Top Ten List Revisited: 2006

(The introductions of the subsequent posts on this subject will be far, far briefer.)

I’m going back through my old “Top Ten Records” lists from past years, leading up to this year’s list. It’s amazing how much I would change in hindsight–even from LAST year! The lists are interesting snapshots of where I was focusing my fandom at the time. But, like all of us, I find that in hindsight I’ve found dozens of albums and bands that I SHOULD have been paying better attention to all along that deserved to be on the old lists. Also, I’m finding that a lot of my listings–even my “#1 record” choices–were “in the moment” decisions that frankly, I no longer stand by. So, in the interest of correcting some past missteps, I’m making some revisions. I’m redoing each list for all of the years I’ve been writing this blog. I started in 2006 (***silent weeping into own chest***), so there’s a lot of ground to cover. Let’s get going with the first list!

I know I DID a top ten list in 2006, but I can’t find it. I don’t think I put it on the blog for some reason. I probably put it on my website or something. I don’t remember exactly what was on it. For the years that I DID publish lists, I’ll be posting the old lists to compare/contrast, but for 2006, I just don’t seem to have any record of it. So we’ll jump straight into what I would choose if I were building the list TODAY, uhh, which I am.

(Research was done via release dated on Wikipedia–if any release dates are off or any major releases are missed, it’s because Wikipedia didn’t list it right.)

So…here we go…



1. The Who – Endless Wire

The Who returned after decades with an album that might not have been the BEST thing in their catalogue, but that does have a couple of songs that even seven years later are still making it onto my Who playlists on the iPhone.  Certainly made me a very happy fan that year, and I continue to enjoy it with each revisit.

Favorite Tracks: “Endless Wire,” “A Man in a Purple Dress,” “In the Ether” (Even though the vocals are silly), and “Tea & Theatre”


2. …and You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – So Divided

I became a fan of “Trail of Dead” (as I often truncate them to save time) on their previous release “Worlds Apart.”  This record felt like a natural outflow of that same record.  They exist in the post-hardcore genre and might have kind of helped invent it, now that I think of it.  Each record builds its own little world, and I’m always happy to step into it.

Favorite Tracks: “Wasted State of Mind,” “Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory” (Guided by Voices cover), “Life,” “Eight Day Hell”


3. Drive-By Truckers – A Blessing and A Curse

I have a strong feeling that this was probably my record of the year at the time.  I have a long-standing devotion to DBT in the same way some people are devoted to Jesus.  Or Elvis.  Whichever.  And “A Blessing and A Curse,” remains one of my favorite DBT records.  It also remains one of the more polarizing ones in the fan-base.  And I get it.  It’s a departure musically and thematically.  It also served as the swan-song for guitarist/vocalist Jason Isbell, who went on to an EXCELLENT solo career.  I understand why the band and fans alike seem to be of two-minds on this one…but my mind was made up the first time I heard it.  And I love it.

Favorite Tracks: “Gravity’s Gone,” “Daylight,” “Wednesday,” “Space City,” and “A World of Hurt”


4. Frank Black – Fast Man, Raider Man

Frank Black is one of my favorite songwriters, and I still remember just how excited I was when I first heard he was putting out a double-disk of new material.  This record delivered on every hope I had for it.  Steeped in the same Americana vibe as his “Honeycomb” release of the previous year, “Fast Man, Raider Man” is excellent and is a real standout in his catalogue, both as a solo artist and even as a member of the Pixies.

Favorite Tracks: “Johnny Barleycorn,” “I’m Not Dead (I’m in Pittsburgh),” “In the Time of My Ruin,” “Elijah,” and “Fare Thee Well”


5. Hank Williams III – Straight to Hell

Hank III has become something of a bitter-pill to me.  For the last several releases, I’ve found myself thinking, “Yeah…I get it…you love Satan and drugs…and you just KEEP putting the Rebel flag on shit…”  I don’t think I’m much of a fan anymore…  But there is NO denying how great this record is.  When you pop this in, you’re transported into the middle of a honky-tonk bar-fight with III calling all the shots.  Hilarious in places and moving in others, “Straight to Hell” is definitely III’s best work.  Unfortunately, once Curb released him from their chains, it turned out that he apparently NEEDED them…but this record stands the test of time and is worth a listen.  And then another listen.

Favorite Tracks: “Straight to Hell,” “Country Heroes,” and “Pills I Took”


6. Tim Barry – Rivanna Junction

Tim Barry used to sing in the punk band Avail.  This record definitely has the punk mentality, but it’s straight-up acoustic folk.  Folk with “fucks” in the lyrics.  Lots and lots of “fucks.”  One of the sweariest damn things I own…but at the same time, it is such a poignant, honest, REAL record that you hardly even notice that.  The drummer in my previous band Blue Tattoo (Johnny) introduced me to Barry’s music, and I was immediately a fan.  You would be too, if you gave it a listen.

Favorite Tracks: “Avoiding Catatonic Surrender” and “Exit Wounds”


7. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of this Country

Johnny inadvertently introduced me to Camera Obscura, too…  This record was on a burned CD that he gave me, along with Barry’s.  I heard Barry’s record, then this one started playing and I called Johnny up to ask what I was hearing.  I gave him the burned disk back and went out and bought this before I got around to digging up Tim Barry’s record.  It’s been in regular rotation ever since.

Favorite Tracks: “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken,” “Let’s Get Out Of This Country,” “I Need All the Friends I Can Get”


8. David Gilmour – On an Island

I mainly like this record from the “one of my favorite guitar players is playing his guitar” perspective.  Little of it is immediately catchy.  Little of it is particularly toe-tapping.  It’s a sleepy listen for a sleepy afternoon.  But sometimes that’s what you need.

Favorite Tracks: “On an Island,” “Take a Breath,” and “A Pocketful of Stones”


9. Kris Kristofferson – This Old Road

Kris Kristofferson is a genius.  Like certified.  He’s a Rhodes Scholar.  He’s also a brilliant lyricist.  This record is earthy, witty, and above all genuine.  Kristofferson is at his best on this one, balancing war, peace, and a few other things in every line.

Favorite Tracks: “This Old Road,” “The Last Thing to Go,” and “In the News”


10. Live – Songs from Black Mountain

I’ll be absolutely honest.  By the time this record came out, it was obvious that the luster had come off of the band.  Although I liked “V,” it alienated a lot of the audience and the band never really recovered on a number of levels.  But on “Songs from Black Mountain,” they delivered a strong outing that seemed focused and lively, if not immediately as radio-friendly as their glory days.  If we had known how deeply split the band would become in the years that followed, perhaps we all would have paid this one a little more attention.  But since we didn’t, it stands as something of a hidden gem for the fans that hung in there.

Favorite Tracks: “The River,” “Wings,” and “Love Shines (A Song for My Daughters About God)”

Honorable Mentions:

  • Ray Davies – Other People’s Lives
  • Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam (Which is better than I often remember it being, but I tend to only want to hear “World Wide Suicide” when I think of this one.)
  • Cheap Trick – Rockford (A welcome return to form for the band.)
  • Johnny Cash – American V (EXCELLENT record, but ineligible because it’s basically a “covers” record.  It breaks my heart that I’m unwilling to accept this type of record as a “top ten” candidate, but it is what it is…but I really WANT this to be on the list–within the top five.)
  • Stone Sour – Come What(ever) May
  • Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death  (I like this record every time I hear it…but if you asked me to hum anything from it right now, I couldn’t.  It’s great…but not in the “That’s one of the best Maiden records” way.)

And that’s it for 2006!  Up next–you guessed it!–2007!!!

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