Top 10 Country Albums of the Decade (2001-2010)

December 31, 2010 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  73 Comments

About this time last year, every website and periodical that regularly does these type of things put out their “Best of the Decade” lists. Problem is, they were all wrong. All of them. And not just for country music. For ALL of music, and for movies, TV shows, whatever. Why? No, not because I’m a raging culture snob, because officially the decade does not end until tonight.

It’s true. Google it. A decade is 10 years. There was no 0 AD, there was 1 BC and then 1AD, and if you count up from there, it means THIS is the end of the decade. So when Nostradamus said that in the year of the millennium the man in the blue turban from the house of Sauud would send missiles into The New City and start a great war, he was right! 2001. Except the blue turban part, but that was just some crazy crap to throw us off the scent, because he knew people would focus on the easy to understand qualifiers, because after all, humans are intellectually lazy. Hence all the decade ending lists released prematurely.

But the lovable, huggable Triggerman will not wrong you like that my friends, so I have compiled my own decade list.

Please take into consideration a couple of factors before reading and commenting: 1) This does not include any of the albums for Album of the Year for 2010. You can go ahead and assume that whoever wins that, would be included in this list. And this has been such a great year, that if the decade list was expanded to 14, they would all be there, but since they are so young and their significance uncertain, I think it would be unfair to include them. 2) When I say “Albums of the Decade” I don’t just mean the ones I enjoyed the most. MANY factors play into this, including impact, significance, popularity, accessibility, originality, and influence.

Click on the album titles for previews.

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10 – Midnight At The Movies (2009) – Justin Townes Earle

From my 2009 Album of the year Review– “Justin Townes Earle has done an awesome thing with this album; he has figured out a way to unite all the displaced elements that make up the alternative to mainstream Nashville country, while still staying somewhat accessible to the mainstream folks as well. You might even catch the bluegrass folks nodding their head while listening to it. Folkies like it, and there’s a few tunes blues people can get into. This isn’t just the REAL country album of the year, it is the “Alt-country” album of the year and the “Americana” album of the year.”

9 – Fire & Hail (2008) – .357 String Band

From my 2008 Album of the Year – “In a time when hippie newgrass pseudo folk bands control the genre, this album is straight forward REAL bluegrass. The .357 String Band has done to bluegrass what Hank III did for country. These are top notch musicians and excellent songwriters in the essence of their craft. This album is also the emergence of Joe Huber as one of the best bluegrass songwriters I’ve heard. I put these boys up with the greats of bluegrass music.”

8 – That Lonesome Song (2008) – Jamey Johnson

Sonically, lyrically, and stylistically, this was not a breakthrough album. What is remarkable about it is that an ugly man that writes his own songs and has a fairly traditional sound was able to break through all the protocols of the pop country world and gain airplay, attention, and awards from the country music oligarchy. Maybe Jamey’s success is Music Row’s way of pacifying the traditionalists. Maybe the jokes on them, as Jamey was able to parley the influence of writing a joke song about women’s backsides into a formidable solo career. Either way, and however you feel about his music, it would be unjust, and render this list a sham, if it was not included here. And this is the right pick above the double disk The Guitar Song, whose good tracks are buried under so much chaff that it renders the whole project mild.

7 – Home – The Dixie Chicks

That’s right. Don’t rub your eyes. The Dixie Chick have made this list, and this is right where they belong. I’ll spare you my rant about how The Dixie Chicks are honorary Outlaws by fighting for creative control from their label Sony and built up tons of street cred for 8 years as a bluegrass band. And I would never recommend anyone get to excited about their first two big releases beyond the song “Wide Open Spaces” or their “comeback” album Taking The Long Way, which in my opinion was a travesty and Rick Rubin’s worst work to date. But Home is a home run, and a remarkably written and produced album with serious taste and attention to traditionalist values and tones. Tight three part harmonies, and excellent songwriting complimented by beautiful instrumentation makes this one of the best albums of the decade hands down, regardless of what their politics are. In fact maybe this album is too good for the mainstream. Maybe that’s the reason people turned on them, not some innocuous comments about Bush. If you won’t listen to this music or any other because of politics that are not even conveyed in these songs, you’re a fool. Because Home is as good as it gets for females writing, playing, and controlling their own music. Never understood their fashion sense though.

6 – Live in London (2002) – Dale Watson

This is it folks, Dale comes out on stage and starts slinging guitars, cutting classics, and speaking the truth. Before Dale was the hometown boy and house band for Austin, he was pissed off and willing to sing about it. “Real Country Song” “Nashville Rash” and “Country My Ass” can all be found here, but this isn’t all pissing and moaning. Songs like “Ain’t That Livin'” showed off Dale’s superlative voice and suave style. This remains the best album in Dale’s collection, and one of the best of the decade.

5- Lovesick, Broke, & Driftin’ (2002) – Hank Williams III

Without question, BR549 and Wayne “The Train” Hancock created the neo-traditionalist movement in the mid 90’s and will always be the kings of it, but Hank III was the one to carry it into the oughts and introduce it to a brand new crop of fans. After his first album, III was unleashed and able to showcase his own songwriting, heavily influenced by “The Train” and his grandfather, but still all his own. His voice was wickedly pure with a heart wrenching yodel and commanding range. The songwriting was simple, but powerful. This is a masterpiece, and essential title of the neo-traditionalist era.

4- Van Lear Rose (2004) – Loretta Lynn

The style and grace of a queen of country music was never so well refined as it was in this album. Why is country always so quick to throw out the old and roll in the new? Loretta Lynn along with producer Jack White proved the folly of Music Row’s ways with a powerful performance that will stand the test of time and side by side comparisons with any of Loretta’s other works, or Jack’s for that matter. This also put Jack White on the radar as a force in the greater music landscape, much beyond just The White Stripes world.

3 – Cockadoodledon’t (2003) – Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers

This is the album that busted out of the burgeoning music scene on lower Broadway in Nashville and showed the world what kind of mayhem could be created by mixing country, blues, and punk music together without compromising taste and soul. This is the one. It is the album which acts as a guidepost to the eclectic, yet intuitive and inter-related mix that you will find being covered on Saving Country Music: honest to goodness appreciation to the roots of American music, with a punk attitude and approach. And Joe Buck played every note on this one my friends.

2 – The Man Comes Around (2002) – Johnny Cash

Good albums are fun to listen to. Great albums change lives. This album, and the others in the American Recordings series, have literally saved people lives, and in many different ways, including Johnny Cash’s. I feel like an idiot sitting here right now trying to convey to you in words the impact of this album, and in all likelihood it is a redundant pursuit, because unless you have been stuck in a mine shaft for the last 8 years, you know first hand how important this album is, even if you don’t consider yourself a connoisseur of country music. This album is Johnny Cash immortalized. Nuff said. I’m sure some will have a different favorite from the American collection, but let this 2nd spot of the decade be filled with whichever Johnny Cash American album you wish. But with the cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt” and songs like “Personal Jesus” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” this one is hard to top.

We miss you Johnny.

1 – Straight to Hell (2005) – Hank Williams III

This album isn’t our generations Red Headed Stranger. It isn’t out generation’s Honky Tonk Heroes. It is both. It is the album that both was a novel concept, a breakthrough sonically and lyrically, AND had a massive impact on the business side of music, for artists winning control of their music and inspiring and showing artists how to do it themselves. Look at this picture. They knew what they were doing. They were putting the power of music back into the hands of the artists.

David had slayed Goliath. The deposed son of country music royalty had taken on a major Nashville label, and won, and all while being one of the first to successfully bridge the energy and approach of punk and heavy metal music with traditional country, all while keeping the music solidly country in nature. In future albums III might have gone a little too far, but in this one, the mix was right. And then with the non-linear 2nd disc, he re-wrote the book on album making again. It was the first album to be put out through the CMA with a Parental Advisory sticker. It was the first to ever be recorded outside of a traditional studio setting. Of course only a select few were paying attention, but it broke through many barriers that to this day have changed music in significant ways, sonically AND behind the scenes, and will remain the standard bearer for the hard-edged, drug and obscenity-infused music that would create and underground movement for country music and dominate it sonically for the second half of the decade.

The approach also had wide-ranging impacts outside of underground country and country music in general, to rock music and punk and heavy metal, inspiring thousands of rock kids to put down their electric guitars and AC/DC records, and pick up banjos and Johnny Cash records. The impact on mainstream music may have not been seen, but it was felt, and just like all great albums, it’s legacy will grow and be more appreciated and understood as the future unfolds.

73 Comments to “Top 10 Country Albums of the Decade (2001-2010)”

  • All good choices…and, yes, the Dixie Chicks–I have a ton of appreciation for them as musicians. Its to bad they didn’t survive the controversy(yes, I know they did more records–but, the spirit was gone between them)…..I don’t own any of their records–but, they did good work.

    While I probably would have chosen some others, I can’t say any of these don’t belong here–so, its really just a taste thing. The argument can be made for any of these.

    Cheers, and happy new decade.

    • Im curious what your list would be.

      • hmmm…I’d have to think really hard…and I’d probably give myself a hell of a headache too..

  • With respect to Fire and Hail I truly believe Ghost Town should be in its place it.. It is my opinion that was the groundbreaking album for it’s genre/sound/style and is the album I think of when I hear of the.357 String Band. I remember listening to it after Jayke sent it to me for the show and that all I did.. Listened, Listened, Listened and listened some more because it absolutely blew me away.

    • I Like Ghost Town too, but it is sloppy, and the songwriting and musicianship is inconsistent. When I heard it, I could see that this band had a tremendous amount of potential, that is why Fire & Hail was my most anticipated album of 2008 as well. But they didn’t have their feet under them yet with Ghost Town. And if I took Ghost Town and tried to use it to sell someone on the band, I would be a little embarrassed with the obvious flubs in the recording and the immature songwriting at times. There’s some excellent songs on Ghost Town, but Fire & Hail in my opinion is a much more superior project. And I think .357 would agree with me.

      • You’re just saying that because Rachel is on that album… I just can’t agree with you on this one. Which album did you hear first?

        • I’m with Misfit on this one. I love Fire & Hail, it’s great, but I also prefer Ghost Town.

        • Ghost Town.

          When I interviewed .357 about a year and a half ago, they all seemed to agree that Ghost Town was not their best effort.

          Derek: “Like every band our first album we spent the two years after post putting it out hearing every little thing wrong with it that probably most people didn’t hear. So we decided as individuals and as a band that everything we did wrong with the first album, we won’t have to deal with those mistakes again, we’ll make sure we get it right this time. We were mentally prepared to do this over and over until they were right instead of just pretty good.”

          I heard a lot of those problems he is referring to, and still do. They’re really freshmen problems that should have been resolved. I still love the album, but Fire & Hail is where they went the extra mile to get it perfect, and I think their songwriting improved.

          • Thats great and all and dont take this the wrong way but their opinion doesnt sway my opinion at all. A close friend of mine who is also a musician once told me that he never wants to make the “perfect” album because at that point where do you go from there as a musician? Point being musicians will most always find flaws in their own work. Ghost Town was my introduction to .357 in 2007 and when an album hits me the way that one did, it goes into a whole different category for me. For me it was groundbreaking, it was original and it was fantatstic. I have introduced many of friends to that album and my typical response is : “Holy Sh*$”. At first listen it blows you away. Hank III seems partial to STH but to be honest I think Lovesick Broke & Driftin’ is my favorite work of his even though I believe STH was more significant. My point is the artists opinion of their album can be totally different from the listeners or fans and neither is right or wrong. Whereas Fire and Hail was an excellent album it wasn’t groundbreaking for me as I had already heard it. Just my 2 cents.. :)

          • I agree with you Triggerman. Right now I prefer “Ghost Town”, because I haven’t listened to it as much. But for album of the decade it has to be “Fire & Hail”.

  • Agree 100% with number 1. The album got me “back into” country music. I had no ‘net at the time, so I had no idea of the amazing talents that were out there. I was away doing classes in Southern Ohio, and saw this at a record shop. Bought it because it was Hank 3.

    That drive back to where I was staying was a turning point in my musical life. I was convinced that there had to be good stuff out there hidden.

    The things I’ve discovered since then are all due to going Straight to Hell.

  • Triggerman, we’ve gotten to know each other over the last year & as much as I hate to say it….Your list is perfect! The most shocking one to me was Van Leir Rose. I love the album but it’s so easly over looked. Jamey Johnson is right where I’d put him & with the album I’d include.

    • It’s easily overlooked, and so is Jack White’s contribution to it. It was his work on this album that made him the hottest name in album production in any genre. He’s got an album coming out with Wanda Jackson on Jan. 25th. When Bob Dylan got a hold of some unfinished Hank Williams songs, Jack White was the first one he called to collaborate on them. (Still don’t have any word about that project).

      • Both sound amazing. Another project I’m awaiting your take on is Ghost Brothers Of Darkland County. T-Bone Burnet (not sure I spelled his last name right) is producing an album based on the musical writen by Stephen King & John Mellencamp. Kris Kristopherson, Emmylou Harris, Sherill Crow, Elvis Costello & many others will have rolls with Stephen King as narator. It’s been said the album will be like an old radio show.

        • P.S. There is no release date yet, but Stephen King’s personal secratery said things are starting to come together behind the scenes, but she can’t release any details yet.

      • Hopefully Stephen King’s collaboration isn’t as bad as it was with Shooter Jennings.

  • Good list. I actually enjoy Taking the Long Way although Home is there best. Also, am with you on Fire and Hail. It is a much more put together and solid release than Ghost Town.

    • This is the problem I have with Taking The Long Way: The Dixie Chicks made their name on writing their own songs and doing it their own way. So they hook up with a heavy handed producer and a slew of professional songwriters who tried to repackage them for a more mainstream audience where they would be insulated from all the rednecks bitching about them. Nothing was wrong with their sound. “Home” was the album they had out when all that went down. I thought that “I’m Not Ready To Make Nice” song was terrible, and played right into their critic’s hands. Just do what you do best, which is play music and write songs. Don’t sing someone else’s song formulated to help remake your image, and that makes you come across as bitter and bitchy. Do what you do, and if they still don’t like you, screw ‘em.

      • I hear where you are coming from. But, I don’t agree with them repackaging themselves. Country Radio and fans turned there back on them 100%, and I think they did there best to stay rootsy, but to also try to stay away from the corporate country style. Did you see the documentary on them by chance? “Shut up and Sing”. That movie gave me a lot of respect for that album. My only complaint is the song lengths. Every song is dragged, but I do enjoy the record. Actually, I dig all there albums, I have no shame, haha.

  • Great list, Triggerman. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Great job as always.

  • Great list Triggerman, I love this kind of stuff. Only a couple of these albums missing from my collection. “Straight to Hell” was the album that got me into country music. When I first heard it I thought it was a joke, someone making fun of country music. But then I learned there really WAS a Hank Williams III. From there I checked out his grandpa and dad, Waylon, and the rest is history.

    • This is exactly why STH is so significant.. ! It would be interesting to see where the genre would be without that album.. I have heard my share of negativity about III from musicians in this genre but I really think many should be thanking him.

    • You’d be surprised. I’ve gotten a LOT of people into this kind of music through “Straight to Hell” AND “Damn Right Rebel Proud”. It’s amazing.

  • William Elliott Whitmore’s “Song Of The Blackbird”.

    • Id go as far to say any album by Whitmore. He is severely underappreciated unfortunately.. He’s another artist I was floored by when I first heard him..

      • William is a great example of a guy who I love what he does, but you have to factor in the significance of it overall in music. I’m not saying he is not significant, I’m just saying most of the albums on the list are more significant, even though I may not like the music as much. His day may be coming. He just needs to keep doing what he does.

        • I am a bit of a metalhead and “Song Of The Blackbird” was mentioned in two metal mags (Decibel, and Terrorizer) the year it came out. One Terrorizer scribe listed it on the fringe of his year-end list… I love all of his stuff but I think the vibe of that album in particular was so dark and beautiful at the same time that it transcended all genres of music. I was lucky enough to catch him opening up for The Saviours and Red Sparrowes at El Corazon in Seattle while touring for that album and it was truly unbelievable how much respect he got from an audience full of out-right headbangers.

          This said I can’t argue too much with your list, though I only have in their entirety 3 of the albums on it (The Hank’s and Cash). I do love everything I have heard off JTE, …Shack Shaker’s, and Dale Watson’s discs. The other stuff, I guess I owe them more of a chance…

          Another album I have always loved, although the production is WAY too clean is Chris Knight’s “Pretty Good Guy”. The song ‘Down The River” is in my opinion, without question one of the decade’s greatest.

          • One big strength for William Elliot Whitmore is that he can appeal to so many different people. You’re right, the darkness of his music speaks to a lot of people, but since stripped down it is still kind of folk/Americana, it is not too hard edged to drive those people away.

            I appreciate Chris Knight’s songwriting.

  • Where is number 6?

    • I see now. Two number 8s.

      • Fixed, thanks. That was weird. I don’t think that was like that before.

  • I think Scott H. Biram’s Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever should be on there. I’m also surprised maybe Dolly wasn’t on the list, versus The Dixie Chicks. The glorious Ms Parton is the original dixie chick! I loved that trio of bluegrass albums she released, her bluegrass version of Stairway to Heaven is gorgeous. LL’s Van Lear Rose is amazing. Some trivial for you: I own the actual shoes she was wearing on the cover of that album. They’re tiny, hideous little cream satin pumps with glitter on them. I had a proverbial ugly stepsister moment as I attempted to shove one of my hooves into one of them. They’re autographed too :) Happy New Year from the future loveable huggable Triggerman!

    • So wait a second. You have the actual shoes that Loretta actually wore when being photographed for the actual album cover. And autographed.

      And did we ever determine if Justin Townes Earle wrote Christchurch Woman about you? I don’t want to be the only one around here that somebody famous wrote a song about.

      And what is up with vanishing for 6 weeks just to come back and brag about your eBay find?

      Not classy.

      • Dude, it’s like I have been abducted by aliens for the past 6 weeks and I just woke up at my dining room table surrounded by dishes and logged onto Yeah, Loretta’s actual shoes! I got them on an online CMT charity auction a few years back. I’ll take a photo of them and post it on your facebook page when I get a mo. Of course Justin wrote that song about me. Come on, he’s only human. Even though I live in Auckland it’s obvious he just changed a few details to protect the innocent and not upset the fiance. I think you should be careful about upsetting Taylor further as Jake has big muscles and might give you a knuckle sandwich!

        • PS I also own a genuine piece of green shagpile from The Jungle Room at Graceland and David Grohl’s drumstick.

    • Yeah, “Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever” was a beast! “Sinkin’ Down”, “Still Drunk…”, and “Draggin’ Down The Line” are all-time classic songs. The rest of that album is excellent as well but the greatness of the best tunes makes the others seem average at times… And the Leadbelly cover is phenomenol as well!

      • I could see swapping out “Somethings Wrong/ Lost Forever” with maybe the 9th or 10th spot. I thought about it. It’s a judgment call and if the list expanded to 15 it would probably be there.

  • triggerman….you got this completely right..except the dixie chicks lol…but yes straight to hell #1…love the cash and jamey johnson and .357!!! ..great picks

  • I’m drunk right now. i had to write that three times. but i like what see. can barely see. so i will comment on this later.

  • maybe i am crushed right no,gassed… happynew year…. and srouoisly….but… I agree STH by hankIII was great.
    But when you take a step back. The only album. not the BEST album… but the only one that appears on this website and on mainstream, and the only won that can swing dicks with you, is Jamey. This list is good… I love them all…. but there is only guy right now that can make a difference. Not that it is good… but you wanna see if difference, who do you look for? Jamey… thats it…thats not swinging from his dick Owen…thats a fact.

    • I didn’t mean swing dicks…like swing in a negative way. I miss-typed that. I meant the only album to really make some noise with this site and sites and CMT is Jamey.

      Owen tell me how I am fag….

      • sounds like you got an unhealthy obsession with Owen there. fuckin likker got the upper hand maybe, turned you into more of a blabbering fuckin idiot than usual. you sound like fool all over this page.fuck Jamey Johnson(musically not literally).Happy fuckin new year.

  • Cash…. no disrespect, but you take a step back, and the movie, made the noise.

    Is that a bad thing… not sure. But there is cash in potential on that like toby keith.

  • Wow, the Dixie Chicks. I agree wholeheartedly.

  • 10. good, but you included this for the following.
    9. This is better than #9 if you had balls.
    8. Better than the top 9, but, sounded different than the mainstream,…but 8, ok.
    7. besides set a shit load of records, what did they do… speed bump in the timeline…see alos Tylor Swift.
    6. Good Dale W. but predictable.
    5. Your joking right?
    4. One right.
    3. Very well done, but decade # 2… come one.
    2. Cash is sweet. but the movie doesn’t come out, you nor anyone gets a chubby.
    1. If your talking country music. no. If your talking saving country music… not again. good album though.

    • 10. So what is my following? Mind-numbed Hank III fans or NPR-esque Justin Townes Earle fans? Those tow dudes are about polar opposites, and so are their fans.

      9. It’s a great album, but it lost points because of lack of overall significance.

      8. At one point this was #3 on the list and kept falling. I just thought the music was stronger on the other projects.

      7. Comparing The Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift is a joke. But I understand you are not alone in this sentiment. I would also say it is just as unfair to compare Taylor Swift with Sugarland or even Trace Adkins.

      6. It’s predictable, so does that not make it right?

      5. Nope, not joking. I know putting two Hank III albums so low on the list plays right into the hands of my critics that say I’m a Hank III homer, but it is what I’d truly believe, and I’d rather be accused of being a fan than being a liar.

      4. Well I’m glad you approve.

      3. This album got mega points for significance. I stand behind the pick.

      2. Don’t know why you keep harping on the movie angle with Cash. Most people give credit for its success for the “Hurt” video which endeared it to younger folks and won a bunch of MTV awards. And this came out in 2002. Walk the Line didn’t come out until 2005, so . . .

      1. So you’re saying this album isn’t country? That was the brilliant thing with it, is that he walked right up to the line of not being country, but never crossed it. That was the mistake he would make with his later albums. And strip all the ambiance out of disc 2 and you have nothing but straightforward country songs, with no metal edge whatsoever. There are many worthy arguments against this album: it’s too “out there,” too foul mouthed and weighed down with drinking/drug references, but saying it’s not country is not a legitimate argument.

      • The music on disc 2 is brilliant. Some of my favorite moments from Hank III. I love listening to it on vinyl.

      • man, I don’t think he’s worth a reply…he has a single minded agenda…its actually pretty weird.

        • above comment is in reference to waylon4ever…aran, you seem cool as hell

          • Thanks Jeremy! Likewise man. Of the bands I love and have never seen live, you guys are the top of my “want to see” list. Keep it up!

        • When these comments came in, it is feasible that Waylon4Ever was under the influence, so I took that into consideration when reading them.

          I actually think his contributions around here are positive, though I only occasionally agree with them. It is good to have someone around keeping us on our toes. At least that’s my opinion. But then again I love criticism.

          • its good with all that you read and all that you do, that you remain positive…i try to be..and i try to be as analyitical as i can be…the posts from yesterday left me perplexed..this is one of very few pages i try to keep my eyes on..i like to hear people’s opinions cos country music is very dear to saved my life…and i defend its integrity with all i have.
            i dont wish ill will on anyone. that’s my nature…but, i do have opinions…
            you’re doin good stuff here man…keep it up.

      • “10. So what is my following? Mind-numbed Hank III fans or NPR-esque Justin Townes Earle fans? Those tow dudes are about polar opposites, and so are their fans”.

        Such an interesting comment as I think I fall into that camp. I was a III mega-fan yet with every subsequent release since Lovesick, Broke … my pom-poms have lost their shimmy and my leg kicks have gotten bit a lower. Like you, I am hanging out to see what he does post-Curb. I really dig his country stuff and and have my fingers and toes crossed he does more of that.

        I only got JTE’s Midnight at the Movies due to your review on this site and sort of liked it but found it a bit ‘folksy’. However, as testament to it’s genius, it has grown and grown on me and now I love it. An album with legs, as they say (pardon the pun).

        I wasn’t so impressed with Harlem River Blues. So I guess I am ultimately in the same boat with both artists: super fascinated to see what we see next. That may be the determining factor as to whether or not I continue to invest in the careers of both.

        I’m not sure where Biram sits in this whole equation, I guess somewhere in the middle? Out of all of this, I have to say that man is my new musical hero. He has the clever and thought provoking lyricism of Earle and the punk rock outlaw rawness of III. And he makes it work. I also reckon Joe Buck is one to watch for the same reasons and am really excited to see what he does next.

  • Great list. I don’t think I’ve ever ageed with one of your lists so much before. I’m trying to think of any other that could be up there, that meet the criteria (that haven’t been mentioned). I do have to say- I got blown away by all three .357 albums and I never get tired of them. Probably, just my taste- I prefer Shack Shakers’ Swampblood to Cockledoodle don’t.

    • Swampblood might be the better album. There is no bigger Shack Shakers fan than Robert Plant, and I think he named that album his favorite that year.

      Cockadoodledon’t got the nod because it was the breakthrough album, the Bloodshot Records release that put them on the map, and made their mix of music legitimate and accessible to the public.

  • Great blog Triggerman. I’m a little hungover, so bear with me, I’ll speak on what I know>>>

    Fire and Hail may be slightly more polished than GhostTown. but dammit, Stillest Hour! But I haven’t broke out GhostTown in a while. It’s hard to put down Fire and Hail: Black River Blues, Hold Me Tight, Long Put Down that Gospel, Two White Horses, Cluck ol’ Hen . . .cmon !

    Lovesick Broke and Drifting is serious country. Love it.

    Midnight at the Movies, yes.

    It’s clear I need to make some purchases. Cockadoodledon’t and Cash’s I don’t have. Van Lear Rose because Loretta AND Jack White rocks. I’ve

    I would prefer to see Dale Watson live. Yep, since I ain’t done that yet.
    I have never listened to Straight to Hell. Yet.

    Dixie Chicks got their bad rap for being too political and cause Toby Keith made a stink. I give them respect for being real musicians but I have never listened to one of their albums.

    Ok. I need a remedy. (That’s a Black Crowes song)

    Happy New Year Y’all.

  • Excellent list. I can’t really fault your picks at all. There’s a few that were left off that have already been mentioned, but none of the ones listed don’t belong, so it’s really a toss up at that point.

    I’ll take your word for it on the Dixie Chicks. I wrote them off long ago (before the political stuff happened) so maybe you know something that I don’t.

    • The Dixie Chicks selection was heavily influenced by the fact that they were mega-superstars, and they actually decided on their own volition to fight for the creative control of their music and try to make it less catchy and more creative and tied to the roots of the music, all while signed to the largest record label in the world. I probably could have picked a dozen more albums that I personally like better, but to do what they did inside the Music Row machine is beyond commendable.

  • My personal list would also include Ryan Bingham’s Mescalito.

  • Triggerman you are missing out. I have never seen you mention David Waddell. You need to give him a listen.He has four records that could make that list.

  • I think it noble that you out the Dixie Chicks in there. They were one of a few original mainstream acts of the decade. Straight To Hell was a given, but I’m glad to see Lovesick Broke and Driftin’ in there. To me that album was the first to communicate what Hank III was all about and where he was headed when he was coming into his prime. A few others that come to mind was David Allan Coe’s Live at Billy Bob’s Texas (despite co-authorship of a certain couple songs and a couple covers), the release of the extended version of Waylon Live, and as far as Biram goes, I think Graveyard Shift was the classic album. I liked the Shack Shaker’s Believe album more.

    • DAC’s Live at Billy Bob’s is a good one. I have never heard the CD, I have only seen the DVD/Movie they made. Don’t know if it is the same songs, but it has some really good moments.

  • I will need to learn a bit about some of these bands.

    Never heard of the Shack Shakers, and limited on the .357 (although they are from cold country too…WI, me in MN)

    I really came into country in the early 1990’s. So kind of like buying a home four years ago… horrid timing. But I have whethered the storm and like the old stuff much more than the pop stuff. Thanks for this list. I think I can learn a lot here.

  • Well, in my opinion alot of essential countryalbums are missing like Porter Hall TN :Welcome to…, Weary Boys and Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys to name a few. And by tge way what happend to Rex Hobart?

  • I think the Justin Townes Earle record is the best record on this list. I agree with Straight to Hell as #1 because of its overall impact, but from a songwriting standpoint Midnight At the Movies has got them all beat. Of course its all a matter of opinion and I am definitely more into Americana type stuff than Honkey Tonk these days, yes I am getting old and the whole “hellbilly” thing is getting to be too much for me. I have seen Hank III at least 6 times and the last time at the Roxy in LA the show was filled with drunk overall wearing rednecks in trucker hats spilling beer on people and starting fights with anybody who looked at them. Its unfortunate but that is what the Hank III scene has become.

  • Was curious why you posted the Cash record as the article image and not HankIII, since HankIII got the #1 spot?

    Not that it matters, just something I picked up on after looking at this again to familiarize myself with a couple artists on the list.

    • No particular reason. I needed an image for the front page, and maybe decided I didn’t want to give away the #1 without someone actually reading the article.

  • my top ten
    1.Straight to Hell-3
    2.Something wrong/lost forever-shb
    3.The Lonesome Dirge-Rodney Parker & The 50 Peso Reward
    4.Black Roses-Austin Collins
    5.Tennesse Pusher-o.c.m.s.
    6.Graveyard Shift-shb
    7.Nobody’s Darling-Lucero
    8.Live & Lit at Billy Bob’s-Jason Boland & The Stragglers
    9.Comal County Blue-JB&S
    10.The Good Life-JTE

  • […] to write this review, but Joe Buck is critically responsible for two of the top three albums in my Top Ten Albums of the Decade list. He played every single note on Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers Cockadoodledon’t (#3), […]

  • Just in case anyone reads this who hasn’t already heard it… I feel like Levon Helms “Dirt Farmer” would atleast deserve some honorable mention in any discussion about the decade’s best-of. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner… Helm’s version of the Steve Earle penned “The Mountain” is simply beautiful. As is “Blind Child”, and so on. I love that album.

  • surprised that A Bitter Harvest by Lonesome Wyatt and Rachel Brooke didn’t make the list. This was the album that made me realize there was a ton of great country artists out there. But this list would be different for everybody so good job Triggerman I agree with about 70% of your choices.

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