Tuesday, December 31, 2019

'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020' coming to ABC tonight

Here are details on tonight's high-profile broadcast coming to ABC-TV...

Tune-in to watch America's most-watched New Year's Eve special, 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020,' live tonight (Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019), beginning at 8 p.m. EST on ABC-TV




Presenting Sponsor YouTube to Take a Look Back
at the Decade’s Biggest Trends Throughout the Show,
Plus a Surprise Announcement
WHO: Hosts: Ryan Seacrest & Lucy Hale in Times Square, Ciara in Los Angeles and Billy Porter in New Orleans

New York: Post Malone, BTS, Sam Hunt and Alanis Morissette with the Cast of Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill”

Los Angeles: Host Ciara, as well as Paula Abdul, Kelsea Ballerini, Blanco Brown, Dan + Shay, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Ava Max, Megan Thee Stallion, Anthony Ramos, Salt-N-Pepa and SHAED.

New Orleans: Host Billy Porter, as well as Sheryl Crow and Usher

Miami: Jonas Brothers
WHAT: “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020” marks the 48th anniversary of America’s biggest celebration of the year and will include 5½ hours of special performances and reports on New Year’s celebrations from around the globe.

Additionally, country artist Jessie James Decker will reveal the first-ever First POWERBALL Millionaire of the YearSM during this year’s live broadcast of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020.” Decker will provide live updates from the First POWERBALL Millionaire of the Year party throughout ABC’s live telecast and the big reveal announcing the winner will air just after midnight on Jan. 1, 2020.

WHEN: “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020” will broadcast LIVE on Tuesday, Dec. 31, beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC.

MORE: As part of the broadcast, presenting sponsor YouTube will take a look back at the biggest trends on YouTube from the past decade, plus make a surprise announcement.

“Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020” is produced by dick clark productions with Ryan Seacrest, Barry Adelman and Mark Bracco serving as executive producers. Larry Klein is producer.


The complete lineup airing Tuesday, Dec. 31, on ABC:

8:00-10:00 p.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 1”

10:00-11:00 p.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 2”

11:30 p.m.-1:09 a.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 1”

1:09-2:13 a.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 2”

Monday, December 30, 2019

My Favorite 19 Albums of 2019

This year came and went in a flash but there were plenty of memorable albums that came out along the way. Here are my favorite new 19 albums of 2019...Robert Kinsler

Artist: Beck
Title: Hyperspace (Capitol Records)
Tell me more: With modern rock no longer a major force in the mainstream, Beck has continued his transformation into the future with his genres-blending fourteenth studio album Hyperspace. Indeed, this is an album that sounds as if it was beamed back in time, dreamt up and recorded years from now. Beck's 2017 LP Colors was a commercial success, but lacked the far-reaching experimental and art rock flourishes that have marked so much of the Los Angeles-based artist's creative output dating back to the early 1990s. The 11-track Hyperspace is a move back in the right direction, thanks to the notable contributions of principal collaborator Pharrell Williams (who co-wrote and co-produced seven tracks on the disc), singer Sky Ferreira (heard on "Die Waiting"), guitar master Jason Falkner, keyboardist-singer Roger Manning, Jr.Coldplay singer Chris Martin (heard on the wonderful "Stratosphere"), and a cast of others. The majority of songs mine probing moodscapes with musical dexterity and emotional depth. The highlight on the album is the Americana-tinged disc closer "Everlasting Nothing," but the future of the sonic-sphere is heard more forcefully on the dreamy "See Through," luxurious "Chemical," blues/electronica/rap mashup "Saw Lightning," confessional "Dark Places" and undeniable single "Uneventful Days." Information: beck.com.

Artist: Bobbo Byrnes
Title: The Red Wheelbarrow (Kiss My Squirrel Music)
Tell me more: In addition to his role in the Fallen StarsBobbo Byrnes is a prolific and leading voice on the independent Americana scene. That will come as little surprise after getting a listen to his new solo effort The Red Wheelbarrow. The clever "Part Time Cowboy" is a probing look at a musician finely tuned into the musical tapestry of country music even he doesn't "wear a cowboy hat…(or is not) built to wear a nudie suit." Able to deliver winning songs amidst detailed storytelling, Byrnes paints vivid musical soundscapes across the 10-song disc. The melodic nugget "Look For It," introspective "Looking At The World Thru a Windshield," countrified winner "Lovers" and freewheeling "Sally Starr" and "January" excel with equal doses of excellent song craft and rousing studio performance. Byrnes' poignant songs are brought to rich life via a cast of wonderful musicians including his wife Tracy Byrnes (bass guitar, backing vocals) and famed keyboardist Rami Jaffee (of Wallflowers fame). Information: songsandwhispers.com or bobbobyrnes.com.

Artist: Coldplay
Title: Everyday Life (Atlantic/Parlophone)
You might like if you enjoy: Coldplay, U2, Doves
Tell me more: As seems to be the case every time Coldplay releases a new album, there has been plenty of dissension and debate among fans about whether the British band's long-awaited album Everyday Life merits its ambitions. This is one music lover who firmly believes the 16-track album delivers on the four-year wait (Coldplay's previous studio LP A Head Full of Dreams was released back in December 2015). Although Coldplay's eighth studio disc Everyday Life qualifies as a concept album and is comprised of two fully-developed parts (the first half is dubbed "Sunrise" while the last half is "Sunset") it does play out over a single audio CD disc. The musically-diverse field of songs find the band (singer-keyboardist Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, drummer Will Champion) looking at the joy and beauty of life, as well as the ugliness and challenges of everyday life across the 53+ minutes of music. The expansive soundscape extends from the instrumental opener "Sunrise," inspired "Church," intimate "Daddy" and gospel-adorned "BrokEn" to driving horn section-bolstered "Arabesque" help propel the first half of the record. The rage-filled "Guns," meditative "Èkó," gentle "Old Friends" and resplendent "Champion of the World" are among the impressive tracks on the last half of the LP. The band's daring arrangements, nuanced performances and use of guest players and singers only escalate the magic of Everyday Life.  lnformation: Coldplay.com.

Artist: The Cranberries
Title: In the End (BMG)
Tell me more: When Cranberries lead singer-songwriter Dolores O'Riordan died on January 15, 2018 it silenced one of the greatest voices in modern rock. But the Irish singer's final recordings with band mates Noel Hogan (guitar, synths), Mike Hogan (bass) and Fergal Lawler (drums) were subsequently completed in the studio and have been released as the aptly-titled In the End. The 11-song masterwork somehow blends sonic beauty, sweeping melancholy and gleaming alt rock song craft in a majestic mix that celebrates everything that has always made the Cranberries so special. The songs here range from the anthemic and soaring likes of "All Over Now" and "Wake Me When It's Over" to the wistful dreamscapes of "Catch Me If You Can" and "Got It." Every song on the album is bolstered by O'Riordan's amazing soprano. Information: Cranberries.com.

Artist: elbow
Title: Giants Of All Sizes (Polydor/The Verve Label Group)
Tell me more: Since I discovered elbow at Coachella in April 2011, I've continued to be impressed and dazzled by the Manchester, England-based band that blends the best of alternative and progressive rock styles into a sound that is their own. elbow  led by singer-songwriter Guy Garvey – has made a deeply personal and poignant album (the newly-issued Giants Of All Sizes) in tune with this moment in time. The luxurious and adventuresome seven-minute lead track "Dexter & Sinister" finds Garvey singing powerfully amidst middle age and mortality: "Loss is a part of life this long / But Dexter & Sinister / I've the heaviest heart jackhammering inside me / And I don't know Jesus anymore." The disc's second track, the beguiling "Seven Veils," takes aim at romantic disintegration: "There's no roses in this garden / No sun melting in the sea." Elsewhere, there is a wake for civilization via the soaring "Empires," a pulsating rock meets symphonic moodscape lures the listener across "White Noise White Heat," while "My Trouble" explores romantic loss with naked command. The dynamic and musically rich arrangements and use of diverse instrumentation make for an involving and rewarding listen throughout Giants Of All Sizes. Information: www.elbow.co.uk.

Artist: Fastball
Title: The Help Machine (33 1/3 Records)
Tell me more: One of the year's best new albums, Fastball's The Help Machine exudes a sonic landscape created with melodic song craft, nuanced arrangements, artful vocal harmonies and the talents of the band's all original lineup of Tony Scalzo (lead vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards), Miles Zuniga (lead vocals, guitar), and Joey Shuffield(drums, percussion). Anyone who loved the trio's seminal 1998 album All the Pain Money Can Buy (which featured the Grammy-nominated hit "The Way") will find plenty to love across the Austin, Texas-based band's seventh album. The ambitious genre-defying title track, elegant "Friend or Foe," rootsy "The Devil's Hand," gospel-tinged blues of "Redeemed" infectious confessional rocker "All Gone Fuzzy" and forceful "Doesn't It Make You Feel Small" are among the far-flung tracks that shine on The Help Machine. Information: FastballTheBand.com.

Artist: Kinky Friedman
Title: Resurrection (Echo Hill Records)
Tell me more: Texas-based singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman has released a profound album of original songs that serve as a bona fide reminder of the power of music and song craft. Resurrection is an album that shines a welcome light on Friedman, 73, who is writing and crafting songs that draw on his life experiences along with his ever-keen observations at the world around him. The songs have an authentic and timeless feel to be sure, from the utterly beautiful moodscape he paints on "I Love You When It Rains" and acoustic tapestry of "The Bridge That Wouldn't Burn" to the Latin-flavored "Al! Mariachi," countrified blues of the Kris Kristofferson-flavored "Resurrection" and Texas-styled ballad that looks at a beloved pet ("A Dog in the Sky"). Friedman's deep baritone is the perfect instrument to lead the charge when unleashing his songs, and the album is bolstered by the production talents of Larry Campbell and guest vocals from Willie Nelson on the title track. This is one of 2019's outstanding new albums, one that will resonate as deeply generations from now as it does today. Information: KinkyFriedman.com.

Artist: Vince Gill
Title: Okie (MCA Nashville)
You might like if you enjoy: Vince Gill, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen's "Western Stars"
Tell me more: Vince Gill's Okie is an album that fully captures the Oklahoma native's towering talents as singer, songwriter and master guitarist. The songs here exude the authentic spirit of real people immersed in the day-to-day struggles and joys of real life, and to be sure the songs (all written or co-written by Gill) have a uniform depth wonderfully at odds with the majority of contemporary country music hitmakers. There are gorgeous ballads ("What Choice Will You Make," "When My Amy Prays"), as well as probing gems with lovely choruses ("Black And White," "The Red Words"). From the album's incredible opening song "I Don't Wanna Ride The Rails No More" to the disc-closing tribute to Merle Haggard ("A World Without Haggard"), Okie astounds. On "An Honest Man" Gill's voice echoes the enduring themes captured across Okie as he sings "Come put your arms around me / Put your heart in my hand / Let them cowboys be the heroes / I'm still an honest man." Information: VinceGill.com.

Artist: The HawtThorns
Title: Morning Sun (Forty Below Records)
Tell me more: Shimmering songwriting and top-tier vocals take center stage on Morning Sun, the brilliant debut from the HawtThorns. Featuring the talented husband and wife duo of singer-acoustic guitarist KP Hawthorn and singer-guitarist Johnny Hawthorn, the HawtThorns somehow blend the best of the Laurel Canyon California sound, modern Americana and melodic rock without missing a beat across 11 winning tracks. The luxurious melodic gems "Shaking" and "Morning Sun," tender countrified ballad "The 405," ambitious dream pop of "Come Back From The Stars," and amped up folk rockers "All I Know" and "Steady Fire" are among the terrific songs on the disc. Information: TheHawtThorns.com.

Artist: Jeff Lynne's ELO
Title: From Out of Nowhere (Columbia)
Tell me more: Listening to The latest album from Jeff Lynne's ELOFrom Out of Nowhere, is to be immersed in the rich and Beatlesque warmth of the summer sun. The intoxicating title track, Traveling Wilburys-flavored "Help Yourself" and driving "Down Came the Rain" are among my favorites on the dazzling LP. There are some genuine surprises including the radiant "All My Love" that is anchored by a hypnotic guitar line and graceful lead vocals, the wistful "Losing You," and the disc closing "Songbird" that features some of Lynne's most memorable and affecting vocals of his long career. From Out of Nowhere is an even stronger effort than Lynne's 2015 LP Alone in the Universe. Information: JeffLynnesELO.com.

Artist: Keane
Title: Cause and Effect (Island)
Tell me more: Keane explores both familiar and new territory on the band's fifth full-length album Cause and Effect, the quartet's first new album since 2012's Strangeland. On Keane's eagerly-awaited return the beautiful "I'm Not Leaving," "Love Too Much," "Chase the Night Away" and "Phases" recall the signature anthemic modern rock that introduced the beloved British band to the world courtesy of 2004's "Hopes and Fears," there are flourishes of contemporary pop and electronica via "Stupid Things" and "Put The Radio On." The intimate "Strange Room," enticing "Thread" and joyful "The Way I Feel" are among the other standouts on the album. But to be sure, "Cause and Effect" is a wonderful return for singer-guitarist Tom Chaplin, keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley, drummer Richard Hughes and bassist Jesse Quin. Note: the deluxe edition of this album (available at Barnes and Noble) includes five bonus tracks  a total of 16 new tracks. Information: KeaneMusic.com.

Artist: Rob Laufer
Title: The Floating World (independent)
Tell me more: Singer-songwriter Rob Laufer can be forgiven for not having released a full-length album in nine years leading up to his 2019 masterwork The Floating World. An acclaimed producer, musical sideman and songwriter-for-hire, his list of bona fide credits includes working with the illustrious likes of Sir George MartinJohnny CashCheap TrickShawn Colvin and Fiona Apple. Additionally, Laufer serves as music director and band leader for the fabled Wild Honey Orchestra tribute concerts, an on-going Los Angeles-benefit series (this year's tribute to the Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society album included members of The Cars, R.E.M., Blur and Pugwash). The tracks enthrall across the aptly-titled "The Floating World" including the dreamy "Avalanche," luxurious "Highway Machine," magnificent Beatlesque "Floating World," baroque pop ballad "Fence" and inspired "This River."  An breathtaking album that resonates more with each listen. Information: www.roblaufermusic.com/.

Artist: The Mavericks
Title: Play the Hits (Mono Mundo Recordings)
Tell me more: Thirty years into their singular career blending neotraditional country, Americana, rockabilly and Tex-Mex styles, the Mavericks have come full circle offering up their signature sound on 11 reworked covers on Play the Hits. The track listing features specific classics that influenced and inspired the Miami-spawned troupe; it is a project that works masterfully in the talented hands of the Mavericks. The opening selection is "Swingin'," a uptempo and infectious take on John Anderson's 1983 hit. This version shines through the Mavericks' strong dance groove, Raul Malo's stellar vocals and super cool saxophone work from Max Abrams. The Mavericks are masters at honoring the spirit and power of the original versions while simultaneously making them decidedly their own. Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" has all the assurance and power of the original even while this rendition has a sonic stamp that stands on its own. The beautiful retro-mining "Don't You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)" showcases Malo's shining tenor, as well as the artful textures of his musical companions on a particularly affecting arrangement. This is truly a tribute that never falters; interpretations ranging from a New Orleans rhythm and blues take on Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart," the buoyant "Once Upon A Time" (featuring guest vocals from Martina McBride) and sumptuous version of the Elvis Presley hit "Don't Be Cruel" are among the other terrific takes on this winning set. Information: TheMavericksBand.com.

Artist: Bobby Rush
Title: Sitting on Top of the Blues (Deep Rush Records / Thirty Tigers)
Tell me more: Bluesman Bobby Rush's aptly-pegged Sitting on Top of the Blues is filled with infectious tracks that recall the past while propelling the genre into the future. Launching things with the explosive "Hey Hey Bobby Rush," stylish lead guitar, a driving rhythm and R&B-flavored horns help bolster the winning track. A dance between blues harp and lead guitar introduces "Good Stuff" before Rush uses his powerful baritone to enthrall listeners the rest of the way. The songs on the disc powerfully fuse blues, soul, funk, and R&B in artful perfection. Other highlights on the Grammy Award winning artist's disc include the joyful "You Got the Goods on You," the nimble blues harp-anchored instrumental "Bobby Rush Shuffle," the acoustic Delta-drenched "Recipe for Love" and funked out "Shake Til' You Get Enough." Information: BobbyRushBluesman.com.

Artist: Kiefer Sutherland
Title: Reckless & Me (BMG)
You might like if you enjoy: Merle Haggard, Michael Ubaldini, Johnny Cash
Tell me more: Although Kiefer Sutherland's outstanding Jude Cole-produced debut Down in a Hole was among my favorite albums of 2016, I somehow missed the release of the famed actor-musician's sophomore album when it was released back in April 2019 (I'll blame it on my Coachella-related duties). Well, in December 2019 I finally had a chance to listen to Reckless & Me and I'm kicking myself that I didn't wrap my ears around this 10-track LP sooner. All the honest real life tales and authentic traditional country music elements that made Sutherland's debut a thrill are firmly in place this time around as well with the raspy-voiced singer demonstrating even more confidence with his signature vocals. Take "Saskatchewan," whose stirring arc includes an otherworldly musical intro, beautifully-delivered spoken word and sung sections as well as poignant literate verses worthy of the genre's greatest icons. The honky tonk gem "This is How It's Done," Leon Russell-flavored romp "Run to Him," evocative "Song for a Daughter," enthralling "Open Road," genre-busting "Agave" and countrified rock take on the 1993 Patty Loveless hit "Blame It On Your Heart" are as artistically rich as they are unquestionably listenable. One of the year's best. Information: KieferSutherland.net.

Artist: Alice Wallace
Title: Into The Blue (Rebelle Road Records)
Tell me more: Alice Wallace's Into the Blue was one of the first masterworks of 2019. An album that combines the best of contemporary Americana and country music styles, the 10-track album should further introduce the emerging artist to a wider audience. Wallace has an emotive and dazzling soprano voice to be sure (just listen to her voice soar in the final moments of "Desert Rose" and artfully again in "Top of the World") but it is the way she wraps her musical talents around persuasive songs often directed at issues of female empowerment and life in Southern California that elevate the soaring soundscapes even higher. Every song on Into The Blue is a great one with the tracks resonating with each listen; indeed residents of wildfire-ravaged Southern California will relate to the timely "Santa Ana Winds" while everyone will appreciate universal themes explored in "The Lonely Talking," "The Same Old Song" and "Top of the World." Information: AliceWallaceMusic.com.

Artist: The Waterboys
Title: Where The Action Is (Cooking Vinyl)
Tell me more: Singer-songwriter Mike Scott and his outstanding group known as the Waterboys have returned with another must-hear album (Where the Action Is) of literate and lusty rock. Since forming the band in Scotland in the early 1980s, Scott has written and recorded heartfelt original material tinged with classic rock, folk, Celtic and alternative styles to give his material a diverse and enchanting sweep. Few songwriters tap into the day-to-day experience of living life itself like Scott, whose lyrics resonate with the power of rock's all-time greats; listen to the tear-inducing folk rocker "In My Time On Earth" and lyrics-driven "Ladbroke Grove Symphony" to get an instant feel of Scott's brilliance. Ever the sonic explorer, Scott dips back to the poetry of Robert Burns (1759-1796) for the Celtic "Then She Made the Lasses O," and even offers up a full-on rap selection via "Take Me There I Will Follow You" and seemingly proves nothing is out of reach. Information: MikeScottWaterboys.com.

Artist: The Who
Title: WHO (Interscope)
Tell me more: Anyone fearing that 2006's less-than-perfect album Endless Wire might be The Who's final full-length artistic statement needs to hear the band's eponymous 12th studio album released in early December. WHO is the band's best album since 1982's It's Hard, and is remarkable on every level – in fact it is one of the best albums of 2019. Roger Daltrey's lead vocals sound fantastic and the tracks explode musically in support of the inspired arrangements and sharp lyrics; guitarist-singer Pete Townshend, drummer Zak Starkey, and other musicians on the disc (notably keyboardist Benmont Tench who guests on three tracks) are locked in everywhere. This being a Who album, there are plenty of fiery rockers and reflective turns. "All This Music Must Fade," "Detour," "Rockin' In Rage," and the mid-tempo "Hero Ground Zero" explode with every listen; the soul-searching "Beads On One String" the lush "Street Song" and sweeping "Break The News" are absolutely beautiful. The jazz-tinged "She Rocked My World" is among the more experimental material on the disc. A deluxe edition of the album available at Target stores includes three must-hear bonus tracks ("This Gun Will Misfire," "Got Nothing to Prove," "Danny and My Ponies") that augment an already-brilliant release.  Information: TheWho.com.

Artist: Pete Yorn
Title: Caretakers (Shelly Music)
Tell me more: Across Pete Yorn's wonderful album Caretakers it's clear that the acclaimed singer-songwriter's considerable artistry is on display at every turn. On Yorn's seventh solo full-length effort there are quiet moments of reflection ("Caretakers," "Friends," "Do You Want to Love Again?"),  wistful celebration (the folk rocker "I Wanna Be The One," the infectious "POV") and a determined quest to translate this crazy thing we call life into song (the dreamy "Calm Down," the shimmering "Can't Stop You," "Opal") that add up to an outstanding return from Yorn. Information: www.PeteYorn.com.

Honorable Mention

Artist: The Muffs
Title: No Holiday (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: When Kim Shattuck passed away from complications from ALS – commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease – on Oct. 2, 2019, it silenced one of Southern California's most dynamic and original musical voices. However, the good news for fans of the celebrated singer-songwriter/guitarist is she had recently completed work on the Muffs' latest album No Holiday. The ambitious 18-track album   featuring songs the Los Angeles native had written between 1991 and 2017   is a fitting tribute to Shattuck who also produced the disc. Along with her talented band mates (bassist Ronnie Barnett and drummer Roy McDonald), the Muffs' first new release in five years, No Holiday reigns in the sonic moodscape located midway between power pop and pop punk. The songs charge ahead with the melodic firepower brandished on the band's past classics. "Down Down Down," "Late And Sorry," "Pollyanna" and "On My Own" are among the tuneful rockers; "No Holiday," "A Lovely Day Boo Hoo" and "Happier Just Being With You" are more wistful and melodic. All the material on No Holiday gloriously showcases the range of the Muffs. Information: omnivorerecordings.com.

My favorite Reissues, Special Editions & Live Recordings of 2019

There were a number of special releases that were issued this year including reissues, documentaries and concert films/concert recordings. Here, in alphabetical order, are my favorite 19 special releases of 2019 as well as a couple of must-have titles that more than earn an "Honorable Mention" here... Robert Kinsler

Artist: David Ball
Title: Thinkin' Problem (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: The 25th Anniversary edition of singer-songwriter David Ball's 1994 hit album Thinkin' Problem includes all 10 songs from that LP as well as eight bonus tracks adding up to an essential collection celebrating traditional country music. Ball, who had previously been a member of the Austin-based trio Uncle Walt's Band, found much-deserved commercial success with Thinkin' Problem, which featured the title track (his first major hit) as well as subsequent hit singles "When The Thought of You Catches Up With Me," "Look What Followed Me Home," "What Do You Want With This Love" and "Honky Tonk Healin'." Listening to the album in 2019, it's easy to believe that all of the songs could have been radio staples, especially the lovely ballad "12-12-84." The bonus material shines as well, with the sparse 2019 acoustic take of "What Do You Want With This Love," spirited "Give Me Back My Heart" (a 1993 studio demo) and the breezy "Circle of Friends" and "I've Got My Baby On My Mind" among my favorites. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: The Beatles
Title: Abbey Road - 50th Anniversary Edition (Capitol)
Tell me more: Fifty years after its original release in the United Kingdom on September 26, 1969, The Beatles' final album Abbey Road has been released as an essential Deluxe Anniversary Edition complete with new stereo, 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos mixes. The four-disc version includes 40 essential tracks  featured on three audio CD discs and a Blu-ray disc. After getting the new edition on the day of its release, this writer immediately immersed himself in the new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes; cheers to both 2019 mix producer Giles Martin (the son of the original album's producer George Martin) and 2019 mix engineer Sam Okell for retaining the original character of the album while somehow finding a way to bring out the distinctive vocals and musical nuances of each classic song without thrusting the remastered release into "the loudness war" that has ruined a parade of recordings in recent years.

There are a slew of wonderful previously-unheard tracks; in particular, fans of George Harrison will love the intimate home demo of "Something," a freewheeling early take of his "Old Brown Shoe" and an animated alternate version of "Here Comes The Sun." 

So many of the tracks include playful bits of banter of The Beatles in the studio, often working out the songs and providing insight into their creative process and signature personalities. Listeners will hear the band on early and alternate tracks of many of their final creations, including alternative cuts of "Come Together," "Her Majesty," Maxwell's Silver Hammer" "Sun King," "Octopus's Garden" and "The End." Great stuff.

The edition's packaging is a worthy follow-up to the deluxe edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band released in May 2017 and the six-disc Super Deluxe edition of The White Album released in November 2018. Housed in a slip-sleeved 12-inch by 12-inch 100-page fully-illustrated hardbound book, "Abbey Road" includes a foreword penned by Sir Paul McCartney, images of handwritten lyrics, previously-unseen photos (many taken by Linda McCartney) and in-depth notes capturing the period that gave rise to the album.

Listening to Abbey Road anew is to realize that The Beatles' final hour found the group as great as ever. 

Information: TheBeatles.com.

Artist: Chuck Berry
Title: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll: Collector's Edition (Shout! Factory)
Tell me more: One of the most important and historic music documentaries of all time, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is a look at the life and legacy of singer-songwriter/guitar great Chuck Berry that was directed by Taylor Hackford and originally released in 1987. Newly-issued on Blu-ray by Shout! Factory, the film has never looked  or sounded  better. Keith Richards organized two concerts in October 1986 to celebrate Berry's 60th birthday and the performances featured a fantastic well-rehearsed band (something that was sadly not a fixture across Berry's lengthy career) including sax great Bobby KeysNRBQ bassist Joey Spampinato, drummer Steve Jordan, and musical director Richards. Powerful versions of "Roll Over Beethoven," "Almost Grown," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Nadine" and "School Days" shine. There are some fantastic once-in-a-lifetime duets on the film too. Linda Ronstadt joins the party for a powerful "Back in the U.S.A." (where Richards and Berry briefly duel on lead guitar). Julian Lennon and Berry have a blast on the fiery "Johnny B. Goode"; Robert Cray shares the spotlight on the buoyant "Brown Eyed Handsome Man"; Eric Clapton joins the affair for a blues-drenched take of Berry's 1955 nugget "Wee Wee Hours" bolstered by Johnnie Johnson's piano work. Etta James joins Berry and company for a faithful take on "Rock and Roll Music." A slew of revealing interviews with his wife, brothers and sisters, as well as those he influenced and his contemporaries (Little RichardBo DiddleyJerry Lee LewisThe Everly Brothers) are interspersed and make this an essential, entertaining and ultimately deeply moving film. There are a number of must-see bonus features on the newly-issued Blu-ray as well. Information: ShoutFactory.com.

Artist: Big Star
Title: Live on WLIR (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: Captured in the wake of the release of their second album, 1974's brilliant Radio CityBig Star's performance featured on Live on WLIR is essential listening for fans of the legendary Memphis band. The 15-track set recorded on New York radio station WLIR-FM features singer-guitarist Alex Chilton, drummer-vocalist Jody Stephens and bassist John Lightman performing many of Big Star's most beloved original songs as well as an acoustic cover of Loudon Wainwright III's "Motel Blues" and a short interview. Although the radio broadcast was originally released as "Live" in 1992, they have now been restored and remastered as both a single audio CD or double LP release (Live on WLIR was released on Jan. 25, 2019). Highlights on Live on WLIR include the shimmering "September Gurls," the melodic rockers "Way Out West" and "In The Street," and the acoustic "Thirteen" (the latter one of several cuts that Chilton performs solo). The collection has new, updated liner notes from Memphis writer Robert Gordon (a Grammy winner for his essay on the 2010 Big Star box set "Keep an Eye on the Sky") as well as a new interview with John Lightman conducted by Chris Bell biographer Rich Tupica. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Big Star
Title: In Space (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: Big Star's enduring legacy has long been certified in the rock 'n' roll universe but it sure doesn't hurt to have the band's final studio album reissued via an expanded and glorious edition sure to please followers of the groundbreaking power pop heroes. Through a series of unfortunate series of events and ill-fated timing, the Memphis-spawned outfit's first three albums released in the 1970s failed to make an impactful commercial mark even while ultimately consistently landing on many rock aficionados "best of all time" lists. Few fans were anticipating the release of In Space in September 2005, a full-length studio LP featuring original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens joined by the PosiesJon Auer and Ken StringfellowOmnivore Recordings' 2019 remastered reissue of the album casts a spectacular and well-deserved spotlight on In Space"with the release featuring all dozen original tracks (10 originals, a soulful cover of The Olympics' "Mine Exclusively" and French Baroque composer Georg Muffat's "Aria, Largo"), as well as six bonus tracks. There are a slew of wonderful tracks on In Space, notably the melodic opener "Dony," the enticing "Lady Sweet," the Beatlesque "Best Chance," the shimmering "February's Quiet" and the reflective "Hung Up With Summer." Notable among the bonus tracks is the soulful rocker "Hot Thing" (previously only available on the out-of-print "Big Star Story") and an acapella version of "Turn My Back on the Sun." In Space was released on Oct. 25; the reissue is available on audio CD as well on translucent blue vinyl. Additionally, there are liner notes shedding all kinds of details on this important release. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Tim Buckley
Title: Live at the Electric Theatre Co. Chicago, 1968 (Manifesto Records)
Tell me more: Although Tim Buckley died of a heroin overdose at the mere age of 28 in June 1975, he left an enduring legacy as a groundbreaking artist who explored folk, rock, blues, jazz fusion, funk and other styles over his short career. Fans of the late artist have been rewarded with the release of Live at the Electric Theatre Co. Chicago, 1968, a collection of 14 acoustic songs recorded over the course of a two-night stint at the venue in May 1968. Described in the liner notes as "works in progress", the selections are potent even when heard via this sparse forum where Buckley (on vocals and 12-string guitar) is backed by a bassist and conga player. The lovely "Sing a Song For You," haunting "Danang," a cover of the Helen Deutsch/Bronislaw Kaper co-write "Hi Lily, Hi Lo" (the latter bolstered by Buckley's high-reaching falsetto vocals), a terrific take of Johnny Cash's "Big River" and the intoxicating "Gypsy Woman" are highlights on disc one; his renditions of Fred Neil's "Dolphins" and "Looks Like Rain," as well as his own "Happy Time" and "The Father Song" shine on disc two. Live at the Electric Theatre Col. Chicago, 1968 includes liner notes about the Chicago shows along with remembrances from Buckley collaborators songwriter Larry Beckett and guitarist Lee Underwood. Information: manifesto.com.

Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Live at Woodstock (Craft Recordings)
Tell me more: One of the biggest names to appear at Woodstock in Bethel, New York in August 1969 was North California-based Creedence Clearwater Revival. The quartet  better known as Creedence or CCR delivered an inspired set that has finally been released in its entirety. Live at Woodstock includes many of the band's most beloved tracks. The Aug. 17, 1969 performance fully stands the test of time with singer-songwriter/guitar great John Fogerty leading the rock outfit through 11 classics. The Delta-friend "Born on the Bayou" opens the set, with the band kicking up the energy for "Green River," "Bad Moon Rising," "I Put a Spell on You," the blistering blues-flavored "Keep on Chooglin'," and an extended take on the set-ending "Suzie Q." Information: CraftRecordings.com.

Artist: The Cure
Title: 40 Live Curaetion  25 + Anniversary (Eagle Rock)
Tell me more: The Cure celebrated the band's 40th anniversary last year with a series of special concerts, several of which are celebrated in their entirety on the newly-released 40 Live Curaetion  25 + Anniversary, a two-disc Blu-ray (the title is also available as a Limited Edition Deluxe Box). Each of the concert films on the set stands alone and distinctive form the other. The first film, "Curaetion 25: From There To Here / From Here To There" was filmed on the tenth and final night of the 25th Meltdown Festival at London's Royal Festival Hall on June 24, 2018. Directed by Nick Wickham, the Cure (singer-guitarist Robert Smith, bassist Simon Gallup, drummer Jason Cooper, keyboardist Roger O'Donnell, guitarist Reeves Gabrels) performed a song from each of their 13 studio albums in chronological order, the idea being to showcase the evolution of the Cure's sound from 1978 to 2018. The band then performed two unreleased songs from 2018, and then journeyed backward to play an equal number of tracks and ending with a song from 1979. Directed by Tim Pope, "Anniversary: 1978-2018 Live In Hyde Park London" features the Cure's complete 29-song, 135-minute concert in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 65,000. 

All of the band's best-known songs are covered across the two full-length concert films. Early-era favorites "10:15 Saturday Night," "Jumping Someone Else's Train," "A Forest" and "Boys Don't Cry" are here along the British band's best-known radio hits ("Just Like Heaven," "Friday I'm In Love," "Why Can't I Be You," "Lovesong"). But more than any single song or moment, it is the depth, range and sweeping power displayed both marathon-length performances that impress to be sure; the concept-winning visuals and amazing immersive audio quality add to the experience across the two concerts. Information: eagle-rock.com.

Artist: Van Duren
Title: Waiting: The Van Duren Story (Original Documentary Soundtrack)
Tell me more: Wow! Before listening to the recently-issued Waiting: The Van Duren Story I had not ever heard of Van Duren despite his links with Big Star (he was in Baker Street Regulars, a post-Big Star band with Chris Bell and Jody Stephens) and Memphis' famed Ardent Studios. Blessed with a voice that recalls the best of a youthful Paul McCartney and In Color-era Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander, Van Duren shines across the 2019 collection that compiles fabulous studio and live cuts recorded between 1975 and 1986. A wonderful vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Van Duren's songwriting also astounds. The gems here include the piano-anchored "Grow Yourself Up" and tender jazz-tinged "Waiting" (both off Van Duren's 1978 solo debut LP Are You Serious?), melodic rocker "Make A Scene" (off Van Duren's 1979 disc Idiot Optimism) and previously-unreleased power pop standout "Andy, Please" (featuring Jody Stephens on drums and backing vocals). The special collection also includes several great live tracks, with the McCartney-flavored "Yellow Light" showcasing Van Duren's soulful vocals. You can learn more about this wonderful album as well as the related documentary about Van Duren on the Omnivore Recordings website. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Humble Pie
Title: The Life and Times of Steve Marriott + 1973 Complete Winterland Show (Cleopatra Records)
Tell me more: Groundbreaking British rocker Steve Marriott's influential and sadly often-overlooked role on the rock 'n' roll landscape is showcased via the wonderful The Life and Times of Steve Marriott, a multi-format three-disc title that includes a Blu-ray, DVD and audio CD. Both as a member of Small Faces and Humble Pie, Marriott blazed a trail via his signature rock vocals, impressive guitar playing and energetic stage presence that is celebrated on an insightful documentary. Notable artists interviewed include Spencer DavisRicky ByrdJohn WaiteKevin DuBrow and his famed Humble Pie band mates Peter Frampton and Clem Clempson; rare and early footage of Humble Pie and Small Faces is also included on the documentary. There is also a complete 1973 concert featuring Humble Pie featured on the audio CD that is a thrilling listen; that concert recording features a stirring take on the band's enduring blues rock classic "Thirty Days in the Hole," a hard-charging version of "Up Your Sleeves," an amped-up rendition of The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman" and a number of other high octane British blues-flavored rockers. Sadly, Marriott died in a home fire in April 1991; he was only 44. The Life and Times of Steve Marriott provides an excellent chance to catch up on this overlooked rock hero. Information: CleopatraRecords.com.

Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Welcome to the Vault (Capitol)
Tell me more: The rich and expansive legacy of singer-songwriter-guitar master Steve Miller is explored across the Steve Miller Band's outstanding and must-have Welcome to the Vault anthology. The amazing collection includes three audio CD discs as well as a DVD that are collectively loaded with more than enough music to thrill casual and hardcore fans of the groundbreaking Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. The anthology includes 38 previously-unreleased rarities including alternate versions of well-known songs, live performances, and five previously-unheard Steve Miller Band songs from the 1960s and '70s. 

Highlights abound across the loaded DVD disc. On a 1973 episode of "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert," a young Miller delves into his mix of blues, funk and rock with a full-length set. I was particularly impressed by the freewheeling jazz-meets-funk of "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma,"a jazzy take on "The Gangster is Back," a solo rendering of bluesman Robert Johnson's 1937 masterpiece "Come On In My Kitchen," and early version of his then work-in-progress "Fly Like an Eagle." Later, a legendary appearance by Miller and Les Paul captured at Fat Tuesday's in 1990, and archival performances ranging from the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 to "Live From Austin City Limits" in 2011 all thrill. Indeed, the DVD features 21 live tracks captured across six decades.

The audio recordings expand the Milwaukee-born artist's legacy to be sure, no sooner than with the opening track on the collection  a 10-minute tear through Little Walter's 1953 single "Blues with a Feeling" at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in 1969.

As if all the great music wasn't enough of a draw, the special collection includes  a hardcover book with detailed liner notes from writer David Fricke, 10 guitar picks, four postcards, a poster and an authentic backstage pass! Information: SteveMillerBand.com.

Artist: Harry Nilsson
Title: Losst and Founnd (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: This year has seen a slew of deluxe reissues, concert recordings and lost treasures, none greater than the final album from legendary singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson. Released on Nov. 22, 2019  more than 25 years after he was struck down by a fatal heart attack at the age of 52  Nilsson's aptly-titled Losst and Founnd finds the late American artist joined by a number of top-tier guests on nine original songs along with reworked versions of Yoko Ono's inviting "Listen, the Snow is Falling" and Jimmy Webb's beautiful "What Does a Woman See in a Man." The signature sound that had Nilsson scoring a number of radio hits in the late '60s and early '70s abounds across the new disc, from the New Orleans rhythm and blues romp of "Animal Farm" and infectious title track to the tender "Love is the Answer." Guests on the outstanding album include famed drummer Jim Keltner (Ringo Starr, John Lennnon, George Harrison), pianist Jimmy Webb, bassist Klaus Voormann, and Harry's son Kiefo Nilsson. Album producer Mark Hudson is featured everywhere, contributing vocals, percussion, guitar and bass guitar to the ambitious project; his poignant liner notes add depth to the collection. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: NRBQ
Title: Turn On, Tune In (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: There is something to be said for a band focused on writing great songs and playing those in a freewheeling style that lends itself to spontaneity-styled live shows. Such is the case on NRBQ's two-disc release Turn On, Tune InThe title features six tracks recorded live at Sirius/XM's "The Loft," as well as a 15-song set captured at WFMU-FM's Monty Hall in Jersey City, N.J. (the latter concert recording appears on the audio CD and as a concert film on the DVD disc). The terrific cuts find the genre-defying four-man outfit exploring a number of styles and making all it sound completely their own. Choice cuts include the playful Southern-friend "Nature's Gonna Pay You Back," melodic power pop nugget "It Feels Good," the revival swing-enriched "That's Neat, That's Nice," Memphis soul-mining "Keep This Love Goin'," jazzy "Things To You" and countrified "The Animal Life." The songs here celebrate the riches to be found via stellar musicianship and a loose approach on stage that lends a buoyant style to the great material. NRBQ impresses equally with a deeply-affecting reworking of the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby." Information: www.omnivorerecordings.com.

Artist: Buck Owens & the Buckaroos
Title: The Complete Capitol Singles, 1971-1975 (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: Buck Owens & the Buckaroos' The Complete Capitol Singles, 1971-1975 is actually the third and final in a series of wonderful titles featuring the legendary country artist's Capitol singles from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Taken from the original stereo masters, the 42-song collection also includes the B-side to all 21 singles from that span. The breadth of material on the new set extends from a heartfelt reworking of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and the bluegrass gem "Ruby (Are You Mad)" to the winning country waltz "Great Expectations" and a number of fun musical curios (including "Too Old to Cut the Mustard," "Full Time Daddy," "On the Cover Of The Music City News" and "Big Game Hunter"). There are a score of terrific duets with Susan Raye (including the novelty cut "Santa's Gonna Come in a Stagecoach," joyful "One of Everything You Got" and tender "Cryin' Time") that showcase the pair's top-tier vocals. The detailed liner notes penned by author/country music historian Scott B. Bomar provide welcome insight to this outstanding two-disc set. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: The Pretenders
Title: Pretenders With Friends (Cleopatra Entertainment)
Tell me more: The Pretenders' legacy was set in stone long ago with Chrissie Hynde and company having recorded some of rock's most enduring rock songs. Another chance to celebrate the Pretenders' groundbreaking sound was cast when the troupe welcomed a number of notable guests for a special 2006 concert at the Decades Rock Arena in Atlantic City, NJ (Pretenders With Friends) that has now been released via a glorious collection that includes a Blu-ray, DVD and audio CD.  The special event saw the Pretenders cover their most beloved hits; special guests would join them for select tracks with the Pretenders then covering a guest's song as well. So for example, Singer Shirley Manson joined in on "Talk of the Town" before the Pretenders returned the favor on a cover of Garbage's "Only Happy When It Rains" (the vocal interplay with the two singers is an absolute delight). Other top-tier highlights on the title include "Drive" featuring Incubus, "Candy" with Iggy Pop, and the Pretenders sans guests rocking on "Brass in Pocket" and "Mystery Achievement." The full lineup of players join forces for the set-ending "Middle of the Road." The visual and audio quality of this multi-format title is fantastic, with the masterful song selections adding to the magic across the 75-minute concert film/recording. Watching the blu-ray is truly the next best thing to being there. Bonus material includes a number of interview clips with members of the Pretenders and the guests. Information: ThePretenders.com and 

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Bridges To Bremen (Eagle Vision)
Tell me more: The Rolling Stones' highly-anticipated "No Filter Tour" was a definite highlight for this writer in 2019, and my fellow fans of the enduring band might want to catch up on the British band's legacy and unequaled discography via the Bridges to Bremen. Available on digital, DVD + 2CD, Blu-ray + 2CD, triple vinyl and digital audio, the multi-format release chronicles the band's Sept. 2, 1998 performance in Bremen, Germany. Performing before a relatively-intimate crowd of 40,000 fans, the Stones' 155-minute concert was filled with favorites and rarities all offered up with persuasion and firepower. Dipping back to their early '60s to get the concert started, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Let's Spend The Night Together" provide a one-two punch. "Gimme Shelter" features some of Mick Jagger's strongest vocals of the set, and that turn is enhanced by Lisa Fisher's high-reaching vocals. Standouts keep comin. A rocking "Paint It Black," freewheeling "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)," heady "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and celebrative "Brown Sugar" are among the cuts that help make this title something special. As if that wasn't enough, there are four bonus performances from a concert in Chicago as part of that same tour  great versions of "Rock and a Hard Place," "Under My Thumb," "All About You" and "Let It Bleed." Information: eagle-rock.com.

Artist: Johnny Shines
Title: The Blues Came Falling Down – Live 1973 (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: Countless historic performances have been lost over time but thanks to Omnivore Recordings, a previously-unheard 1973 concert recording featuring Memphis-born bluesman Johnny Shines is available for all to hear today. Born in 1915, singer-guitarist-songwriter Shines toured with Robert Johnson in the 1930s and played blues with the legendary likes of Robert Lockwood Jr.Little WalterWillie Dixon and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Recorded live at Washington University in St. Louis, The Blues Came Falling Down  Live 1973 is a 20-track set that fully captures the spirit and freewheeling Southern acoustic blues that Shines had mastered decades before. Listening to Shines' version of Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman Blues," "I'm A Steady Rollin' Man" and "Sweet Home Chicago" – the latter enhanced by Leroy Jodie Pierson's acoustic guitar work – is to hear the magic of those blues classics come fully to life. Shines' own material is just as formidable, as evidenced by the vocals-anchored "Have You Ever Loved A Woman," and nuanced "The Blues Came Falling Down" and "Big Star Falling." The aforementioned Pierson's insightful liner notes provide a revealing look at the life and career of Shines (who passed away in 1992). Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Live in the City of Angels – deluxe edition (BMG)
Tell me more: Even casual fans of Scottish rockers Simple Minds will love the deluxe edition of Live in the City of Angels, a 4-disc audio collection recorded during the band's 2018 North America Tour. The first two discs features the band's full-length concert captured at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 24, 2018. Fans of Simple Minds' enduring '80s hits ("Don't You Forget About Me," "Alive and Kicking," "Sanctify Yourself") get all those songs delivered with power and force, as well as deep cuts and brilliant new material (particularly "The Signal and the Noise," "Dirty Old Town" and "Walk Between Worlds"). Founding members singer Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill are joined by a talented cast of musicians and backing singer Sarah Brown in bringing the wealth and range of songs to life via the set, which is one of the best-sounding concert recordings this writer has ever heard. Discs 3 and 4 feature a myriad of bonus tracks recorded at various sound checks and rehearsals; my favorite is a fantastic take on the Call's 1989 hit single "Let the Day Begin." Information: amazon.com.

Artist: Michael Ubaldini
Title: Acoustic Rumble: 20th Anniversary Legacy Edition (bLACKWATER rECORDS)
Tell me more: Although Michael Ubaldini's aptly-titled masterwork Acoustic Rumble was released back in 1999, the album's enduring exploration of social injustice, political corruption and the modern world's uncertain future ring as true now as they did two decades ago. So it's little surprise that the 20th Anniversary Legacy Edition of Acoustic Rumble is one of 2019's best and most important reissues. Bolstered by the inclusion of two new bonus tracks (the Americana-flavored "All in God's Name" and countrified "Armageddon Blues"), Acoustic Rumble continues to be a revelation with its well-aimed and insightful lyrics along with Ubaldini's powerful voice; the only accompaniment is that of his fiery acoustic guitar and blasting harmonica (the exception is Julie Harris providing some background vocals on "Armageddon Blues"). From the literate fire of "The 7th Trumpet" and inspirational anthem "Badge of Freedom" to the nuanced grace of "Shadows & Ghosts" and the articulate expose of lust on "World Comes Crashin' Down," every song here hits its mark. While Ubaldini certainly takes aim at the modern world's pitfalls and challenges, there is simultaneously a strong undercurrent of hope that calls out for every living soul to celebrate this short run we all get at life. "Acoustic Rumble" delivers on the late Los Angeles Times music writer Mike Boehm's 1999 review of the original release that declared: "Better than Bruce Springsteen at probing the national soul; his Acoustic Rumble album goes one better then The Ghost of Tom Joad'. This writer couldn't agree more. Information: rocknrollpoet.com.

Honorable Mentions

Artist: New Riders of the Purple Sage
Title: Thanksgiving in New York City (Omnivore Recordings)
Tell me more: Recorded live at the Academy of Music in New York City on Nov. 23, 1972, New Riders of the Purple Sage's Thanksgiving in the City should be on every music lover's Black Friday shopping list. The two-disc release serves as both a perfect introduction and an essential addition for those seeking to discover – or learn more  about the legendary American country psychedelic rock band. There is a winning spirit displayed across the recording, with great lead and harmony vocals and top-tier musicianship coming in the service of great strong country- and Americana-styled rock songs. The tender "Leaving on Her Mind," freewheeling take on the classic "Hello Mary Lou," lovely "Contract" and "Linda," a wistful cover of "Long Black Veil" and stylish reworking of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women" are among this writer's favorite tracks on the collection. Speedy guitar work courtesy of lead guitarist-vocalist David Nelson and pedal steel player Buddy Cage (as evidenced on "Henry") are among the draws on a terrific collection, but the nuanced work provided by rhythm guitarist-vocalist John Dawson, bassist-vocalist Dave Torbert and drummer Spencer Dryden add to the power of the New Riders of the Purple Sage's timeless sound. Information: OmnivoreRecording.com.

Artist: Neil Young
Title: Songs For Judy (Shakey Pictures Records)
Tell me more: Songs For Judy is not only the debut release on Neil Young's own Shakey Pictures Records label, it's also a terrific must-hear album featuring cuts from the artist's 1976 solo tour. Twenty-two songs recorded at various tour dates, the disc is sonic nirvana for fans of Young's original gems written and recorded in the early part of his career. Favorites abound; he delves into Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul," the reflective "Heart of Gold," as well as the soul-stirring "After the Gold Rush" and "A Man Needs a Maid." Later there are stunning takes on "The Needle and the Damage Done," "Pocahontas" and "Sugar Mountain." As if all of that wasn't enough paydirt, the disc also features "No One Seems To Know," which is a song not officially released on any album by Young until now. Information: NeilYoung.com.