The RPMers Top 5 Albums Lists of 2020
Tim’s Top 5 Albums of 2020.
New Studio Releases.
1. Letter To You by Bruce Springsteen – “For me, there are two candidates for best backing band ever; The Heartbreakers for Tom Petty and the E Street Band for Springsteen. Letter To You reunites Bruce with the band and we consequently get a mighty album of songs that perfectly suits the troubled times in which we live. It’s reflective, it’s euphoric, it’s life affirming and just what we needed at the tail end of 2020.”
2. Darkness Brings The Wonders Home by Smoke Fairies – “Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies continue to meld folky Englishness with American bluseyness to create their own individual style of music. Another captivating and highly original release from the duo with which to kick off the year…….plus a tour squeezed in just before we discovered what a “lockdown” was all about.
3. Ummon by Slift – “A huge slab of French psychedelic space rock that definitely blows the cobwebs away. The best thing I heard on 6 Music all year and my year’s favourite new discovery.”
4. Space For The Earth by Ozric Tentacles – “Ed Wynn’s musical response to Lockdown manifested itself in the form of a new Ozric Tentacles album……and gratefully received it was to.”
5. Rewilding by Richard Durrant – “Another musician influenced by the pandemic; Rewilding is Richard Durrant’s refreshing classical guitar prog-folk response.”
Re-Issues and Live Albums.
1. Wild Flowers and All the Rest by Tom Petty – “At last! Wildflowers available on vinyl….plus 10 new songs. Literally fantastic.”
2. Live at the Roundhouse by Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – “Nick Mason’s band putting the life back into both the classic and more obscure early Floyd song cannon. Superb.”
3. Roadhawks by Hawkwind – “THE classic HW compilation, remastered and on LP again for the first time since 1984. Worth it alone for the live rendition of You Shouldn’t do That.”
4. Hendrix In The West (expanded) by Jimi Hendrix – “Expanded from the original LPs 8 tracks to 11, I’ve no idea how I’d missed this when it was released in 2011. Discovered in February, the last time in 2020 that I’d get inside a second-hand record shop.”
5. Live In Sheffield (Record Store Day Release re-issue) by Gong – “The one Gong live double LP I’d been trying to find second-hand for quite a while turns up as a 2020 Record Store Day release; how cool is that? And, even cooler; one disc is red vinyl and one disc is green vinyl…..all adding to the enjoyment of the music, of course.”
Top 5 Music Reads of 2020.
(Coincidence that Philip and John chose to do book lists as well….honest.)
1. Last Night’s Fun by Ciaran Carson (pub 1996) – The best book, in my opinion, themed around Irish trad music, the perception of time and food. It’s so much more than just a music book, though. I re-read this every few years or so….it’s my favourite book.
2. Hawkwind: Days of the Underground by Joe Banks (pub 2020) – Concentrating upon the first decade of the band, this isn’t the run of the mill, fan written tome of adoration that a lot of band biographies often become. It contains history, analysis and insightful essays. Obviously a work of love, it easily takes the crown of best Hawkwind book written, ever.
3. There’s A Riot Going On by Peter Doggett (pub 2007) – Subtitled Revolutionaries, Rock Stars and the Rise and Fall of the 1960s, this book draws together the social, political, underground and musical threads of the period to weave both an informative and entertaining commentary of the times.
4. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle (pub 1987) – So funny but also obviously written with a real love of soul music, this is just a great little book which I re-read after watching the movie…..yes, again.
5. Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd by Nick Mason (pub 2004) – Picked this up at Mr Thompson’s second-hand book shop in Wymondham (and yes, he actually is related to Richard Thompson) thinking it worth a read sometime……and there it sat on the bookshelf for quite a while. Read it during lockdown and it turned out to be a really good read with probably half the book devoted to Pink Floyds early years which for me are the ones I wanted to know about. Recommended.
Sal’s Top 5 Second Hand CDs of 2020 List.
I haven't bought any 'new release' albums this year but picked up a few bargains during the car boot season. Top 5 CD purchases of the year are:
Quiet Life by Japan
Standing at the Sky's Edge by Richard Hawley
Meo Suo I Eyrum Vio Spilum Endalaust by Sigur Ros
Heart of Nowhere by Noah And The Whale
Forever. The Singles by The Charlatans
Philip’s Top 5 Album’s of 2020
It was tough choosing only five - especially in a year when recorded music was one of the things that helped me to remain sane (well I think I did anyway).
1. Good Souls Better Angels by Lucinda Williams - I wasn't sure at first, but now I'm convinced it's one of her best. The guitars sting, and so do her lyrics. The production- Ray Kennedy of Twang Trust fame is involved- makes it feel like she's in the room.
2. Reunions by Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit - Yet another superb album from Mr. Isbell... no doubt various awards will follow, and deservedly so.
3. Letter to You by Bruce Springsteen - ……..and let's not forget The E-Street Band. A real tonic towards the end of a horrible year.
4. Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan - I agonised over whether to include this. Fascinating for the lyrical content and admirable for the way he has found to make best use of what's left of his voice. Ultimately it had to be chosen because... it contains multitudes.
5. Starting Over by Chris Stapleton - Possibly his best album yet, covering many bases including his love of traditional country, blue-eyed soul, and rock'n'roll barn-burners, but it's all distinctively, unmistakeably him. Damned with faint grudging praise by the Editor of Country Music People- that's as good as a badge of honour!
And there's more...
Five Sonic Smiths.
1. Bessie. The Empress of The Blues. 'T' weren't nobody's business if she did.
2. Huey "Piano." Don't you just know it... he suffered from rockin' pneumonia and the boogie-woogie flu.
3. Jimmy. Gave the Hammond organ a jazz language.
4. Will. Developed from a Fresh Prince into an "A" list movie star.
5. Johnny Marr. Have I missed anything obvious?
Five Jumping Joneses.
1. Jo. I bet Charlie Watts is a great admirer.
2. George. The Rolls Royce of Country singers. He loved his lawnmower.
3. Paul. The one in the middle.
4. Willie and Laura Mae. Old friends of Tony Joe White.
5. Mrs. Special friend of Billy Paul.
Five Music Books on Various Genres.
1. Jazz: "Stomping The Blues," by Albert Murray. Beautiful, insightful and poetic.
2. Blues: "The History of The Blues," by Francis Davis. The best book I've come across on the subject. (What? Better than "Deep Blues" by Robert Palmer? Yes).
3. Country: "In The Country of Country," by Nicholas Dawidoff. Based largely on a series of interviews conducted by the author, this is guaranteed to give the reader a better appreciation of the music.
4. Rock'n'Roll: "Unsung Heroes of Rock'n'Roll," by Nick Tosches. "Nick Tosches is the best music writer in America." (Andy Kershaw).
5. Soul: "Sweet Soul Music," by Peter Guralnick. "Peter Guralnick is the best music writer in America." (Philip Aldous).
Alan’s Top 5 Albums of 2020
"2019.... A vintage year for collecting?......17 new and 'pre-loved' albums and 38 new and 'pre-loved' singles and EP's.... a great year!!!!"
What a difference a year makes!!!!! Purchases have been few and far between during 2020 with an accrued total just six albums, one EP and ten singles. Of course, quality hasn't been sacrificed but it's the accidental and casual purchases that sometimes bring the most pleasure. We've been ultra-cautious here in Saham, click and collect on a weekly basis with tins etc being washed in Miltons before being put away. Most 'excursions' were to very quiet places with Wells Next The Sea, Cromer and Sheringham almost becoming 'no-go' areas between July and September. Passing some of my usual haunts (errrrm, charidee shoppes!) has been doubly frustrating i.e. they're not open and, even when they are/were, I wouldn't go in anyway!!!
So, what possible lists to prepare?
2020 has proved a reflective period and I suspect that's been the same for virtually all the RPM members. As a result of the lack of new stuff, my listings for this year will reflect that sombre mood by looking back at what's hit the decks in 'general' terms as well as some specific artists:
2020 Top six albums purchased:
1. Brinsley Schwarz- Live at the Black Swan, Sheffield December 8th 1974 (double CD)
2. Van Der Graaf Generator- Live at Rockpalast (Ltd edition, numbered, triple purple vinyl)
3. PJ Harvey- Dry Demos (re-issue)
4. PJ Harvey-To bring you my love Demos (re-issue)
5. Nino Tempo/April Stevens-All strung out (US issue)
6. Betty Wright-You'll lose a good thing (re-issue)
2020 Top Five singles/EP's purchased:
1. Kingsmen - Louie, Louie
2. Cookies - Girls grow up faster than boys do
3. Denny Laine (and the Electric String Band) - At the BBC 1967 (EP)
4. Every Mothers Son - Come on down to my boat
5. Ramona King - It's in his kiss
"My blue blanket" choices:
Really, it's all about the genres this year, although certain bands and artists have landed on the deck more often than others. Here's a few in no specific order (as they say on 'Strictly....):
The Who- I can't explain
The Creation- Making time
Small Faces- Grow your own
Rolling Stones- It's all over now
P J Harvey- Shame
Spacemen 3- Just to see you smile (Honey Part 2)
The Byrds- Mr Tambourine man
Count 5- Psychotic reaction
Jaynetts- Sally go round the roses
Jellybeans- I'm hip to you
Jimi Hendrix- Hey Joe
plus many other mod/r&b
And on the album front:
Beatles 1966 and before
Rolling Stones 1966 and before
The Who- My Generation
Small Faces- S/T Decca
Tamla and Atlantic/Stax
Planet Records V/A
and especially Peter Hammill
Apologies that this year's listing ain't up to my usual, but it really has been just a matter of the aural equivalent of 'comfort eating' during lockdowns/ etc!!!
With the introduction of the Isolation Room/Seven Day Soundtrack features, I know we've all enjoyed compiling and listening to everyone’s great choices during the last ten months. THANK YOU to all our members for their choices.
Dave’s Top Albums List of 2020.
1. Straight Songs of Sorrow by Mark Lanegan (Favourite track: Bleed All Over)
2. American Head by The Flaming Lips (Favourite track: Assassins of Youth)
3. Deleter by Holy Fuck (Favourite track: Deleters)
4. In Your Dreams by Tim Koh (Favourite track: Don’t Ever Give Up On Love)
5. Acid Punk Dub Apocalypse by Youth Meets Jah Wobble (Favourite track: Inspector Out of Space)
Here’s five tunes that have brought a smile to my face
1. Stop the Dams by Gorillaz
2. Doorman by Slowthai
3. AAAA by Working Mans Club
4. Grave Robbing In Gig Harbour by The Men They Couldn’t Hang
5. Everlasting Love by U2
John’s Top 5 Album’s of 2020
Top 5 Purchases of 2020 -
1. Black Roots - Take It (Promo CD)
2. Clarence Carter - This Is Clarence Carter (CD)
3. Imarhan - Imarhan (LP)
4. Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares (LP)
5. Neil Young & The Promise Of The Real - Earth (CD)
Top 5 Books I've read in 2020 with a musical connection .
1. Unknown Pleasures - Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook
2. 1971 - Never a Dull Moment by David Hepworth
3. Vaughan Oliver - Visceral Pleasures by Rick Poyner
4. Standing In The Shadows Of Motown - The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jameson by A.Slutsky
5. Bass Culture - When Reggae Was King by Lloyd Bradley
Gigs and events in 2020 that I had bought tickets for that have been postponed or cancelled -
The Stranglers (UEA)
Cambridge Folk Festival (featuring, among others, Cat Stevens)
The Manfreds (Princess Theatre, Hunstanton)
Julian Cope (The Waterfront, Norwich)
Tom Robinson Band (Norwich Arts Centre)
Deepdale Festival (featuring, among others, Martin Simpson)
James Taylor Quartet (Norwich Arts Centre)
...Some have been rescheduled (3 or 4 times so far in some cases) so, hopefully, most of them will take place in 2021.
Piers - My year in sound; a Top 5 list.
It is mid morning, in the odd limbo between Christmas and New Year. I sit here, still wearing my ‘Black Watch’ tartan pyjama bottoms, and sheepskin mukluks, smelling of ‘Olbas Oil’. I have nearly drained a second mug of strong coffee and nibble a Bendick’s ‘Bitter Chocolate Mint’, as I listen, ponder, mutter to myself and occasionally type, whilst Jayne labours elsewhere. That, in itself kind of sums up 2020! But musically…
One morning I woke with this tune in my head. I once heard Andy Cutting perform it at Cromer. His version is lovely but I think this this is beautiful.
Sarah Loughran and Paul Young - Origin Of The World
And to my mind this is almost excruciatingly fine
Anna & Elizabeth - The Invisible Comes to Us
Despite my recently explained attempts to gain recognition as a candidate for Scottish nationality there is no escaping my attachment to this quintessentially English folk tune…
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Five Variants of "Dives and Lazarus"
I have been listening to a huge amount of acoustic instrumental folk music this year, but there have been other themes too, the most dominant of which have included serial, electronic and ambient jazz,.
Here is bit of nostalgia, One of my favourite recordings ever…..
Terry Riley and John Cale - Church of Anthrax
øjeRum - Needleshaped Silence
In what has been a pretty bleak year, RPM has been a constant pleasure. Thanks for posting folks and Happy New Year all.
Jean – Top 5 List of my 2020 Music
I didn’t purchase any CDs until December and then I bought 3. They are all new releases.
McCartney III by Paul McCartney – recorded in a home studio
Infinite Things by Paloma Faith – recorded in a home studio
Royal Tea by Joe Bonamassa – recorded early 2020 at Abbey Road Studios.
To make up my list to 5 I’ve chosen two favourite CDs that I played all year long – especially when I needed some uplifting singalongs.
*Traveling Wilburys Vol 3 by The Traveling Wilburys (2007) ( * Wish those Americans would get the spelling right!)
Redemption by Joe Bonamassa (2018)
Tony’s List of 2020.
I've looked back at my acquisitions this year, a bit more sparse than usual due to the obvious constraints that the bug imposed on us……
As ever I regularly dipped into the offerings on Ebay - sometimes prompted to purchase due to selections made by my compadres in RPM, sometimes following up on music heard in the ether and occasionally because one of my regular searches flagged up an interesting item.
I also managed to attend one big car boot sale twixt lockdowns and a few visits to local charity shops which usually these days no longer bear any good fruit but I did have one good 'tickle'. Here’s my list and notes about how acquired.
Wildflowers (CD) Tom Petty
Wildflowers & All The Rest (CD) Tom Petty
Both Ebay purchases prompted by selections shared by Tim. The previously unreleased tracks proved to be an excellent addition to the original release. I would have liked the vinyl but a bit pricey if you ask me…….
Venom and Faith (CD) Larkin Poe
Reskinned (CD) Larkin Poe
Self Made Man (CD) Larkin Poe
Basically I cleaned out everything that HMV had on their shelves after hearing a track chosen by Piers. These girls are special and I would love them to bring out an album of blues covers. I'd also love to see them play live but doubt it will happen.
Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle (LP) Dana Gillespie
Blue Job (LP) Dana Gillespie
Another couple of LP's that I bought on Ebay after being wowed by a track chosen by Morra. I also watched some documentary footage of this remarkable lady who, for some reason, went right under my radar for all these years. There are more albums by her yet to be acquired but hopefully they will be part of my reportage next year.
The Brunswick Singles (7" Box Set) The Who
I bought this at a car boot which was held between lockdowns for £15. It was in near mint condition but minus the prized Fontana repro of "Zoot Suit"/"I'm The Face" by The High Numbers hence the price. A bit of patience paid off and after missing out on several different examples I managed to win a minty copy of a Fontana repro with a four prong centre (the original repro of the set was solid centre).
Sixties Girl Group Classics (3LP set on 180g Blue Vinyl) Various
The World of The Flirtations (LP) The Flirtations
Both purchased on Ebay
Living In A Ghost Town by Rolling Stones (10"Singles on Purple and Orange Vinyl + CD)
Bought on Ebay auction prior to release for £30 with free p&p and had
to wait for around 6 weeks thinking that they wouldn't arrive but pleased that they eventually did. I loved the single and these make a nice addition to my Stones collection.
Pendulum by Creedence Clearwater Revival (LP)
Another Ebay auction. This copy was still shrink wrapped Back to Black copy on 180g. Perfect for £12.80 inc p&p.
Atlantic Rhythm and Blues 1947-1974 (7 LP set in slipcase)
I already had these 7 LP's from many moons ago but they lacked the case.
Bought as a 'best offer' for £20.50 and hope to recoup this when I sell the unboxed set later. A superb compilation from Atlantic.
I bought a number of other LP's including by James Taylor (One Man Dog),
Teddy Pendergrass (Love Language), Johnny Burnette (..Sings Rare Items Vol 1 and 2) Gary 'US' Bonds and The American Men (Standing In The Line of Fire).
I also bought around 30 45's for 50p each which included a very nice copy of 'Loving You' on purple and gold HMV and 9 Roy Orbison singles in London sleeves.
Last week my luck ran out when I was beaten to 3 early 50's copies of Vogue 78's by Muddy Waters . I did, however, win a new friend (the vendor) who also collects 78's and hope that I can prise some American Blues away from him in future in exchange for his favoured Jazz. There'll be some other copies out there and I enjoy the thrill of the chase but itwould have been nice to pick up all 3 in one go.
The year was topped off nicely when my sons clubbed together and bought me
"The Studio Albums 1978-1991) by Dire Straits (6 LP set in slipcase) for Christmas.
Best wishes and a very happy New Year.