Best Album of 2014 – 4th Annual Ultimate Classic Rock Awards
The 4th Annual Ultimate Classic Rock Awards begin once more with one of the most important categories — Album of the Year. For your consideration, we've selected 14 widely acclaimed, deeply discussed albums released in 2014.
They include reliable returns to form from AC/DC and Tom Petty, offbeat offerings from Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey, and loving looks back from Stevie Nicks and Pink Floyd. Your votes decide which will earn the completely fan-decided Album of the Year nod ...
Things change -- and that seemed particularly so, at least for a time, with AC/DC. They lost a founding member, then (for while, anyway) a drummer. But what they didn't lose, as 'Rock or Bust' made so abundantly clear in 2014, was their mojo. AC/DC remains as resilient as they are fun.
Roger Daltrey has spent so much time belting out either rock anthems or rock operas that it's easy to forget the way he could get bone-deep into a good blues. An unlikely pairing with Wilko Johnson served as a powerful reminder.
Foo Fighters, classic rock lovers through and through, invited along a slew of big-name guests as they moved from great American city to great American city for a documentary of the same name. Included were Joe Walsh, Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick and long-time David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti.
After a(nother) period of unrest with his ex-bandmates in Kiss, Ace Frehley got back to music -- and in a big way. 'Space Invader,' his first album since 2009, shot all the way in the Billboard Top 10 on the strength of a series of muscular new originals and a fun cover of 'The Joker.'
No one can be faulted for having misgivings about a new album from Judas Priest. After all, they'd last released a concept album that was poorly received in some quarters, then lost a principal guitar voice. But 'Redeemer of Souls' lived up to its billing, becoming Judas Priest's first-ever Top 10 U.S. debut.
Stevie Nicks dusted off some of her best previously unreleased work for '24 Karat Gold,' illustrating that even her cast-offs can be revealed -- with a little post-production tweaking -- as gems worth treasuring. Nicks, sounding reborn, fashioned her most consistent solo effort in years.
Ted Nugent's musical legacy can get lost in the chatter surrounding his often-controversial political views. Nugent seemed to speak to that on his first album since 2007, humorously titled 'Shut Up & Jam.' He didn't exactly do that in time that followed, but it took nothing away from this return-to-form effort.
For those who had longed for something similar to the Heartbreakers' first two albums, this was hypnotic, indeed. Tom Petty plugged in for a roaring return, after detouring into rootsier sounds, and fans responded -- making 'Hypnotic Eye' their first-ever Billboard charttopping release.
It took the return of Richard Wright, despite his untimely death, to reawaken Pink Floyd once more. Compiled from leftover 20-year-old sessions featuring the late keyboardist, 'The Endless River' was a throwback gift for fans of Pink Floyd's pre-'Dark Side of the Moon' penchant for extended instrumental forays.
Robert Plant's initial studio collaboration with the Sensational Space Shifters resulted in the droning exoticism of 'Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar.' A multi-cultural excursion, it took elements of what he'd done in Led Zeppelin and raced out to a new frontier.
Bob Seger's latest album arrived amid rumors that it might, in fact, be his last. If true, he's left us with a project that pushed hard against pre-conceived notions. 'Ride Out,' while still boasting a classic Seger anthem in 'Detroit Made,' also made room for cool country and Americana.
Slash perhaps could have pruned this one a bit, since his current collaboration with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators was actually one track longer than Guns N' Roses' magnum opus 'Use Your Illusion I.' Luckily, as on 'Wicked Stone,' Slash can still spin similar magic. At the same time, tracks like the Celtic-inflected 'Avalon' found him testing new musical boundaries.
Bruce Springsteen didn't set particularly high goals for 'High Hopes,' a hodge-podge of re-recordings, outtakes and covers -- but he found meaning in what remained, nevertheless. Of particular note is the long-awaited studio take on 'American Skin' and, of course, the chance to hear the late Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici once more.
There's an enduring charm about Jack White, despite the crazy outfits, the curio recording booth, the world’s-fastest-record stunts, the heartbreaking split with Meg. (No, actually, we’re not over that yet.) Part of it is that he's a stone-cold blues lover. There’s also fantastically mangled dance music, Stonesy country honk, something like prog, and countless other brilliantly unquantifiable things. You get all of that here.