2019 RPMer's Top 5s
Jean’s Top 5 Albums bought in 2019
1. Redemption by Joe Bonamassa (2018 CD)
2. Cloud Nine by George Harrison (1987 original vinyl)
3. Arc of a Diver by Steve Winwood (1980 original vinyl)
4. Seventh Sojourn by The Moody Blues (1972 original vinyl)
5. The Architect by Paloma Faith (2018 CD)
Jean says, “This year I have bought far more music than I have for decades. I rarely buy completely new albums…..I’m always at least a year on (from release dates). As you can see, I have vintage albums in my list. I have bought lots of albums from the 70s and 80s which weren’t really my taste then. It’s lucky that lots of people in my age group clung onto their vinyl collections. No matter how enhanced, re-vamped or tweaked new vinyl remakes are, they will never be better than the raw originals. Welcome back vinyl…..hope you never go away again!”
Tim’s Top 5 Albums of 2019
1. In Cauda Venenum by Opeth
The Swedish progsters continue to amaze with the depths of their musical inventiveness. That’s a very short sentence to sum up a lot of music. Oh, and their live show at UEA was pretty spiffing as well.
2. Ancora by Flook
After a recording hiatus of 14 years, the best whistle and flute led folk band….ever, make their studio comeback with a fresh and contemporary set of modern instrumentals. Catch them at Folk In A Field 2020.
3. Let’s Rock by The Black Keys
Auerbach and Carney back together again after 5 years and doing what they do best…….without outside interference from Danger Mouse! It’s blues-ey, it’s psychedelic-ey, it’s pop-ey in a good way….it’s great.
4. The Universe Also Collapses by Gong
The Gong flame is in safe and capable hands with the current post Daevid Allen line-up. If you love spacey psychedelic prog rock, infused with modern jazz riffs and rhythms, do not let this album pass you by…..man.
5. Guy by Steve Earle
Philip cover your eyes and ears……..but tbh, Guy Clark is an artist I respect but can pretty much live without playing his music, so this album was one I almost didn’t buy. What a great loss that would have been! Steve Earl’s tribute to his friend and mentor Clark who died in 2016 is the best bunch of Steve Earl songs that Steve Earl never wrote………..especially Out In The Parking Lot; minimal chords, minimalist lyrics, maximum effect. Now, that’s how to write a song.
1. Down on Deptford Broadway by Skinny Lister
Sometimes an album comes along which is perfect; no filler tracks, well scheduled track order and makes you wanna go “YEAAAAHHHH!”. Down on Deptford Broadway by punk pop folksters Skinny Lister is one of those. If this had been newly released in 2019 instead of 2015, it would have been my album of the year (I discovered them in 2018). This re-issue of their 2nd album on (orange) vinyl is totally required listening for lovers of enthusiastic roots rock……..go and buy it now.
2. Anne Briggs by Anne Briggs
The eponymous 1971 debut album re-released after 48 years and listening to this (gold vinyl) LP again, it’s clear to see why Anne Briggs is held in such high regard in the folk world. Simply classic.
3. 1999 Party by Hawkwind
After stating in my 2019 review blurb that I collect LPs for the music they contain rather than for the objects that they are, it has to be said that this album is a thing of beauty. The first time on vinyl, this Record Store Day release captures the Hawks live in full flight whilst touring America in 1974. Simply essential, of course.
4. Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd
Record Store Day comes up with another gem. Remastered mono vinyl re-release of Pink Floyds second album sounding amazing and timed perfectly to coincide with Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets band UK tour which stopped off at Cambridge corn Exchange on 1st May.
5. Demo / An Imperfect Cadence by (the)Red Dear
(the)Red Dear are Izzy and Dylan, a brother and sister acoustic psych-folk duo from Norfolk (UK). This self-produced release on cassette gathers together their first two EPs of material and I think it’s a rather fine piece of original work.
1. Wedgie clear 0.73mm
2. Dava Power Grip (the white one)
3. Dunlop Delvin 500 Standard 1.5mm (great for Irish tunes on tenor banjo)
4. Dunlop Tortex Triangle green 0.88mm
5. Ozark Heavy (bass pick with an extra-long grippy bit, but great for tenor banjo, again)
Sal’s Top 5 CDs purchased in 2019
1. Joseph Arthur - The Graduation Ceremony
2. Daniel Land - The Dream Of The Red Sails
3. Brendon Benson - The Alternative To Love
4. Noah & The Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
5. Miles Kane - Colour Of The Trap
John’s top purchases from 2019
(A flexible 5 in no particular order)
Imarhan - Temet (LP + download)
I saw this band on the main stage at this year's Cambridge Folk Festival. Amazing! They are carrying the desert blues flame lit by the likes of Tinariwen but they have the added boost of youth and added influences of funk, rock and reggae....superb!
Big Star - The Best of Big Star (CD)
Big Star are one of those bands that the world and his wife cite as influences....so I thought I'd better check 'em out. Bought this CD (new/sealed) at Leicester Record Fair for 3 quid! Bargain....excellent stuff! I've now got to search out some of their other albums....!
Pete Brown - Living Life Backwards (promo CD)
Great compilation of Pete Brown's time with Piblokto and Battered Ornaments etc.. Weird Prog from the man who wrote many of the lyrics for Cream.
Misty In Roots - Live At The Counter Eurovision (LP)
A great album from one of Britain's finest reggae bands. This was released in 1979 and they're still going strong; check out their 6Music Festival performance on You Tube.
The Ukrainians - The Ukrainians (LP)
I was introduced to The Ukrainians via John Peel's nightly radio show back in the eighties. A spin-off from The Wedding Present, they released Українські Виступи в Івана Піла (meaning 'Ukrainian John Peel Sessions') as The Wedding Present. But this debut album as The Ukrainians was released in 1991, the year Ukraine won its independence from the Soviet Union.
Peter Tosh - Mama Africa (LP)
You can never have too many Peter Tosh albums....I found this at Norwich Record Fair. The cover and the opening track herald an album of hope, joy and optimism!
Lucy Rose - Something's Changing (LP)
U Brown - Black Star Liner (12" Single)
In the late seventies I used to tape the John Peel Show from the radio and then 'edit' them to create my own compilations. Among the three or four reggae cassettes I created was a snippet of this track. As I'd edited out Peely's voice I had no Idea who the track was by. With the help of Google and You Tube I finally tracked it down.....you wouldn't believe how many different songs by countless different artists have the title Black Star Liner!
There were many other CDs and LPs purchased in 2019 but I feel I need to stop here. However I will just mention two albums that I was thrilled to find on LP (Man - Maximum Darkness and Van Der Graaf Generator - World Record) plus the two CDs of Native American Chants that I bought at a car boot sale for five pence each.....!
All the best for 2020 to all RPMers and thanks to Tim for all his sterling work. Cheers, John.
Philip’s Top 5s of 2019
Top 5 Albums
1. Up and Rolling by North Mississippi Allstars
Not some 21st century pastiche of the Blues, this is genuine North Mississippi hill country folk music featuring members of the Burnside and Turner families who have been playing this music for generations. Do not stream or download this record…..it is worth listening to as an album, and the package on CD or vinyl includes an excellent essay by Luther Dickinson.
2. Out of Sight by Jake Xerxes Fussell
This man researches traditional material and performs his versions thereof, and does so on this album with a terrific backing group. Most of the songs are quite obscure, starting with a fishmonger's sales pitch, and ending with a shanty. The best-known number is a version of "Jubilee," but the centrepiece of the album is a beautiful rendering of "The Rainbow Willow," a traditional ballad of which there are many variants.
3. Country Squire by Tyler Childers
The decidedly psychedelic cover belies the fact that this is quite possibly the best country record of the year. Traditional instrumentation produced to leap out of the speakers like the best pop records used to do, behind Mr. Childers' distinctive Kentucky tones. There are some contemporary country classics among the self-penned material- the title cut, "Bus Route" and "All Your'n" being my favourites.
4. Fever Breaks by Josh Ritter
It is easy to under-estimate Josh Ritter- he has been described as "The perennial support artist." This, however, is a superb collection of songs that may well come to stand as a career high, especially as it is produced by Jason Isbell and features Isbell and his crack backing band the 400 Unit, throughout.
5. Tales of America by J.S. Ondara
How to describe this? I've heard nothing quite like it in this or any other year. Americana with a Kenyan accent perhaps? Mr. Ondara has a remarkable back-story. Growing up in Kenya he was obsessed by America and developed an over-weening ambition to live there. If this album has a theme it is his journey from his Kenyan youth to adulthood in America, and how America is not quite the place of his dreams. The lyrics veer from the naïve to the poetic to the somewhat obscure but, combined with his exhilarating voice and exemplary backing from musicians including members of the L.A. band Dawes, are never less than fascinating.
Top 5 albums by female artists
1. Songs of Our Native Daughters by Our Native Daughters.
2. Walk Through Fire by Yola.
3. We Get By by Mavis Staples.
4. What Will We Do by Lula Wiles.
5. Wildcard by Miranda Lambert…(who is of course from Texas)
Top 5 albums of Texan music
1. What It Is by Hayes Carll.
2. Tall, Dark and Handsome by Delbert Mc Clinton and The Self-Made Men + Dana.
3. Texas by Rodney Crowell.
4. Guy by Steve Earle and The Dukes.
5. Ride Me Back Home by Willie Nelson.
Top 5 Books by Peter Guralnick
1. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm & Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom.
2. Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock'n 'Roll.
3. Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians.
4. Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley.
5. Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke.
Top 5 Gigs attended in 2019 (going to have to cheat here)
1. Hot Club of Cowtown
2. Joe Brown
3. Albert Lee
4. Kate Rusby
5. Count Arthur Strong (ok so not strictly speaking a music event, but his cack-handed "tributes" to David Bowie and Freddie Mercury made me laugh till my face hurt).
Dave’s Top Albums and tracks of 2019.
Stunning Luxury by Snapped Ankles
The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark by Dillard and Clark
Kings Mouth by Flaming Lips
Face Stabber by Oh Sees
Quarantine The Past by Pavement
1969 Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed
Substance 1987 by New Order
Neat Neat Neat by The Damned
By Your Side by Beachwood Sparks
Cement Miner by Clinic
Tony's Top 5 Albums bought in 2019 (new, reissued and used), in no particular order of likeability
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band "The Traveller" (2019 Vinyl)
The Alan Parsons Project "Eye In The Sky" (1981 Carboot find Exc Vinyl & Sleeve 50p)
Pete Townsend + Ronnie Lane "Rough Mix" (1977 Reissue on Coloured Vinyl)
The Who "Who" (2019 HMV Ltd edition double Vinyl)
Buddah Records Various "Leaders of the Pack" (charity shop find £1 Exc after machine clean) Includes hard to find tracks by Jelly Beans, Ad-Libs, Sopwith Camel, Shangri-Las, Tommy James and the Shondells
Alan’s Top 5s of 2019
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!!!! Of special note this year are the new release EP's, which feature not only some of rock's greatest, seminal artists, but also rare live performances of their 'peak period' recordings. 'The Rolling Stones at the London Palladium 1967' includes a terrific re-working of 'It's all over now' which has to be heard to be believed. Hendrix is on top form and the Small Faces EP, despite comprising four previously released instrumentals, is a lovely package thanks to a wonderful 'mod' era photo which I haven't seen before. Many of the EP's were from my 'new favourites' Juno Records with the Small Faces coming from Acid Jazz's newly re-launched 'Rare Mod' imprint. The Nick Nicely cover of Dylan's '...Watchtower' is as serious a re-working as that of Hendrix back in 1969 but, probably, not to everyone's taste. On the soul side there's great singles from Billy Preston, Willie Mitchell and Ruth Brown as well as an original US copy of the 'doo-wop' classic, £300+ rated single (for the UK release only unfortunately) by the Chantels. However, if you had told me last December that I would track down debut singles which are, in many cases, replacements for discs 'borrowed' at various late-night parties back in the day, I would have said that was impossible. These include great first singles by the Hollies, Pretty Things, Strangeloves and Cream plus fine releases from Them, the Merseys (with an excellent cover of a Who album track), Fleetwood Mac, Swinging Blue Jeans and Sun Dragon (with several from DJH Records via Discogs at an extremely nice price!!)
Pride of place on the album front in our house goes to the box set of Van Der Graaf Generator's (sort of) debut 'Aerosol Grey Machine'. Fingers crossed now for a similar box set for their 'proper' debut, 'The least we can do is wave to each other', sometime in early 2020 to celebrate that albums 50th anniversary. Pushing VDGG close are the expanded editions of Big Brother and the Holding Company's 'Cheap thrills', under it's initial, record company censored title, and the Groundhog's 'Blue's Obituary' (in blue vinyl and with 'bonus tracks'). On the 'new artist' (to me) front, is the mainly instrumental, almost ambient guitar of Chris Forsyth which has sparked my interest in his other solo and band work.
So, on to the lists (and, surprisingly, some of them are only 5!!)
NEW RELEASE EP's:
Gary Farr & T Bones- Live On Radio & TV 1965-66 (pic sleeve)
Jimi Hendrix Experience- Hendrix on Stage 1966-1967 (pic sleeve)
Small Faces- Four to the Floor (pic sleeve, compilation of previously released instrumentals)
P P Arnold-Greatest Hits Live 1967/68 (pic sleeve)
Rolling Stones-Live at the London Palladium 1967 (pic sleeve)
NEW RELEASE SINGLES (only 1!!):
Nick Nicely-All along the watchtower (white vinyl, pic sleeve, ltd edition)
NEW RELEASE/ RE-ISSUE ALBUMS (10):
Big Brother and the Holding Company: Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills (re-issue/alternate versions, unreleased tracks, double album with inners)
Groundhogs-Blues Obituary (blue vinyl, re-issue plus extra tracks)
Chris Forsyth-All time present (Double album)
Van Der Graaf Generator- Aerosol Grey Machine (re-issue, box set, 2 x CD, 7" single, album, booklet)
James Carr- The Best Of...
Sonny Boy Williamson and the Yardbirds- S/T (re-issue)
Manfred Mann-Radio Days Vol 1-The Paul Jones Era
Who-My Generation (re-issue... to replace my earlier, rather well worn, pressing!)
Otis Redding-Pain in my heart (gatefold sleeve, re-issue)
Mothers of Invention- Cruising with Ruben and the Jets (re-issue)
Blues and Soul (Various Pye/Marble Arch label inc Joe Tex, Mitty Collier, Jamo Thomas etc)
King Crimson- In the wake of Poseidon (Pink Island orig issue , mono)
James Taylor Quartet-Mission Impossible (mini-LP)
Hollies- Would you believe? (orig issue, mono)
Big Bother and the Holding Company-Cheaper Thrills (French re-issue)
PRE-LOVED 60's SINGLES (12):
Merseys-So sad about us
* Byrds-I trust (Everything is gonna work out) (US issue)
* Tradewinds-Mind Excursion (US issue)
Sun Dragon-Green Tambourine
Them-One more time
Hollies-(Ain't that) Just like me
Fleetwood Mac-Need your love so bad
Moody Blues-Boulevard de la Madeleine
Swinging Blue Jeans-Crazy 'bout my baby
PRE-LOVED SOUL/BLUES SINGLES:
Valentinos-Sweeter than the day before (DJ copy, re-issue, split single with the Dells)
* Butterflys-Good Night Baby (US issue)
Billy Preston-Billy's Bag
Willie Mitchell-Soul Serenade
Ruth Brown- Papa Daddy/I don't know (re-issue)
PRE-LOVED 50's/EARLY 60's SINGLES/EP's:
The Chucks-Loo Be Loo
* Chantels-Maybe (US issue)
Ricky Nelson-Be-Bop Baby
Helen Shapiro-Helen (EP, 'smiling' pic sleeve)
CD's (1, yep, only ONE)
Manfred Mann- EP Collection (Box set of 7 EP's in replica sleeves)
* Courtesy John Bramley
ARTISTS MOST REPRESENTED IN MY COLLECTION:
5.= Beach Boys/ P J Harvey 12
4. REM 14
3. Rolling Stones 20
2. Peter Hammill/Van Der Graaf Generator 31 (*)
1. Beatles 33
(* Combined as Hammill is both lead vocalist and songwriter on his own solo and VDGG albums.)
Singles (inc. EP's/12" versions):
5. Everly Brothers 14
4. Beach Boys 15
3.= Kinks/Manfred Mann 16
2. Rolling Stones 24
1. Beatles 32
MOST PLAYED ALBUM TRACK IN 2019:
Who- Anyway, anyhow, anywhere (live BBC session 24th May 1965): Also qualifies as Favourite 'Air Guitar' track!!!
MOST PLAYED SINGLE IN 2019:
Count V- Psychotic Reaction (the first psychedelic single I ever bought)
HAPPIEST HUNTING GROUNDS:
Looses Emporium, Norwich (in particular, Lost Property)
Vinyl Vault, Holt
St Gregory's Church, Norwich
Juno Records (internet) https://www.juno.co.uk
DJH Records (via Discogs) https://www.discogs.com/seller/DHJ_Records/profile
(Special mention to Shiva Music, Tarragona: great selection of new and used vinyl. Unfortunately I was 'time pressed' on my visit otherwise the Euro may have taken a battering!!)