Your Top 5 Albums of 2017


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Whether it's A&M or not, let us know what your Top 5 albums were for 2017. They can be favorites, or the most played from your collection. List them in order of preference, or not, whichever suits you. Any format! Let us know what impressed you most about them as well.

And if you have to include a few runners-up, we won't hold it against you. :wink:
5. Harriet, Debut (Deluxe Edition) - cheeky to include an album that was put out the year before but the bonus tracks are really worth it. It's a great debut by someone who really should've achieved wider commercial success this year but I have a sense she's a slow burn act like Rumer who was the scene for years before she broke. She sound's exactly like Karen Carpenter its freaky.

4. Shelby Lynne, Not Dark Yet - Stunning album that saw Shelby collaborate with her sister. Features covers of songs by Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Nirvana and The Killers. One of her best. A darn sight better than 2015's Down To Believing.

3. Stacey Kent, I Know A Dream - Full disclosure here, I'm a lifelong fan of Stacey Kent. Stacey Kent sounds at ease with this material, a mixture of sambas and chansons. Nobel prizewinner Kazuo Ishiguro even wrote two of the songs! The orchestra makes the release one of the finest.

2. Barry Manilow, This Is My Town: Songs Of New York - I've had it playing on a loop ever since its release. I love New York. I am there nearly there 5 times a year. Its my home from home. I've always liked Barry but this album really was special to me this year personally. It may not be the best produced album and he's vocally he's lost his sparkle but whenever I put this album on, i am immediately taken to my favourite city of all.

1. Lauren Alaina, Road Less Traveled - Not a single bad track on this album which is odd considering her Idol routes. I think that is down to the producer (It was produced by the award-winning Busbee of Lady Antebellum, Maren Morris, Keith Urban). If you like your country with shades of pop then you'll like this.
Happy New Year Everyone
My picks here don't include new 2017 music but this is pretty much based on what I've been listening to and some that are New to my collection and not in any particular order...
1. Earl Klugh Peculiar Situation 1999 this was his only album on Wickham hill and he kind of tried to stretch out on some songs but it was a delightful album and after that he didn't record another album for a few years
2.All recordings in the Surrey House music Radio Recordings collection ( only available as Downloads) this easy listening instrumental series was one of many that was originally created for radio airplay by Bonneville ( which sold it's easy listening properties in the mid 90s) there are some great Instrumental covers done by various artists such as Pianist Ronnie Aldrich. Orchestra leaders like John Fox from England Lex DeAzevedo ( originally from california) Nick Ingman From England. And others like Pat Valentino and Simon Park and a couple others. I used to hear this stuff a lot during the 80s and 90s
3.Chuck Mangione Main Squeeze 1976 The one that came before Feels so good which finally saw a digital reissue this past year and it still stands up today and I first had it on cassette in the late 70s and I Love the music and Chuck's use of a wah wah peddle on his horn and the title track where it becomes a Free Flowing Jam Session.
4. Sir Neville Marriner Mozart.Eine Klein's Nachtmusik 1986 naturally I wanted to include a classical CD here it also has a few other composers it's a compilation and I first heard this being used on our Idaho Public tv network in the background with their station id's and back in the day during the day There were 15 minute gaps between educational classroom programs and they played several songs along with their Station ID still pictures very similar to their sign on test pattern activities this album is what stirred up my interest in classical music
5.Sergio Mendes Favorite things this was the first Non Brazil 66 l.p. I bought and being all instrumental I was naturally drawn to it and I love every song especially Velerio ( the Sailboat) Ponteio. Boa Palavra( The Good Word) and those are just my personal Standouts the whole album is still A joy to hear
My apologies for the long post but These are just a small example of my favorites over the last year it's very hard to choose just 5
My Top 5(-ish) and a few honorable mentions...

Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach: Painted from Memory. This one was a reawakening for yours truly. I was a bit amazed to find out that Mobile Fidelity was reissuing it both on vinyl and SACD. The test pressing I heard at AXPONA 2017 was amazingly clean and smooth, and the opening track "In The Darkest Place" induced shivers. The reawakening comes from my initial impression of the album (which was released as an HDCD originally), which was...meh. I realized it probably was a good record, but never gave it much time and it never grew on me. Yet upon rediscovering it this year, the album grew on me track-by-track. It is a great mix of Elvis's touching lyrics and Bacharach's composing and arrangements that take us back to his classic 60s era with Dionne Warwick while not sounding at all dated. There is plenty of clever wordplay in the lyrics to keep you hooked beyond the musical bed. Maybe not quite a masterpiece but it is a (very) high water mark for both Elvis and Burt.

Oregon: Northwest Passage. Aside from their drummer, Oregon's principles have been together for decades! IMHO this is one of their better and more cohesive recordings. Their music skates through a lot of genres without being associated with any of them--they improvise as jazz players, but blue notes are not so common; the music has the better qualities of new age without dipping into banality or boredom; there are world music influences throughout. The tracks "Claridade," "Joyful Departure" and "Nightfall" mid way through the album are a perfect sequence, beautifully performed and arranged, and very well recorded. This is my go-to Oregon album by a long shot.

Henry Mancini: Music from The Pink Panther and The Music from Peter Gunn. A couple of years ago, I bought the Pink Panther soundtrack as a Record Store Day limited edition release on pink vinyl. It sounded nice. But I was curious to hear the Analogue Productions 2-LP 45 RPM version. Likewise, they had reissued Peter Gunn in a similar format. I first heard the Gunn when I was eight or nine years old, whereas the Pink Panther was one of the first few dozen I'd played when I was old enough to stand up next to the old Admiral Hi-Fi on a chair and load up the changer. So, they are both essentially lifelong favorites. I have to say that thanks to the fantastic mastering and flawless surfaces, I have become reacquainted with these favorites, discovering many things I had missed having listened to "somewhat used" copies at home, and numerous CD versions that were always flawed in one way or another. The amount of detail is incredible in these albums. Gunn is more about individual details in the combo, whereas the orchestral emphasis of Pink Panther washes over and envelopes the listener. Great stuff! (And I had to cheat a bit--I like both equally, and had to include them both as a pick. :wink: )

Stanley Clarke/Bireli Lagrene/Jean-Luc Ponty: D-Stringz. A while ago, The Rite of Strings made a bit of a splash due to the one-off trio of Clarke, Ponty and guitarist extraordinaire Al Di Meola. This recording follows in that album's footsteps, but leans more towards the group interplay and less on technical prowess and flashiness. The trio is clearly having fun with these tunes! Each offers a couple of tunes they have penned themselves, while also covering jazz standards such as "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," "Nuages" and "Blue Train." Great listening!

Lou Rawls: Live! Anyone who knows me, knows that I am no fan of live albums. It is a rare record that will catch my attention like this 1966 gig by Lou Rawls, recorded in front of an invited studio audience over two nights. You would think he was playing in a nightclub, given his easygoing banter with the crowd, the monologues with a bit of humor thrown in ("Street Corner Hustler's Blues" is not to be missed!), and a tight ensemble backing him, not missing a single cue or note here. This is Rawls at his early best, at home and comfortable behind the mic.

Honorable mentions

Harry Belafonte: Belafonte Sings The Blues. I really could have included this in my Top 10 Top 5 list above. This was remastered on a 2-LP 45 RPM vinyl set on the Impex label, mastered by Kevin Gray. Oh. My. Goodness. The sound on this release is jaw dropping at times. The mood is very quiet through most of the album--the backing combo is reserved and lays back a bit, and Belafonte's vocals are clear and up front. Just the sound of this album is goosebump-inducing. The combo features Belafonte's guitarist of choice Millard Thomas, along with a stellar cast of L.A. session musicians like Jimmy Rowles, Plas Johnson, Don Fagerquist, Ben Webster, etc. This was Belafonte's first Living Stereo recording, and reportedly is his favorite of all of his recordings. While there are only two traditional "blues" tunes, the rest are all performed in a smoky blues setting. Three of these were penned by Ray Charles. A classic album for sure!

Depeche Mode: Spirit. One of the very few new recordings I actually liked this year. The Mode gets a bit testy and political at times (like on the initial hit "Where's The Revolution?"), but overall their sharply-crafted tunes are arguably better than a couple of their more recent albums. (In short, it's no Violator, but it holds up well on its own.)

Funkadelic: Uncle Jam Wants YOU! If only for the 15 minute long workout "(Not Just) Knee Deep." Classic funk; classic George Clinton. And at 15+ minutes, not a dull moment. This is one track I'd heard on radio over the years, but finally hearing the full version from the now-rare CD is a great. (It came up on my Pandora station, which is what got me hooked on it again.)

Earth Wind & Fire: Earth Wind & Fire. Back where it all began. I was spinning it a few times last year, but really laid into it this year, especially with the new vinyl reissue. Despite Maurice not being happy with his formula on this record (he would change it up after the band's second album), all of the signature EW&F elements (no pun intended) are here. The brass punctuation, the socially-conscious (without preaching) lyrics, very slight Latin and jazz influences...all good!

Santana: Santana. I can freely admit I'm not much of a Santana fan, but the group's free-wheeling debut features a lot of Latin-flavored instrumental jams that come across as a lot more spontaneous than anything they would record later on. On the 2-LP 45 RPM Mobile Fidelity pressing, you feel as though the band has walked into the studio, dropped their amps and instruments around you, and started playing (like on the opening track, "Waiting"). The SACD is no slouch either, and I would recommend either, although the LP brings you that much closer to the studio sound.

Bill Evans: Explorations and Moonbeans. I have been on a bit of a Bill Evans bender this year, and despite having heard numerous trio albums of his, these two received the most play this year. I will admit, though, that I heard the debut of the test pressing of the Sunday at the Village Vanguard album at AXPONA in 2017 and the sound was stunning; this used the Mobile Fidelity "One-Step" process where the 45 RPM stampers are made directly from the lacquer master. Simply incredible. Even the SACD doesn't recreate that "in the club" holographic ambiance that the One-Step LP does.

Debussy: Prelude a l'Apres-Midi d-un Faune/La Mer/Trois Nocturnes/Iberia, Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra. Readers also know I've been exploring a lot of classical lately, and this SACD has risen to the top of the heap. The recordings date to the 1970s, and Haitink puts a warm, reassuring touch on these Debussy compositions. These are also scattered among individual CDs, plus they are represented on one of his mega-CD box sets.

Stravinsky: Firebird Suite/Song of the Nightingale/The Rite of Spring, Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra. I have read that Oue's interpretations of some of the classical works he has conducted could be a bit controversial. I find the Firebird a bit rushed here in places (especially at the end), yet the fiery brilliance of Nightingale and Rite of Spring work to their advantage. This was released on Reference Recordings, and I am split on the sound quality of this release. I find the dynamics to be somewhat overblown, and the highs and bass a bit too emphasized; both could be the result of close-mic'ing the musicians, as opposed to the older technique of using two or three mics spaced across the front of the orchestra. Still, it is an exciting listen, and was one of my top classical spins for the year.
I really enjoyed Buckingham and McVie. Also, Herb’s Music Vol. 1 was a big favorite. I also played the heck out of the Avett Brothers’ True Sadness - released in 2016 but I didn’t find it until April of 2017.
In no particular order:

Renaissance - CAMERA CAMERA - An 80s release from one of my favorite 70s progressive rock bands. CAMERA CAMERA marked a move to a new label, in this case IRS RECORDS, an imprint of A&M. I'd attempted to find this album over the years with little success. At one point, I found a copy on eBay but the seller said he couldn't find it. Another time, I just missed an auction by $1. The CD is easy enough to find, but with my passion for genuine A&M, I wanted the LP, and in as good a shape as I could find. Thankfully, 2017 saw me finding just such an LP - in fine shape and sounding good. Fans had warned me that Renaissance had changed with this album, bowing to the trends in 80s music with more synth music - but once I heard it, I realized that I liked it a great deal.


Lunna - LUNNA - This one was a surprise. I'd never heard of Lunna, nor did I know that she recorded an album for A&M - actually AyM Discos, the Latin division of A&M in 1987. I think I spotted one of her songs showing up in YouTube and something about the picture of the album cover attracted me, so I sampled the song and kind of liked it. Research tirned up the facts that Lunna was from Puerto Rico, did just this one album for AyM and it was nominated for a Grammy. This turned out to be one of those albums where every track is great - no filler. First I found a South American LP of it, later locating a genuine AyM CD (37022). It's gotten a lot of play in my car.


Michelle Phillips - Victim Of Romance - Another older A&M title that I discovered this past year. This was Michelle Phillips' (of the Mamas & Papas) only solo recording. It was released in 1977. I found it while looking for a song written by Roger Nichols & Paul Williams and found "No Love Today" on YouTube. Turned out I had this track on a Nichols/Williams compilation from Japan, and this single wasn't on the album. But I liked it so well that I bought the extended version of the album on CD. Good stuff. I love discovering stuff that very few people know about.

Herb Alpert - The Christmas Wish - Though this was a no-brainer, I found that I liked this album much better than Herb's earlier 2017 effort, MUSIC VOL. 1. That one was okay, but it didn't grab me the way the CHRISTMAS WISH did.


- Here's a really odd one. Back in 1961, Frankie Laine recorded this album of western/cowboy songs, arranged and conducted by Johnny Williams. Yes, that Johnny Williams of STAR WARS fame. Now I hadn't associated the Williams name with album, but actually remembered it fondly from my childhood. It was one of the early albums that we owned in our house. Most of the records we had were mine and were old 45s, but someone somewhere gave us a copy of this Frankie Laine record and we used to play it often. I ordered a CD of it that was rather bogus - it turned out to be a needledrop of the mono version of the album. This album was one of the early REALLY GOOD stereo albums, recorded on Columbia as a six-eye label. I continued searching until I found a nearly-new LP that sounds better than any CD. Just superb sounds. The music is a pastiche of the old west and includes hits such as "Rawhide", "Mule Train", "High Noon" and a later Baja song, "The Cry Of The Wild Goose".

Honorable mentions:
The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (50th) - an updating that is a mixed bag of remixing.
Robin Wilson - Robin Wilson
Robin Wilson - Ain't That Something
- I just needledropped these two. Haven't spent much time, but they seem promising
Tracie - Far From The Hurting Kind - actually a holdover from 2016, it still got a lot of play earlier this year.
I probably played more "shuffles" and "playlists" last year than I did regular LPs, but I can mention the things that caught my attention the most:

- Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie - probably the closest thing we'll get to a new Fleetwood Mac album. There are about three or four songs from each of them that I really like, and a couple of tunes that are just good without being excellent. So it's not a bad album.

- Cheap Trick We're All Alright - the band is in top form and this, along with their 2016 album Bang Zoom Crazy...Hello! is dynamite rock'n'roll

- I also had a long Santana binge last summer and fall...a playlist created from their first six albums, mainly. I don't think I listened to any actual albums.

- Similar playlist from the Doobie Brothers got a lot of play - I think I had at least one song from every one of their albums (except One Step Closer, which was a pretty tepid album to me)

- I spun pretty much all of the Tijuana Brass albums at least once, which happens almost every summer -- TJB = summer to me, plus I also got some good use out of the TJB Sol Lake Songbook playlist that Rood created (or was that Harry?)

I didn't listen to all that much Sergio Mendes this year, which is surprising -- I think I spun Stillness, Pais Tropical and Fool on the Hill a time or two, and maybe Primal Roots once. So Sergio can be my honorable mention entry for this year.
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