Blur – The Magic Whip
I’ll start with my favourite album of the year by a country mile, The Magic Whip by Blur. Coming out of the blue 12 years after their previous album it was one hell of a surprise to say the least, but it was well worth the wait. I’m a huge Blur fan and I’d been waiting so long for a new album from them, especially after Graham Coxon rejoined the band in 2009 and the three new songs released since 2010. And this year, 2015, we finally got it.
The music is classic Blur. Anyone who knows the band knows that they have a different sound on every album and The Magic Whip is no different. You can hear influences from past Blur albums but as a whole it’s something completely different, completely new, and that’s what makes the album sound so good. I was lucky enough to be at the album release show in London back in March where 200 lucky people heard the album from start to finish for the very first time and it was incredible. Fantastic album, fantastic band. Check it out if you haven’t already.
The Allman Brothers Band – Idlewild South (Deluxe Edition)
Idlewild South has needed a good remaster for a while and this year it finally happened, and on top of that the album was released as a deluxe edition with various additional tracks. Recorded and released in 1970, Idlewild South is the second studio album from The Allman Brothers Band and contains a number of fantastic songs that become live staples, most notable the epic In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.
One of the best things about this deluxe edition is the inclusion of certain studio outtakes including a studio version of Statesboro Blues which most Allman Brothers fans know as a live song and not a studio song. An alternate take of Midnight Rider is great as well and the full Ludlow Garage live set makes this deluxe edition one of the albums of the year for sure.
Keith Richards – Crosseyed Heart
You can’t beat a good blues album and Crosseyed Heart by Keith Richards is one of my favourite albums of the year. Containing a number of fantastic blues tunes but also rock and reggae numbers, the album is extremely enjoyable to listen to and makes you dream for another album from The Rolling Stones. But until then, this will definitely do.
The great thing about this album is that it sounds fun and relaxed at the same time, almost like you can hear how it was recorded. I’m not talking about the music itself but the overall feel and vibe from the first track to the last. But the music is fantastic as well with Steve Jordan holding down the fort on drums whilst Keith does his thing on the guitar. Extremely enjoyable album, a big highlight from 2015.
Adele – 25
2015 saw the return of Adele, four years after her last album 21 was released. Even though 25 came out near the end of this year it’s definitely still one of the best albums of 2015. The debut single, Hello, was released after a genius promotional video on the TV and since then she has been the talk of the town, and rightly so.
There are better songs than Hello on the album, most notably When We Were Young which in my opinion is one of the best songs of the decade so far. Yes, I just said that and I’m not taking it abck. It’s absolutely incredible and there’s a reason why Adele has been breaking sales records since the album dropped. Overall it’s an amazing effort and it becomes even more extraordinary when compared to the utter crap that is mainstream music today.
Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night
An album full of Frank Sinatra covers isn’t exactly what you’d expect from Bob Dylan but the results here are absolutely wonderful. Dylan delivers and executes the songs perfectly and as a result you’re left with one of the best albums of 2015.
Dylan has released a string of exceptional albums since the turn of the millennium and Shadows In The Night continues that run. The songs themselves are classics but the way they are delivered, the way they are played really is second to none. One of the best things about recent Dylan albums has been the overall sound and feel and that’s one of the first things you think of when you put this album on. Incredible.