25. THE TRILL IS GONE-Amerigo Gazaway (BB King vs. UGK and others)
It hardly seems fair to rate this album above others. After all, producer Amerigo Gazaway (who has produced one of these extraordinary mash albums every year) gets to take the best of BB King and the best of rappers like Bun B and Bubba Sparxxx—so he’s already got days of material to cull through, whereas other artists have to create something brand new. But isn’t that what Gazaway does? These are songs, these are artists, who normally don’t mix, and the concept doesn’t even sound like it would work. But it does.
24. CASSANDRA JENKINS-Spirit (Van Morrison cover) and Wild World (Cat Stevens cover)
Covering Van Morrison is ballsy enough. Covering a song he did in his prime, when his vocal powers where unmatched, takes even more guts. But covering a song from The Common One, the album Wiki credits with “presaging New Age music,” and which most of his fans just simply didn’t get is simply insane. And yet, Cassandra Jenkins succeeded. Hell, she thrived. She’s the best part of damn fine covers anthology, Decoration Day Volume 4. But it wasn’t enough for her to kick ass with one cover, she had to go cover Cat Stevens as well. What an extraordinary artist!
23. BLITZEN TRAPPER-Live Harvest (Neil Young covers album) and Across This Land
So it wasn’t just Ryan Adams that covered an album this year. Indie alt-country superstars Blitzen Trapper did it, too, with Across This Land—a terrific collection of songs about songs, a love letter to The Eagles, Bob Seger, and all the great, lasting country rock songs of the 1970s. But before they delivered that record, we got their take on the best album by most one of the best singer-songwriters of all time. It was a “Record Store Day” release, so you’ll have trouble finding actual copies. But enjoy this cut, made available on Soundcloud.
22. PUSHA T-Untouchable
Clipse were one of those really underrated rap teams. Lyrically, they were so far beyond the gangsta/dope slinging genre. And since they broke up, Malice and Pusha T have continued to show the world that they belong in your top 10. So a new Pusha T single is always welcome.