Wow, we here at BluesMusicFan Radio think this year has been an excellent year for the genre, with a lot of tough choices in trying to whittle down to a Top 20. The list isn’t scientific – we are FANS. Some choices were emotional, some required certain criteria (for instance, albums consisting of original songs versus another version of Killing Floor, etc.). But… here it is… and our honorable mentions, too. We hope you enjoy them and we hope that this list compels you to listen to or buy an album off this list that you haven’t yet heard.
BLUESMUSICFAN.COM’S TOP 20 OF 2014
- MEMPHIS GREASE – John Németh
- TOO MANY ROADS – Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado
- ORIGINAL – Janiva Magness
- CAN’T EVEN DO WRONG RIGHT – Elvin Bishop
- GOIN’ HOME – Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
- CRYIN’ MERCY – Altered Five Blues Band
- REFUSE TO LOSE – Jarekus Singleton
- HEARTSOULBLOOD – Royal Southern Brotherhood
- GOOD NEWS – Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters
- MIDNIGHT BLUE – Tinsley Ellis
- RAGGED & DIRTY – Devon Allman
- THE ROYAL SESSIONS – Paul Rodgers
- DIFFERENT SHADES OF BLUE – Joe Bonamassa
- HEAVY WATER – Fo’ Reel
- DECISIONS – Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’
- HOMECOMING – Bruce Katz Band
- SHINE – Bernie Marsden
- EXTRA JIMMIES – Jimmy Thackery
- LIVE MY LIFE – Sena Erhardt
- THE TATTOOED LADY & THE ALLIGATOR MAN – Marcia Ball
Some comments on the Top 20 from our DJs:
JOHN NÉMETH – MEMPHIS GREASE
Jordan: Took one listen to this new release from one of my favorite artists, and just said, “Wow… this one is going to win it all.” There hasn’t been a lot of PR and buzz about it, which makes the fact that its our #1 all that more satisfying – its been about the music, not the other stuff. Some of his best work, ever.
THORBJØRN RISAGER AND THE BLACK TORNADO – TOO MANY ROADS
Jordan: This album by far – overwhelmingly – has been a fan favorite and the songs on it probably the most requested this year. Well done and congratulations on a great album!
JANIVA MAGNESS – ORIGINAL
Jordan: Soulful, moving… a woman’s album. Also highly popular on the request lists. The songs are amazing, and I believe “Let Me Breathe” should take home top honors at the Blues Music Awards. Original song content was a high priority in my picks.
Siani: Original and she so is!! Great mix of tempos and styles, and that fabulous voice.
ELVIN BISHOP – CAN’T EVEN DO WRONG RIGHT
Aliya: What is there to say? Bishop is a one of a kind and a veteran of blues rock, revered by many blues lovers. Bishop thrives onstage because he musically makes love to his crowd. On the other hand, some of his recorded efforts have disappointed. This jewel, however, does not! It is classic Bishop throughout–spirited, inspired, and, of course humorous. “Blues With a Feeling” just makes me wanna steal watermelons. I have always believed that the Bishop/Mickey Thomas combo was one of the best around, and Thomas Thrills us again on “Give Your Woman What She Wants.” Charlie Musselwhite adds to the fun on “No More Doggin.” What? Zydeco too? Golly folks, this is a real fun album!
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD BAND – GOIN’ HOME
Jordan: Indeed, back to his blues roots… and well done, KWS… we are huge fans.
ALTERED FIVE BLUES BAND – CRYIN’ MERCY
Jordan: A pleasant surprise at how highly “Cryin Mercy” placed amongst us here at Blues Music Fan Radio… I started spinning them from their sophomore album and haven’t stopped. Fun, soulful, contemporary blues with a dash of funk. You won’t forget the great voice of lead singer Jeff “JT” Taylor.
Siani: Love this, one for anyone’s top 10.
JAREKUS SINGLETON – REFUSE TO LOSE
Aliya: This young’in makes a huge splash with this Alligator Records recording, his first to be nationally and internationally distributed. It drips with pure soul-influenced talent, from his guitar licks to his strong blues vocals, to his amazing song crafting. “Purposely,” the second tune on the album, is finely wrought, beautifully phrased and performed. I can’t stop playing it. “Crime Scene” and “Hell” both show off his jazz influence, as well as his poetic strength. And ohh those licks! This album is his sophomore effort, as he self-released an earlier album that was not nationally distributed. How can someone be this good right out of the box?
ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD – HEARTSOULBLOOD
Aliya: In the serious blues world, royalty has to live up to its reputation. I have seen RSB live and listened to the first CD countless times. This second blues rock effort hits the note this band was destined to hit. It is masterful in that it shows off the talents of each member yet serves up serious gumbo, as Cyrille Neville would put it. This album tastes like the guys have been slow cooking their stuff for a while. “World Blues,” penned by Zito, shows of the vocal harmonies made possible by the combined talents of this band. Allman’s voice thrills on Groove On, penned by him and bassist Charlie Wooton, as does Neville’s rhythmic influence. This is a serious effort by world class musicians.
RONNIE EARL & THE BROADCASTERS – GOOD NEWS
Jordan: The album is impeccable. Heart gripping, not one wrong note on the guitar solos, Ronnie just weaves blues magic all around Diane Blue’s vocals on “Change Is Gonna Come”. Listen to it, you won’t be able to shake it out of your soul for a week.
TINSLEY ELLIS – MIDNIGHT BLUE
Jordan: I personally think this is his most consistent album ever. If I had it in vinyl I’d wear out the grooves.
SENA ERHARDT – LIVE MY LIFE
Siani: I love this woman’s voice, she has appeared over and over in my playlists, her previous albums caught me immediately and this latest one with its mix of blues/rock, slower langourous vocals is no different. Loving her duet with Cole Allen, he has it on his album with the opposite vocal parts.
We’d love to hear from our listeners, the blues fans that count! Send those comments in, and Happy New Year!