Limelight Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2016

It’s that time of year where Limelight Magazine lists our top 10 albums of the year. We had a hard time creating this list because there was so much great music released in 2016. We cannot recall such a year where so many musicians were at the top of their game. Since tough choices had to be made, this is the list we decided on. Because we wanted to acknowledge some of the other artists who didn’t make the top 10, we created an honorable mention list which follows.

  1. David Bowie – Blackstar

david-bowie-blackstar When I first heard David Bowie’s Blackstar on January 8, 2016, I immediately loved everything about this album. I played it at least a dozen times before finding out that Bowie had died two days later. He hid his illness from almost everyone and, following its release, longtime producer Tony Visconti said this was Bowie’s “parting gift” to his fans. As his intended swan song, this album is classic Bowie incorporating a number of different genres, including avant garde, pop, jazz, electronic, and alternative rock, into on one cohesive album. The album is artistic and dark yet extremely relevant. We’re proud to name this our favorite album of 2016. It’s a must have whether you are a fan of Bowie or not. (Standout Tracks: “Blackstar” & “Lazarus”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #1.

  1. Megadeth – Dystopia

megadeth-dystopiaIf anyone told us that Megadeth would release one of the best albums of their career in 2016, we probably wouldn’t have believed it. But, with Lamb of God drummer Chris Alder and Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro in the fold, they’ve done just that. Dystopia contains 11 captivating songs that show the band can harken back to their classic thrash metal sound of the 80s and early 90s while still continuing to evolve. There is not a track on here that isn’t good and the band has hit a home run. After two mediocre studio albums with Thirteen and Super Collider, this is the album Megadeth needed to make! (Standout Tracks: “Fatal Illusion” & “Post American World”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #3.

  1. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake

testament-brotherhood-of-the-snakeIf there is one thing that sets Testament apart from most of their peers is this band consistently creates pure thrash metal without ever being a disappointment. Very few bands in this genre continue to get better with each new studio album but Testament does. Brotherhood of the Snake is everything you’d expect from this band and more. It contains 10 aggressive songs that once again show Testament at the top of their game. This is a must have for any thrash metal or Testament fan. (Standout tracks:  “The Pale King” & “Neptune’s Spear”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #20.

  1. Metallica – Hardwired…To Self Destruct

metallica-hardwired-to-self-destructOn their first studio album in eight years, Metallica return in a big way. While I was a fan of their last studio album Death Magnetic, I’d say this is their best collection of songs since the “black album” with some tracks being just as good as what Metallica recorded before that. This album is rooted in thrash metal but with catchy melodies. Although the second disc is slightly riskier, the songs still work, especially the standout track of the album “Spit Out the Bone.” Can’t wait to hear these songs performed live in 2017! (Standout tracks:  “Spit Out the Bone” & “Moth Into Flame”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #1

  1. Steve Wilson –

steve-wilson-4-%c2%bdWhile not a full-length album, this EP serves as an interim release between Wilson’s fourth solo album Hand. Cannot. Erase. and his upcoming fifth full-length studio album that will be released in 2017. Clocking in at 36 minutes, is another Wilson album that does not disappoint. The album flows together nicely considering the songs are “leftover” tracks from his last album and the band really gels. Every Wilson album has made our top 10 so we’re really excited about next year’s release. (Standout Tracks: “Vermillioncore” & “My Book of Regrets”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #114.

  1. Kansas – The Prelude Implicit

kansas-the-prelude-implicitWhen we heard Kansas were recording a new album, we were a little hesitant because vocalist Steve Walsh was no longer in the band. However, since the two albums they released in the early 80s without him were good, we were very open to The Prelude Implicit. What we didn’t expect is for it to be this solid, especially since they hadn’t released new music in 16 years.  In fact, it’s not only one of their freshest sounding albums since the 70s, it’s also one of their best.  Kudos to original members Phil Ehart and Rich Williams for keeping the band going and to the new members for plugging in the holes and raising the bar high for quality musicianship and songwriting. (Standout Tracks: “”Rhythm In The Spirit” & “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #41.

  1. Metal Church – XI

metal-church-xiWith Mike Howe back on vocals for the first time since 1993’s Hanging In The Balance, Metal Church are completely reinvigorated. XI features 11 tracks that harken back to the old school Metal Church sound while still being fresh. The musicianship is stellar – Vanderhooof shreds like “no tomorrow” and Howe delivers vocals that will “blow your mind,” especially if you get the chance to hear him perform with the band live. This is one album that every metal fan should enjoy. (Standout Tracks: “Killing Your Time” & “Needle and the Suture”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #57.

  1. Robert Reed – Sanctuary II

robert-reed-sanctuary-iiWhile not a household name in the United States, Robert Reed is one of the most talented musicians in the business today. On the sequel to his 2014 release Sanctuary, Reed once again pays homage to the great Mike Oldfield. This album features two long instrumental compositions, with each song being a progressive rock classic that would make Oldfield proud. With the exception of Simon Phillips on drums, Reed plays every instrument on Sanctuary II and he does so impeccably. We can’t wait to see what Reed does next!

  1. Michael Sweet – One Sided War

michael-sweet-one-sided-warNo stranger to our yearly Top 10 list, Stryper’s Michael Sweet continues his creative resurgence with One Sided War. The songs on this album are filled with melodies and great riffs which is desperately lacking in today’s commercial music scene. Although Sweet could have played all the guitar parts on this album himself, he asked two amazing shredders, Ethan Brosh and Joel Hoekstra, to join him on various tracks and their contributions really stand out, making One Sided War his most intense solo album to date. (Standout Tracks: “Bizarre” & “Golden Age”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #77.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t miss Michael Sweet at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA, on June 2, 2017. Purchase tickets HERE.

  1. [TIE] Sully Erna – Hometown Life

sully-erna-hometown-lifeOn his second studio album, the talented Sully Erna has another winner. While completely different than Godsmack and even his first solo album Avalon, Hometown Life features lots of diversity, including blues, country, jazz, rock, and R&B. The 10 songs on this album show Erna’s softer side and are deep in emotion. As Erna said on an episode of One On One With Mitch Lafon, “If I was constantly handcuffed to Godsmack, I think my spirit would just die in music.” Limelight Magazine is glad his solo career has enabled him to explore other genres and music styles. (Standout Tracks: “Hometown Life” & “Father of Time”). Billboard Top 200 Peak Position: #105.

  1. [TIE] Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are

nada-surf-you-know-who-you-are

On their eighth studio album and first since the stellar Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (2012), Nada Surf only get better with age. Now a four-piece band since the addition of lead guitarist Doug Gillard, Nada Surf continue to write compelling music and catchy songs. From the opening track “Cold To See Clear” to the last song “Victory’s Yours,” there is no filler on this album. If you are a Nada Surf fan, purchase this album. If you never heard of them or given them a chance before, give it a listen and you shouldn’t be disappointed. (Standout Tracks: “Cold To See Clear” & “Rushing”).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

We’d also like to acknowledge the following artists for creating some stellar albums in 2016.

Jeff Beck – Loud Hailer

jeff-beck-loud-hailer

Fates Warning – Theories of Flight

fates-warning-theories-of-flight

Haken – Affinity

haken-affinity

Hammerfall – Built To Last

hammerfall-built-to-last

Redemption – The Art of Loss

redemption-the-art-of-loss

Santana – IV

santana-iv

Lacey Sturm – Life Screams

lacey-sturm-life-screams

Tiles – Pretending 2 Run

tiles-pretending-2-run

Rob Zombie The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser

rob-zombie-the-electric-warlock-acid-witch-satanic-orgy-celebration-dispenser

Limelight Magazine’s Top 10 Movies of 2016

Although we were hoping to screen 100 films in a theater or drive-in this year, we ended the year with 71. Of that total, 49 were first run films while the rest were retro films that were screened from original or restored 35-mm prints. In reflecting back on the first run movies, it didn’t quite reach the level of 2015, but there were still some solid films in the mix. Below is our top 10 films of 2016. Rather than go into detail about each one, we’re only going to list them so you can discover these movies for yourself. (Disclaimer: This list is based on films I’ve seen as of Dec. 31, 2016. It could be adjusted in the future as I view other films from 2016 in early 2017).

  1. Midnight Special [screened @ Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA]

1-midnight-special

2. The Wave [screened @ The Cable Car, Providence, RI]

Poster finalized

3. Don’t Breathe [screened @ AMC, Dartmouth, MA]

3-dont-breathe

4. The Witch [screened @ AMC, Dartmouth, MA]

4-the-witch

5. Green Room [screened @ AMC, Dartmouth, MA]

5-green-room

6. Hell or High Water [screened @ East Providence 10, East Providence, RI]

6-hell-or-high-water

7. Arrival [screened @ AMC, Dartmouth, MA]

7-arrival

8. Noctural Animals [screened @ AMC, Dartmouth, MA]

8-noctural-animals

9. The Conjuring 2 [screened @ AMC, Dartmouth, MA]

9-conjuring-2

10. The Girl On The Train [screened Regal Cinemas, Swansea, MA]

10-the-girl-on-the-train

 

 

Limelight Magazine’s Top 10 Concerts of 2016

Of all the concerts we attended throughout the United States in 2016, these were our top 10 favorite shows. (This list does not include any of our own shows that we booked this year).

  1. John Carpenter @ Playstation Theater in New York City, NY, on July 8th and Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA, on July 9th.

2016-john-carpenter-july-82016-john-carpenter-july-9

2. David Gilmour @ Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, on April 11th.

2016-david-gilmour

3. Kraftwerk 3D @ The Bomb Factory in Dallas, TX, on September 10th.

2016-kraftwerk-3d-1

4. Burton Cummings @ Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket, RI, on October 1st

2016-burton-cummings

5. Steve Wilson @ Orpheum Theatre in Boston, MA, on March 4th

2016-steven-wilson

6. Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman @ Wang Theatre in Boston, MA, on October 19th.

2016-anderson-rabin-wakeman

7. Stevie Nicks with The Pretenders @ Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, on November 25th.

2016-stevie-nicks

8. Terry Bozzio @ Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA, on September 29th.

2016-terry-bozzio

9. The Claypool Lennon Delirium @ House of Blues in Boston, MA, on August 26th.

2016-claypool-lennon-delirium

10. Metal Church @ Webster Theater in Hartford, CT, on March 26th.

2016-metal-church

 

Limelight Magazine’s Top 10 Soundtrack Scores of 2016

Throughout 2016, Limelight Magazine started “Soundtrack Saturday”  on our Facebook page in which we featured a different soundtrack score every week from the past and present. After listening to nearly 200 scores that were released in 2016, here are our top 10 favorite soundtrack scores of 2016. What an amazing collection of music by some extremely talented composers!

  1. Neon Demon (by Cliff Martinez) on Milan Records

neon-demon

2. Midnight Special (by David Wingo) on Watertower Music

midnight-special-4-2-16

3. The Mind’s Eye (by Steve Moore) on Relapse Records

12 Jacket (Gatefold - Two Pocket) [GD30OB2-N]

4. Girl On A Train (by Danny Elfman) on Sony Classical

girls-on-the-train

5. Don’t Breathe (by Roque Banos) on Lakeshore Records

dont-breathe

6. The Witch (by Mark Korven) on Milan Records

the-witch-3-12-16

7. The Invitation (by Theodore Shapiro) on Lakeshore Records (CD) & Mondo (Vinyl)

the-invitation-cd

the-invitation-4-16-16

8. Conjuring 2 (by Joseph Bishara) on  Water Tower Music

conjuring-2

9. Darling (by Giona Ostinelli) on Lakeshore Records (CD) & Mondo (Vinyl)

darling

darling-vinyl

10.  Blair Witch (by Adam Wingard) on Lakeshore Records (CD) & Mondo (Vinyl)

blair-witchblair-witch-vinyl

Vanilla Fudge celebrates their 50th anniversary at Narrows Center

logo-vanilla-fudge

Legendary rock band Vanilla Fudge are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2017 and they are making a stop at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on April 5th with special guest Paul Bielatowicz. It will be the first time the band has appeared at this intimate venue. Purchase tickets HERE.

Since the summer of 1967, Vanilla Fudge were architects of a new musical style that included psychedelic, rock, soul music and gospel. They were, and are masters of reinterpreting other artist’s hit songs, and their effect on the soon to explode late 60’s “heavy metal” scene was undeniable.

To be an influence on the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Van Halen certainly secures a place in rock n roll history for the legendary Vanilla Fudge.

Now celebrating their 50th anniversary, the powerhouse vocals and keyboard flourishes of virtuoso organist Mark Stein, along with the fluid guitar explosions of Vinnie Martell, all anchored by arguably one of the best rhythm sections in the history of rock music, with the legendary Carmine Appice on drums and Pete Bremy on bass (filling in for the retired Tim Bogert), they create a sound so unique that it cannot be imitated. Your spirit will jettison right back to a “happening” in that magical summer of 1967, and this “happening” needs to be felt live to truly be appreciated!

Paul Bielatowicz, who is best known for his virtuoso guitar work with some of the biggest names in progressive rock including Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Asia) and Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), will open the show!

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, Mass. Tickets to this show can be purchased online by clicking HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

photo-vanilla-fudge-ticket-page

Ian Anderson, Rik Emmett, Shaun Hague, Limelight readers remember Bob Coburn

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO & JAY KENNEY

logo-rockline

Bob Coburn, host of the nationally syndicated radio show Rockline, died on December 18, 2016, of lung cancer at the age of 68. Limelight Magazine would like to commemorate Coburn for what he added to the world of rock & roll. Through Coburn, Rockline connected fans with their rock & roll heroes from 1981 to 2014, giving listeners the opportunity to call in with their questions. Long before social media, Rockline was the primary way for fans to do this.

Coburn got involved with Rockline in 1981 when his friend, mentor and then host of the show, B. Mitchell Reed, became seriously ill. With Reed’s blessing, Coburn took over the position and impressed everyone on the show, landing him a permanent job as host of the show. With Coburn bringing in excellent ratings, Rockline’s popularity skyrocketed. With Coburn’s uplifting personality and hard work ethic, combined with the extraordinary crew that he worked with, the show had about 48 of the top-50 markets and hundreds of affiliates.

Since the 80’s, Coburn has had the opportunity to interview some of rock & roll’s biggest acts including Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Van Halen, David Bowie, Ronnie Spector, Joey Ramone, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Rush, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Paul Rodgers, Def Leppard, Buckcherry, Queensryche, Puddle of Mudd, Dave Mason, Green Day, REM, Creed, Pete Townshend, Alice In Chains, and Guns N’ Roses. A lot of rock history and shenanigans happened at the Rockline studio, yet they also hosted comedians such as Joan Rivers, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Mike Meyers, and Denis Leary.

With such a vast list of musicians and pop icons already interviewed before his death, Coburn mentioned some musicians that he never had the chance to interview, but wishes he had. He mentioned many deceased rock stars such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, and a few who are still alive, Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen.

Limelight Magazine spoke with three musicians days after Coburn’s death, including Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, Rik Emmett of Triumph, and Shaun Hague who was the former guitarist of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and currently the guitarist of Journeyman – A Tribute to Eric Clapton.

Ian Anderson had been friends with Coburn for years before his death and appeared on Rockline with Jethro Tull.

“Bob Coburn was already a radio legend when I was appearing in the Los Angeles market from the early 80s onwards,” Anderson explained. “We contributed to Rockline from various parts of the planet many times and met up in LA on several occasions. He was a kind and gentle man with a real knowledge and love for all things rock and roll. An email from him on my birthday a few months ago spoke only of a continued commitment to music and radio, back home again with KLOS. We will all miss you Bob. Part of American music history. Legends live on and the music never dies.”

Emmett, formerly of Triumph, also spoke about Coburn’s genuine passion for music that resulted in a major legacy.

“In the music biz, one encounters lots of folks who talk about how much they love music but what they eventually reveal is their love for their own position in the biz. Not Bob,” Emmett said. “He was a rare breed in the rock & roll biz. He was an old pro with a smooth style and a sincere, respectful gentleman. Bob was someone who had a genuine love of music, and a deep, deft ability to connect to the musicians who made the music he loved. He was a storyteller and a man who could draw stories from his guests. He will be missed and mourned but should also be celebrated with our humble respects.”

Fellow musician Shaun Hague talked about his relationship with Coburn from being star struck to Coburn actually interviewing him.

“In 2003, one of my biggest influences, Jimmy Page, appeared on Rockline,” Hague explained. “I tried forever calling in to speak with him. In the last hour of the show, I got through. Many of the questions I wanted to ask had been brought up by that point so I asked him a question about the How The West Was Won DVD and started it off by telling him what an idol he was to me. At the end of his five minute response, he stopped and said to me, ‘Thanks again Shaun for what you said about my guitar playing and influence’. I nearly fell off my chair!!!”

“One year later, I was in studio with Bob on Rockline as a member of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. It was just such an honor to be in the same room that many of my heroes had been in, also getting interviewed and playing live for Bob. I hope someone carries the torch of his unique interview concept, will be hard shoes to fill though.”

Limelight Magazine also spoke with six local music fans and readers of our publication on the passing of Coburn.

Tom Chagnon, of Providence, R.I., talked about his experience of listening to Rockline when he was only 13 years old and later in life when he got to interact with his music idols through the show.

“I remember sneaking a small transistor radio under my pillow so my parents wouldn’t find out. I used to visualize being in the studio with Bob as he ‘partied’ and spoke with David Lee Roth, Paul Stanley, etc. I remember the first time I called the station to speak with Paul McCartney. I was too late, the show wasn’t taking any more calls. I was so bummed. Years later I found out that Izzy Stradlin was going to be on Rockline. I called early to make sure I got a question in. When I finally asked it, Izzy gave a great answer which lead Bob to say, ‘Thanks Tom, great question’. I was around 24 and no longer sneaking a transistor radio under the pillow. I called Rockline several times. I got to ask questions to Buckcherry, the reunited Warrant and lastly The Winery Dogs.”

David Tolar, of Millis, Mass., talked about Coburn’s unforgettable shows.

“I remember listening to Bob and the Rockline program every week on various FM rock stations over the years and always loved the informal and fun nature of the show,” Tolar said. “He was brilliant at letting the artists be comfortable in his environment, and some of those performances that the various artists and bands did were remarkable!”

With so many memorable shows, Tolar said that Rush was one of his favorites.

“I don’t have one single band that jumps out at me as an all-time favorite but bands like Rush who weren’t exactly known for their sense of humor were able to truly shine on his show,” Tolar said. “Van Halen was always a hoot as well for completely different reasons. They were just out of control. [It was] a tremendous show and one that was the gold standard for every aspiring rock and roll interviewer. Bob will truly be missed.”

Brad Stevens, from Mashpee, Mass., also has fond memories of Rush on Rockline with Coburn.

“My favorite memory was in 1983,” Stevens said. “I was a huge fan of the band Rush and Bob had them on one evening and it was to talk about the upcoming release of their new album Grace Under Pressure. I just so excited that a new song was gonna be played for the first time which was ‘Between The Wheels’.”

Tim Cobb, of Fairhaven, Mass., also said that Van Halen was one of the best shows that Coburn hosted. Cobb remembers the nostalgia of listening to Rockline.

“Listening late Monday night as a tweener/teenager with my Walkman under the covers (my parents thinking I was sleeping) listening to Bob Coburn’s fantastic voice and interviews with my favorite rockers,” he said.

Jay Roberts, of Wareham, Mass., spoke about what he believed made Coburn and Rockline such a unique and intriguing show for music fans.

“The personal memories I have of listening to Bob Coburn and Rockline are pretty much how growing up and discovering the show made you eagerly await each successive week’s show,” Roberts said. “The intro music and Bob’s introduction. His great radio voice and how he managed to ask questions that went beyond the standard creampuff Q&A. Rockline covered everyone and even those artists that might not be ones you like were made interesting because they got really in depth with them on the show. You got to learn more about the artists when the internet wasn’t as easily accessible (or available at all in some cases). Bob Coburn and Rockline made the music and the musicians that much more interesting.”

Roberts and music fan Mikeal St. Ayre, of Lowell, Mass., both agreed that their favorite show was when Coburn interviewed Queensryche.

“My straight favorite time was when Queensryche premiered Promised Land on Rockline,” Ayre said. “We were all so excited! The funniest one was in ‘89 when Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were on and utterly obliterated. That episode got cut short but not before they performed one of the best takes of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ ever recorded.”

RIP Bob Coburn…You will be sorely missed!!!

Hard rockers Black ‘N Blue to perform at the Narrows Center

Best known for radio and MTV hits that include “Hold On To 18” “Miss Mystery” and “Without Love,” hard rockers Black ‘N Blue make their long awaited return to New England for the first time in three decades with a special performance at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., on July 20, 2016. Purchase tickets HERE.

Formed in 1981, Black ‘N Blue still features original members Jamie St. James (vocals), Patrick Young (bass) and Pete Holmes (drums), along with Brandon Cook (guitar) and Shawn Sonnenschein (guitar). Throughout their career, Black ‘N Blue released five studio albums with the first two being produced by the legendary Gene Simmons of KISS. As a live act, they never disappoint their fans with a set list full of hits and fan favorites. If you want to rock, this is the show to be at!

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, Mass. All tickets are $35 and are available online by clicking HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. Parking is free. This is also a bring your own booze venue.

photo-black-n-blue

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!