at its finest.

David Amram, This Land and Red River Variations

David Amram was friends with Kerouac and the beats. He's pioneered world music, classical, jazz, and now, at 85, has released a masterpiece of transitioning Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and the 19th Century folk song "Red River Valley" into a symphonic suite that is, indeed, all too sweet.

Bruce Springsteen, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection

Leave it to the greatest rock star of them all (ok, ok, so I'm from Jersey, you wanna make something of it?) to come out with a box that has the original single-disc version of The River that he turned in to Columbia Records in 1980 before taking the whole thing back again and resubmitting it as a double-album. Guess what? It's just as good. Even more amazing is a two-disc set of his River rejects that are still better than anybody else.

Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bird Calls

The deep affinity between alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and Charlie Parker has resulted in a CD so wonderfully masterful and complex, I dare say Bird himself never sounded so good. Of course, that may have more to do with studio technology but still, I get those old Bird thrills from Bird Calls. And I'm listening to a living, breathing human being instead of one of my beloved dead guys. That's progress.

Various Artists, Jaco


The soundtrack to my second-favorite film of the year (after Southpaw starring Jake Gyllenhaal), co-produced by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, is a freewheeling kaleidoscopic 16-track power play. Besides the Weather Report and solo Jaco classics, this homage to the second-greatest electric bassist in history (after Stanley Clarke) also contains some Joni Mitchell, Ian Hunter and Herbie Hancock (all of whom had their music Jaco-ized by his presence on their sessions). Best of all though are the new tracks by Mass Mental (with Trujillo and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), TechN9ne (sampling Jaco's "Kuru") and a stunning "Continuum" by Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Mexican acoustic duo who have to be experienced live to be believed.

Aarhus Jazz Orchestra presents Lars Moller's Rewrite of Spring featuring David Liebman and Marilyn Mazur

How dare Lars Moller attempt to rewrite such a classical gas as Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring? With great abandon apparently. This music careens wildly between symphonic pop, funky rock, boppin' and swingin' jazz and it does so recklessly, carelessly and totally surprisingly so therein lies its genius. I mean, man, this takes some severe left turns just when you least expect it.

Duke Robillard, The Acoustic Blues Roots Of Duke Robillard

I've been grooving, dancing, romancing, drinking and carousing to this Duke, and all whom he has produced or played with for more years than I care to admit. With this release, though, it's time to pay back to a few generations who came before him and, boy, does he do it with style, flair, class and the kind of instrumental and vocal chops that only the greats have. I love how those whom I love love the same artists I love. Catch my drift?

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind

It's a pretty safe bet to say that the country music you see and hear on the television and radio these days is total garbage. And I love country! This is the real deal. Period.

Various Artists, Rhythm'n'Bluesin' By The Bayou: Mad Dogs, Sweet Daddies & Pretty Babies

Early rock 'n' roll, jump, jive and rhythm by such New Orleans stalwarts as Guitar Gable, Mad Dog Sheffield, Sad Leroy White, Wonder Boy Travis, Lazy Lester and the great zydeco king Clifton Chenier. Sounds just as good in 2015 as it must have in the 1950s.

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TagsDavid Crosby, Blogarrhea, 2015 Top 10, rock stars, Best of 2015

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