Age no longer seems to be a limit in pop-rock music.

Again in 2018, musicians from rock ’n’ roll’s second generation continued generating new music and recordings that re-emphasized their artistic strengths.

In jazz, blues, folk and classical music, age isn’t a major factor. it’s become an ongoing indication that musical longevity, maturity and productivity aren’t totally incompatible with rock ’n’ roll and its rebellious roots.

Seven of these albums, among pop-rock’s best in 2018, were recorded by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members.

“Springsteen on Broadway” by Bruce Springsteen: This 155-minute, two-CD recording is an intensely intimate self-portrait of a major pop-rock musician. On the soundtrack to Netflix’s television production, Springsteen, 69, weaves together 16 songs with anecdotes and reminiscences from “Born to Run,” his 2016 autobiography. Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, piano and harmonica, he staged the show 236 times at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre between October 2017 and December 2018.

“Songs for Judy” by Neil Young: Recorded during a 1976 solo acoustic tour by photographer/guitar tech Joel Bernstein, this tape recording (originally a cassette) never had been released formally until 2018. Often bootlegged, the 22 songs vividly capture the essence of Young — the 73-year-old Canadian native who lives near Woodside — in a series of intimate settings during a particularly prolific period in his career. “No One Seems to Know,” a gentle piano ballad, was released for the first time.

“The Prodigal Son” by Ry Cooder: A master American musical archivist, Cooder, 71, also plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass and keyboards with his usual virtuosic skill. Son Joachim (drums, percussion) co-produced with his dad. Cooder’s first non-thematic album in six years — it was Joachim’s idea — is a mix of original and traditional folk, blues and gospel songs reminiscent of the Los Angeles-based Cooder’s classic 1970s recordings. Cooder’s “Jesus and Woody” is particularly touching.

“Egypt Station” by Paul McCartney: Sir Paul, 76, conjures up a few Beatle-isms — and some hints of his Wings era — during a worthy 57½-minute collection of songs that includes stark introspection and sheer silliness. His voice might be a little thinner, but his pop instincts remain sound. “People want peace/A simple release,” he chants. McCartney performs July 10 at SAP Center in San Jose.

“Down the Road Wherever” by Mark Knopfler: The Dire Straits co-founder’s guitar riffs move like mercury through his ninth solo album. His signature playing and laid-back English vocals again recall those Dire Straits days in the 1980s. A detailed and witty storyteller, Knopfler, 69, places his characters in the badlands of America’s West; “barrooms and the brothels”; the dance floor“; the Australian Outback; and quotes melodically from “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (on “Just a Boy Away From Home”). Knopfler performs Sept. 18 at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley.

“Look Now” by Elvis Costello & the Imposters: Costello (Declan Patrick McManus), part of the 1970s British punk and new-wave incursion, has worked with a broad scope of rock and pop artists. On this 12-song album that he co-produced, Costello gets input from songwriters Carole King and Burt Bacharach on four tunes. The Imposters, who provide supple support for his in-depth story-songs, are the Attractions, his original band.

“The Prophet Speaks” by Van Morrison: On his fourth album in 15 months, the Bard of Belfast, 73, keeps exploring American jazz and blues veins, blending originals with vintage tunes such as John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples” and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s “Gonna Send You Back Where I Got You From.” Hammond organ player Joey DeFrancesco, with whom Morrison also released “You’re Driving Me Crazy” in 2018, is a central player again.

“In the Blue Light” by Paul Simon: Simon, 77, revisits 10 songs of his that he considered overlooked or ignored. An admitted perfectionist, he tweaked some lyrics, melodies, rhythms and phrasing on songs from his solo career that date back five decades. No hits here, and a jazzier feel. “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor” (1973) became a horn-inflected slow blues while “Rene and Georgette Magritte After the War” (1983) was gently accompanied by a string quartet as Simon invokes the spirit of doo-wop vocal groups.

“The Crossing” by Alejandro Escovedo: A former punk-rocker, Escovedo, now 67 and based in San Antonio, Texas, confronts the immigration issue from the perspective of two young men having to deal with the dilemma. Co-written by Antonio Gramenttieri, the album was recorded in Villafranca, Italy, with Italian musicians.

“Cloud Symbols” by Graham Parker: The one-time British pub-rocker, now 68, cranked out 11 tunes with a horn-inflected New Orleans/Memphis flavor for this succinct, 32-minute album. The singer, songwriter and guitarist is in a reflective mood — his once-acerbic wit slightly chastened by the years — on songs such as “Maida Hill,” “Ancient Past” and “What Happens When Her Beauty Fades.” Martin Belmont, from his original band, the Rumour, plays guitar on Parker’s 23rd record.

Still making his mark

Stephen Malkmus always has been regarded highly by the folks at Uncut and Mojo, England’s most prominent monthly music magazines.

This time, Malkmus’ “Sparkle Hard” is ranked among the top 75 pop-rock albums of 2018 in both publications’ January issues: No. 37 in Uncut and No. 39 in Mojo. Malkmus’ seventh album with the Portland, Oregon-based Jicks, it was released in May.

There’s also a five-page profile that’s part of Uncut’s “Review of 2018.” The headline, “Gold Soundz,” refers to a 1994 song by Pavement, the indie-rock band that was formed by Malkmus and Scott Kannberg — both Tokay High School graduates — in 1989 in Stockton.

Malkmus, 52, is profiled while on tour with the Jicks in Kansas City, Missouri, 2018.

“Widdershins,” the eighth solo album by Grant-Lee Phillips, a Linden High School graduate, is listed at No. 6 on Mojo’s list of top-10 Americana albums.

 

Contact music and entertainment writer Tony Sauro at tonysauro48@gmail.com.