TOP TWENTY ALBUMS OF 2009 – READERS’ CHOICE:
For the fourth year in a row Sleaze Roxx readers got to decide their favorite albums of the year. As with previous years, a first place vote resulted in 5 points for an album, second place received 4 points and so on, resulting in the list you are about to read.
Not surprisingly KISS were the undisputed champions this year, marking a successful return to form for the hard rock legends. From there on the results got more interesting as both old and new bands fought for positions in the Top 20, with five bands from my own personal Top 10 also reaching this list.
Five lucky winners of this year’s contest received gifts from CDInzane, Eonian Records and Sleaze Roxx. The winners, who were randomly chosen from hundreds of entries, were Keith L (Lannon, WI), Norman H (Dowagiac, MI), Douglas G (Chicago, IL), Scott S (Sterling, IL) and Jay L (Gainesville, FL).
Also check out the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 for 2009.
2009 heralded the triumphant return of KISS, one of the most recognizable (and marketable) bands in the history of rock music. While some argued that imposters playing the roles of ‘Space Ace’ and ‘Criss Cat’ was a travesty, over 40% of voters named Sonic Boom as one of the best CDs of the year, resulting in a uncontested victory for the famed rockers. While KISS‘ appearance often overshadows their music, many listeners felt this was the band’s best album in ages — if only the Hall Of Fame would pay as much attention.
Few groups have endured as much scorn, and been the punch-line for as many jokes, as Winger — in fact MTV’s Beavis & Butthead show singlehandedly put the final nail in their coffin many years ago. Gone are the days of teased hair and songs about underage girls however, as Karma perfectly mixed the lyrical maturity of IV with the stellar sounds of Pull. In my opinion Karma became the pinnacle of Winger‘s career, and judging by their strong performance in this poll I wasn’t the only one with those thoughts.
Steel Panther were the talk of the town in 2009, creating a buzz within the press the likes a hair band hasn’t seen since the early ’90s. With top-notch songs and bathroom humor lyrics, these caricatures brought hair metal back to the mainstream by simultaneously paying homage to, and poking fun at, the entire genre. By doing so they were able to reach both the Sleaze Roxx Top 10, Reader’s Choice Top 20, Billboard Top 200 and even top Billboard’s Comedy Albums chart — a successful combination that will never be repeated unless Spinal Tap rediscovers their funny bone.
The Swedish sleaze scene is crowded, both with the endless amount of new bands sprouting from that country and with the undeniable talent the majority of them possess. So to say it takes a special band to climb to the top of the heap would be an understatement, and according to Sleaze Roxx readers Hardcore Superstar were the undisputed champions of the energetic Swedish scene by reaching both the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 and the fan’s Top 20. It will be interesting to see if Hardcore Superstar can repeat their performance in 2010, when more of the Swedish ‘big-wigs’ release new material.
What better way for a band to recapture their classic sound than to reunite with the vocalist who made them famous? Revolve showcased the return of frontman Ted Poley to the Danger Danger fold and the addition resulted in a return of their slick melodic rock sound. The CD featured the debut of guitarist Rob Marcello, who stepped into Andy Timmons shoes and did an incredible job, taking listeners back to the bombastic sounds of ’80s pop-metal.
W.A.S.P. has always excelled at concept albums, and Babylon is no exception. Based loosely around the biblical visions of ‘The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse’, Blackie Lawless and company packed quite a punch into a relatively short album. It could be argued that Blackie is running out of ideas as some of the songs presented here conjure up memories of their past, but with such a storied past it is no wonder Babylon reached both the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 and the reader’s Top 20. Blackie may be distancing himself from W.A.S.P.‘s “Animal” days, but that doesn’t mean he has given up on pissing off the establishment and speaking his opinionated mind.
It’s obvious I wasn’t the only one impressed with The Last Vegas in 2009. Taking first spot in the Sleaze Roxx Top 10, Whatever Gets You Off also got several readers ‘off’ with their re-energized brand of ’80s hard rock. Taking the best elements of legendary bands such as Faster Pussycat, Tesla and Buckcherry, these Chicago natives wrapped up everything into what could be considered a greatest hits of 2009, yet all the while giving the music a life all their own. Whatever Gets You Off proved to the world that Motley Crue made the correct decision in awarding The Last Vegas an opening slot through their ‘Make Rock History’ contest.
Ace Frehley‘s solo release may have been overshadowed by the return of his former bandmates, but with Anomaly he proved that he hasn’t run out of ideas yet. Battling his inner demons for years, Frehley re-energized himself with sobriety and released an album full of twists and turns, yet retaining his signature sound. The ‘Space Ace’ did everything on a much smaller scale than KISS, letting his music do all the talking and offering fans a satisfyingly varied album in the process.
Sweden’s Vains Of Jenna really came into their own on The Art Of Telling Lies as their new CD eclipsed their debut in every possible way. Usually a band’s debut ends up being their creative peak, but Vains Of Jenna were the complete opposite as they became sleazier, meaner and more memorable on the sophomore release. The Art Of telling Lies wasn’t just a quick demo recording session like their debut, it was well crafted and planned out, giving the band a much deeper sound. However, the recent announcement that Jesse Forte has replaced singer Lizzy DeVine puts the future of these Swedish rockers up in the air — will fans embrace the new voice and will the band be able to continue moving forward? Time will tell.
Each year the Readers’ Top 20 seems to contain a band that looks out of place, and for the second time thrash veterans Megadeth are that band. Fairing even better than they did in 2007 with United Abominations, Endgame proved to be a triumphant release by Dave Mustaine and cohorts in the eyes of Sleaze Roxx readers. Debuting at #9 on the Billboard charts, these seasoned veterans proved that heavy metal can still be a force to be reckoned with when done right.
A CD that came very close to making the Sleaze Roxx Top 10, the return of Lynch Mob was the revitalization of guitar legend George Lynch. Teaming up once again with original vocalist Oni Logan, the duo successfully recaptured the Wicked Sensation sound. After many years apart, and some questionable Lynch Mob albums, it was great to see this band finally give fans something to get excited about all over again. It was also great to see George Lynch return to the sound that made him such an influence to a generation of hard rockers, as he played with a passion that seemed to have gone missing.
Dirty Penny makes their second appearance on the Sleaze Roxx Reader’s Choice Top 20, proving to be one of America’s best sleaze glam bands. With the sleaze genre being almost completely dominated by Swedish groups, California bred Dirty Penny defy the odds, even going so far as to independently release their albums all by themselves and thus not having to alter their sound for record company morons. With producer Johnny Lima at the helm, Dirty Penny has been driven by a DIY attitude since day one, proving that there is more behind the band than a wall of teased hair.
13. EUROPE – Last Look At Eden
Band Website – Buy The CD
(Total Points: 119)
Sweden may be the hotbed for exciting new rock bands, but they all could take pointers from these seasoned melodic rock legends. Europe have weathered many changing musical tides in their twenty plus years, and have mixed the old with the new on their latest opus Last Look At Eden. The result catapulted Europe to the top of the Swedish charts for the first time since 1988. Those wishing for a return of “The Final Countdown” will be upset, as Last Look At Eden contains much deeper music and originality than their bombastic hit single.
If ever there was a recipe for success, throwing Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith together would be it. The combination resulted in one of the most successful rock albums of 2009, hitting #4 on the Billboard charts on its way to gold status. Jumping off the sinking Van Halen ship may prove to be the smartest thing Hagar and Anthony have ever done.
One-time grunge superstars Alice In Chains were in a no win situation. How could they replace the iconic Layne Staley, who overdosed back in 2002, without pissing off their loyal fanbase? They ended up recruiting relatively unknown vocalist William DuVall to fill those extra large shoes, and ended up reaching #5 on the Billboard charts while garnering a Grammy nomination for ‘best hard rock performance’. Judging by the album’s success and fan response, Alice In Chains made the right decision.
Sweden’s Babylon Bombs are the fifth group to reach both the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 and the Reader’s Choice Top 20, proving that these young upstarts are something special. Working with production guru Chris Laney catapulted the Babylon Bombs into the big league, managing to find success without the help of a major recording contract and giving the band a larger than life sound. These young guys are ones to keep your eye on in the future, although the recent announcement that vocalist Dani has left the band may set their plans for world domination back a few steps.
You would think mixing Christianity with the devil’s music would cause disastrous results, but for years now Stryper has been successfully preaching that there is more to hard rock than sex, drugs and slaying dragons. A band that has always been on the outside looking in, they once again showed that religion doesn’t always have to be hymns and choirs. Murder By Pride, like Stryper‘s previous CDs, catered to the small metal population that is looking for more meaning in their lyrics — and the band’s loyal fan base ate it all up.
18. W.E.T. – W.E.T.
Band Website – Buy The CD
(Total Points: 90)
W.E.T. was a new project put together by former Yngwie Malmsteen and Talisman frontman Jeff Scott Soto, Robert Sall and Erik Martensson who reached the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 last year with his other group Eclipse. The majority of votes for this debut CD were first place ones, showing that the album had a huge impact on the listeners that heard it. This album is the perfect blend of AOR and melodic rock — a ‘supergroup’ that actually delivers.
Over the years James Christian and company have toned down the keyboards and majestic nature of House Of Lords while evolving into more of a straight-ahead melodic rock outfit. It has been a great direction for the band as Cartesian Dreams rivals anything he group has previously released — proving that time and endless line-up changes can’t slow down a band when the will and drive are present.
Being unable to record under the Black Sabbath moniker didn’t faze Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice. As Heaven & Hell, the godfathers of heavy metal reunited the early ’80s Sabbath line-up for more sinister metal. Fans had obviously been awaiting this reformation of doom and gloom as it shot up to #8 on the Billboard charts upon its release – and caused some to go… Ozzy who?