jeff beck

Papooz on Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" | Hooked

The French rockers detail how they appreciate the original '50s classic, but Jeff Beck's stirring rendition is an instrumental apex.

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Our eclectic staff mourns and celebrates a year of unsurpassed heaviness with a look back at its music highlights—and forward to the healing tunes of 2017.

For months now—in retrospect, perhaps since the untimely passing of the inimitable David Bowie in early January—much has been made of 2016 being the most tragic and heartbreaking in recent memory. We’ve lost more than the usual number of entertainers who helped mold and bring light to our lives—musicians, actors, and artists of all sorts who came to define movements and eras … and others who felt like they had, at least in our own little worlds. We saw Prince, Scotty Moore, Merle Haggard, Sir George Martin, Glenn Frey, and Lonnie Mack fall during the first six months alone.

And yet, 2016 was still a year of musical magic. From the bittersweet triumph of Bowie’s critically acclaimed and presciently morbid final masterpiece to shining gems buried in the rubble of the year’s avalanche of obituaries.

So as we bring the year to a close and look forward with high hopes to a better 2017, the staff of Premier Guitar has come together to celebrate 2016’s treasures. If you’re new to PG, then you’ll see that the music heralded by our eclectic bunch covers a lot of territory, whereas faithful fans are likely here precisely because of this.

Whichever it is, welcome, friends. May your New Year be bright, safe, and full of amazing music.

Oh—and don’t forget to share your own favorites in the comments section!

John Bohlinger—Nashville Correspondent


Sturgill Simpson
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

Psychedelic pedal steel, trippy arrangements, Memphis-like horns, and unexplained noises all await like sonic Easter eggs hiding throughout Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Most country songwriters try to express relatable thoughts of the average working-class stiff. Simpson expresses the thoughts we keep to ourselves. And check out Simpson’s cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom”—it’s spacey, creepy, inscrutable. Cobain would probably love it … or hate it.



David Bowie
Blackstar

Bowie released his 25th album quietly, with no fanfare, on January 8th—his 69th birthday. Two days later, Bowie pulled the biggest shock of is 50-year career by privately dying of liver cancer. Blackstar was his final gift to the universe. Recording an album is a lot of work, even when everything is going right. One has to imagine that spending his final days working on an album while losing a battle to cancer had to have been incredibly difficult. You can hear the tension, fear, and beauty in all of the tracks, but the title cut is absolutely scary. Listen to it, and you’ll feel trapped in or locked out.

Most-anticipated 2017 releases: Word has it Chris Stapleton is working on another with producer Dave Cobb, and I can’t wait to see what these two come up with.

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The Strat master says he wants to move past “guitar nerd” albums, but his latest effort is still brimming with chops, funky rhythms, and untouchable mystique.

Jeff Beck
Loud Hailer
Atco Records

One of the more frustrating aspects of carrying around the genius gene is how unpredictable and fleeting it can be. In Jeff Beck’s case, that gene has moved from raw, savage blues-rock to fusion and, as 1999’s Who Else proved, even a bit of electronica. With Loud Hailer, Beck is less worried about crossing something off his stylistic bucket list and more interested in the sound and feeling of being part of a band.

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