Here is a roundup of the stuff that I have been listening to and enjoying this year. Even though this is presented as a numbered list it is not really a chart as such (although the GSH album is an absolute cracker). As ever not all this stuff is new but there you go.
- Gil Scott Herron – I’m New here (2010) GSH’s first album in a very long time and what a belter it is. For those of you thinking about the jazz-soul of “The Bottle”, think again. The album is a mix of spoken word and sung material with instrumentation that owes more to the more sparse grooves on Massive Attack’s later work or perhaps even Burial’s Hyperdub than past glories.
- Frank Zappa – Hot Rats (1969) Zappa albums have come and gone in my music collection over the years and have been loved (Apostrophe, Joe’s Garage, Sheik Yerbouti) and loathed (We’re only in it for the Money) in equal measure. This is mainly instrumental album released in 1969 somehow passed me –other than Peaches En Regalia which seems to find its way onto every Zappa comp. This is probably one of the most truly groundbreaking albums ever made, a real eye opener, it really doesn’t sound like much else except perhaps other Zappa records.
- The Duke and the King – Nothing Gold Can Stay (2009) Imagine a slightly funky/soulful take on Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it is Worth” and you will kind of get the idea. Great harmonies and a very stripped down sound … nice
- Fourtet – There is Love in You (2010)
- The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter (2010) What can I say another year, another Fall record. Perhaps not quite up to the level of 2008’s Imperial wax Solvent but it come pretty close. As ever Smith’s lyrics are cryptic and acute once unpicked, as one commentator put it “an arrogant northern swine, who never fails to entertain”
- Max Romeo and the Upsetters – War Ina Babylon (1976)
- Toots and the Maytals – Funky Kingston (1973)
- Dangermouse and Sparklehorse - Dark Night of the Soul (2010)
- Broken Bells - Broken Bells (2010)
- David Sylvian – Everything and Nothing (2000)
I have also been listening to the version of “You’ve Got To Have Freedom” from Pharaoh Saunders’ 2003 Live album with amazement just incredible playing by all involved including drum legend Idris Mohammed. This version is so powerful it tops the original 70’s cut by some margin how these guys can play with this level intensity in their late 60’s early 70’s is anyone’s guess – but I want some of it.