I initially was going to keep this list short and sweet, but when it comes to stompboxes, how do you stop? Effects are like potato chips in that you just can’t expect me to offer you a handful because you’ll want the whole bag -- and besides, there are so many flavors of overdrive, modulation, delay, etc., that it’s nearly impossible to pick a top five. So I’ve decided to make it a top 10.
What is a blues album in 2011? If you believe the gang over at the Grammy Awards, it's whatever sort of music is being made by anyone who happens to be a member of The Allman Brothers Band. Earlier this month, new albums by Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes and the Tedeschi-Trucks Band (featuring Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks) were nominated for Best Blues Album.
Like any year-end list, this wasn't an easy one to compile. Of course, stellar documentary pieces by way of Cameron Crowe (Pearl Jam Twenty) and James Moll (Foo Fighters: Back And Forth) made the job a little easier, as did the fact that AC/DC, Slash and Rush continue to be among the best live acts on the planet.
This was definitely a weird year for music, so I had to grab the good stuff wherever I could find it. I have pretty eclectic tastes, so in some ways I had fun picking through the rock, jazz, blues and metal world. I look forward to trying to absorb Jimi Hendrix’s Winterland shows and Duane Allman’s remarkable playing on the SUNY bootleg over the next, say, two decades.
As an editor at GuitarWorld.com, I listen to tons o' music -- all sorts of weird stuff. One day in the summer, I even found myself listening to an album made by a bunch of nuns chanting in Latin. I'm still not sure why that happened. Anyway, the point is, amid the beatings my ear drums withstand on a daily basis, it's easy to choose my favorite albums of the year; they're the ones I found myself listening to over and over again.
Having proclivities that spread a breadth of musical styles, I can't deny that half of my picks for the best albums of 2011 are not what one would consider "guitar" albums. But then again, a "guitar" album is a relative term. All the albums featured in my Top 10 contain guitar.
This has been an interesting year in amplifiers. Never before have I seen so much tweakability on the front and top control panels of the many amplifiers that have shown up at our door here at Guitar World. The emergence of numerous slider-switches, mini-toggles and push buttons seem to have suddenly taken up real estate normally reserved for control knobs of amplifiers!