||JOE GEESIN'S BEST OF 2016
It's that time of year again and what a year it has been, and now it's time to start publishing the Best Of 2016s from our key people and on 31st December we'll be announcing the end result, one winner from each category. Here's Joe's Best Of 2016s...
BEST BAND: SAXON
They continued to work even with the cancellation of a tour; the subsequent dates proved immense, with Girlschool and Fastway, including Fast Eddie, joining them on stage, a live album, an 8LP box set, a new video and a new studio album under way. For me a no-brainer.
The guitar legend is working harder than ever and continues to record and tour. The former Gillan, Ozzy and Desperado six-stringer is making the most of the current crowd funding trend with a new triple (yes TRIPLE) album on the way, hitting targets and beating expectations and shredding like he did thirty years ago. Hendrix is alive and well and playing punk Metal in 2016.
3. EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER
With both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake passing in 2016, amongst a wonderful expanded reissue campaign, this influential and rocking progressive trio had to warrant a mention. Pianist Emerson was a Moog innovator and a keyboard exhibitionist, and vocalist/bassist Lake (previously with King Crimson) was THE voice of prog rock. With further catalogue to come and drummer Carl Palmer still working, the legacy and influence is still strong.
BEST ALBUM: SAXON: 'LET ME FEEL YOUR POWER'
In close contention with the 8LP Vinyl Hoard box, this was largely recorded on dates with Lemmy before he died, and proof that the Bastions of British Heavy Metal can still cut it with material new and old and attract crowds around the world. A varied set list and strong performance, few talk to the crowd and front a band like Biff does. Introducing 'Strong Arm Of The Law' with "I think it's time we got arrested Mr Carter", sometimes it's the little things that make the frontman that one step above the others.
2. GILLAN: 'THE LP COLLECTION'
Often the more overlooked branch of the Deep Purple family tree, between 1979 and 1982 singer Ian Gillan fronted Gillan for five studio albums that epitomised classic rock with some of the best music you will ever hear. Period. This set collects the five album over seven LPs in original packaging and a bonus one-sided 7" to boot. From 'Mr Universe' through 'Unchain Your Brain', 'No Laughing In Heaven' to 'Demon Driver', the band kicked ass. With Messers Gillan, Bernie Torme, John McCoy, Colin Towns, Mick Underwood and even current Maiden gunslinger Janick Gers, this is where it is.
3. MOTÖRHEAD: 'CLEAN YOUR CLOCK'
In a year of Bad Magic, the legacy of Lemmy and Motörhead continued to thrive, even grow. This live set shows the band on what would be their final tour, and the look in Lemmy's eyes proved that he would go out like he came in to the world – playing rock'n'roll. A wonderful package beginning to end.
BEST GIG: 1. SAXON/FASTWAY/GIRLSCHOOL: SHEPHERD'S BUSH EMPIRE, LONDON
Not only are Saxon still at the top of their game, they've ridden a storm or two and this rearranged tour featured this marvellous show in London with a very sold out and enthusiastic crowd on Bonfire Night. Girlschool opened and played many a classic number, Fast Eddie Clarke returned to the stage with his eponymous band and then Saxon played a cracking set that rocked beginning to end. The icing on the cake saw Fast Eddie join Saxon on stage to play 'Ace Of Spades'. Got to be gig of the year by anyone's standards.
2. NAZARETH: UNDER THE BRIDGE, LONDON
A good solid performance and prrof that vocalist Carl Sentance is absolutely the right person for the job. Still rocking.
3. MICHAEL SCHENKER TEMPE OF ROCK: ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY ROOMS
Schenker back on form and Doogie White rocking hard too.
LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2017
A new Saxon album, on which recording has already started and a new Biff Byford solo album which has been promised.