Three CDs That Belong In Any Music Lover’s Collection

Izzy Stradlin – Izzy Stradlin & The Ju Ju Hounds

Guitarist Izzy Stradlin left Guns N’ Roses in 1991, shortly after the release of the group’s twin Use Your Illusions albums. Stradlin quickly formed the Ju Ju Hounds, featuring former Georgia Satellites guitarist Rick Richards, and recorded Izzy Stradlin & The Ju Ju Hounds. Released less than a year after his departure from Guns, the eleven track disc (including a hidden bonus cut) was a raw rock record drenched in the blues that leaned heavily toward Rolling Stones territory. Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood even made a guest appearance on a cover of his own “Take A Look At The Guy.” Some of Izzy’s best songs appear on the disc, including “Shuffle It All” and “Come On Now Inside.” The latter is a wicked rhythm and blues ballad that features some heartfelt vocal work from Stradlin. Although the album barely made a blip on the music radar, it stands as one of the best solo projects from any member of the original Guns N’ Roses lineup.

Ashley Monroe – Satisfied

Monroe recorded one of the best country albums of the 2000s, unfortunately for the singer-songwriter, the disc never got past the digital release stage thanks in part to the giant merger that saw RCA and Sony become one. Blessed with an old-school voice that is at times haunting and ethereal, Monroe released two singles – “Satisfied” and “I Don’t Want To” – however, both failed to light the fire that would have helped the album get the promotional push it deserved. Satisfied features such soulful songs as “Hank’s Cadillac,” a poignant track about the night Hank Williams died, and “Used,” a beautiful ballad that is aching and inspiring. “That’s Why We Call Each Other Baby,” a rollicking duet with Dwight Yoakam, has to be heard to be appreciated. Other album highlights include the blistering “Pain, Pain” and the teeth rattling “Can’t Let Go.” Currently part of the Pistol Annies, alongside Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley, Monroe has released two critically acclaimed albums via Warner Brothers Nashville — Like A Rose (2103) and The Blade (2015). Lucky for fans, Satisfied is still available on iTunes.

Crash Test Dummies – The Ghosts That Haunt Me

Although The Ghosts That Haunt Me was a smash hit in the Crash Test Dummies’ native Canada, the disc failed to reach the same level of success internationally, which is a crime of monumental proportions. Featuring “Superman’s Song,” a masterfully crafted number about the death of the ‘Man of Steel’, the album was certified multi-platinum in Canada. Vocalist Brad Roberts, known for his deep voice and wry lyrics, established himself as one of his country’s premiere songwriters with the album. The disc features such radio-friendly songs as the romping title cut and the zany “Androgynous.” The crash Test Dummies would go on to find multi-platinum success in the United States and elsewhere with their second album, God Shuffled His Feet, but The Ghosts That Haunt Me stands as the group’s best work to date (and “Superman’s Song” remains one of the best songs ever written about a super hero).