Album of the Year – 2014 Ultimate Classic Rock Awards
The 2014 Ultimate Classic Rock Awards kick off with one of the most important categories -- Album of the Year. There was a diverse field of legendary artists in 2013 who reached back to their golden eras or tried on new styles to create some of their most acclaimed efforts in years.
As you can see below, we've nominated eight of the best records released in 2013. Your vote will determine which one will be named the Album of the Year.
After all they endured over the past two years, Black Sabbath should win some kind of award just for getting this album finished. The fact that '13' largely recaptures the sound, fury and chemistry of their '70s heyday is even more impressive.
Hands-down winner for biggest surprise of the year, David Bowie's secretly recorded, suddenly released first new studio album in more than a decade, 'The Next Day,' is a confident, exciting revisiting of his '70s 'Scary Monsters' and Berlin Trilogy periods.
Of course you wouldn't expect Elvis Costello to spend much time looking backward -- and he's once again trying new things on 'Wise Up Ghost,' a full-length album collaboration with hip-hop's best real band, the Roots. It's not as daring as you might have hoped (or feared), but it definitely puts a fresh spin on his songwriting.
Former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty rounds up an all-star cast of younger stars from rock, country and even rap to rerecord some of his old band's most famous songs. Of course it's impossible to totally avoid self-indulgence on projects like this, but you can't say he doesn't -- at the very least -- keep up with the kids on 'Wrote a Song for Everyone.'
Since we seem to be giving out secondary awards for many of these Album of the Year nominees, Gov't Mule's 'Shout!' definitely takes the prize for most creative concept. The two-disc collection features the same set of songs recorded first by the band alone, and then alongside an all-star list of collaborators. It serves as an interesting music lesson, but more importantly, it demonstrates how deep and diverse the band's influences truly are.
One of the more pleasant developments in the past decade or so has been Elton John's decision to stop chasing pop chart success and instead focus again on making intelligent, challenging piano-based rock records. And it's been eons since he got as stripped-down as he does on 'The Diving Board,' a perfectly unpretentious collection of songs from the always-impressive writing team of John and Bernie Taupin.
Let's ignore the pun-inviting 'New' title of Paul McCartney's excellent 2013 album and focus instead on just how wonderful it is to have one of rock's all-time greats still operating at such a high level. Here, the former Beatle employs four different producers, who each help him straddle the fine line between celebrating past triumphs and trying new ideas.
Somewhat lost in all the understandable concern over Lemmy's health troubles is the fact that he and his Motorhead bandmates managed to release one of their most consistent recent albums, 'Aftershock,' in 2013. You'd be a fool to expect drastic creative reinvention, but they did manage to hit that trademark sweet spot between rock, metal and punk with particularly remarkable accuracy this time out.