Archives for the month of: January, 2012

So, having said why I love compilation tapes* previously, you might have guessed that post was the pre-amble to a post about a compilation.  As mentioned before compilations are always of a time, and so Best of the Year compilations are an obvious way of summarising the completion of another orbit of the earth around the sun.  Be very clear though – these are not simply a best of year list. A compilation tape is not a list.

For the last three years** I have made compilations CDs as presents for a few friends, and have also made them as Spotify playlists to share online.  This year, due to the arrival of a next generation alarm clock shortly before Christmas, I was not able to make the list in time, let alone burn CDs and make beautiful artwork and sleeve-notes. I may still do this for a few friends who appreciate such things, but in the meantime. Just five days late – the compilation is complete and I can share it with you. This blog can also be the electronic sleeve-notes for those interested in my thoughts on the music contained within.

Anyway – here it is: “Makes Your Daddy Wanna Rock- Best of 2011“.

Continue down for sleeve-notes***

*by the way, am I the only person who still calls them “tapes” even when on CD-Rs or on Spotify?

** The last two are also Spotify lists if you’re interested:

Un Jardin Du Poulets – Best of 2009

Raise Your Tattooed Fist – Best of 2010

***

1. Threshold – Sex Bob-Omb

From the Scott Pilgrim Vs The World Soundtrack. A great film, with fantastic direction by Edgar Wright. This track would make a great opening to any gig.

2. Fuck It. You Win – Hanni El Khatib

This year I have not bought a single record from HMV or similar establishment, nor it would seem have many other people. Instead I have bought my records almost exclusively from independent record stores, with occasional old records bought on-line. You should support independent record stores like the wonderful Spillers in Cardiff, not only because they’re independent, but because as they get to know you they’ll say things like; “Ah, you like The Black Keys, You’ll Like Hanni El Khatib”. They were not wrong.

3. With Apologies To Emily Pankhurst – Future of The Left

Incredible Welsh noise-mongers Future of The Left released a 6-track EP “Polymers Are Forever” at the end of 2011 as a taster for a new album due next year. FotL were also my gig of the year, a competition that whilst tough, was won when they threw in a few McLusky tracks – Oh wow.

4. Get Lost – Tom Waits

Over the past few years I’ve become quite besotted with Tom Waits and have been slowly acquiring much of his back catalogue. Some of his more recent stuff has been a bit too left-field for most (not me), but this year’s “Bad As Me” whilst still quite eclectic is as mainstream as I’d imagine Tom Waits will ever be again. Also a sign of my changing music purchasing habit, this was the first new album I’ve purchased on vinyl in over a decade.

5. Hold On Tight – Solomon Burke & De Dijk

Another recommendation from the fine people at Spillers Records. This was Solomon Burke’s final album, recorded with Dutch soul band De Dijk. Apparently a chance meeting in 2007 in The Netherlands led to De Dijk stepping in as Solomon’s backing band at a gig. So impressed was he, that returned in 2009 to record an album of De Dijk hits previously only recorded in Dutch. The resulting album “Hold On Tight” is absolutely superb.

6. Calamity Song – The Decemberists

Looking distinctly like a shot at a more commercial market, if I’m perfectly honest when I purchased “The King Is Dead” on release day, I was a little disappointed.  It is far from The Decemberists best album. However the back catalogue is so outstanding they would have a difficult job to match it. However, upon revisiting later in the year with my expectations are more realistic and I find a pretty good album.

7. The Words That Maketh Murder – PJ Harvey

The stand out track on Mercury winning “Let England Shake”. The plaudits for this album have already been laid on pretty thick, so I’ll just add that I loved it from play 1.

8 . Castle Keep – Wolf People

My second favourite album of the year (though like my favourite released in 2010), “Steeple” is a good old fashioned British rock album. There’s not much hint of the 21st century here, instead a sounding like the illegitimate offspring of Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin. I found them after hearing a session on Marc Riley’s evening show on 6 music.

9. The Struggle – Scroobius Pip

“Distraction Pieces” is currently my favourite album actually released in 2011. I’ve no doubt that this album is not for everyone, but his cutting, witty lyrics and some awesome samples really hit the spot for me. The list of collaborators sitting in the producers chair is very impressive. This Steve Mason produced, hugely tongue-in-cheek track, deals with The Struggle of coping with fame and fortune.

10. The Antiquated & The Arcane – 3 Daft Monkeys

Thanks to Dan to tipping me off to these Cornish folksters. From the 2010 album of the same name.

11. New York Girls – Bellowhead

I really enjoyed 2006’s “Burlesque” but since then this 11-piece folk band have pretty much flown under my radar. I chanced upon their name on Spotify to find 2008 and 2010 releases. This joyful ditty opens 2010’s “Hedonism”. They’re still putting on spectacular live shows by all accounts so I’ll have to try and catch them soon.

12. The Silver Platter Club – John Grant

Grant’s debut solo album, “The Queen of Denmark” was released in April 2010, but didn’t cross my radar until this year.  My favourite album of the year, and is rapidly becoming a contender for my top 10 of all time. After leaving The Czars (no, me neither will have to check them out), Grant spent some time away from music, coming to terms with his sexuality and his drug & alcohol problems. Recorded with the band Midlake, this album sees Grant “come out” in spectacular style. I saw him at Komedia in Bath in a stripped down show, just him and piano, in which he gave a virtuoso performance. I eagerly await news of a follow up.

13. Don’t Need It – William Elliott Whitmore

From this year’s “Field Songs” the follow-up to the awesome “Animals in the Dark”. For sure, it’s not as strong, but I could listen to this American Folk singer recite the phone book.

14. Running on Fumes – John Hopkins & King Creosote

I’d not heard of John Hopkins before “Diamond Mine” made the Mercury short list. Really is a stunning album. KCs song-writing combined with Hopkins’ ear for interesting sounds. I went off to explore each’s back catalogue, Hopkins’ didn’t do much for me, but…

15. You’ve No Clue Do You – King Creosote

…King Creosote – how did it take me so long to discover him? Best thing I’ve found so far is 2007’s “Bombshell”. An absolutely brilliant album of folky pop songs with fantastic lyrics. Could have picked anything from it.

16. Dodechahedron – Beth Jeans Houghton

Fantastic folk singer from Newcastle. Another first heard on Marc Riley’s show. Seen her described as the Lady Gaga of British folk. Make of that what you will. Debut album eagerly expected in early 2012.

17. I Was Just A Card – Laura Marling

Three albums in. Each different enough from the last to keep you interested, but still full of amazing songs, and still only 21. Astonishing talent.

18. I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say- Ryan Adams

He’s churned out an awful lot of shite in my opinion since the heady days of Heartbreaker and Gold. But finally a return to form. On “Ashes & Fire” he’s back to his best and there are any number of stand out tracks.

19. Where The Dreams Go To Die – John Grant

A second track from my favourite album of this year. The best track on it, a lament to lost love that sends a shiver down my spine on each and every listen. Genius.

20. The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime) – Scott Walker

I’ve been listening to a lot of old music this year, as part of my long journey though the Rolling Stone 500 (post on my thoughts on the first 100 coming soon), but this is not from that.  Was recommended Scott Walker by Duncan, a friend who knew of my love of the old crooners. Bought a Best of, which has slow burned on me hugely. Anyway – this year I worked through the Scott Walker albums. 1969’s Scott 4 is awesome and this is the standout track. What a bassline.

21. It Ain’t The Meat – The Swallows

Have been listening to a fair amount of 1950’s Rock and Roll this year, spurred on I think by hearing some of the Sun recordings laid down by Johnny Cash & Elvis. Anyway, this cracking do-wop tune is from 1951. I thought 1950’s America was quite prudish? Can’t quite believe this was recorded in 1951. And is it just me or does that clapping song like…

If you’re a music nerd like me, then you’ll love a good compilation tape. I’ve been making compilations of music since I got my first double tape deck sometime in the mid-80s. I made them for myself at first; collections of songs taped off the chart countdown for posterity, though mostly now of course, lost. Then I made them for my own enjoyment, collections of great songs without the album tracks I didn’t like, to listen to on my walkman or occasionally my mum would allow them to be played in the car.

Then I made them for other people. For friends, to recommend stuff they might like, or as gifts to mark the end of an era. And then, of course for girls; with tracks chosen in part for their sappy lyrics, but partly for their obscurity, hoping that my (limited) knowledge of obscure 70s funk and Japanese Jazz would make me more sexually attractive. It never did.

Every compilation album I’ve ever made has been made with love. You can’t just throw the tracks together in any old order. They have to flow together, tell the story you’re trying to tell. But often, of course, they are of a very specific time, a specific moment in our lives. Since music tastes are refined and friendships change.

I also love receiving compilations and there is a special place in my music collection for treasured CD-Rs, some of which have elaborate artwork and sleeve-notes, given to me by some of my closest friends, and some not so close friends.

The music on each complication, both those I’ve made, and those received evoke thousands of memories, and not just when heard on those compilations. Each track become a key to a memory, of happy and sad times, of friendships made and lost and of girls that got away.

Viva la Compilation Tape….