Now that 2010 is here, I think it’s high time I finished the articles I began writing about my favorite music from 2008. The introduction I wrote explains the criteria I use for selection and I already published my picks for best songs of 2008.
- Honorable Mention Albums for 2008
- Greatest Kiss by Kiss: I used to view with disdain those who purchased “The Best of” or “Greatest Hits” albums. As I’ve grown older, I come to recognize that sometimes the career anthology is the most economical way to “own” a band. Kiss is an excellent example for that approach. While never a fan (in fact, I hated them when they were proclaimed to be “bigger than the Beatles”), I do enjoy many of their songs. Several years ago I picked up an excellent tribute album called Kiss My Ass that I played incessantly for a time. Thus, when this album popped up as a two dollar special on Amazon one day, I couldn’t resist. I now have all the classic Kiss I will ever want including “Rock and Roll All Night” and “Beth“. Party on, Wayne.
- Greatest Hits by Styx: I know it’s not uncommon for people of my age to have a nostalgic love for Styx but I think my fondness probably extends beyond that of the average fan. When I was young my brother, Kent, loaned his cassette player stereo to me and my sisters for a time and included some of his cassettes. One of those cassettes was The Grand Illusion, which became one of the first albums I appreciated as a whole. Later it would be one of the first to arrive from the RCA Music Service (later to become BMG Music Service) along with Pieces of Eight and Cornerstone. Although I greeted the arrival of Paradise Theatre with the same enthusiasm that I had given their earlier work, it signaled the eventual departure of Styx from my life. Kilroy Was Here was even more disappointing and came at a time when my musical horizons were expanding. The fact that I never even bought that album says everything about my respect for it. Over the years I’ve encountered a number of Styx fans more rabid than I which only had the effect of reminding me of the pretentious excess of their work in the 80s. Finally, I came to realize that I missed the “album tracks” from The Grand Illusion and that I should have it in my CD collection, so I put it on my wishlist for a time but never purchased it. Eventually, after I reconsidered my position on the retrospective anthology, I investigated anthology options for Styx and found this gem. It has five of the eight songs from The Grand Illusion as well as the good songs from the albums that preceded it. Sure, it’s got the requisite 80s hits, but I suppose I can forgive them for that. The only downside is a new song called “Show Me The Way” which is totally unrelated to the Frampton song and is one of the few songs that I have unchecked in iTunes so it never plays again.
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience Box Set by Jimi Hendrix: I’ve purchased Electric Ladyland at least three times and recorded it more than that. I own all the studio albums, two live albums and several of the albums that have been released posthumously. I’ve paid for movies on VHS and DVD. I’ve sought out numerous documentaries and read several books. I am a lifelong fan of Jimi Hendrix. I offer that as context and an excuse for what follows: unrepentant raving about a box set release aimed at a niche market. When you listen to an alternate take and can tell the difference from the released song, it’s a sure sign that you know an artist’s work too well. I think it is only with that sort of rabid allegiance that one can enjoy a box set such as this. Even so, there are a few things here that the average fan can enjoy. For example, there are two separate versions of “Little Wing” that made me fall in love with that song all over. Alternate takes and live versions abound and there are all manner of previously unreleased songs including some great covers like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Like A Rolling Stone“.
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