Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
The state of the classic rock in 2017 was shockingly good. Though we lost some true titans this year — RIP Tom Petty, Malcolm Young, Chris Cornell, Gregg Allman, and Chuck Berry to name a few — many of those who stuck around produced a bevy of new, meaningful work. Others burnished their legacies with sprawling, gem-packed reissues and box set. While some hit the road, or hunkered down for epic, multi-night residencies, staging some of the finest performances of their entire careers. With that being said, I’d like to hand out a few prizes to those who really went above and beyond in 2017.
Best New Album
There were many good rock records that came out this year. Alice’s Cooper’s Paranormal screamed “return to form,” especially the tracks he cooked up with the members of the original Alice Cooper band. The collaboration between Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, aptly titled Buckingham/McVie was predictably fantastic. Roger Waters summoned some of that late-era Pink Floyd magic on Is This The Life We Really Want? Van Morrison put out not just one, but TWO, projects this year comprising 31 songs total. Gregg Allman’s farewell Southern Blood was soulful and heartfelt. So was Chuck Berry’s Chuck. But for all the good records, there was really only one great entry, and that was Robert Plant’s latest solo effort Carry Fire.
As I wrote when the album dropped a couple of months back, Plant has remained maybe the most vital artist of his generation by sidestepping the pitfalls of nostalgia. He’s not about to chase trends or the shadow of his former self either. He makes music that is both exciting to him as an artist, but meaningful to the listener as well. Carry Fire is a record that sounds both of this era, especially when Plant laments the modern proclivity for building “walls and fences,” but also completely out of time as well. The sounds and motifs are downright ancient. Carry Fire also features some of the deepest and most insightful writing of his entire, lengthy career. For that reason, and many more, I have to give it the Listen To This Eddie, New Album Of The Year award.