A new year’s resolution note to self — remember to post my show! (Looks like it’s been awhile. Oops.)
In the mean time, let’s wrap up another fantastic year of All-Wheel Drive on SOUTHERN MINNESOTA’S BEST RADIO STATION (for the 4th year running!) with my annual “best of” list. Admittedly, today’s show barely scratches the surface (and leaves out a lot of musicians who released some really great stuff this past year). But it’s my “job” to whittle things down to about 90 minutes of music (once you factor in news and weather and commercials!) As such, my tribute for the year includes lots of new — and not-so new — music that I found myself listening to again and again.
First up, my favorite album of the year. And unlike most years, a very obvious selection easily rose to the top of the heap for me. And also surprisingly, not a bit of rock & roll, no honky nor tonk. A simply exquisitely lovely instrumental release full of decidedly pretty little ditties performed by master Minnesota musicians.
Chris Lynch with The Dust of Sons Ensemble: The Little Ladder to Heaven
From “Dreams for Hannah” (2016)
Lots of loss this year. Musically and otherwise. Of course we’re comforted by the fact that great music lives on forever, but certain losses hit pretty damn hard in 2016, beginning with the passing of the legendary David Bowie on January 10, who died only days after releasing his critically-acclaimed release, “Black Star.” His 25th studio release (wow), the album eerily seemed to predict his passing. Rest in peace, sir.
David Bowie: Ashes to Ashes
From “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” (1980)
More faves from the past year. Obviously I am a sucker for 70s-style soft rock, lush harmonies, and sweetly melodic vocals!
Fruit Bats: Good Will Come To You
From “Absolute Loser” (2016)
The Twilight Hours: Anymore
From “Black Beauty” (2016)
I will forever mourn the loss of Minnesota’s own hometown hero, Prince Rogers Nelson, whose April 21st passing stunned fans world-wide (including yours truly, who upon hearing the news, burst into tears “at the day job.”) Like Bowie — SO MUCH great music from such a prolific and talented artist. (Not to mention a dedicated humanitarian). A concert highlight for me this year was the reunion of his seminal band, The Revolution, performing so many of those classic (and bootylicious!) compositions, along with other iconic special guests, at First Avenue. I laughed, I cried, I danced my middle-aged mama’s a** off.
Prince: I Wanna Be Your Lover
From “Prince” (1979)
Prince: I Would Die 4 U
From “Purple Rain” (1984)
And, more favorites from the last year — demonstrating my appreciation for a tasty groove.
Lizzo: Good As Hell
From “Coconut Oil” (2016)
Beyonce: Daddy Lessons
From “Lemonade” (2016)
The Staves: Black & White
From “If I Was” (2016)
Eliot Sumner: In Real Life
From “Information” (2016)
Mark Mallman: Trying To Fight Fire With A Fist
From “The End Is Not The End” (2016)
And, of course, it’s wouldn’t be All-Wheel Drive without a nice dose of quality twang!
The Cactus Blossoms: Clown Collector
From “You’re Dreaming” (2016)
Farewell Milwaukee: Strike (When The World Eats Its Tail)
From “FM” (2016)
Another significant loss in the world of music — Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter (basically a consummate artist!) Leonard Cohen, who passed away November 7 at the age of 82, and like Bowie, shortly after the release of his final highly lauded release, “You Like It Darker,” capping off an amazing career that spanned over five decades.
Leonard Cohen: Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
From “Songs of Leonard Cohen” (1967)
More great 2016 releases include:
The Pines: Above The Prairie
From “Hanging From The Earth” (2016)
From “Hopelessness” (2016)
Cloud Cult: Through The Ages
From “The Seeker” (2016)
Joey Ryan & The Inks: FTR
From “Young Afternoon” (2016)
Haley Bonar: Better Than Me
From “Impossible Dream” (2016)
A Piano in Every Home: Boxing Glove
From “North American Review Parts I & II” (2016)
Oof. Another unexpected loss that shocked audiences around the globe — and ironically, given Wham!’s big (and often covered) holiday hit, on Christmas Day. Rest in peace, George Michael. Like Bowie and Prince, he was a man who not only redefined the world of pop music — but worked to shatter societal norms surrounding gender and sexuality. A rock STAR, indeed.
George Michael: I Want Your Sex
From “Faith” (1987)
Not a 2016 release but an album that got A LOT of listening chez Paxton in the last year (thanks to my son, who, like his mom, has great taste in music….!).
Phillipa Soo & The Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: Helpless
From “Hamilton: An American Musical” (2015)
Finally, wrapped up the show with another great groove. Enjoy….
Childish Gambino: Redbone
From “Awaken, My Love!” (2016)
Thanks for another great year, y’all. Now, get out there and support LIVE MUSIC!