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Morse on the year in music

Posted by James Reed  December 14, 2008 03:31 PM

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SUSAN TEDESCHI / photo by Pieter Van Hattem

So far we haven't gotten any hate mail for not including Britney Spears's "Circus" on our annual list of top CDs of the year. Steve Morse, former Globe staff music critic, didn't include Britney, either, but as usual, he spent the year listening to a wide range of stuff. He shared his own top-10 list with us:

SUSAN TEDESCHI “Back to the River’’ (Verve) Funky, bluesy, acid-rocky, and just plain fabulous, this record marks a dramatic return for the Norwell-bred Tedeschi. She cowrites almost all the songs and is backed by the likes of husband Derek Trucks and Eric Clapton guitarist Doyle Bramhall II.

OASIS “Dig Out Your Soul’’ (Big Brother/Reprise) Leaders Liam and Noel Gallagher may still spar with each other, but they put aside their differences to make one heck of a Beatles-inspired album.

BLACK CROWES “Warpaint’’ (Silver Arrow) Although the Crowes have been flailing away in recent years, they rekindled a spark with this swampy slice of head-trippy heaven.

FLEET FOXES “Fleet Foxes’’ (Sub Pop) Haunting baroque pop from a Seattle band whose harmonies seem to float from another planet; and whose lead singer, Robin Pecknold, sounds like an ethereal twin of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Dazzling.

R.E.M. “Accelerate’’ (Reprise) Hey, remember R.E.M.? They’ve been bigger in Europe than here lately, but this music evokes their pop-rocking heyday. Give them another listen.

THE WELL “Progress’’ ( Reggae almost always lands on my list somewhere. This year it’s the Well, a Boston band whose idealistic roots-reggae has been tearing up the clubs. Hypnotic, joyful, deserving.

AC/DC “Black Ice’’ (Sony) Some people say AC/DC has been writing the same song for years, but they should be so lucky. While there are a few duds here, they’re compensated by instant hard-rock classics “Big Jack’’ and “Black Ice.’’ The band also played the year’s best rock show at the Garden.

VARIOUS ARTISTS “Body of War: Songs that Inspired an Iraq War Veteran’’ (Sire) Wonder if George Bush has heard this. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder coproduced this compilation curated by Iraq vet Tomas Young. It’s a double-disc with protest tunes from Serj Tankian, Talib Kweli, and Bad Religion, plus timeless tracks from John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen.

METALLICA “Death Magnetic" (Warner Bros.) It’s been a long wait since Metallica’s last studio album, “St. Anger,’’ in 2003. Diehard fans balked at that disc, even charging betrayal. They jumped back in with this heavy maelstrom keyed by Kirk Hammett’s guitar genius.

MUDCRUTCH “Mudcrutch’’ (Reprise) Tom Petty may have been guided by nostalgia to reconvene his early Florida band, but the folk/country-influenced results are quietly hot. The group includes guitarist Tom Leadon, whose brother, Bernie, played in the Eagles.

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About Sound Effects

The latest news, commentary, and reviews on music in Boston and beyond.


Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.

Katie McLeod is's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

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