Winter 2008

My Top Ten Albums of 2007

Eagles: Long Road Out Of Eden
ERC Records

    Best album of the year? Absolutely! The Eagles’ Long Road Out Of Eden, which was a twenty-eight year hiatus since their last studio recording, tops my list for the finest recording of the year, if not the millennium.

    The two-disc set offers their trademark harmonies bringing you right back into the 70’s, which is a great thing, considering that was the decade that gave us all six of their studio albums. The California country sound is as comfortable now as it was all those years ago.

    This album stands proudly next to their greatest achievements; most especially 1976’s tour de force Hotel California. Long Road Out Of Eden isn’t just important, mark my words – these Eagles soar to the highest of heights with a record that’ll stand up with the greatest classic rock albums of all time.

    2. Rihanna: Good Girl Gone Bad
    Def Jam Records

      Rihanna was an unknown R&B teenaged singer in the Caribbean until she was discovered and exploded onto the music scene a couple of years ago. Her breakthrough album last year, A Girl Like Me, featured several hit singles, but Good Girl Gone Bad, including the biggest single of 2007, “Umbrella” has made her a bonafide R&B superstar and household name.

      I’m hearing shades of Beyoncé all over this record, and the fact that B’s main squeeze Jay-Z is present, along with several of Ms. Knowles’ contributors, only makes this album that much sweeter and it ranks as the second best album (and the greatest R&B album by a female) of 2007.

      3. Maroon 5: It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
      A&M/Octone Records

        To say Maroon 5’s standing in pop music after a five-year hiatus is safe and wonderfully “sound” would be a gross understatement. Their sophomore release picks up where they left off five years ago.

        Debut albums are sometimes a phenomenon that can’t be repeated, but Maroon 5 seems to have sidestepped the curse by releasing an incredible album that captures their wonderful mix of R&B and rock for a completely satisfying pop album that ranks third on my list.

        4. Paul McCartney: Memory Almost Full
        Hear Records

          If it weren’t for the infectious melodies (which happen to be some of McCartney’s best), the album’s lyrics are a bittersweet and melancholy look back on five decades. There’s plenty to analyze – life with and without Linda and the fact that this album was released two weeks prior to Paul’s 65th birthday, he seems to be focusing on life, love, loss of life, and basically, his own mortality.

          This album is a masterpiece, and most definitely worthy of the Grammy’s (which it was nominated in several categories).

          These songs make up the finest solo McCartney efforts in over a decade.

          5. Deborah Harry: Necessary Evil
          Eleven Seven Music

            Deborah Harry has been on the musical map for nearly four decades, and surprisingly, this is only her fifth solo album. The old adage applies – good things come to those who wait, as Necessary Evil is her strongest solo effort to date.

            The dancefloor anthem “Two Times Blue” carries Harry’s unmistakable vocal and is one of the best singles of 2007. The entire album is a throwback and lovely reminder of Deb’s “new wave” CBGB’s repertoire of the seventies.

            It’s been fourteen years since Harry’s flown solo, but with Necessary Evil she proves being on your own really has its merits.

            6. Hairspray: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
            New Line Records

              Following in the steps of the-films-that-became-a-Broadway-winning-musical-turned film-again, Hairspray has become the smash hit soundtrack of 2007.

              If you’re a fan of the 2002 Broadway cast album, this soundtrack and its three new songs plus bonuses should keep a smile on your face and hold a “perm” position in your CD player for a long time to come. This is my only soundtrack on the list and it ranks as one of the best albums of the year.

              7. Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life
              Blue Note Records

                When I read that the guest vocalists were Dianne Reeves (who sings on six tracks) and Elvis Costello, who wrote lyrics to one of Strayhorn’s last compositions “Blood Count” (to which Costello added the title “My Flame Burns Blue”), I knew I was going to be taken on a lavish journey. I’m sure you’ve heard Billy Strayhorn’s most famous offerings such as “Lush Life,” which he miraculously wrote when he was a teenager. Dianne Reeves and a guitar are all that this masterpiece needed to realize the sheer genius that was Billy Strayhorn. There are many jazz collections that bear Billy Strayhorn’s name, but with the inclusions of Reeves, Costello and several top-notch musicians, this is quite possibly the most exquisite tribute to one of the greatest artists of all time.

                8. The Puppini Sisters
                Verve Records

                  When I first heard this British trio of young women that sing “Mr. Sandman,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” as well as Kate Bush’s pièce de résistance, “Wuthering Heights,” and the song that defined the 70’s disco movement, “I Will Survive,” all in three-part harmony, my head started to spin faster than a record on a turntable. It was as if I was in the twilight zone. After hearing other 40’s standards, and then the Blondie signature song “Heart of Glass I was convinced that this was one of the most unique musical experiences I’ve had in a very long time.

                  The Puppini Sisters’ Betcha Bottom Dollar is the perfect title, because the enjoyment you’ll receive from this disc is far from a gamble.

                  9. Tegan and Sara: The Con
                  Vapor/Sanctuary Records

                    This duo not only happens to consist of twin sisters, Tegan and Sara Quin, but they are both lesbians as well. Does that make a difference? Yes and no. If the music wasn’t so good, nobody would really care either way, but that’s not the case here. The music is so superb that it does matter. It matters because people aren’t just waking up to the fact that these two people are relatively new to the music scene and are making a name for themselves, it matters because it shows the world that no matter what flag you wave, talent is talent. And that, my friends, is another step towards equality.

                    The Con is superb and their sound is like nothing you’ve ever heard. Whoever said that originality was dead hasn’t had the pleasure of hearing these girls make music.

                    10. Mark Ronson: Version
                    RCA Records

                      The entire CD has a “groove” that could’ve been lifted as an alternative track to “The Dating Game” back in 1966. Put on your Pucci’s before you press “play” – it’s party time. Version is pop ‘n soul perfection.

                      This party record is the sleeper hit of the year. The sound recalls Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and super-group Chicago with an addition of beats that’ll make the hippest of hip-hoppers green with envy. This is one of the most unique albums of 2007, which is reason enough to make my top ten list.

                      © 2008 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.