Best Of 2020 - Explorer

ExplorerExplorer England

For better (or for worse) here is my review of the last twelve months, music wise I hasten to add as enough has been said and written about the worldwide situation we have all found ourselves in.

Best Of 2020
ARTICLE: Best Of 2020 - Explorer
YEAR: 2020


I think it’s safe to say these past 12 months have been like no other that I've experienced in my 62 years on this planet, but it’s the music we're all here at GloryDazeMusic for and 2020 will go down as not so much a classic year but still a very good one in terms of quality releases.

I did wonder how musicians/bands would cope without playing live or getting together in the studio but they've all really stepped up to the plate with finding ways of getting round certain logistical problems.

After a rather slow start to the year I was beginning to think I’d be struggling to find even 5 releases to make up a best of for this year, but from June onwards it's been quality all the way and I`ve barely been able to keep with it all at times!!

Below you'll find 23...yes 23 albums, EP`s and even singles that have floated my musical boat this year. Hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I've enjoyed listening to them all.

The Albums

Steve Harley - 2020 Uncovered

Steve Harley


A most welcome 'new' album from a veteran of the early 70's. An eclectic mixture of carefully chosen cover versions and reworking of some of his classic songs. No 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)' unfortunately, but that doesn't detract from the quality.

Last Great Dreamers - 2020 Live at the Tivoli

Last Great Dreamers

'Live at the Tivoli'

A Rollicking live album from one of the best bands on the live circuit at the moment...well when they and everyone else can play live that is! Perfectly capturing their exuberant mix of Glam infused Power Pop.

David Bowie - 2020 I

David Bowie

'I'm Only Dancing (Soul Tour '74)'

Initially a Record Store Day release and once again seeing Bowie reinventing himself, this time as a soul crooner. A set list of classic songs drastically rearranged to fit his new, for the time direction. Recorded in 1974 yet still has a vitality and freshness to it.

Dennis DeYoung - 2020 East 26 Vol 1

Dennis DeYoung

'East 26 Vol 1'

Ex Styx frontman returned with, it has to be said a very decent album indeed. I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and diversity. DeYoung has proved that there's still some fuel left in his tank. I look forward to Vol 2 in 2021.

Beretta 76 - 2020 Blue Sky EP

Beretta 76

'Blue Sky EP'

A 5 track EP that really hit the spot. A female fronted band out of Philadelphia with a blend of well crafted Pop/Garage Rock songs that really pack a punch.

Lickerish Quartet - 2020 Threesome Vol 1 EP

The Lickerish Quartet

'Threesome Vol 1 EP'

Quirky Psychedelic Pop from ex Jellyfish members Roger Joseph Manning Jr and Eric Dover. This was the first EP of three, with the second highly anticipated second release landing in January 2021.

Stryper - 2020 Even the Devil Believes


'Even the Devil Believes'

Stryper seemingly go from strength to strength since their reformation some years back. A set of songs that demonstrate they've still got all their chops and Michael Sweet seemingly defying the ageing process with a quite dazzling vocal performance.

Hammered Satin - 2020 Singles

Hammered Satin


Not an album unfortunately, but 3 digital only single releases which were recorded with a new album in mind but shelved due to current climate. Nevertheless, three tracks that once again see the band in all their early 70's Glam glory...great fun!!

Sparks - 2020 A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip


'A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip'

Glorious Art Rock/Pop from the Mael Brothers, and with this and their previous release 'Hippopotamus' they've discovered their Mojo once again..but hey, did they ever lose it?

Dana Countryman - 2020 Come into My Studio

Dana Countryman

'Come into My Studio'

A quite delightful true 60's/70's influenced sunshine pop album from Dana and full to the brim of hummable and ridiculously catchy tunes.

Robby Valentine - 2020 Separate Worlds

Robby Valentine

'Separate Worlds'

A (very) late addition to this list, and once more Robby excels with his unique take on music. Here he mixes together Rock/Pop and Classical with a quite beautiful end result.

Cats in Space - 2020 Atlantis

Cats in Space


Finally a band for the 21st Century that totally understand the AOR/Melodic Rock Genre. With a new vocalist in place the band look set fair for long and hopefully successful run.

The Lemon Twigs - 2020 Songs for the General Public

The Lemon Twigs

'Songs for the General Public'

The penny has finally dropped for me with these guys. Another heavily 70's influenced band with their very strange but compelling take on melodic pop/rock.

Patty Smyth - 2020 It

Patty Smyth

'It's About Time'

A most welcome return from one of rock's best female vocalists. The voice is still there without a doubt, and with a collection of mature material that is beautifully put together.

The Aeon Wanderers - 2020 Fictional Histories

The Aeon Wanderers

'Fictional Histories'

A wonderful, engaging transatlantic effort via Scotland and the USA, and an album that in my review earlier this year I classed as 'Progressive Pop', and I'm sticking with that....gorgeous.

Rich Kid Express - 2020 Bubblegum Radio EP Psychodelic

Rich Kid Express

'Bubblegum Radio EP & Psychodelic'

Rob Richardson, with his RKE project has really floated my boat this year. Firstly with his fabulous 'Bubblegum Radio' EP, and then with a full album that drew on his American hard rock influences of the late 70's and early 80's and putting his own very individual stamp on everything.

Beau Bowen - 2020 The Great Anticlimax

Beau Bowen

'The Great Anticlimax'

An astonishing mix of Prog and Glam that had me spellbound earlier this year. A new single that has just appeared sees Beau taking his music into the realms of the likes of Todd Rundgren and Prince.....I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

Rossall - 2020 The Last Glam In Town


'The Last Glam In Town'

Ex Glitter Band leading man John Rossall has come up with an authentic 70's Glam sounding album that took me right back to those wonderfully carefree days when Glam ruled the airwaves.

The Blam Blams - 2020 Opening Night

The Blam Blams

'Opening Night'

Glam rock for the new millennia. These boys have taken the Art Rock side of Glam and put their own spin on things. A concept album no less that's a captivating listen from start to finish.

Tremendous - 2020 Relentless



A young band from my home town of Birmingham who have delivered a bostin' collection of songs that took on the aesthetics of Glam rock as well a nod to Garage/Power Pop. All in all a stunning album.

Farrington - 2020 Saturday in Nowhereland


'Saturday in Nowhereland'

A late entry into my 'best of' list and boy does this album deliver. Its Power Pop that really rocks, with the influence of Cheap Trick at the heart of everything...what more could I ask for?

Lisa Mychols & Super 8 - 2020 Self Titled

Lisa Mychols & Super 8

'Self Titled'

What more could I ask for you say?...well this!!. My album of the year, but just by a whisker as the Farrington release ran it so close. This is an enchanting, uplifting album of 60's influenced pop music, but with a progressive edginess to it that made it so different from anything else I've heard this year.

In Summary

Well, quite a year all round. My tastes, even with my advanced years keep on evolving and as someone who was weaned on the music of the 60's and 70's I've found it most gratifying that bands /musicians have embraced these productive periods for rock music and have released albums that have not only used these time periods as touchstones but have all put their own very 21st century stamps on them all.

Power Pop and Glam influenced rock has dominated my listening habits for most of the time, but I haven’t neglected the AOR/Melodic Scene altogether, in fact I think I've listened to more in this past year than in previous years but still find it difficult to find something that jumps out at me. Cats In Space are, at least the exception and they really do understand the genre and had me reliving the heady days of the late 70's/early 80's once again, but also the old guard, and I'm thinking Mr DeYoung here, who came up trumps with an album I was rather dreading at first but was very quickly won over.

As I`ve said it's the genres of Power Pop and Glam that have dominated, the latter has always being seen as a genre that was short lived and derided by critics at the time as being shallow and rather vacuous, but I've always felt very differently about it and it has this year produced some of the most thrilling music I've heard in many a year.

Also this year, has seen me finally embracing technology (to a point), and downloaded Spotify....I know, I know , but also having a now weekly intercontinental chat with our very own Dave T (dtabachn) via the wonder of Zoom, and Whats App, where we've chewed the fat over music, and a whole lot more...cheers Dave.

So, I've leave it there, and all It remains for me to say is a very merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year to everyone here at the font of musical knowledge that is GDM...and hey I didn't mention the 'C' Word once!!!

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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Beautiful write up, Malcolm! I think there's a new breed of Glam and Power Pop that is enlightening our lockdown days and you're making us aware of. Beau Bowen, Farrington and the legendary John Rossall among them.

    Our catch ups are being one of the most enjoyable things these days and I treasure those Rich Kid Express CDs you sent me. 'Bubblegum Radio' might be my song of the year.
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    edited December 2020
    Some pretty good choices here . I was curious to what your thoughts were on "Love Over Fear" by Pendragon ? Since you said you've listened to more AORish music this year.
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    I was going to do a `bubbling under` feature but didn't want my review piece to be too long, but the Pendragon album would have been part of that. It was a really good Melodic/Prog album that took me back to the likes of `The Window of Life` and `Masquerade Overture` days.
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    Nice one Malc - some great picks - I'm still out on Lemon Twigs tho.
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