Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ten Years On: Revisiting 2007

While I am not the most obsessive of people, I have scraps of paper lying around listing every album I've listened to for at least the last decade. I know that if I don't do so, I will forget about great records when I go to do my year-end awards, but in the long-term, those lists serve as a nice reminder of how I have ended up where I have. Sometimes, in those lists, I can see the first steps down paths that have branched well off from where my musical tastes used to be.

In that spirit, I am taking the opportunity to look back a decade, and see where I was then, where I am now, and how my views have changed in the intervening years. And as the year goes along, when the schedule permits it, I am planning to have a few special pieces talking about some of the more important albums from 2007.

But first, let's recap what my picks were that year:

10. DSG - Hellborn
9. King Diamond - Give Me Your Soul... Please
8. Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High
7. Magnum - Princess Alice And THe Broken Arrow
6. The Codex - S/T
5. Bloodbound - Book Of The Dead
4. Allen/Lande - The Revenge
3. Bruce Springsteen - Magic
2. Scorpions - Humanity: Hour 1
1. Emerson Hart - Cigarettes & Gasoline

Where to begin? The most obvious place is with my final selection, as while at the time I was trying to give DSG the benefit of the doubt, there has been literally nothing in the last ten years to warrant that decision. It's a record that has aged extremely poorly, and I can't quite say why I defended it so strongly at the time.

The other glaring choice is Bloodbound. Sandwiched between two excellent record was this one, which I think I overrated because of how much I wanted to like it. It's not a bad record, but it pales so much in comparison to the two records Urban Breed made with the band that it's difficult to see it as anything but a disappointment. Neither of those albums should have made the list.

My bigger crime was not including those, but keeping Fall Out Boy far too low on the list, and excluding three records that have become among the very best that year had to offer. Redemption's "The Origins Of Ruin" is one of my handful of favorite progressive metal albums, Nightingale's "White Darkness" is a fantastic throwback to 70's prog-inspired hard rock, and Keldian put out their one and only good album, which was a sci-fi power metal album so weird that it was amazing. All of those albums I was a fool for not embracing sooner. I would blame youth, but I was old enough at the time to know better.

But what did I get right? The top three selections I made were all correct, though I might quibble over the order. We'll leave out for now that I probably don't see objectively when it comes to my favorite songwriter, so let's examine the other two. Scorpions took a huge risk by making a concept album, with the help of hit-maker Desmond Child and his friends. I know the record is not looked fondly upon by the band's fans, and I get why, but that's the exact reason I love the record so much. Instead of the bravado and riff-heavy approach the band had been taking on their lackluster later works, "Humanity" was a full-on modern, melodic rock album. Yes, it's obvious the band had help from pros, but who cares when the results are this good?

But the most important album of the year was Bruce Springsteen's "Magic". I am no devotee of The Boss, but this is the one album of his where I buy into the hype surrounding him, which is funny, because it's probably his most forgotten album of the last fifteen years. What makes "Magic" so wonderful is that Springsteen isn't concerned with being the working-class hero making big statements on life and politics. These are smaller songs, and they are a deliberate homage to the pop hits of the late 60s. That sunny sound gives the record bounce that not even Springsteen can kill, and it just so happens they're also some of the best melodic constructions of his career. In a way, it's the un-Springsteen Springsteen record, and it was probably the best record of 2007.

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