Best Rock Albums of 2014
We’ve only just reached the midway point, but by almost every measure 2014 is shaping up to be an excellent year for releases by classic rock artists. From the biggest names in the game to some of the more niche elements, there’s been a bevy of great, new rocking records to hit the shelves this year.
This is a list made up entirely of new studio offerings only, which means no live recordings and no reissue packages. And we should point out that this list is alphabetical rather than in order of preference. So while we still have six more months to go, here are our picks for the best new records of 2014 so far.
It’s been 11 years since the former Cream bassist and singer has released a solo record, but for those who might presume Jack Bruce's repertoire has grown stale with the passage of time, you couldn’t be more wrong. To call ‘Silver Rails’ eclectic is an understatement. From the fuzzed-out track ‘Drone’ to the treacle-ish pop song ‘Fields of Forever,’ it’s a record that has a little something for everyone.
She’s been hard at work in the business of rock and roll fronting her band the Pretenders for well over thirty years, and now finally, Chrissie Hynde decided now was the time to drop a solo record. Working with largely with Björn Yttling of the group Peter, Bjorn and John, Hynde’s latest offering is slickly produced, modern pop-flavored step forward for a singer who has never been afraid of trying something new.
The self-titled debut collaboration between former Black Country Communion band mates Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham is a work of balls out blues-rock excellence. As ever, the former Deep Purple singer continues to evade the ravages of time to deliver gritty, soaring vocal takes on each and every California Breed track. The record’s first single, ‘Sweet Tea’ is a stripped down monster that evokes the heavy attitude of early AC/DC.
'Going Back Home'
An unlikely pairing, but one that worked out tremendously well, the lead singer for the Who and the guitarist for Dr. Feelgood have come together to create a record that bridges backgrounds. Created while Wilko Johnson was battling pancreatic cancer and Roger Daltrey continued to recover from vocal chord dysplasia, the duo came out swinging with the opening title track and kept the tempo up all the way through to end. While the grim circumstances surrounding the album's recording and release might get you down, the music is there to lift you back up again.
'Redeemer of Souls'
We thought we’d seen the last of Judas Priest when they announced their Epitaph World Tour in 2010. Thank the lord we were wrong. With their latest record - their first in six years - the Priest has come raging back with an energy they haven’t had in a long time. A lot of credit must go to guitarist Richie Faulkner who had some admittedly big shoes to follow in the wake of K.K. Downing’s retirement.
Chances are, one way or another you have already made your mind up about Ted Nugent. Well, if you are in the camp that considers him to be an insufferable right-wing blowhard, we recommend you set your predilections aside and give his latest record a listen. ‘SHUTUP&JAM’ is brimming with riff-driven hard rocking tracks delivered in Nugent’s classic devil-may care attitude. If you’re were inclined to give him one chance, and one chance only, make it ‘I Love My BBQ,’ a fun tip of the cap to Jimi Hendrix – if only stylistically anyway.
While the Black Crowes continue to remain on hiatus, the group’s front man continues to keep himself busy with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. The band’s latest offering, ‘Phosphorescent Harvest,’ is as trippy as the name implies. With its jam band feeling, the songs do have a tendency to meander a bit, but overall the element of spontaneity and surprise overshadows any feeling of fatigue.
'The Royal Sessions'
With a nickname like ‘The Voice’ there is a certain level of expectation one expects from a Paul Rodgers record and here he hits it out of the park. Rodgers has been singing the blues in one form or another with Free and Bad Company for the better part of his career, but here he really digs into the source material on an album of Southern soul covers recorded with some of Memphis' musical legends. From Albert King’s ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’ to Otis Redding’s ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)’ each track is performed with all the range and feeling we’ve come to expect from one of the best.
Bruce Springsteen kicked the year off in a big way with the January release of his 18th studio album. Made up of outtakes and cover material, 'High Hopes' received a real shot in the arm by way of contributions made by Rage Against the Machine mastermind Tom Morello. The guitarist’s presence is never more thoroughly felt or enjoyed than on the electric reimagining of ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad,’ which, though tacked near the end, remains the high point of the whole recording.
'A Letter Home'
This record easily wins the award for most creative. Working in conjunction with Jack White, the duo recorded all of the songs on the album in a Voice-O-Graph vinyl-recording booth from the '40s. While it may not feature any newly written material, the covers chosen and performed by Neil Young are simply superb, from ‘Girl From the North Country’ by Bob Dylan to ‘Crazy’ by Willie Nelson.