I can’t remember a year that has ever been so quiet for reviewing. Rising postal costs seem to have been a factor in that not many CDs come through the letter box these days. Some of my regular sources seem to have forgotten about me or have become exceedingly irregular. What record labels need to understand is that downloads are all very well but I do not get paid for reviewing, it is very time consuming, a labour of love yes, but all done in my own time amidst a never ending sequencing of competing demands. Indeed I have now taken the decision not to review files. I like to see the physical product in front of me. I don’t want to have to shift back and forth on the computer, print off sleeves etc. I don’t think that is too much to ask. My own music always goes out to review in physical CDs at personal cost. This year I decided to restrict my festive recommendations to music send to me for review rather than music I have purchased myself. So it is with regret that I now publish not a festive 50 or 40 but a festive 15. The way things are going it could be that this is the last festive list after- how many years is it, Stuart? (* – see bottom of page for the oldest one I have – SAH) Anyway, here goes:
BILL NELSON: CHANCE ENCOUNTERS IN THE GARDEN OF LIGHT (Esoteric)
NIRVANA: LOCAL ANAESTHETIC (Esoteric)
FUCHSIA: FUCHSIA (Fruits de Mer LP)- also ‘SONG’ (2 x 7”) (Fruits de Mer)
PATTO: MONKEY’S BUM (Esoteric)
CLEAR BLUE SKY: CLEAR BLUE SKY (Esoteric)
MACHINE MASS PLAYS HENDRIX (Moon June)
SHAMBLEMATHS (Self released)
THINKING PLAGUE: HOPING AGAINST HOPE (Cuneiform)
MAGIC BUS: REAWAKEN YOUR THIRD EAR WITH PHILLIP THE EGG (Self released)
SIDDHARTHA: TRIP TO INNERSELF (Trail)
CHEER ACCIDENT: PUTTING OFF DEATH (Cuneiform)
MINAMI DEUTSCH: MINAMI DEUTSCH (Sulatron)
ELECTRIC MOON: STARDUST RITUALS (Sulatron)
SIDEWALK SOCIETY: STRANGE ROADS: THE SONGS OF ROLLED GOLD (Fruits de Mer LP)
THE FESTIVE 40 – The Best Of 2007!
In no particular order and omitting ones I haven’t heard yet but have heard good things about like Robert Wyatt’s ‘Comicopera’ and Ben Weaver’s ‘Paper Sky’. Come to think of it I haven’t heard The Flower Kings latest opus yet either!
ANEKDOTEN “A Time of Day” (Possibly their best to date).
GWYN ASHTON “Prohibition” (Some great blues rock)
BIG SLEEP “Bluebell Wood” (originally released in 1971 but new to me!)
BOB BROZMAN “Post Industrial Blues” (Amazing guitar sounds!)
CARPTREE “Insekt” (Continue to develop as one of the top prog rock bands)
ROGER CHAPMAN “One More Time for Peace” (A return to form)
CLEAR BLUE SKY “Gateway to the Seventh Dimension” (Nice package!)
D’ARCANA “Premonitions” (double CD) (Amazing presentation, amazing music!
RAY DAVIES “Working Man’s Café” (Amazingly a give away with a Sunday newspaper! His Electric Proms concert wasn’t half good either!)
DR WILL “Itching Again” (Thanks to Tim and Terri for introducing me- sorry I didn’t get around to reviewing it. One of the best albums of 2007 to me invoking the spirit of Beefheart, Waits, Mississippi John Hurt and most of all Dr Will’s unique take on life and music!)
DUTY FREE AREA “Kaleidoscope” double CD (Two albums with live bonus- bafflingly good progressive rock! (Talking of Kaleidoscope, their –the psych band that is- vinyl reissue of ‘Beacons from Mars’ is a highlight)
EGG “The Civil Surface” Another of my all time favourite bands resurfaces on Esoteric Recordings
FAR CORNER “Endangered” (Challenging but also heartwarming).
SUE FOLEY, DEBORAH COLEMAN, ROXANNE POTVIN “Time Bomb” Three of Ruf’s finest blues ladies together!
FROMUZ “Audio Diplomacy” (CD/DVD) (Stunning concert from brilliant Uzbekistan group)
HAMFATTER “What Part of Hamfatter Do You Not Understand?” (A hit single at last!)
HUGH HOPPER “Hopper Tunity Box” (Another oldie but goodie!)
JUST JACK “Overtones” (Not my usual thing but cleverly done and nicely satirical take on modern life)
PETER LACEY “Permanent Waves” (Brian Wilson fans know where to go!)
MAGIC PIE “Circus of Life” (Becoming a top prog rock band)
MAN “Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In?” +3 (originally released in 1971)
MAN “Live at the Padget Rooms, Penarth” (double CD) (another oldie brought back to live with bonus)
ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE “The Black Tomato” (Their best yet)
PALADIN “Paladin” (Another oldie that was new to me)
RARE BIRD “As Your Mind Flies By” (Esoteric reissue) (An oldie, more familiar to me but as Rare Bird is one of my all time favourite bands I couldn’t resist!)
REVEREND AND THE MAKERS “The State of Things” (Satirical take on modern life, saw them on Jools Holland)
ROOT DECO “Rain, Steam, Speed” (Timely reminder of what a good band they are)
SHAY TAL “Tambourina” (Something a bit different!)
THE SHINS “Wincing The Night Away” (not sure this is an improvement on previous impressive releases but the best bits are among their finest)
SIGUR ROS “Hvart/ Heim” (double CD) (Soundscapes that would only fail to move a statue!)
SILVER LINING “The Inner Dragon” (By way of a belated apology to Thierry Sportouche- have been promising to review his band’s melodic prog concept opus for two years. Its moment will come!)
JOHN SLADE BAND “Broken Finger” (Zappa fans will drool. Clever stuff!)
SPACE DEBRIS “Three”/ “Live at Burg Herzberg Festival” (OK, the latter is a DVD but as always a great nostalgia trip!)
SPACE RITUAL “Otherworld” The spirit of Hawkwind returns!
UNDERGROUND BALLROOM “Contradictions” Their ‘Drawing The Line’ has remained on my MP3 player for most of the year.
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR “Transmissions” A live performance of the entire ‘Godbluff’ album and the whole of A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers live as a bonus- bliss!
VARIOUS ARTISTS “As Good As It Gets: The Best of British Jazz 1951-1957” (I discovered a new name- Cy Laurie!) (Also superb linked releases featuring the talents of Humphrey Lyttleton, Chris Barber and Ken Colyer)
VARIOUS ARTISTS “Stone Island Records” (Welcome to a new label featuring old friends Census of Hallucinations, Clear Blue Sky and new acts)
WILCO “Sky Blue Sky” (double CD) (The album I always knew they were capable of!)
STEVE WILSON “Sideshows and Fairytales” Some great songs on there.