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THE HIT LIST: OUR SOUNDS OF '17; Got a new tablet for Christmas and wondering what to download. Former Brit Awards judge PAUL COLE and ELO legend BEV BEVAN offer their albums of the year.


POP Lewis & Leigh - Ghosts can dry your tears at the loss of Civil Wars - Al Lewis and Alva Leigh do those sweet harmonies better.

Ray Davies - Americana Kinkmaster returns for his first solo album in a decade, and it's a wonderfully Stateside almanac.

Rag'n'Bone Man - Human couldn't escape Rory Graham this year, that was OK - the world wanted more that soulful voice.

Ryan Adams - Prisoner sixteenth (count 'em) studio album finds Adams back on top form, and wades into music's mainstream.

Liam Gallagher - As You Were all really wanted to hate loudmouth Liam's official solo set but it's better than anything done before.

Harry Styles - Harry Styles Same goes for One Direction heart-throb Harry, this is a superb solo set, with Sign of the Times a show-stealer.

Gregory Porter - Nat King Cole & Me all knew he could sing and, although not on par with Liquid Spirit, say, this introduced him a new audience.

8. Lewis Watson - Midnight The singer-songwriter's sophomore set is sublime, with Slumber, Run and Maybe We're Home highlights.

9. ELO - Wembley Or Bust The live album, although a tad too perfect, is a reminder of the songwriting genius of Brummie legend Jeff Lynne.

10. Elbow - Little Fictions After an uneven run, Elbow return to communal writing and, while lacking an anthem, this is Magnificent (She Says).

PAUL COLE ROCK Black Country Communion - IV best album Led Zeppelin never made, bursting with bombastic Bonamassa riffs and Bonham Junior drums.

Royal Blood - How Did We Get So Dark? More of the same from the Brighton duo, carrying on from what made their eponymous 2014 set so exciting.

Black Sabbath - The End: Live in Birmingham They came, they saw, they conquered, they called it a day. This was the ever gig, from Brum's Genting Arena. Thomas Wynn & The Believers - Wade Waist Deep dip into Southern rock's darker, bluesier realm, from the Orlando outlaws who deserve much more recognition.

Black Star Riders - Heavy Fire artists also known as Thin Lizzy honour legacy of Brummie Phil Lynott with another set of short, sharp songs.

Halestorm - ReAniMate 3.0 Another set of covers from Lzzy Hale and hard rock heroes, taking in Metallica, Whitesnake and Soundgarden.

Wilko Johnson - I Keep It To Myself Back from the brink, Johnson revisits Dr Feelgood and solo standouts with the Blockheads as backing band.

8. Bush - Black And White Rainbows Forget the embarrassing Voice UK stint, Gavin Rossdale thankfully returns to the day job with his post-grunge band.

9. Rammstein - Paris Yes, another live album, but you can't get too vexed with industrial rockers who nightly boil their keyboard nerd alive. 10. Queens of the Stone Age - Villains Been a while since Joshua Homme rock and rolled like this, perhaps the band's best since Songs For The Deaf.

PAUL COLE COUNTRY & BLUES 1. Lucinda Williams - This Sweet Old World Lucinda re-invents the 1992 album that got away, with a gorgeous guitar masterclass by Stu Mathis and Greg Leisz.

2. Brothers Osborne - Pawn Shop The country-rocking brothers will take the UK by storm when they play their first headline tour in the New Year. 3. Cadillac Three - Legacy More reflective, more thoughtful than their last outing, Jaren Johnston & Co know how to write the perfect rock song.

4. Alison Krauss - Windy City Her first solo album since 1999's Forget About It boasts cover versions of classic songs you may not have heard before.

5. Danny Worsnop - The Long Road Home He used to be heavy metal, but these days homegrown Worsnop mines a rich vein of country roots Americana.

6. Steve Earle - So You Wannabe An Outlaw And about time, too. Earle returns to his country rock and roll best on an album that can rub shoulders with past glories.

7. Jeb Loy Nichols - Country Hustle He's from Wyoming, honed his craft in Texas, and lives in Wales. May explain a great mix of country, reggae and blues.

8. Brad Paisley - Love And War Stadium country rock guitar hero serves up polished pop-infused rock and roll, with Creedence's John Fogerty guesting.

9. Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer - Not Dark Yet What could be better than the voice of an angel? The voices of two of them. Solo songbirds team up for an A-list album.

10. JD McPherson - Undivided Heart & Soul Rockabilly, rock and roll, retro roots - McPherson has them all in the blender with contemporary influences PAUL COLE RETRO 1. Janis Ian - The Essential Double CD collection of songs by one of the best songwriters of the past 40 years. One of the most respected artists in the business.

2. The Band - The Last Waltz Fortieth anniversary release of one of the best live albums of all time, with an incredible cast of guest singers and musicians.

3. The Move - Magnetic Waves Of Sound A collection of my old band The Move's best-known recordings including all ten hit singles plus a DVD of Sixties TV appearances.

4. Joe Cocker - The Life Of Man Best of compilation of much-missed Joe Cocker's hits. His With A Little Help From My Friends easily the best Beatles cover ever. 5. Neil Diamond - 50 Anniversary Superb collection of tracks by the enduring Neil Diamond, one of America's best singersongwriters of the past 50 years.

6. Phil Collins - The Singles Triple-CD boxset of all the best of Phil Collins' solo recordings. He was excellent at the Genting Arena earlier this month.

7. Johnny Cash - The Original Sun Albums A beautifully packaged 8-CD coffee table book of all of The Man In Black's albums recorded at Sam Phillips' Sun Studios.

8. Chris Norman - Don't Knock The Rock A fine new album of self-penned songs by the former Smokie frontman. One of the great voices of the 1970s and still great today. 9. Various Artists - Jon Savage's 1967 Excellent double CD of the best of 1967, including one of The Move's three top five hits of that year - I Can Hear The Grass Grow.

10. Robert Plant - Carry Fire Long-awaited new album from my old friend and his Sensational Space Shifters. They were brilliant at Symphony Hall two weeks ago.

BEV BEVAN | Phil Collins, left, and Robert Plant


| Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss

| Liam Gallagher, left, and Harry Styles

| Black Sabbath, Royal Blood and Queens of the Stone Age all make it in our rock album top 10 for 2017
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 31, 2017
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