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get ready to ROCK! Best of 2006
Emerging bleary-eyed and trembling from their respective audio-visual garrets, our intrepid GRTR! reviewers deliver you their Best of 2006...

Industry Pundits Best of 2006

GRTR! Primer Best Of

Best of 2006

Jason Ritchie

Top CDs

1 CHEAP TRICK Rockford (Indie )

They are back on form and then some. Their best album since 1990's 'Busted'

2 THE FEELING Twelve Stops & Home (Universal) - pop rock heaven! Harmonies to die for & looking forward to their second album already

3 CHRIS SINGLETON Twisted City (Brown Paper Records) - excellent singer/songwriter with a damn fine line in catchy pop rock tunes

Close contenders

SLAMER Nowhere Land (Frontiers) - Mike Slammer & Terry Brock on vocals. Big production, big choruses, lost of guitars - perfect

GMT Bitter & Twisted (Retrowrek Records) - a mini-Gillan reunion with Bernie Torme & John McCoy (plus Colin Towns pops up on a couple of tunes). Damn fine hard rock with a punk attitude and in drummer Robin Guy a real find.

Honourable mentions also to GLENN HUGHES (he is really on form of late), TALISMAN (Jeff Scott Soto is finally getting the recognition he deserves), THE ANSWER (awesome Led Zep influenced rock), THUNDER( they are back at their best again) and GLYDER (the natural heirs to Thin Lizzy).

Top DVD

STYX One With Everything (Eagle Rock)

Top Gigs

Foreigner, Paul Rodgers, Chris Singleton, The Alarm and Evergrey

Bands to watch out for in 2007...

Headrush - from my hometown of Stoke these guys are the UK's answer to Buckcherry

Chris Singleton - stop buying sh** by James B***t & get a real singer/songwriter - one for lovers of well crafted pop rock

Glyder - their second album will break them I am sure as they have the tunes & talent

The Heal - one of the best live bands around - real in your face rock

Plus looking forward to the new bands I am sure to discover along the way!

The gigs I am most looking forward to in 2007...

Journey, Heaven & Hell (the Dio fronted Sabbath), Monsters of Rock, Styx, Glyder, the Heal.

David Randall

Top CDs

1. PUBLIC SYMPHONY

A genuinely uplifting experience...and deserves a much bigger audience.

DOBS VYE/Public Symphony Best of 2006

What sort of a year have you had? Highlights?

2006 was a rite of passage. I self-released the PUBLIC SYMPHONY album. I got married in a barn! I signed my wife to EMI and she made an album at Abbey Road.

2. What would you like to achieve in 2007 and what are your immediate plans?

In 2007 we are moving outside London. I would like PUBLIC SYMPHONY to break (look out for our video with Mr Benn) and the Natasha Marsh album to be successful too.

3. What was your favourite album and gig of 2006?

I enjoyed Camille at Shepherds Bush Empire and Natasha's Classical Spectaculars at the Albert Hall.

2. JYNXT Bring Back Tomorrow (Halo Records)

Ageing bluesman's siblings perfect blend of melodic rock with electro edge.

TALLY/Jynxt Best of 2006

1. What sort of a year have you had? Highlights?

This was the first year we were able to hit the road and tour the UK, we travelled all around and it's what we love doing the most.

2. What would you like to achieve in 2007 and what are your immediate plans?

We are currently working on a demo for our second album in our home studio. We have lots of material piling up and the ideas just keep coming.

3. What was your favourite album and gig of 2006?

Undoubtably Muse's 'Super Massive Black Hole'. We are huge fans. They headlined the Reading Festival, which unfortunately we had to miss due to a gig of our own, but caught it later on Sky.

More...

3. EUROPE Secret Society (Sanctuary)

No, this isn't the band circa Final Countdown but a step further than 2004's 'Start From The Dark'. Mixing wonderful riffs, Norum shredding-fests, strong melodies and, moreover, a rollercoasting sense of urgency. Catch them live in the UK in February 2007.

Close contenders

ELEANOR McEVOY Out There (Mosco) - immaculate, infectious songs from a master of her craft, and a fine successor to 2004's acclaimed 'Early Hours'.

GLENN HUGHES Music For The Divine (Frontiers) - a landmark album for the Voice of Rock, more consistent than his previous, arguably as funky, but with some surprising twists and turns. Best played loud.

NERINA PALLOT Fires (14th Floor) - not strictly a 2006 release as it was reissued, but worthy of mention. Grade A singer-songwriter with a quirkiness that's addictive. A rising star for 2007.

Best DVD

METAL - A HEADBANGER'S JOURNEY (Momentum)

Enjoyable and engaging trip through a sometimes maligned genre, with just the right balance of humility and humour.

Best Gig

DAVID GILMOUR Manchester Bridgewater Hall (May 2006)

The 'Echoes' interlude - all flashing lights and spacey guitar - could have been the UFO Club circa 1967. With Richard Wright on keys, close your eyes and it could have been Floyd.

Other gigs that came close... Whitesnake, Glenn Hughes, Eleanor McEvoy

Peter Muir

Top CDs

1. THE ZUTONS Tired Of Hanging Around (Deltasonic)

Diverse musical sensibilities and capabilities coupled to a sense of the absurd make fine bed-fellows as evidenced in this second release from Liverpool's Zutons.

Unafraid to wear their influences, this band bridges age/genres barriers with charm and flair - and let's face it, isn't Abi Harding the cutest woman in British rock right now? Lucky old Sean ...

2. WOLFMOTHER Wolfmother

Lawks! Pinch me otherwise it's still 1971 and my hair's brown (hang on ... I still have hair?!) Oz power trio are unashamed in this riff-driven referencing Zep and the Sabs. This album rocks solid and looks just great (look - I want some imagery to go with my sounds not just some frigging, vapid download!) Great live act, too.

3. GUILLEMOTS Through The Window Pane

Barkingly original from beginning to end, this is the most evocatively theatrical work of the year: funny, sneaky, dark, genre-defying, it seques from moments of reflective intimacy to manic orchestral peaks. A roller coaster ride with all the twists and turns and surprises, but no puke!

Best DVD

FREE Forever Free (Universal)

A must-have for fans old and new (Hey Wolfmother! Heads up!) ... all the hits are here, punched out by an act at the height of its powers and complemented by bonus interviews with members and relatives. On playing you can't help but spot the contempary look and sound of Free. Some of this footage could have been shot at Reading this year. Shows what an enormous influence they have been.

Best Gig

FLOGGING MOLLY Reading Festival

For their sheer energy, on-stage banter and how this band took - in the virtual sense - its audience onto the stage. A lot of gigs are about 'us' and 'you'. Not that day ...

Pete Whalley

Top CDs

1. ELEANOR MCEVOY Out There (Mosco)

Yet another outstanding album from one of the best singer songwriters around. Encompassing folk, blues, and country, it has all the classic McEvoy hallmarks of great songs, wonderful vocals and magnificent production. Simply wonderful.

2. NERINA PALLOT Fires (14th Floor)

An essential purchase for any self-respecting fan of the female singer-songwriter genre. Nerina's second album has proved to be a break through and every track is a gem on this exquisite album. Falling squarely into Sheryl Crow and Tori Amos territory it's an album that you will want to listen to time, after time, after time.

NERINA PALLOT Best of 2006

1. What sort of a year have you had? Highlights?

A busy one, but good I think. It has flown by and that makes me feel like I have no sense of it. But I finally had a hit, after years of plugging away, and I would have to say the highlight was headlining Shepherds Bush Empire after having been the support act there at least fifty times. I thought it was going to be a case of always the bridesmaid, never the bride....but how lovely, it wasn't!!

2. What would you like to achieve in 2007 and what are your immediate plans?

I'm hoping I get to go to the US to promote the album once I have finished touring in the UK and Europe in Jan and Feb, and then I'm hoping to go into the studio to commence work on a new album.

3. What was your favourite album and gig of 2006?

Fave album was not a new one, but one I discovered about a year after everyone else - Josh Rouse's 'Nashville' which I am still playing everyday nearly a year on. Best gig, probably Morrissey at V festival. He's a grumpy bugger, but him and his band showed everyone how it should be done.

3. JYNXT Bring Back Tomorrow (Halo Records)

You'll probably not find it on the high street, but easily enough on the net. A superior melodic rock debut reminiscent of Evanescence and Heart brought to you by a band featuring Ben, Nat and Tally Spencer - the children of original Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer. Check it out if you fancy something with a little more 'edge'.

Best DVD

PINK FLOYD Pulse (EMI)

The legendary 1994 Earls Court gig from the Division Bell tour. Featuring the first ever audio-visual performance of Dark Side Of The Moon, this is the next best thing to being there. It's what plasma screens were made for.

Best Gig

DAVID GILMOUR Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 26 May 2006

A magnificent venue, a searing light show, and an inspired performance with some of the best guitar work this side of the apocalypse. One of the gigs of a lifetime, nevermind the year. Absolutely magnificent.

Pete Feenstra

Top CDs

1. STONEY CURTIS Acid Blues Experience (Provogue)

A riff driven masterpiece that I erroneously only gave three out of five stars to on its release because of some clichéd lyrics, which I've since got over! Imagine Chicago grit tinged with West Coast psychedelic rock blues, topped by a monster guitarist

2. BLUES CARAVAN Pilgrimage: Mississippi to Memphis (Ruf Records)

Not so much old wine in new bottles as triumvirate of fast maturing young blues rock talent led by Finnish slide guitar chanteuse Erja Lyytinen, while boy blues/soul singer guitarist Ian Parker, and powerhouse blues rocker Aynsley Lister. They gel brilliantly as the Blues Caravan fusing traditional and contemporary blues via some very strong material and inspirational playing.

3.THE FIERY FURNACES Bitter Tea (Fat Possum)

Compelling, minimalist and warped post pop noodlings, from a New York duo who ride roughshod over musical history in a manner that plunders and reworks early Zappa influences through to high register vocal swoops reminiscent of Sparks.

Close contenders

Walter Trout & Friends Full Circle (Ruf)

A thrilling live act, emotive performer, and stunning guitarist with an album that includes friends and contemporaries like Jeff Healey, Joe Bonamassa, Guitar Shorty and Bernard Allison working their way through cutting edge, first take ‘live in the studio' cuts.

ERIC BIBB Diamond Days (Telarc)

'Diamond Day's is an apt title for an artist who has real presence, lyrical integrity and employs some all too rare emotive phrasing. The songs are lovingly crafted, and the production is as delicate as a touch of velvet. A splendid example of an artist gloriously fulfilling his potential.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND Remastered & unreleased editions (EMI)

A timely mid to late career 6 album re-issue programme includes the enduring Beefheart's least regarded commercial phase but also includes the impressive and previously unreleased latter day Magic Band ‘Live in London - Drury Lane 74'. There's also a great return to form on 1978's ‘Shiny Beat/Bat Chain Puller' which encapsulates both his lyrical genius and the band's tight musical acumen.

Top DVD

CARVIN JONES King of Spain (CJ Productions)

Rock blues pandemonium in a bull ring outside of Madrid as the Hendrix inspired pied piper of Rock Blues, Carvin ascends every tier of the outdoor venue with about 3,000 crazed fans in tow – sheer entertainment!!

Top Gig

Walter Trout & the Radicals at The BBC Maida Vale

A stunning intimate gig in front of an invited audience of fan club members and competition winners in which Walter gave everything he had in a pulsating show that had blistering playing, good humour, tons of spontaneity and mesmerising music.

Other gigs that came close...

Joe Bonamassa, Stoney Curtis, Carvin Jones, Popa Chubby and Derren Nauendorf

Bands to watch out for...

Derrin Nauendorf, Stoney Curtis

Joe Geesin

Top CDs

IRON MAIDEN A Matter Of Live And Death

Great album, mature new direction, band at their best

GMT Bitter And Twisted (Retrorek)

Stripped down bluesy punk rock'n'roll. In Your Face metal of the best raw original kind.

DESPERADO Ace (Angel Air)

Bernie, Dee and Clive - need I say more? And About Time Too

SAHB Zalvation

The band still going strong and kicking ass. Zal Cleminson proves his godly status. Zalvation indeed.

Best Reissues

THE MOTORS 1, Approved By and Tenement Steps

Classic pub rock / new wave of british heavy pop, reissued properly, correct artwork and tracks

Top DVD

RED DWARF and THE SIMPSONS, Series 8 in both cases

Top Gig UFO or Vibes From The Vines

Band to watch out for...GMT

Anticipated live gig...Saxon

Amanda Hyne

Top CDs

MIRROR OF DECEPTION Shards (Cyclone Empire, 2006)

Difficult as it is to narrow down my favourite releases of this year, Mirror Of Deception's 'Shards' is an obvious inclusion in a list of my favourite albums released this year. Every time I hear this album - or, indeed, any of their previous material - it astounds me how bloody good this band are. It's got such a rich, smooth sound that makes it a very gratifying listen. As well as plenty of massive riffs, 'Shards' features some great break-downs and guitar work that would quench the thirst of many a metal fan. Stunning.

THE GATES OF SLUMBER Suffer No Guilt (I Hate Records, 2006)

What can I say about The Gates Of Slumber's 'Suffer No Guilt'? TGOS are another of those bands whose career I've been following for a while, and they are going from strength to strength. This latest release is a roller coaster ride of slow crushingness to galloping riffs to savage solos all delivered with a lovely vintage sound. 'Suffer No Guilt' is another two-fingered salute to those that say metal is dead. This is metal as it should be, and if this be metal, then METAL RULES! and long may it continue.

ISOLE Throne Of Void (I Hate Records, 2006)

Isole are one of those bands that I've loved ever since I first heard them. They left me gob-smacked when I saw them live last year so I bought their album, 'Forevermore', which confirmed their status as a firm favourite. Being a music junkie I've bought much of their back catalogue and side projects too. 'Forevermore' was one of those albums that I've been drawn back to again and again. I did wonder if this year's release, 'Throne Of Void', could possibly be as good. It is - it's one of those rare ones I can happily leave on 'repeat'.

THE RIVER Drawing Down The Sun (Retribute Records, 2006)

Having followed The River's career for a few years now, I was hoping for something pretty impressive from their latest release 'Drawing Down The Sun' and it doesn't disappoint. The band have used the album to expand upon their repertoire, experimenting with their sound without deviating too far from their trademark sound. It's a rumbly, heavy album layered with melody and haunting vocals which make for a very satisfying listen - and this is just their debut album. Crivens! What's next for these guys?!

Top gig

BELGIAN DOOM NIGHT IV

Gig of the year is, without question, Belgian Doom Night IV. Bit of a cheat since there were seven great bands but any three of 'em would've made a great gig so by the end I was in in seventh heaven. Added to this is the sentimentality brought about by my last chance to see Reverend Bizarre live. Definitely a gig I'll remember for years to come, it's been bringing a grin to my face every time I remember it. This year's Belgian Doom Night provided indisputable proof of the importance of live music. And it was a great night out to boot.

Graham Boyle

Top CDs

BROTHER FIRETRIBE False Metal

Out of the blue comes a melodic rock band, with glorious 1980 influences.

Full of clichés and a smell of cheese, but packed with great songs, killer hooks and brilliant vocals.

KALMAH The Black Waltz

Fourth album from Finnish death metallers, a change in vocal style, but still full of killer riffs, blistering solo's and crushing songs.

DEATHSTARS Termination Bliss

A band I had previously dismissed, mainly due to their image.

When the promo arrived for me to review, I was ready to hate it. I, instead fell in love with it, full of anger, deep vocals and excellent songwriting. I got to see them live too, which impressed me even more.

Top DVD

NIGHTWISH End Of An Era

Tarja's last show with the band, and a gig I saw and will never forget.

Spectacular in both musical and theatrical senses and one of the best shows I've seen has managed to be captured by the camera superbly.

Top Gig

The entire Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, held in Helsinki in June this year.

Three days of great bands, good beer, weather and seeing England knocked out the World Cup on the backstage beer tent TV.

Bands to watch out for...

Moonsorrow, will release a new album and put themselves up as one of the top extreme metal bands.

Charlie Farrell

Top CDs

1 TO-MERA Transcendental (Candlelight) -Top stuff!

2 AMORPHIS - Eclipse - its been kicking my butt all year.

3 WOLVERINE Still (Candlelight) - Wow! These guys finally click for me.

Top DVD

PORCUPINE TREE Arriving Somewhere

Top gig

ANATHEMA/WOLVERINE at The Scala, London closely followed by Journey @ Monsters of Rock

Bands to watch out for...

To-Mera - They will impress both Prog Metal and Gothc Metal fans

Pain of Salvation - they are back with a new album

Rollin Thunder - excellent Classic Rockers

The gigs I am most looking forward to in 2007...

Progpower UK 2007 - an awesome lineup, Pain of Salvation and Riverside (in the UK at last hopefully)


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