Leon Bridges

Looking back on 2015 there are numerous Epiphone-inspired albums that are on everyone’s Top 10 lists —including ours—like Leon Bridges, Natalie Prass, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Wilco, and Alabama ShakesGary Clark Jr. and Bring Me the Horizon solidified their places as the superstars of tomorrow and The Libertines returned with Anthems for Doomed Youth.

Don’t forget to check out Los Lobos' Gates of Gold.  The band has been going 40 years strong and is still—despite being ignored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year—without peer on the road where great rock n’ roll really happens. These days, even constant touring doesn’t seem to be enough to stay in the public eye and a lot of these great records (including Keith Richards’ first solo album in two decades) disappeared as quickly as they arrived.  The music business today—or the record business at least—is as scattered as it was in the late 20s in the 78 era where you’d come across records by Caruso, Blind Lemon Jefferson, or Dock Boggs but never in the same place or in the same condition. 

If there was an over-riding theme to the music year of 2015, finding great music has once again become a bit of a scavenger hunt.  No label—or publicist—effectively got their message across.  The music business is once again in the hands of the fans.  And as some of the 60s-70s era legends gradually retire from the road, it’s hard to imagine any one group having the impact of many of the artists whose box sets this year were among the most challenging and satisfying releases.

The new Jerry Lee Lewis Sun Records box by Bear Family updates an earlier Charley Box from the 80s and includes every peep Jerry Lee made at the Sun Studios in Memphis—both the original Sun studio on Union and Sam Phillips' more modern studios in Memphis and Nashville (his favorite). Check out Peter Guralnick’s biography of Sam Phillips which includes Sam’s description of watching The Howlin’ Wolf recording at Sun for the first time. Lou Reed fans wills dig the Velvet Underground reissues of “Loaded” including early live cuts at Marty Balin's club in San Francisco as well as restored versions of classics “Rock And Roll” and “Sweet Jane.”

Jack Casady helped compile Hot Tuna’s In A Can which covers the band’s original classic albums. Not to be missed.  The Beatles re-released 1 which features the Fab’s restored videos as well as some striking remixes by Giles Martin who rightfully felt that the original mono and stereo versions have been restored enough.  Martin’s thoughtful mixes are subtle but what’s not subtle is the punch of Ringo and Paul’s rhythm section.  If you can try to enjoy the hits one more time, you’ll be rewarded with some remarkable sound.  The E Street Band’s Garry Tallent—a big Epi fan himself whose debut solo album comes out next year—is in stellar form on The Boss’s box set for The River.

Many of our favorite Epiphone artists spent their year on the road like Machine Head, Frank Iero, Joe Bonamassa, KISS, and The Mahones and you can be sure that is one thing about Rock and Roll that will not change.  Supporting live music is still the best way to get to know your favorite musicians.

And even in this era of heavily publicized and pinched rhetoric, there’s still room for real surprises like Epiphone fan Bob Wood, who at 81 became a web sensation when he walked into one of Nashville’s fine music stores with his Epiphone and proceeded to slay the young bearded people behind the countertop with a scorching version of "Besame Mucho."  Bob came by the House of Stathopoulo and did the same thing.  Look for our exclusive interview soon.  We already know of a few killer albums coming in 2016. Don’t touch that dial.