Chris Cornell - Carry On
I first heard Chris Cornell on Soundgarden's Louder Than Love. I was (and still am) a huge fan of the Seattle music scene of the late eighties and early nineties. Soundgarden was one of the big Seattle bands of that period (along with Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Nirvana). After much commercial success, Soundgarden broke up just when they had reached the top. Chris Cornell released his first solo album Euphoria Morning soon after. I absolutely loved that album. I listened to it constantly in late 1999. He then teamed up with three of the four members of Rage Against the Machine and formed Audioslave. While I loved Audioslave's music, I kinda felt that Cornell's voice was failing and was convinced that he was just about finished in music. However, Carry On proved that Mr. Cornell clearly hasn't lost his touch. I had the opportunity to catch his solo tour in Louisville last summer and I can say with absolutely no hesitation that he is definitely not a product of the studio. His voice was as strong as it was almost twenty years ago. Plus, this was one of the best shows I saw last year (and certainly one of my favorite concerts of all time).
Pearl Jam - Live At The Gorge 05/06
Keeping with the Seattle vibe, my next choice has to be this seven-disc set from Pearl Jam. This collection chronicles three shows the band played at the Gorge (one from 2005 and two from 2006). I love Pearl Jam, but I especially love Pearl Jam live. No two shows are the same. They never play the same setlist twice. You can follow the band on tour and never see a show repeated (which I did back in 2003 - Nashville, Atlanta and Lexington - three shows in four days. Amazing experience). One reason this album made my list is because the setlist for the July 22, 2006 show was created by one of the band's roadies. A lot of songs that they hardly ever play live are included in this set including Wash, Footsteps, Crown of Thorns, Baba O'Riley and Dirty Frank just to name a few. If you're a Pearl Jam fan, this is a must have.
Is there a pattern here? In all seriousness, I have come to appreciate what an incredible genius Eddie Vedder is. Sure he's an amazing front man for Pearl Jam, but he is just as amazing on his own. In fact, I don't think you can even compare the two. I mean Eddie with Pearl Jam and Eddie on his own are just two very different entities, two very different vibes, both equally awe-inspiring. Vedder plays every instrument on this album and does an excellent job in my opinion. He also wrote all the music and lyrics with the exception of two cover tunes. In fact, the last song on the album, "Guaranteed," was awarded a Golden Globe on Sunday. While Eddie Vedder isn't in it for the awards, this one was well-deserved.
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Radiohead made waves in 2007 by allowing their latest album to be downloaded for the cost of - well, fans were allowed to name their own price! While I'm sure many fans downloaded the album for free, the album ended up selling for an average price of $7.99. In fact, the band said they actually made more money from this album than any other. Eventually, the album was released on January 1, 2008, but many fans (including me) had been listening for months. I'm still listening. It doesn't get old. Every time I listen to this album I discover something new, be it a note that I hadn't heard before or an emotion that I hadn't felt before. I'm of the opinion that this is Radiohead's best effort since OK Computer. It's one of those few albums that I can push play and listen from start to finish. It is truly amazing. Now if we can just get them stateside for a proper tour...
Silverchair - Young Modern
Do you remember back in 1997 when U2 released POP? It was such a departure for them, but it was simply an excellent album nonetheless. But really, was it such a surprise that U2 would push the envelope and go techno? They had already established that they were not going to release The Joshua Tree Part II when Achtung Baby was released in 1991. I love it when bands take chances. All that being said, Young Modern was probably more of a departure for Silverchair than POP was for U2. Imagine if you could take The Beatles, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Weezer, mix them up in a bowl, pour them in a cake dish and bake them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. What you pull out of the oven would be this album. I have to admit, at first I HATED it. I couldn't stand it. But after I few listens (usually traveling on I-75 South between Lexington and Corbin for work) I grew to LOVE this album. I probably listened to the first single "Straight Line" more than any other song last year. This is a tremendous album, but it will have to grow on you.
So that's it. My favorite albums of 2007. There are others that could have made the list (Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds at Radio City Music Hall, Foo Fighters - Echos, Silence, Patience and Grace and The White Stripes - Icky Thump just to name a few), but these were my stand-outs. These are the albums I would highly recommend to just about anyone. I have a feeling the list for next year will include the new Metallica album. Because, let's face it, it's the mighty Metallica and Rick Rubin is producing it! That has metal written all over it! Makes me want to headbang just thinking about it!
Speaking of Rick Rubin, he's also producing the new U2 album. Now this should be interesting! Of course, it doesn't matter who produces a U2 album, as long as you have Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. you have something special. U2 could probably do an album of Hannah Montana cover tunes and it would be amazing!!
Well, maybe not...