Phil Keaggy, Tony Levin, and Jerry Marotta have been working on their first album “The Bucket List” on and off for 10 years! The title is a good one since this combination is one that I did not expect. Clearly, these 3 musicians wanted to work together. While Levin and Marotta have worked together has Peter Gabriel, adding guitarist Keaggy to the lineup really intrigued me.
Now Keaggy is well known for being a Contemporary Christian artist, but he has done a LOT of instrumental albums through the years. His playing is always sublime, so he fits well with the other 2. The chemistry between all three is undeniable. The 12 songs all have a flow and groove while still sounding like they were improvised on the spot. “The Bucket List” has a live feel to it and while that might not be the case, the minimal overdubs allows all three musicians to have plenty of space.
While I love each track, my favorites are “Midland Crisis,” the expansive “Sometimes We Up,” “Caravan” and the closer “Blue Hawaii.” What I like most is that each track has its own identity. That can be challenging for an all instrumental album which just shows how talented these guys are. Another cool moment is the “duet” between Levin and Marotta on the aptly titled “Where’s Phil.” That leads to “Phil’s On” where Keaggy takes a prominent role.
The bottom line is it’s rare to find a set of world class musicians that gel this well on their first outing. Levin has shown that he can fit anywhere. Marotta is a vastly underrated drummer who never overplays and is more of a percussionist than traditional drummer. And then there’s Keaggy who really knows how to construct a melody and serve the song. “The Bucket List” is essential listening for anyone who is fan of great music.
1. Sometimes 11
3. Midland Crisis
4. Sometimes We Up
5. Stella Luna
6. Steely Funk
7. Where’s Phil
8. Phil’s On
10. Carved in Stone
11. Good Stuff
12. Blue Hawaii
Release Date: January 11, 2019
With the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” doing so well and that I did a “Freddie fix” last month on the Facebook page, it seemed only natural to rank Queen’s 15 studio albums. This was at times very easy and other times not so much. I have a feeling it will surprise people!
15. Flash Gordon
While I do like the Flash Gordon soundtrack a lot, I rarely listen to it. It’s good for what it is though.
14. Made in Heaven
Along the same lines, this album was essentially thrown together with material the band pieced together when Freddie was on his death bed. It’s a nice gift from the grave but the songs aren’t always that strong. The version of “Too Much Love Will Kill You” is amazing, taking on a new meaning with Freddie singing it.
13. A Kind of Magic
This album has some really great songs on it…but others that just do nothing for me. For some reason, I just never connected with this album. It can move up a couple of slots though as the 2 albums ranked higher can definitely slip.
12. Hot Space
The much maligned “Hot Space” doesn’t deserve all of the shit that it gets. Yes there are songs that SUCK. But there are some awesome songs on it as well. “Under Pressure” is one of my favorites, also “Las Palabras de Amor,” “Put Out the Fire,” “Calling All Girls” and “Action This Day” are great songs too. This album can fall a couple of spots for me though.
11. The Miracle
“The Miracle” is another tough album for me. “I Want it All” is one of my all time favorites which is really the main reason it is at #11. Without that song, the album would be at or near the bottom. It doesn’t rank any higher than this.
I like their debut album but I’ve never loved it. It’s not GRAND enough and I never really connected with it. “Keep Yourself Alive” is still my favorite on this album however “Son and Daughter” is a very underrated track.
9. The Game
Yes I am sick of “Another One Bites the Dust.” Who isn’t? But songs like “Save Me,” “Sail Away Sweet Sister,” “Play the Game” and “Need Your Loving Tonight” are all awesome songs. I think this one is a solid right at 9 for me.
8. A Day at the Races
Now we are getting into my favorites. This album is definitely my 8th favorite. A very good album all the way through, very consistent but no great moments for me. “Someone to Love” is as close to that as it gets for me.
7. Sheer Heart Attack
These two are interchangeable. Each have a ton of great songs but each have a little bit of filler here and there. Each have some favorite songs on them. Not sure why Jazz is higher but whatever!
5. The Works
I LOVE this album. It kills me to have it sitting at #5. I think it’s about one song short of being perfect. Still “Hammer to Fall” is fucking amazing and “Radio GAGA” deserves to be the classic that it is. “Is this the World We Created…?” is a personal favorite.
4. A Night at the Opera
3. Queen II
I know people will just assume “A Night at the Opera” is #1. It can move up a slot but I do think “Queen II” is better. To me these are very similar albums. They both are very progressive and grand. The songs are all really great.
Only one bad song on this album, otherwise it is the perfect album. I love cats but still. This is how you end a career. “The Show Must Go On” is such an incredible song. The title track is epic. So many many great songs!
1. News of the World
“Innuendo” would be an easy top pick if it wasn’t for this album. This was the album that I wore out as a kid. Every song, every note. It has a special place in my heart so I suppose that is a bias. But that happens to us all. “Spread Your Wings” is my favorite Queen song too.
That’s my list! Tell me how wrong I am and give me your list!