2006 is almost over and it is safe to say that, if you are a fan of AOR, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal, then you had a fine year full of great releases. Every year seems to bring more new releases and reissues competing for the collector’s hard earned dollar.
This year I spent most of my money on catalog releases and reissues…..trying to fill some of those holes in the collection. I kept up on many new studio albums but there were so many that I had to be a smart shopper and buy the ones I absolutely had to have. It’s never an exact science but I got some great albums this year at very good prices.
Below is my Top 5 of 2006. Of all the albums I bought this year, these are the cream of the crop, the very best in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal this year. From bottom to top:
Honorable Mentions: Krokus – Hellraiser, MSG – Tales Of Rock’n Roll, Lacuna Coil – Karmacode, Axel Rudi Pell – Mystica, Warrant – Born Again, and Toto – Falling In Between (who would have slid into #5).
5. Taz Taylor Band – Welcome To America
The surprise of the year! I bought this solely because of Graham Bonnet’s (ex-Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz) involvement on vocals but I got a fine Hard Rock album full of hooks and melody. Can’t go wrong there! Well written songs and good musicianship = a good album.
4. Paul Stanley – Live To Win
This exceeded my expectations and, as a KISS diehard, they were very high. I wasn’t looking for a new KISS album, I was looking for a good Hard Rock album (something KISS has forgotten about). A bit modern and Pop flavored but Paul writes good songs and his voice sounds in fine form.
3. Motorhead – Kiss Of Death
If it wasn’t for the next two bands releasing new albums in 2006, Motorhead would have taken the top spot. How many excellent albums does Lemmy and co. have to make before people outside the Metal community take notice? Basic “in your face” Heavy Metal that picks you up and smacks you across the head. Motorhead continues to churn out good albums year after year.
2. UFO – The Monkey Puzzle
Another member of the “old guard” that just makes good Hard Rock albums. The Monkey Puzzle is an album of superb quality of blues-based Hard Rock full of melody, hooks, and solos. Songwriting is top notch and the performances are dead on for a band pushing 35+ years on the scene. This release flirted with the top spot for most of the year and would have been the top album if it wasn’t for the next release.
<<insert drum roll>> “And the top album of 2006 is…..”
1. Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death
When Iron Maiden releases a new album, it is almost a given that it will be a classic release and one of the best of the year. Since reforming with Dickinson and Smith, Maiden had put out two excellent albums but A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH really stands out. The songs are longer, more progressive, but they are high quality. Seasoned veterans like this write great albums and this is a great album. I haven’t enjoyed a Maiden album this much since POWERSLAVE (1984).