Album of the Year

Album of the Year
Ry Cooder, The Prodigal SonRy Cooder, The Prodigal Son
Awarded in 2018
Ry Cooder has often turned back in time to old music as a way of making sense of the present. For The Prodigal Son, he resurrected and embellished vintage gospel tunes from the likes of Blind Willie Johnson, the Stanley Brothers, and Blind Roosevelt Graves of the Mississippi Jook Band to create a musical prayer for sanity amidst economic, political, and cultural collapse. And it just may be one of his best albums ever, winning the VG Readers’ Choice Album of the Year for 2018. Find all the details in the 2018 VG Readers’ Choice Awards.
Rolling Stones, Blue & LonesomeRolling Stones, Blue & Lonesome
Awarded in 2017
Much was made about how the Rolling Stones required just three days in the studio to make their latest album, Blue & Lonesome. Find all the details in the 2017 VG Readers’ Choice Awards.
Eric Clapton, I Still DoEric Clapton, I Still Do
Awarded in 2016
Emerging in a year that saw genuine, legit efforts issued by fellow legends Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana along with contemporary heavyweights like Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton’s 23rd solo album stands out in part due to his reconnection with famed producer Glyn Johns (whose resumé includes the Stones and Zeppelin in the heyday, and Clapton on Slowhand in 1977). Nearly four decades on, they created sounds and songs that adoring fans simply ate up. Find all the details in the 2016 VG Readers’ Choice Awards.
Jeff Beck, Live+Live+, Jeff Beck
Awarded in 2015
In his review (August ’15) of Jeff Beck’s latest recorded offering, VG’s Pete Prown cited the odd – but quite welcome – shift in the performer’s modus operandi.

“After years of on and off seclusion, Beck miraculously morphed into a road warrior this past decade,” Prown remarked. “The preponderance of song-oriented material is noteworthy here – unusual for a guy who staked out his career as a fusion instrumentalist.” Find all the details in the 2015 VG Readers’ Choice Awards.

Eric ClaptonThe Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton and Friends
Awarded in 2014
Throughout his solo career, “Slowhand” has been influenced by the relaxed songs and style of J.J. Cale, so a tribute like this is fitting. Using his regular backing band, Clapton invited like-minded friends including Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, and Willie Nelson to cover Cale tunes. And while each lends a personal stamp, none try to overshoot the intent of the project or EC’s guiding hand. Find all the details in the 2014 VG Readers’ Choice Awards.
Mark KnopflerPrivateering, Mark Knopfler
Awarded in 2013
In his January ’13 review of the album, VG music editor Michael Dregni focused on Mark Knopfler’s career-long penchant for writing song “stories”; tales of people often sad, lost, or desperate, each highlighted by his incredible ability to relay varying musical (and guitar) styles. And even on a resume that includes truly stellar work as both songwriter and guitarist, this album stands out not only for the quality of the material, but – as his first double-disc studio recording – the quantity. Find all the details in the VG Hall Of Fame’s Class of 2013.
Analog Man Joe WalshAnalog Man, Joe Walsh
Awarded in 2012
The first album in 20 years from the venerable guitar “unhero,” VG’s own John Heidt said it “makes you feel right at home from the first cut through the last. From the majestic chord changes and slide work in ‘Family,’ the celebration of life (and sobriety) of ‘One Day At A Time,’ and the fun reprise that is ‘Funk 50,’ the disc contains some of Walsh’s finest writing and singing since his days [in the] James Gang.” Find all the details in the VG Hall Of Fame’s Class of 2012.

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