1. MIKE MARLIN: Grand Reveal
The former child prodigy, physics boffin and city whizzkid releases a deadpan delivery rock and roll album that’s lyrically astute, nodding to Lou Reed and David Bowie.
2. IAN McNABB: Eclectic Warrior
The Icicle Works frontman returns to the Neil Young-inspired guitar-spitting rock that was the signature of his hallmark Head Like A Rock album.
3. PURE LOVE: Anthems
Not the maudlin mess the name of the band and the album might suggest, but big hook-laden rock songs from Gallows frontman Frank Carter.
4. NEW MODEL ARMY: Between Dog And Wolf
New lease of life for the Bradford revolutionaries thanks to a left turn that sees them drag drums high up in the mix, tribal rhythm replacing rock riff.
5. AIRBOURNE: Black Dog Barking
They’ve always followed in the footsteps of Angus Young, and now Aussie rockers Airbourne come up with the best album that AC/DC never made.
6. THE WINERY DOGS: The Winery Dogs
Monster riffs, big bass, levee-breaking drums and gravel grunge vocals as prog rockers Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan re-invent classic rock.
7. DEEP PURPLE: Now What?
They could have called it quits after Jon Lord died. So it’s surprising that Purple’s return, with Don Airey as super-sub, is better than anyone expected.
8. DROPKICK MURPHYS: Signed And Sealed In Blood
Rabble-rousing American-Irish rock and reel that captures the energy of the Boston paddy punks’ shows. The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble.
9. SAMMY HAGAR: & Friends
Red rocker Sammy Hagar calls in a stellar cast including Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Kid Rock and Heart’s Nancy Wilson for blues-rock fuelled studio fun.
10. TOM KEIFER: The Way Life Goes
The Cinderella frontman’s solo album eschews the band’s dated glam metal for an eclectic mix of rock and roll, stadium pop and radio ballads.
Zervas & Pepper
1. ZERVAS & PEPPER: Lifebringer
Welsh duo Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper capture the sound and the spirit of the Woodstock generation on an album that shamelessly takes its cues from late 1960s California.
2. TIERRA BLANCA: Shadowlands
Moody wild western rock and stroll surprise from Brit John McKeown, a Tex-Mex tapas of self-penned songs that recalls Tito & Tarantula.
3. GOLDFRAPP: Tales Of Us
Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory back to what they do best: ethereal ballads delivered in whispered vocals and wrapped up in cinematic strings.
4. DEAF HAVANA: Old Souls
Flag-waving festival rock with pop hooks from the surprise package at Reading. Widescreen road trip rock that marries Springsteen to The Killers.
5. JOHN FOGERTY: Wrote A Song For Everyone
Creedence legend re-invents his rock classics special guests ranging from Foo Fighters and Tom Morello to Bob Seger and Allen Toussaint.
6. DAVID BOWIE: The Next Day
His first album in ten years, some of it masterful, some of it muddled. But Bowie albums are never to be missed and overall it’s welcome back.
7. I AM KLOOT: Let It All In
Elbow’s Guy Garvey guests on his Mancunian mates’ new album – 10 songs in 36 minutes proving that less can, indeed, be more.
8. DAVE STEWART: Lucky Numbers
Eurythmic Dave Stewart’s set is rooted in classic 1960s British rhythm and blues shot through with Americana – recorded on a yacht in the South Pacific.
9. COUNTING CROWS: Echoes Of The Outlaw Roadshow
New live set is a barnstormer, collecting fan favourites and covers. A reworked Round Here and a mash-up of Rain King and Elbow’s Lippy Kid star.
10. GIN WIGMORE: Gravel & Wine
She hollers like a veteran rock and roller, and plays the blues as if she was born in the USA. Rootsy pop-rock from the New Zealand songbird.
1. LOU DOILLON: Places
Parisian songbird Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin, half-sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg, gets moody as her warm, part-sung, part-spoken vocal caresses sublime songs. The French Aimee Mann.
2. DAVID FORD: Charge
Ford’s best album to date adds variations in pace and mood to that distinctive vocal. How the ex-Easyworld frontman remains under the radar is a mystery.
3. PHILDEL: The Disappearance Of The Girl
The Brit songbird has soundtracked TV ads ranging from M&S to Apple, but her own album reveals she has an ethereal indie-pop voice to die for.
4. BILLY BRAGG: Tooth & Nail
Bragg has rarely sung better, and the gently reflective songs are country confessional rather than rock and roll rebellion. That’s getting older for you.
5. LINDI ORTEGA: Cigarettes & Truckstops
Although she’s just moved to Nashville, Ortega is equally at home on the Coachella and T In The Park stages. Country, rock and murder ballads.
6. DIDO: Girl Who Got Away
She’s been there, done it, got the T-shirt but Dido’s long-awaited return is every bit as winning as her debut. She’s the girl who came back.
7. GABRIELLE APLIN: English Rain
She topped the charts with Frankie’s The Power Of Love thanks to John Lewis. Now she bares her soul in a folk-pop set with world music cues.
8. JENN BOSTIC: Jealous
Lazily catalogued as country, Bostic gives the late Amy Winehouse a run for her her soul-pop money. Jealous Of The Angels was huge on youtube.
9. STEVE EARLE: The Low Highway
Roots rocker Steve Earle’s most upfront and rock radio-friendly set since 2004’s The Revolution Starts Now. He was great at Symphony Hall.
10. JOSHUA RADIN: Wax Wings
Bubbly folk, polished pop, memorable melody – and is that alt.country icon Ryan Adams I hear on guitar on Lovely Tonight? A high-flier.
FOLK & ROOTS
1. HOWE GELB: The Coincidentalist
Dusty desert Americana from the prolific troubadour, recorded with M. Ward and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley. Bonnie Prince Billy and KT Tunstall guest in a strong set without a weak link.
2. TOM RUSSELL: Aztec Jazz
The godfather of Americana has never been shy of re-invention and now revisits sublime signature songs live with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble.
3. CHRISTY MOORE: Where I Come From
Asked to select songs for a three-disc retrospective, Moore has chosen instead to rerecord 45 of them, updating the lyrics to reflect the changing times.
4. THE FALLOWS: Liars & Kings
The Coventry band’s clever tuneful folk-rock is a delight, with Cast The First Stone unlikely to be bettered anytime soon in its genre.
5. EMILY BARKER & THE RED HALO: Dear River
The Aussie songbird who calls Britain home has her folk roots peeping through polished pop production. Better than KT Tunstall and Amy MacDonald.
Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi
1. BLACK SABBATH: 13
An event album. Sabbath’s reunion has seen them come full circle to the metal with which they first made their name, and exceeded even the band’s own expectations.
2. STONE SOUR: House of Gold & Bones Part 2
Corey Taylor’s metallers close the circle on the concept album begun last year with radio-friendly riffs nodding both to idols Sabbath and Metallica.
3. MOTORHEAD: Aftershock
Lemmy may have a pacemaker but driving rock guitar riffs, gruff vocals, speaker-busting bass and bombshell drums spell business as usual.
4. ALTER BRIDGE: Fortress
Myles Kennedy returns to the day job after his foray with Slash, and Alter Bridge’s fourth studio set accordingly proves their most radio-friendly yet.
5. AVENGED SEVENFOLD: Hail To The King
A7X have waded out into the mainstream until they’ve emerged dripping hard rock riffs, with nods to Metallica, Maiden, Sabbath and G’n’R.
1. PAUL SIMON: The Complete Albums Collection
Fourteen albums from his debut to the most recent outing in one hefty box set, adding up to an amazing 199 tracks in all. Arguably the greatest singer-songwriter of them all.
2. THE EAGLES: The Studio Albums 1972-1979
Six-album boxset from one of the world’s best and most enduring of bands. Looking forward to seeing them at the LG Arena in May next year!
3. DEL SHANNON: Essential Collection 1961-1991
Everything you ever wanted to hear from the late, great Del Shannon, including Runaway. I was proud to do some recording with him in the Seventies.
4. THE WHO: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival
One of Britain’s greatest-ever rock bands, caught at their peak, whilst topping the bill at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Sensational.
5. CHICAGO: The Studio Albums 1969-1978
Ten-album boxset from debut Chicago Transit Authority in 1969 to Hot Streets in 1978. Over 150 tracks by one of my all-time favourite bands.
JAZZ / BLUES
1. EMILIA MITIKU: I Belong To You
She ended the nineties with worldwide hit Big Big World but now she’s subtly smouldering through a bluesy set informed by the greats – Etta, Ella, Eartha and Billie.
2. BETH HART & JOE BONAMASSA: Seesaw
The musical marriage of Stateside blues belter Beth Hart and guitar giant Joe Bonamassa is surely made in rock and roll heaven.
3. HUGH LAURIE: Didn’t It Rain
Gentler, soulful and more spine-tingling than debut Let Us Talk, Laurie brings the virtuoso voices of Gaby Moreno and Jean McClain along for the ride.
4. POPA CHUBBY: Universal Breakdown Blues
Unlikely figure for a guitar hero, his publicity shots suggesting R&B bling, but Popa Chubby plays down and dirty blues-rock with attitude.
5. DANNY BRYANT: Hurricane
Blues-rock guitar albums can be self-indulgent snoozes, but Bryant lets his tormented soul seep out on a set of surprisingly strong songs.