News: The Best of 2021 – Get Ready to ROCK! reviewers choose their Top Albums of the Year

The Best of 2021

2021 has been another horrendous year for live music,  largely silenced by the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, live events in the UK started cautiously with several festivals and, with restrictions lifting for smaller venues, some semblance of live music returned in September.

We’ve chosen to focus again this year on albums.  There’s been no shortage of releases as artists have used lockdown to fuel their creative muse.  The only shortage appears to be that of the vinyl on which many of these releases are now pressed.

News & Reviews Editor Jason Ritchie: “Because of the wide range of choices, as ever from the GRTR! review team, we have chosen not to feature an overall Top Album listing. The lack of consistency in selections is to be expected with a website that has always embraced an eclectic range of music.  However readers and listeners will be able to vote for their own favourites to form an overall “Top” listing in our Popular Poll before Christmas.”

We did get a reasonable consensus for Top Reissue – Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy – whilst several reviewers nominated Bastette as Breakthrough Act of the Year.

The reviewers’ choice might inform this year’s Christmas gift lists for readers and listeners and year on year the Best Of selections give a good idea of the best albums for any given year.

Jason added: “In late 2022 we celebrate 20 years of reviewing, a marvellous achievement also considering we have retained a core team of reviewers who always demonstrate balance, experience and good humour in their endeavours.

Sonicbond Publishing

From Friday 10 December you can vote in our Popular Poll and suggest any albums and artists you like that we’ve missed.

Participants can enter a Prize Draw to win their choice of rock books from Sonicbond Publishing. (Search Sonicbond at GRTR! for a list of reviewed titles)

Usual competition rules apply.  Voting ends 12:00 GMT 19.12.21
Please see also our privacy policy.

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 10/12/2021 00:00:01
end_date 19/12/2021 16:59:00
Poll Results:
What do you consider to be the Top Album of the year?

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 10/12/2021 00:00:01
end_date 19/12/2021 16:59:59
Poll Results:
Who do you consider to be the best breakthrough act this year?

The Popular Poll results were be announced, with a selection of reviewer favourites, on Sunday 19 December on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio.

Throughout December Get Ready to ROCK! Radio will be featuring Best of 2021 selections in the playlists including featured albums  in the melodic rock and singer songwriter genres and this year’s “power plays”.


JASON RITCHIE (News & Reviews Editor)

MAXIMO PARK – Nature Always Wins

Top Albums

1.  MAXIMO PARK Nature Always Wins

I rarely award five stars as that album has to be pretty damn fine, all killer no filler as the saying goes. That is true of ‘Nature Always Wins’, a thought provoking and enjoyable album packed full of memorable melodies. Fantastic.

The band play European dates from 28 February 2022

2.  THUNDER All The Right Noises

They really are on a roll with another album full of hard rock, ballads and that typical Thunder view of life. Do get the double edition with the extra songs, well worth the investment.

Thunder play Wolverhampton KK’s Steel Mill 17 December with an arena tour scheduled for May 2022

3.  IAN McNABB Utopian

Double album of musical delights from one to the most consistent and enjoyable artists out there.

Ian McNabb plays UK dates from Feb-May 2022

4.  TONY MITCHELL Hot Endless Summer Nights

Full on, synth led 80′s AOR, as Tony Mitchell produces his best solo to date.

5.  BARENAKED LADIES Detour de Force

Barenaked Ladies show no signs of letting slip their excellent run of albums. A quirky pop rock tour de force!

The band play UK dates 15-28 March 2022

There has been many a fine EP released this year as artists adapt to a changing music scene where streaming and instant releases are king.

Special mention to two fine EPs  – JESSICA LYNN Reimagined, with just a piano, her voice and songs this really is one her musical highlights to date. BASTETTE Exposed very impressive set of songs with massive crossover appeal. One for fans of Pink! and Halestorm.

Bastette - HARD ROCK HELL XIV, Great Yarmouth

Breakthrough Acts 2021

VAMBO – mightly impressed seeing them support Praying Mantis in October. They have the songs and talent to go far. A couple more decent support slots in 2022 should see them well on their way.

BASTETTE (pictured) – a band that is building a formidable reputation in the studio and on the stage. One of the few newer bands on my ‘to see live’ list.

Bastette play UK dates in December with Marisa & The Moths

MILTON HIDE – they released their debut album earlier this year and this husband & wife duo neatly weave traditional folk with a few prog twists. With (hopefully) a full summer festival next year they would be an ideal fit to any folk festivals.


DAVE WILSON (Live Editor)

ROBIN McAULEY - Standing On The Edge

Top Albums

ROBIN McAULEY Standing On The Edge

Robin has long been one of my favourite singers and this album proved to be an absolute gem. Great vocals, coupled with excellent songwriting and musicianship, are a recipe for success and here they have cooked up storm. Classic rock at it’s very best!

IRON MAIDEN Senjitsu

Seven years after the release of the dire Book Of Souls, Maiden were back with a new album. Thankfully, this time around the band were back on form and Senjitsu proved to be another Maiden classic.

The band play European dates from June 2022 including Download

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP Immortal

After two rather lacklustre Michael Schenker Fest albums, the MSG monicker has been resurrected. Musically Michael was once again free to write what he pleased rather than fitting around particular singers and the tracks have a hard rocking edge. The mix of guest singers this time around also proved to be inspired and the album fits well into the MSG legacy.

Michael Schenker plays Stonedead Festival, 27 August 2022

TRUCKER DIABLO Tail End Of A Hurricane

The big truck keeps on rolling and Tom Harte and the guys produced another collection of melodic, riff heavy anthems which put a smile on your face and will have you dancing around the room, preferably with a beer in hand.

ECLIPSE Wired

I have arrived late at the Eclipse party, only really paying the band attention after hearing their last album, but I am making up for lost time. Wired contains infectious melodies and harmonies which will have you singing along at the top of your voice long after you have listened to the album.

STEVE HACKETT – Playhouse, Edinburgh – 25th September 2021

Live Acts

STEVE HACKETT Edinburgh Playhouse

One of my few gigs this year and also my first post lockdown show, but what a way to restart my gig going. The set included the whole of the Genesis ‘Second’s Out’ live album which the band played with passion. It was worth the ticket price alone to hear Afterglow played, accompanied with the iconic white spotlight lighting effect as captured on the original album cover.


The Best of 2021

DAVID RANDALL (Managing Editor)

David presents weekly shows on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, every Sunday.  ‘New to GRTR!’ showcases new releases whilst ‘Assume The Position’ is a mix of new and classic rock.  Since January, the first hour includes the Top 10 album chart countdown for that week based on activity at www.getreadytorock.com, social media, and the radio station.  The chart is compiled by News & Reviews Editor, and website statistician, Jason Ritchie.

BURNTFIELD - Impermanence

Top Albums

1.  BURNTFIELD   Impermanence

I can only assume mainman  Juho Myllylä had a very bad relationship breakup.  But we can interpret his melancholy for the current modern malaise; reflection, remorse, and ultimately rebirth.  All things must change.

2.  ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN  The Darkest Skies  Are The Brightest

Forget Adele ‘30’ banging on about a failed relationship.  Anneke’s take is the real deal.  Simply beautiful.

Coincidentally, and unintentionally, my two top choices this year carried the same aphorism “(for) anyone who has loved and lost and loved again”  I need to get out more.

3.  RACHEL FLOWERS – Bigger On The Inside

Rachel put everything into this album, and I mean everything, a talented multi-instrumentalist with a mix of jazz fusion/rock and a tad proggy too.

4.  LEE AARON Radio On!

Lee has perhaps remained a somewhat guilty pleasure over the years.  Her last couple of albums reveal a great voice and musicality that we always knew was there. ‘Radio On’ deserves a much wider audience than those who were diverted by those cheesy, if rather sexy, 1980s videos.

5.=  SMITH KOTZEN

Great pairing and some real standouts and hopefully a taster for things to come, not least in terms of touring.

5. = AMANDA LEHMANN Innocence & Illusion

A very fine and varied debut from Steve Hackett side-lady, featuring the man himself.  But it’s Amanda’s own guitar and vocals that really shine.

Too good to overlook

Is it me or has there been a distinct air of melancholy in some of our sounds? (qv Burntfield)  Chiming with challenging times I might mention DIM GRAY, AVAWAVES and ESKINA.

Amongst those albums featured on my radio show TRUCKER DIABLO, THE TREATMENT, MASON HILL and THE DUST CODA.  All with a healthy helping of riffage.

RAY FENWICK - Playling Through The Changes Anthology 1964-2020

Top Reissues

1. RAY FENWICK Playing Through The Changes

OK, terrible bias here as I helped Ray with this release but it does showcase a real guitar talent with so many associations along the way going back to 1962 (Spencer Davis Group, Cozy Powell, Deep Purple, etc) And he co-wrote children’s classic TV theme ‘Magpie’!

Breakthrough Acts 2021

1. KRIS BARRAS BAND

The new album – ‘Death Valley Paradise’ – promises much, trailblazed by a great single ‘Dead Horses’.  A harder rock edge than I remember and some excellent exposure in 2021 via livestreaming, Stonedead and a support to Black Stone Cherry.

Kris Barras Band play UK dates in March 2022

2. BASTETTE
Excellent, ballsy, female fronted rock.  Autumn tours with Massive Wagons and Phil Campbell widened their audience.

3. MASON HILL
Only held back in the first half of 2021 by the pandemic but they managed to finally release their debut album which built on their live shows and several EP/singles to whet the appetite.

The band tour with H.E.A.T. and Collateral in the UK in October 2022.

The Best of 2021


BLUES ALBUM OF THE YEAR

THORBJORN RISAGER & THE BLACK TORNADO – Best Of

THORBJORN RISAGER & THE BLACK TORNADO Best Of


PETE FEENSTRA (Blues Rock and Features Editor)

Pete Feenstra presents a weekly Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio as part of a five-hour blues/rock marathon (Tuesdays) whilst on Sunday he chats to blues/rock movers and shakers showcasing their music and/or latest release.  Where possible we include these interviews with Pete’s album review.

Top Albums

THORBJORN RISAGER & THE BLACK TORNADO Best Of

If there is still a debate about the merits of the European blues scene vis a vis The US, then this magnificent big band outfit from Copenhagen kick the conversation into touch.

This double Best Of’ set celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary. At his best Thorbjørn sounds like Ray Charles, while the band explores deep grooves, with horns pumping horn, down in the alley shuffles and visceral rock and roll.

You’d be hard pushed to find a better rock/blues/soul band or album in 2021.



MICK PINI Backtrack

There’s no substitute for a baritone voice with real presence, a Peter Green inspired guitarist with an aching tone, and a set that drips with real feel, but is framed by Craig Marshall’s (Audio 54)  sophisticated production.

And it’s that combination of song craft and real emotion generated by fingers on guitar strings that gives Mick Pini’s blues an organic feel.

It all adds up to something unique, which may be routed in the past, but feels fresh and contemporary enough to suggest that after 55 years of pounding the blues beat, Mick Pini has hit career high.



ASTRAL DRIVE  Astral Drive
(The Orange Album)

Astral Drive aka vocalist, singer songwriter, producer Phil Thornalley delivers 11 songs that explore uplifting psychedelic tinged pop, soul and rock with beguiling piano chord voicing, lilting melodies, subtle vocal harmonies and songs that frequently evoke their title.

It’s an album that gives full rein to Thornalley’s pop sensibilities. There’s plenty of feel, lyrical substance, deft harmonies and vibrant hooks, all subtly honed by his own production skills which lead him to a layered, but organic sound. Essential.



TOMMY CASTRO  Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town

Castro’s conceptual blues odyssey traces the ups and downs of a blues man who is fuelled by the optimism of the title track, but who also trawls the lows on ‘I Got Burned’ – all stinging guitar and tinkling ivories over a whip-crack rhythm section.

He further applies his soulful grooves and resonant playing to the story of a nascent blues man who lives the dream, but never quite turns his back on home.

5. = JULIAN TAYLOR Desert Star

Sometimes you hear an album that simply drags you along in its slipstream and kicks your musical prejudices into touch.

It’s an adventurous musical journey built on a commercial imperative, full of crisp dynamics that amplifies his soulful song craft.

Such is the stylistic span of this album that the listener frequently gets derailed by the unexpected, but it all makes for an exhilarating musical ride that takes it influences from John Mayer, Prince and Stevie Wonder.

5.= EDDIE 9V Little Black Flies

The explosive Eddie 9 Volt (real name Brooks Mason), is a man on a mission. He’s the personification of a post Covid cathartic release. He could have called this album ‘No Gimmicks’, but that would be too overlook his soulful antecedents, built on deep grooves, flanked by judicious horns and ignited by Eddie’s own guitar driven urgency.

Just like his stage name suggests, he’s is durable, consistent and a no frills, gritty performer in search of authenticity, which deliver sin spades.

5.=  ROB KORAL Wild Hearts

Rob Koral’s ‘Wild Hearts’ is an exhilarating instrumental album comprising guitar, Hammond organ and drums.

The Blue Commotion guitarist leads an old school ‘live in the studio’ affair. Recorded under lockdown conditions, it’s forged by improvisation and shaped by real feel, as it explores elements of rock, blues, jazz, fusion and funk.

This is what happens when a trio of top notch players leave their egos at the door, and pour everything into improvisation and sharing the moment. Proof if proof was needed that there ain’t no substitute for real passion, an outstanding collective musical ability and a guitarist with an expressive tone.



Top Reissues

JOHNNY WINTER,  Muddy Waters & James Cotton: Great American Radio Vol.6 (2-CD)

Rough, rowdy, sweat filled Chicago blues. No surprises but the collective respect and passion endures.

STEVE GIBBONS BAND Rollin’ – The Albums 1976-1978

5 remastered CD’s, include a 1977 BBC Radio One In Concert, 29 bonus tracks, and an illustrated booklet for completists of the Brummy’s legend’s early career.

FRANK ZAPPA Zappa 88: The Last US Show

A double CD release, remixes etc of 29 unreleased live performances.  On balance too much political stuff, but a cracking Inca Roads, Sharleena, Stairway To Heaven and Beatles medley

Breakthrough Acts 2021

LIZ JONES & BROKEN WINDOWS

Edinburgh’s finest are a vibrant mix of blues/Americana/folkie/jazzy roots music fronted by the gritty vocalist Liz Jones who knows how to phrase, while a crisp rhythm section lays the foundation for consistently wonderful John Bruce on guitar. Check out the album Bricks & Martyrs for a shot of original energy with real crossover potential

VOODOO RAMBLE featuring Boris Zamba

There can be few more hard working imaginative creative forces on the rock/blues circuit than Croatian vocalist, guitarist, singer songwriter, band leader and sometime producer Boris Zamba

He’s finally got himself a record deal and his summer single ‘I Know Its You’ struck a perfect balance between plaintive vocals, a broad Floydian sonic sweep and searing guitar and synths.  It’s a taster of a forthcoming anticipated album called ‘Can’t Write a Pop Song When You’ve Got the Blues’. Ain’t that the truth!



SUITCASE SAM

Suitcase Sam once described himself as: “The something else you are searching for.” He may well be right.

He’s a musical chameleon one part troubadour, one part parlour singer who makes a musical connection with the American hobo mythology, not unlike the late Leon Redbone, who also came from Toronto.

His current album Goodnight Riverdale Park on Curve has an early 70’s Neil Young meets The Band feel with some Hank Williams on the side.

The Best of 2021


MELODIC ROCK ALBUM OF THE YEAR

KENT HILLI The Rumble


ANDY NATHAN

Top Albums

1.  KENT HILLI The Rumble

I hesitated whether the Perfect Plan singer should be my No 1 for a second successive year, but the combination of his voice and Michael Palace’s recreation of early eighties AOR is a winning one. One massive hook after another with a side order of cheese and the title track is the Rocky soundtrack that never was.

2. MASON HILL Against the Wall

The young Scots long awaited debut was a deserved Top 20 album. With a maturity beyond their years they manage to combine dark and heavy sounds with a melodic sensibility and stadium ready anthems. One of the very best of the thriving NWOCR movement and a fine live band too.

The band play UK dates from 23 January and European gigs from 11 March

3. TOUCH Tomorrow Never Comes

This was an unexpected treat, the original line up following up their 1980 debut which is one of my all time favourites. With those three way vocal harmonies still as clear as ever, and a varied set of songs with a vintage pomp sound in places, this was a better return than I could have dreamed of.

4. W.E.T. Retransmission

The melodic supergroup appear every three or four years and have honed their direct, hook filled approach to a tee. Mainly written by Erik Martensson who was also a Top 5 contender with the latest Eclipse album, but it’s Jeff Scott Soto’s vocals that give this one the edge.

5. DENNIS DE YOUNG 26 East Vol 2

The second of two farewell albums from this quirkiest of characters, the former Styx singer was in remarkably good voice and many of the songs inhabited the spirit of his former band.

Top Reissues

MR BIG Lean Into It

30th anniversary reissue, with bonus tracks, was a timely reminder there was much more to them, and to the album, than To Be With You.

Breakthrough Acts 2021

With their debut album released late in the year, NESTOR have caused a buzz not seen in the small melodic rock world since the arrival of fellow Swedes H.E.A.T. and Houston over a decade ago.

Other debut artists I enjoyed this year include CHEZ KANE with her eighties inspired anthems, SPEKTRA from Brazil and RIAN.

Live Acts

It was a fantastic feeling to resume gigging and reviewing duty in the autumn after 18 long months. That made all gigs special but the two best by a mile were the superb Southern rock inspired sounds at the 100 club of Robert Jon and the Wreck, whose guitarist Henry James was the best I’ve seen in a long while; and Roger Taylor at Shepherds Bush, with a mixture of solo and Queen songs and choreography worthy of an arena show. Fond memories too of Jim Kirkpatrick, FM’s guitarist, at the Cavern in Raynes Park in May, still during semi lockdown but the first light at the end of the tunnel.

The Best of 2021


PROGRESSIVE ROCK ALBUM OF THE YEAR

SYLVAN - One To Zero

SYLVAN One To Zero


ALAN JONES

Top Albums

1.   THREE COLOURS DARK Love’s Lost Property

The sophomore album from Panic Room keyboard wizz Jonathan Edwards and ex The Reasoning vocalist Rachel Cohen is a sublime example of two former bandmates (they were both founder members of Karnataka) coming together and re-kindling their passion for exemplary music.

A blend of folk, neo-prog, classic rock and even a little pop combine to deliver a blemish-free album of staggering musicality and with their take of Duran Duran’s ‘Ordinary World’ surely take the award for ‘Cover Of The Year’.

In what has been an excellent year for music, despite everything, this takes the prize for its sheer, understated brilliance.

2.  SYLVAN One To Zero

Sylvan have been hovering around mid-table in the progressive rock premier league for some years now, but ‘One To Zero’ should catapult them to near the top.

This is melodic progressive rock at its zenith played by exceptional musicians at the top of their game.

As I said in my review, if you had the ability to compose your own prog album with all your  favourite prog tropes, this is how it would sound.

3. DIM GRAY Flown

I was made aware of this little gem by Dave Randall’s review and I’m so glad I invested both money and time into it.

This Norwegian band have delivered an exceptional ‘post-prog’ debut album combining elements of folk and electronica resulting in a haunting, yet perversely life-affirming, piece of work.

Melancholia never sounded so good – and very much a salvation for these troubled times.

4.  STEVE HACKETT Surrender Of Silence

On first listen I absolutely hated this – it seemed that Hackett felt that he’s been constrained and frustrated for the past two years and was determined to exorcise his frustrations by blowing us all into next week.

And yet, like all great albums, I found the more I listened, the better it got.

On first listen it’s a punch in the face – on the third or fourth listen it’s up there with the best that Hackett’s produced.

5=  JOE BONAMASSA Time Clocks

The best album Joe’s delivered for some time. Over the course of the last few years he’s seemingly been determined to shake off his blues pedigree with a plethora of albums diving into rock, jazz and even rockabilly.

‘Time Clocks’ is an album with rock at its heart but there’s a real infusion of blues both in style and his exceptional guitar work.

As the pre-eminnent blues guitar player of his generation it feels like a real return to what he does best.

US Spring Tour starts 15 February 2022, Europe Spring Tour from 20 April including UK dates 5-6 May


SINGER SONGWRITER ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Afterlight

AFTERLIGHT – Afterlight


5= AFTERLIGHT – Afterlight

Thea Gilmore’s well-documented marriage break-up with muse and husband Nigel Stonier is starkly laid bare by the twelve tracks here.

Now to be known as ‘Afterlight’, Thea has produced an album of jaw-dropping honesty with, quite frankly, disturbing songs relating to her coercive relationship. Who knew?

Not an easy listen – but delivered with her usual acerbic integrity and musical aplomb by one of our finest singer-songwriters.

Too good to overlook

BEN RANDALL Before The Rain

Best guitar instrumental album of the year by a country mile – an epic solo guitar album of mercurial playing and astonishing virtuosity.

Former plank-spanker with the likes of Power Quest and Code Of Silence, Randall’s oeuvre places him at the centre-point of a triangle that has Joe Satriani, Carlos Santana and Yngwie J Malmsteen at its angles – but this is all his own sound and worthy of a check-out by anyone whose first love is the electric guitar.

Top Reissues

BLACK SABBATH Technical Ecstasy

I was lucky enough to review the sumptuous 5LP re-issue of Technical Ecstasy but all of these Sabbath re-issues have been fabulous with unreleased tracks, live stuff, comprehensive books, posters and all manner of goodies included.

The remastering is excellent, even on vinyl, particularly so on the album remix by Steven Wilson (how does he do it?) and the live material puts you in the front row.

This is how these things should be done.


BRIAN McGOWAN

Top Albums

LEVERAGE Above The Beyond

AOR, Melodic Rock, Power Metal, Progmetal … Leverage are none of these yet they are all of these. On their 5th album now and the music gets harder to define and easier to admire.



NERGARD Eternal White

Nergard goes about his business with a quiet religious intensity, marrying conventional instrumentation – guitars, bass, drums – to strings, brass and woodwinds. His real skill is in matching the music with the dramatic events portrayed in the story.

EDGE OF PARADISE The Unknown

Margarita Monet’s multi-octave voice is gloriously hypnotic and theatrical… to find that the arrangements, the music and the performances match up to the expectations is a thrill indeed.

DOOGIE WHITE As Yet Untitled

White’s voice straddles several decades of rock and metal transition. He’s been around so long now that anything bearing his vocal imprint cannot immediately be dated.

KASIM SULTON 2021

At heart Sulton is a bona fide pop artist. He fashions hooks with ease, and sends them skimming across the surface of his elegantly crafted pop melodies, landing them right on target.

Top Reissues

FRANKIE MILLER Full House

Miller’s interpretation of his self penned material is always impressive. And just when you’re looking for more of that, he gives you something else.

DONNIE IRIS King Cool

The album is a box of delights. Avsec and Iris were truly now totally in sync, confidently displaying their powerpop skills …the standard doesn’t drop. King Cool, the album, is peak Donnie Iris.

WAYSTED Vices

It roams the cellars and basements of the down’n’dirty denizens of subterranean rock’n’roll, feeling its way through smoky, sweaty rooms, howling and wailing in among the cranked up electric guitars and thudding drums.

The Best of 2021


REISSUE OF THE YEAR

Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstasy - Super Deluxe Edition

BLACK SABBATH  Technical Ecstasy 


JOE GEESIN

Top Albums

1.  HEAVY WATER  Red Brick City

Saxon’s Biff Byford and son combine to produce a solid and seriously rocking album.

2.   RHAPSODY OF FIRE  Glory For Salvation

Another classic operatic melodic power metal album from these Italian legends. Always uplifting.

3.  DEEP PURPLE  Turning To Crime

However this looked on paper, it is a surprisingly good album with all five members still on top form.

4.  THOR  Alliance  

The former body builder has produced another fine album, featuring members of Raven and Wasp, amongst others.

5.  ANDY McMASTER  Rays On The Water

The former Motors man remains a top songwriter as his second solo album shows.

Top Reissues

1.  BLACK SABBATH  Technical Ecstasy  

BMG have set a new standard in packaging with these Black Sabbath reissues.

2.  EXCALIBUR  The Bitter End

Tail end NWoBHM from Bradford, and an expanded LP, CD, cassette, T-shirt box is the mutt’s nuts.

3.  EMERSON LAKE & PALMER  Fanfare

A reissue of the massive box with plenty of CDs and a book and 3LP and repro tour programmes too; what’s not to love?

PAUL MONKHOUSE

Top Albums

CONSTANT FOLLOWER Neither Is, Nor Ever Was

One of the most beautiful records of the year, no-one does ethereal folk melancholy like Constant Follower. Utterly captivating and with some heart-breaking highs and lows, all human life is here and this is the one album above all others to truly soak in. A magnificent achievement.

PLUSH Plush

Considering their tender age, this stellar debut is frighteningly mature and sets the quartet up for world dominating paths. A mix of Heart and Halestorm but with the ambitions of Led Zeppelin, there seems to be no stopping Moriah Formica, Bella Perron, Brooke Colucci and Ashley Suppa as they bring the next generation of metal and rock heads something to truly believe in.

JOANNA CONNOR  4801 South Indiana Avenue

Queen of the Chicago Blues, Joanna Connor had enjoyed a long career before Joe Bonamassa stumbled upon a YouTube video of the singer and guitarist kicking up an absolute storm in someone’s yard.

Seeing a phenomenal talent, Bonamassa set about doing one of the things he’s become renown for, giving other artists a well-deserved spotlight. The results are nothing less than jaw-dropping, the six-string powerhouse delivering an incendiary set that’s well and truly put her in the public eye.

THE STRANGLERS  Dark Matters

There could be no more fitting tribute to late Stranglers keys player Dave Greenfield than this, their best album in years. Featuring his playing across eight of the eleven tracks, ‘Dark Matter’s is an uplifting and varied piece of work that pays tribute to their fallen comrade and is also the first not to feature the retired Jet Black on drums. Still feisty and classy, The Stranglers continue to lead the way.

JOE BONAMASSA  Time Clocks

The speed at which the constantly busy Mr Bonamassa moves is breathtaking, his status as one of the most fertile and productive artists around today assured. Whilst others may see a drop in quality, ‘Time Clocks’ sees the New Yorker build on the stellar ‘Royal Tea’ from 2020, his mix of rock and blues never finer.

Top Reissues

BLACK SABBATH Technical Ecstasy

Considered by many the point where the wheels were truly starting to come off the juggernaut that was Black Sabbath, this seventh studio album is one where they pushed themselves and their fans to almost breaking point. Introducing keyboards seemed like heresy to some, the Brummies straying away from their leaden and doomy riffing but this was a band unafraid to experiment.

This set includes some fascinating outtakes, a shining Steven Wilson remix and live tracks from the 76/77 world tour. With an accompanying book and poster included, there’s never been a better time to reappraise this much derided classic and see it for the gem it is.

It may not have the heft and focus of their previous stellar six album run of classics, but if it’s fireworks you’re after, this has enough variety and interest to show that Sabbath wanted to push themselves, even if fans didn’t like them to.

MARILLION Fugazi

Derided in some quarters as not having the heart of their debut, Marillion’s second album is the go-to choice of a lot of connoisseurs. From the lithe vitriol of ‘Assassing’, the devastating ‘Jigsaw’ and the huge title track, this album really does have it all and the full box set that includes live recordings and an extensive range of extras on the bluray disc, this is an utter treasure trove.

THE QUIREBOYS A Little of What You Fancy

Technically not a reissue but actually a re-recording of their debut, this shining of new light through old windows is a marvellous update and sounds better than ever. Rumbunctious and full of the party spirit, just add alcohol for the ultimate night of carefree, electrically powered fun. Say it quietly, but sorry to the Stones, The Quireboys are England’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.

Breakthrough Acts 2021

FOXPALMER Fronted by the enigmatic Fern McNulty, Foxpalmer blend gorgeous folk based sounds with some biting guitar work that rocks into their very own, very sophisticated brew.

Full of longing and a barely supressed sensuality, the material cuts to the bone and touches both the soul as well as making you want to move your feet.

With a rare intelligence and craft, the band are destined to fill larger and larger halls, buoyed doubtless by plentiful radio plays as they provide a welcome alternative to some of the soulless mass produced music we’re fed. Your only option is to immerse yourself in their warm and wonderful world.

HAWXX  The new Queens of Noise, HAWXX have exploded onto the scene more and more recently with their deft blend of modern metal blitzing and spot on harmony vocal lushness. Following a blistering set at this year’s Bloodstock Festival and the release of coruscating single ‘Death of Silence’, the quartet seem set for the stratosphere in 2022.

THE HEAT INC  Branded ‘London’s loudest band’, this multi-national quartet inhabit a nether world of smoke, mirrors and amps turned up to eleven. Their heady mix of the Stones, MC5, Nick Cave and Bowie balances a brutally stylish attack with a Gothic darkness that’s anchored with one foot in the past, one in the future.


KAREN CLAYTON

VARIOUS - New Wave of Classic Rock Vol 1

Top Albums

1.    NWOCR Volume 1

What an introduction to new rock music! I felt very much like I’d stepped back to a time when you’d get a treasured compilation album for Christmas (vinyl she says, showing her age) – this one however, is more like all your Christmases and Birthdays rolled into one.

2.    THE TREATMENT  Waiting For Good Luck

The opening track ‘Rat Race’ immediately grabs you with lyrics we can most certainly relate to “we’re in the rat trap, rat race and there ain’t no escape”, well after over a year of a global pandemic, we all need to escape with some good music, and here it is!

3.    SKINNY KNOWLEDGE Don’t Turn Out the Lights

Bournemouth based rockers, Skinny Knowledge deliver a frankly, awesome debut album that oozes attitude with great energy and a message to all those that are shallow or judgmental in our society – take note of the poignant underlying message about mental health, it is ok, not to be ok.

If you are looking for some new, versatile fast paced rock with a sense of familiarity, and a message, then I pretty much guarantee your spirits will be lifted after listening to this impressive 14 track debut.

4.    THE DUST CODA Mojo Skyline

The album has 12 tracks of pure rock and roll.   Put it on, play it loud and repeat! I’m sure I’m educating my neighbours. Outstanding.

5.    THE PETAL FALLS All These Years

Confirming their debut last year was no fluke, this re-purposed album feels like The Petal Falls know exactly who they are, what they’re about, and what their sound is.  Strange, then, when they chose not to release the material originally.

Breakthrough Acts 2021

1.    BASTETTE – featured on NWOCR vol 1, ‘Talk About It’, an EP and supporting the likes of Massive Wagons and Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons; I think it is fair to say that this young band have it all – lyrics, musicality, fabulous performance and presence, catch them before they start playing much bigger venues – you won’t be disappointed.

2.    SKINNY KNOWLEDGE -  An impressive 14 track debut album that has been self-released, equally tight performance and delivery live as I had the privilege of seeing them at Quarantune Rocks in October – what an introduction to this band!

They will appeal to anyone who likes their rock music fast paced, with a ‘message’, but yet still retaining a sense of fun and enthusiasm – what a debut, I’ll be looking forward to what comes next.

3.    HARDWICKE CIRCUS – as the band say, they are the “greatest band you’ve never heard of”, somehow I think that is all about to change given their awesome debut album.

This is a cracking, feel good album that is completely new and yet lulls you into a sense of familiarity, possibly because of some of the influences that have clearly helped developed their unique style.


NIKK GUNNS

L.A. GUNS - Checkered Past

Top Albums

L.A GUNS Checkered Past

Lewis and Guns produce another fine album post reunion

ONE THOUSAND MOTELS Get In Where You Fit In

Really great album from the Rat Scabies and Chris Constantinou project

GILBY CLARKE The Gospel Truth

Well worth the 2 decade wait for another solo effort from the one time GnR man

THE L.A. MAYBE Dirty Damn Tricks

This is a band that I have been talking about for a while now, if you haven’t yet heard them then check this album out

BILLY IDOL The Roadside EP

Stunning return by Mr Idol, looking forward to next year’s live dates

Top Reissues

THE ROLLING STONES A Bigger Bang Live on Copacabana Beach

Plenty of bang for your buck (pun intended). Even if you own the original this is still well worth a look.

Breakthrough Acts of 2021

Even though these have been around for a few years, they both deserve to get more recognition and have done well in 2021 – BAD TOUCH and CORY MARKS





The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 12 December. The session above was a Halloween Special streamed on 31 October 2021. Josh’s next session is Sunday 30 January 2022.

Check out previous videos here: https://www.facebook.com/getreadytorockradio


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 19 December 2021 and celebrates The Best of 2021 based on the GRTR! reviewer selections and popular poll results.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 26 December 2021 and features show highlights from the year (Part 1).

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages: getreadytorockradio.com



Power Plays w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
SMOKING MARTHA Wild & Free (Xelon Entertainment)
TRUE NORTH Fix (Out Of Line Music)
COLLECTED Say When (indie)
ABOUT KINGS Heaven On Down The Highway (indie)
WHALEDOG Leave Me Alone (indie)
LED BY LANTERNS Six Feet Down (indie)
KROOKED TONGUE Freaky Love (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 BITE THE BULLET End Of The Line (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 CRYSTAL BALL Crysteria (Massacre Records)
14:00-16:00 SEAN TAYLOR The Beat Goes On (indie)



Popular (last 30 days)


This entry was posted in ALL POSTS, NEWS, The Best of 2021 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply