50 Best Albums of 2012

Frank Ocean reimagined R&B; Dylan drenched us in blood; pop-punk vets, disco orchestras and Scottish oddballs made an election year bearable.

36

Bobby Womack, 'The Bravest Man in the Universe'

At age 68, the guy who wrote the Rolling Stones' first Number One hit ("It's All Over Now") teams up with Blur's Damon Albarn and producer Richard Russell for a deeply soulful, startlingly modern R&B set. Like Russell's 2010 collaboration with Gil Scott-Heron, Bravest Man is mainly about magnified vocal grain and electronic rhythms, and the arrangements never fail to dazzle: The first bars of the title track, just Womack's warm-leather voice and a cello, may be the most striking album opener of the year.

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