I'm going to forgo the notion of BEST and give you a list of my fifteen favorite albums of 2006, the albums that gave me the most pleasure. I'm convinced that there's a strong correlation between expectation and what one likes.
15. Paul Simon-Surprise. I discussed this before, as did Tosy. I still like the first and last songs best, though just this week, I was chair dancing to one of the other tunes, to the delight of my daughter.
14. Johnny Cash-American V: A Hundred Highways. My assessment pretty well matched Nik's. Not as strong as the first 4 American albums, which I love, or even material from the posthumous box set.
13. Jerry Lee Lewis-Last Man Standing. I had low expectations on this one, so it was a pleasant surprise. 22 guest stars, but many of them are used well.
12. Dixie Chicks-Taking the Long Way. Yes, I'm glad they're "not ready to make nice," but I liked this musically as well.
11. Neil Young: Living with War. Will this album age well, Lefty wonders. I don't know, but I enjoy it for what it does in 2006/2007 in the midst of the current situation.
10. Ronstadt/Savoy-Adieu False Heart.
My initial assessment was that I LOVED most of the Annie Savoy Cajun stuff, while Linda's stuff was only OK, but the latter's grown on me.
9. Knopfler/Harris: All the Roadrunning.
The musical chemistry is good.
8. Beatles-Love. Nik wasn't crazy about it, and even Beatles uberfan Fred gave it a lukewarm reception, but I fully expected to, well, LOVE this album, based on the initial cut I heard, Within You, Without You, with the instrumentation of Tomorrow Never Knows. The problem with this, and I now understand Paul and Ringo's point on this, is that it didn't do MORE of this. A lot of it sounded like slight variations on the Beatles' catalog, which I already own. More backwards Sun King! More segued cuts, even if it treads close to "Stars on Forty-Fab" territory. I'm not offended by the remixing, I only wanted it weirder.
7. Costello/Toussaint: The River in Reverse. I thought the last album I have by Elvis, North, was a bit of a bland disappointment, so I was pleased to hear this one. I think the album's latter tracks are generally better than the earlier ones, and the album as a whole improves with every play.
6. Black Cadillac-Rosanne Cash.
Weird, I suppose, that the album about JRC's death should rate higher with me than JRC's album. In any case, it's not just about her father's death, but her mother's and her stepmother's, all in a couple-year period. Bit I didn't find it to be a depressing album at all.
5. Tom Petty-Highway Companion.
Somebody please tell me why the Tom Petty albums are, in general, more enjoyable than the Heartbreakers albums over the same period? This is a recent acquisition and may go higher with repeated listening.
4. Ray Davies-Other People's Lives.
Given its long gestation period, an amazingly coherent album. Recent acquisition, may go up.
Sidebar: The album is on V2 Records. A very good friend of mine writes:
"V2 Records North America is no longer. This ten year old company has sadly bitten the dust as a functioning label.
My 9+ years here have run the gamut. There's been the satisfaction of witnessing a small bird taking flight and the brutal crush of a boulder rolling down a mountain."
3. Bob Dylan-Modern Times.
That I didn't love it quite as much as Love and Theft - but I may, with time - doesn't negate the enjoyment I've received.
2. Bruce Springsteen-We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.
As I said before, this album came pre-loved.
AND, my #1 favorite album of 2006:
Spongebob Squarepants: The Best Day Ever.
Maybe it's because I came in with such low expectations, despite Fred's affection for it; I mean, the man has SpongeBob underwear! And while I've watched the cartoon in the past, I'm not a regular viewer.
But I bought into the concept of the album as a radio broadcast, more fully realized than The Who Sell Out; the Who ran out of time, or interest, in completing the theme. My favorite song: "Barnacles", a word you use when you stub your toe and don't want to say something inappropriate.
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