It pays to begin with what we know. The sacrosanct relationship between record and listener. And the LP record at that; I bumped into a musical accomplice from the dim and distant a few days ago. We sat in the bar necking cocktails as if background players from a Bret Easton Ellis novel, discussing the finer points of the Green Gartside back cat, and because we hadn’t seen each other for many a year I was somewhat taken aback when this old partner in crime admitted that she’d given up on the album format. Or least given up buying LPs, allegiance exclusively with the procurement of 7”s. Not that there’s anything wrong with the single format you understand – I may have accidentally spent a small fortune picking up one in particular this year – but foregoing the long player entirely does feel counter-intuitive. A little disingenuous. The withholding of particular pleasures delivered when slipping the 33rpm from its sleeve. The weight and feel and ritualistic components of needle upon vinyl. Layers of interaction – a feeding process; song on song, track versus listener, ambience cultivated and subsumed and all those describing words music blogs such at this invest when working through the detail behind attraction.
So it is that albums revisited this year include The Back Of This Beyond by Fuel – delicate, Robin Guthrie-produced dream-pop, and possibly the finest LP you’ve never heard of. Vision Thing – the final Sisters of Mercy presentation. Pop Will Eat Itself, Death in Vegas, The Smashing Pumpkins and The Wonder Stuff all made an appearance (This Is The Day… This Is The Hours… This Is This; The Contino Sessions, Adore and Hup respectively – none of which have aged tremendously well). Also, the debut Suede LP, Giant Steps by The Boo Radleys, Bowie’s sublime Hunky Dory, and former Jesus and Mary Chain / Black Box Recorder inmate John Moore, who released two fine albums he had hiding up the back stairs. Apparently I still like Whirlpool by Chapterhouse, despite being old enough to know better. And finally on LPs spun again – Comrade Colin over at And Before The First Kiss wrote this polemic upon the reissue of Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman – required reading.
Back in the summer, various grandees from the Twittersphere endeavoured to identify their fifty favourite debut albums of all time. In order. An incredibly tough (and not to mention arbitrary) proposition that none-the-less made for fascinating debate. The intrigue of personal choice, spliced across such rich territory. My own interpretation: too white, and dominated by girls and boys playing synth chords in unusual patterns, or records with floppy fringes and an ’80’s / ’90’s sensibility. Hmm. #50-#41, #40-#31, #30-#21, #20-#11 and #10-#1, all here. Did I get it right? You tell me…
Of course, it may be the case that my old accomplice is correct, and beauty resides in the 7”. If so: articles featuring ‘Nathan Jones’ by The Supremes, ‘So Hard’ by Pet Shop Boys and ‘Up The Junction’ by Squeeze all made an appearance. As did LGM’s Ten Rules of a Successful Cover Version.
It has been noted that this blog is more than beholden to Morrissey; he certainly shows face here often enough. Of this year’s inclusions, defining a resolute top ten from his back catalogue was more than difficult (part one; part two). I think it’s a success, but so trying are these sorts of things…
Meditations upon goth, indie, lovely shiny pop… and for those with interests beyond what’s currently on the turntable, I’ve been exploring some of LGM’s favourite films. A vague list of ten – no particular order – and whilst we’re yet to finish, Wilder’s The Apartment, Kubrick’s The Shining, von Trier’s Melancholia, and festive favourite Downfall have all been featured. There’ll be a Hitchcock article up early January – although not necessarily a movie you’ll be expecting.
Finally – and as is music blog tradition – Twitter’s Album of the Year poll, and of course my own list of favourite LPs from the past twelve months, #10 to #2, and this year’s number one. Thank you for your ongoing support; you’re a loyal and insightful bunch, both here and on the Twitters, and without such a regular readership I rather suspect I’d be even more drunk and misanthropic than is usually the case. Because words about music – hell, I’ll drink to that.