Robert Plant

The Year in Review: Best albums of 2010

My most-played album of the year was Midlake's gorgeous paean to solitude, rusticity and the ways of the past. Soaring harmonies, ringing guitars and haunting flutes combined to evoke the sombre mood of Tarkovsky's film about Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev.

Robert Plant and His Band of Joy, One Mayfair, London

The Grade I-listed One Mayfair was built in the early 19th century as St Mark's Church, to service the needs of an aristocratic clientele away from their country seats. Restored following its deconsecration in the Seventies, it makes the perfect venue for a secret gig by one of today's rock aristocracy, Robert Plant CBE, up in London from his Worcestershire home to launch his first album with his new group Band of Joy.

Album: Buddy & Julie Miller, Written in Chalk (New West)

Garlanded with praise from the likes of Emmylou Harris and Don Was ("This might be the best record I've ever heard"), Written in Chalk has the nobility of old-time country music, but with a post-modern appreciation of blues, jazz and the innovations of artists such as Tom Waits and Robert Plant.

The monsters of rock return

After 14 years of rumours and false starts, Guns N'Roses are promising to release their new album. There's even a ticking clock on their website. Oh well; heavy metal bands never did like to rush things, says Andy Gill

Album: T Bone Burnett, Tooth of Crime (Nonesuch)

Despite the competing claims of such as Mark Ronson and Brian (Danger Mouse) Burton, T Bone Burnett may be the most interesting producer working in popular music at the moment. Equally comfortable helming award-winning soundtracks for Cold Mountain, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Walk the Line, and reacquainting singers like Tony Bennett, Roy Orbison, Cassandra Wilson and kd lang with their roots, his manifold talents combined to powerful effect on last year's peerless Raising Sand collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. But until 2006's The True False Identity, his packed diary left Burnett little time to pursue his own muse.