When it came to reviewing my Album of the Year 2017, I concluded that it has been an average year overall for the music industry. No blockbuster albums (unless you count the ginger-haired phenomenon with the tiny guitar, of which more later), no major new artists, just a year of business as usual in the mainstream. Which has meant more time to explore the margins, and to unearth some little gems from their hiding places.
For those of you new to this, the 55th, annual wander through my contemporary musical experiences, I have selected a personal album of the year ever since I started buying vinyl in the early 1960s. For the featured albums, the self-imposed criteria are that I must have a copy in my collection that has been purchased during the year, the album’s UK release date has to be in the year being reviewed, and the list can contain no compilations or live albums. Other than that, it’s pretty-much open-house. During the ‘seventies, this singular personal choice evolved into a small-circulation printed newsletter on some of the year’s releases for selected friends, through a wider-circulation email in the ‘nineties that contained a top ten, to ultimately, in 2008, this annual blog – making this the tenth anniversary of that move. Continue Reading
My New Year’s Resolution for 2017, after a second virtually blogless year, will be to return to writing for pleasure more regularly – a task made easier by the departure from our lives of the near two-year long threat of someone building a shed at the bottom of our garden – something that will be covered soon, but not in this blog. Because the subject matter here is far more pleasurable – my Album of the Year 2016
For my new readers’ benefit, I have selected a personal album of the year ever since I started buying vinyl in the early 1960s. During the ‘seventies, this singular personal choice evolved into a small-circulation printed newsletter for selected friends, through a wider-circulation email in the ‘nineties that contained a top ten, to ultimately, in 2008, this annual blog on my musical experiences throughout the year. For the featured albums, the criteria I use are that I must have a copy in my collection that has been purchased during the year, the album’s UK release date has to be in the year being reviewed, and the list can contain no compilations or live albums. Other than that, it’s pretty-much open-house. Continue Reading
Back in the summer of 1969, the world’s eyes were on just one thing – the moon – awaiting the first man to set foot there. Around the same time, a haunting song began receiving airplay telling the story of a stranded astronaut, Major Tom, sitting in a tin can far above the moon and musing that planet earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.
This was my introduction to David Bowie and, along with thousands of others, I bought the original mono single – although not enough of us did so to get it too far into the top twenty. It eventually made the grade six years later and topped the charts as it really should have done at the time of its genesis.
By the time that belated first number one arrived in 1975, both alter-egos of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane had been and gone, and Bowie had moved on to what he termed his plastic soul phase. So while a somewhat different promo video of Space Oddity, showing Ziggy singing it, was rounding-off that week’s Top of the Pops, Bowie was on tour with a brass section squeezing-out sax-riffs for Young Americans and Fame. But that was Bowie, always years ahead of his time. Continue Reading
I couldn’t believe it when I realised that this will be my first blog in a year! Such has been the saga of the past fifteen months, which started with a broken arm, then continued via various other distractions, some good, others not so. However, throughout the year the musical backdrop has been consistently good, so here is my review of the year, finishing with my choice of Album of the Year 2015.
The first two purchases for the year were carry-overs from 2014 which, had I been aware of them at the time, would have definitely both made it to the shortlist. Someday World by Brian Eno and Karl Hyde is a wander through an electronic landscape that is much more accessible than some of the former Roxy Music keyboard man’s ambient efforts over the last ten to fifteen years. Maybe it was the collaboration with Underworld’s frontman that created this infectious album which almost demands to be played regularly. Continue Reading
A belated Happy New Year everyone, and my apologies for not blogging for more than six months – a long and convoluted story for another time. So to more important business, the slightly-belated selection of album of the year 2014 – and what a difficult choice this has been.
There are good years and better years, but 2014 was exceptional, witnessed by the CD racks groaning under the weight of more annual purchases than I have made in many a long year and all, bar a few minor exceptions, valid contenders for the shortlist. Added to that were some omissions from 2013 that would have been considered had they come on the radar earlier. Continue Reading