Digital Roundup: Best of 2015
1. Bobby Keys, Bobby Keys: To say that Bobby Keys' saxophone is featured on some of the greatest rock 'n' roll recorded from 1969 into the 2000s is in no way an example of hyperbole: he was the Rolling Stones' go-to sax man, he played for Eric Clapton, Warren Zevon, Carly Simon, Lynyrd Skynryd, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, and a ton of other names. Unfortunately, Keys only recorded one solo album, but now that it's been made available again, you should definitely give it a spin and see what he was capable of delivering on his own.
2. The Wipers, Land of the Lost: Only a handful of music critics and record store employees really knew who the Wipers were until the grunge era kicked off, but after that, word started to get out about how great Greg Sage and the gang really were. We added three Wipers albums to the digital catalog earlier this year, but if you had to pick one selection as the best to own, it's this one.
3. The B-52's, Live! 8-24-1979: One of the greatest things about the digital catalog is that we're able to issue some really cool stuff that a relatively small percentage of the audience might find interesting and not have it set us back an obscene amount. There are a lot of casual B-52's fans out there who are just fine having a greatest-hits collection, but for those old-school fans want to revisit the band's golden years, this live set from '79 is a great way to do it.
4. Quincy Jones, $ - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: The movie is pretty obscure, so you can imagine that the soundtrack is even more so, but in addition to the fact that Jones was seriously bringing the funk in the '70s, the album also features a couple of performances from Little Richard - one of which also features Roberta Flack - that are just about worth the price of admission by themselves.
5. Afrika Bambaataa and James Brown, Unity: Look at those two names. Do we really need to actively sell you on the worth of this release? Just buy it already!
6. Ron Wood, I've Got My Own Album to Do: Between the dissolution of the Faces and his invitation to join the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood finally got around to recording his full-length solo debut, and it's a whole lot of fun. Of course, it also doesn't hurt that Wood has assistance from pals like Ian McLagan, George Harrison, and Keith Richards, but even if he didn't, the music would still stand strong on its own.
7. King Curtis, Instant Groove: We will not apologize for including two saxophone stars in our top 10 list, because they're both awesome and well worth your time. Besides, Curtis's album is filled with lots of fun covers, including his takes on “Hey Joe,” “Wichita Lineman,” “The Weight,” and “Little Green Apples,” among others.
8. a-ha, Stay on These Roads / East of the Sun, West of the Moon / Memorial Beach: Given how their popularity dropped off in the States after Scoundrel Days, it may not surprise you that the expanded reissues of a-ha's three subsequent albums didn't end up getting a physical release in the US. They did, however, get a digital release, and the bonus material is pretty great, so don't miss out if you're a fan.
9. Bruce McCulloch, Shame-Based Man: If you only know Bruce McCulloch from his work within Kids in the Hall, you're not the only one, but he recorded a pretty great - and pretty funny - album a few years back. We talked about it with him not long after we added it to the digital catalog (you can read that chat right here), but you should really hear it for yourself.
10. Underworld, Change the Weather: It's only been a few weeks since we were singing the praises of this album, but we'll take another moment to sing them again: it's a great blend of rock guitar and synths with a number of catchy songs, including the title track, which kicks things off brilliantly.