In all these year-end, best-of lists, I'm seeing little respect given to the over 50 crowd. So, since I'm heading that direction myself, I thought I would be the one to share some AARP Holiday Cheer.
1. Lindsey Buckingham - Gift of Screws
The Fleetwood Mac guitarist/singer finally incorporates some of what made his band so great and produces his best solo effort. By far. Period. Of course, several members of Mac (not Stevie Nicks) make an appearance on Gift of Screws and songs like "Did You Miss Me" and "The Right Place to Fade" would not sound out of place on Rumours. What better recommendation is there than that?
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2. Todd Rundgren - Arena
Singer/songwriter/producer Todd Rundgren shows little signs of slowing down at 60. Arena is 13 tracks that show Rundgren's still ferocious rock side. Cuts like "Mad," "Gun" and "Pissin" approximate everyone from Aerosmith to ZZ Top, but still sound like classic Rundgren. If you caught him at House of Blues a few months back, you know just how vital Rundgren remains.
3. Jackson Browne - Time the Conqueror
Also recently turning 60, Jackson Browne is making some of the best music of his storied career as Time the Conqueror amply demonstrates. Check out the introspective "Live Nude Cabaret" or the Bush-bashing "The Drums of War" and try to deny that Browne still has "it."
4. Randy Newman - Harps and Angels
Newman's first studio album of all new material in a decade shows the 65-year-old in fine, sarcastic form. "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" is as biting (and spot on) of a satire as Newman has written since "God's Song" and that was nearly 40 years ago. "Feels Like Home" is just another beautiful, New Orleans style piano ballad. The entirety of Harps is a testament to Newman's continued greatness.
5. Van Morrison - Keep it Simple
As the title implies, Van Morrison decided to scale back his band and such proved to be a wise decision. Abandoning the country leanings of his last couple of releases, Morrison takes Keep it Simple in a more soul/blues direction and the results are impressive. "How Can a Poor Boy?" and "School of Hard Knocks" are just two of the standouts. Morrison's voice seems to get better with age and he still has more righteous chutzpa than just about anyone in rock. --Darryl Smyers