Classic Rock's 50 albums of 2017
2017 delivered plenty of new albums to get excited about, from both big names and newcomers. Here, then, is the Classic Rock critics’ choice of the best 50
50) Styx - The Mission (UM)
This is the album that proves the US veterans Styx are still masters of pomp. Here they’ve drawn from past glories such as The Grand Illusion and Paradise Theater, using these reference points to create something textured and focused for modern times, and Gone Gone Gone and Radio Silence stand up against any of the band’s acknowledged classics.
Killer track: Gone Gone Gone
49) Eric Gales - Middle Of The Road (Mascot)
Memphis-born guitar prodigy Eric Gales looked set for big things in the early 90s, then lost decades of his life to drugs and trouble with the law. If Middle Of The Road is anything to go by, then he isn’t struggling to make up for it. Swishing between funked-up blues, soul, high-velocity reggae on Change In Me and stellar guitar playing everywhere, it’s a smooth, classy record.
Killer track: Carry Yourself
48) Hiss Golden Messenger - Hallelujah Anyhow (Merge)
North Carolina-based MC Taylor has been crafting guileful Americana for some years now, first with The Court & Spark and, for the past decade, as the lynchpin of Hiss Golden Messenger. With Hallelujah Anyhow, Taylor’s intuitive grasp of southern idioms, allied to a deep recognition of his spiritual forebears (Neil Young, The Band, Tom Petty etc) has enabled him to fashion an understated minor classic.
Killer track: Domino (Time Will Tell)
47) Procol Harum - Novum (Eagle)
In the 14 years since Procol’s apparent swansong The Well’s On Fire, ageless prog-soul singer Gary Brooker somehow misplaced the veteran band’s other constant, lyricist Keith Reid. Reid’s replacement, Pete Brown, learnt on the job writing for Cream, and for this record gave Brooker meaty new tales tinged with 60s sentiments. On key song Sunday Morning, Brooker draws on classical sources, as he did for their 60s classic A Whiter Shade Of Pale, and a baroque little beauty about life’s daily grind sits alongside some surprisingly earthy AOR.
Killer track: Businessman
46) Sólstafir - Berdreyminn (Season Of Mist)
Like its national football team, Iceland’s music scene punches above its weight these days. Sólstafir embody its more esoteric wing. All glacial heaviness, chilly atmospheres and pained vocals, Berdreyminn (it roughly translates as ‘Dreamer’) is a work of widescreen beauty, sometimes bleak but never impenetrable. If Iceland was music, this is what it would sound like.
Killer track: Silfur Refur