Stampers, Numbers & Quality

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

nightfly ultradiscI couldn’t resist it – the email from music direct that announced the release of “The Nightfly” from Mobile Fidelity – using UltraDisc One Step. The ultimate luxury edition – even though I can’t stand 45rpm records (they sound great – but you no sooner sit down than you’re up again flipping the record). Bear in mind that I already have 2 vinyl versions (my original 80s record that still sounds great and a newer reissue that I received as a gift and haven’t played yet), 2 DVDA versions, 2 CDs and another vinyl copy in the “Cheap X-Mas” box set. It sounds good – (and I’ll talk about the one step process in a different post) yes – but that is not the point of my post.

Amofis I eagerly awaited my copy of “The Nightfly”, I pondered how low a number I would get – surely below 1000, hopefully lower than 500. In fact, my copy is number 35xx – about as “collectable” as any random vinyl release (which probably number less than 5000). In early December I went to my local record shop and picked up a copy of U2’s “Songs of Experience” – superdeluxe box – numbered 12,xxx. A few minutes later, I went into the other, now closed, store – and there was a copy on the shelf – numbered 9xxx. Arrragh – that was 3000 copies later. For a moment, I pondered a return of the one I bought – and then realized how ridiculous the whole situation actually was. Firstly, if you believe in this numbered mumbo jumbo – only the first couple of hundred would be in any wall collectable – the lower the better. Second – what the heck does the number actually mean?

soe sdI have no idea how many copies of Super Deluxe Songs of Experience were produced – maybe 30 or 40K (maybe 13K!) – but the numbering must be specific to the box. There is no difference in boxing from one box to another, nor presumably anything inside the box except the vinyl records. So, if the numbering was to matter, then there would have to be a correlation between the number and the quality of the record. Does anybody really believe that box number 875 contains the 875th record pressed? Absolutely not – for all we know it was the 1875th record pressed – presuming the pressing plant(s) pressed up all of the albums in one large batch. The boxes were likely made and numbered elsewhere. Also, presuming that the stampers punch out fewer than 1000 albums each (maybe 500 or 600), even if they were sequential in pressing order, clearly album 1375 would be a fresher pressing than number 575. But, of course, if you believe in the whole “hot stamper” thing, then there is a massive difference in the quality of pressing from one to the next. So the number means NOTHING. I seem to be incapable of getting hold of any record with a low number – but I have a few Mobile Fidelity records that are numbered below 1000 and below 500 (Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle, Elvis Costello), some in the 1000s (Lynyrd Skyynrd, Allman Bros, Miles Davis) and some in the 10,000s (Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks). The lower numbered pressings don’t sound appreciably better to me. Moreover, I have records from the 1970s and 1980s that I bought back then, on 120g or 140g that sound significantly better than the modern 180g virgin vinyl (presumably digitally sourced) re-issue – where the number pressed would be fewer and the stampers more limited.

In conclusion, I think that the numbering of records (and don’t start me on SACDs) is a distraction that is of close to no significance with regard to the quality of the pressing and the sound of the album. Of course, if I ever get a MOFI with number 5 or 15 or 50, I might think otherwise…..

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The Great Vinyl Resurgence Myth

•January 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

vinylThere has been a solid increase in vinyl records sales, year on year, since 2007. So, the “vinyl resurgence” has been going on for a decade. Every week, during that period, I have come across an article in a newspaper, magazine or on-line about how vinyl is saving the music industry. This is nonsense. The vinyl resurgence will plateau and then fade out, gradually. To understand this, you need to know just who buys vinyl records.

Vinyl record buyers (mostly men) fall into the following categories: record collectors, audiophiles, physical music enthusiasts, music “fans”, middle age nostalgia hunters and hipsters.

Record collectors are serious people. They are of close to no value to the music industry because they are principally interested in historic recordings – records that hold significant value – such as mint early pressings of the Beatles or Stones. They purchase in secondary markets from one another. While record collectors might bother with occasional limited edition box sets or record store day exclusives, they have close to no interest in new music – the motor of the industry.

Music enthusiasts (myself included) like physical products and typically have large collections of records, tapes and CDs. They are major players in the vinyl resurgence as, typically, they spend a lot of money at once for records – old and new. However, after 10 years, presumably, the enthusiast has already purchased most of the historic recordings that they would have wished for (including rare copies on discogs or ebay) and so are limited to new releases (every year the quality of new popular music declines) and gimmicks – such as box sets, re-issues etc. Sooner or later enthusiasts will run out of product to buy and, more importantly, space to store their records (which was why we all liked CDs and MP3s in the first place. Also, they are getting old……

Music “fans” are individuals who love specific bands/artists and wish to have memorabilia by them. If you love Ed Sheeran or Queens of the Stone Age, sure – that vinyl record that will never be played is a nice item – but these folks are not long term vinyl buyers. In fact, the industry’s failure to invest in anything but bubblegum pop for the last 15 years has resulted in a dearth of bands for teenagers and young adults to follow and become passionate about. Who will be filling arenas in 10 years time – 80+ year old Rolling Stones and U2?

Nostalgia hunters are typically middle aged people who got rid of their records 30 years ago and bought CDs, and then came back and bought the same records again. This appears to me to be the major motor of the vinyl resurgence (see below) – and it will not last. There is only so many copies of Sgt Pepper and the Dark Side of the Moon that you can own, really. Nostalgia hunters are only interested in buying records that they liked when they were 13 or so – not what is being released now (and frankly, given the state of retromania – who can blame them?). What is particularly frightening is the prospect of the current group of teens and young adults when they reach nostalgia age – there are so few bands and so few great records out there – what will they buy? 1990s era reissues are great – and will continue to sell – but 2005 to 2017 – not great music years.

Hipsters – they move on to the next cool thing.

Below is a list of the top 20 selling vinyl albums in the UK in 2017. I have highlighted in red the original 2017 releases – literally only 1 – Rag’n bone Man is a “new artist”. It looks like Oasis fans are holding the whole thing together.

1 ÷ Ed Sheeran
2 As You Were Liam Gallagher
3 Rumours Fleetwood Mac
4 Guardians Of The Galaxy – Awesome Mix 1 Original Soundtrack
5 Back To Black Amy Winehouse
6 Human Rag’n’bone Man
7 The Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd
8 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles
9 What’s The Story Morning Glory Oasis
10 Legacy David Bowie
11 Ok Computer Radiohead
12 Legend Bob Marley & The Wailers
13 Who Built The Moon Noel Gallagher’s High Flying
14 The Stone Roses Stone Roses
15 Nevermind Nirvana
16 Abbey Road Beatles
17 Greatest Hits Queen
18 Unplugged In New York Nirvana
19 Guardians Of The Galaxy – Awesome Mix 2 Original Soundtrack
20 The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust David Bowie

Below is a list of the top selling vinyl albums in the US in 2017. What is frightening here is the fact that the largest selling vinyl album of 2017 was released 50 years ago. Of course, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Stapleton and Eminem are not listed here – which proves my point. I would like someone to explain to me the (frankly) unbelievable popularity of “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse – a fine album to be sure – on CD – it is almost certainly the WORST modern vinyl pressing that I own. Moreover, despite nearly all of the recordings below originating from the analogue era – each one of these records was digitally sourced (i.e. unlikely to be better than CD). The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack was great fun – but really – a Spotify playlist on vinyl?

TOP 10 SELLING VINYL ALBUMS OF 2017 IN U.S.
Rank Artist, Title  Sales
1 The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  72000
2 The Beatles Abbey Road  66000
3 Soundtrack Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1  62000
4 Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide)  62000
5 Amy Winehouse Back to Black  58000
6 Prince Purple Rain (Soundtrack)  58000
7 Bob Marley Legend: The Best Of…  49000
8 Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon  54000
9 Soundtrack La La Land  49000
10 Michael Jackson, Thriller  49000
Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period Dec. 30, 2016 through Dec. 28, 2017.

Head Records Closes

•January 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

headI confess, I have become fatalistic about record shops. A new one, Head Records, opened in Galway during the autumn, in a mediocre shopping center location. I am familiar to the brand – they had an excellent store in Belfast, and two ok stores in Dublin. The Galway outlet was bigger and they had an excellent range of CDs and vinyl – it really was a good store for those getting into vinyl. However, I found the place quite expensive, with very standard fare – no audiophile stuff, very limited Jazz etc – and my back catalogue is pretty full. I didn’t think that the store would last.

Just after Christmas, I dropped by and there was a 20% off sale (i.e. prices now comparable with the internet). I bought a few records. I came by the next day and the sale was over. I came by two days later and the shop was closed. As usual, when record shops close, I go into mourning. However, I figured that this was a cynical Christmas “pop up” shop, that closed after the holidays. I was wrong. The whole chain collapsed and went into liquidation – the employees were given no notice. This is devastating for anyone interested in owning physical product.

The music retail industry is on its knees – forget the vinyl revolution bump – I’ll address this myth in my next blog – if there is nowhere to flick through a vinyl rack – or impulsively buy a CD from the rack, physical product sales will plummet and die. Even if it is in a neglected corner of FNAC or Urban Outfitters, there has to be somewhere for us to buy records.

head

Head Records – Galway October 2017 (note – scarily empty of customers).

Albums of the Year 2017

•January 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

oops – forgot to post this in December.

NEW ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

Ok – so here is my list of albums of the year. Not a vintage year by any stretch and I am not sure that any of the albums listed below represents the best work by the artist. I accept that there is very little urban music – mostly because, with the exception of Kenrick Lamar, none of it interests me.  In the jazz section, I can only list what I have listened to – there are lots of well reviewed jazz albums that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Sorry, I didn’t like the St. Vincent album – but will try it again in a few months.

  1. Molly Burch – Please Be Mine
  2. Jesca Hoop – Memories Are Now
  3. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
  4. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
  5. Beck – Colors
  6. Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life
  7. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
  8. Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
  9. Ron Sexsmith – The Last Rider
  10. Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life

THE REST

  • Angaleena Presley – Wrangled
  • The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions
  • The Deslondes – Hurry Home
  • Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?
  • Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution
  • Margo Price – All American Made
  • The Waterboys – Out of All this Blue
  • The Weather Station – The Weather Station
  • Morrissey – Low in High School
  • Slowdive – Slowdive
  • Liam Gallagher – As You Were
  • Courtney Barnett And Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
  • U2 – Songs of experience
  • Foo Fighters – Concrete And Gold
  • Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
  • John Murry – A Short History Of Decay
  • Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains
  • Arcade Fire – Everything Now
  • Kevin Morby – City Music
  • Floating Points – Reflections – Mojave Desert
  • Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want?
  • Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
  • Richard Dawson – Peasant
  • Alt-J – Relaxer
  • Steve Earle & The Dukes – So You Wannabe An Outlaw
  • Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song
  • Evan Dando – Baby I’m Bored
  • Mark Lanegan Band – Gargoyle
  • Feist – Pleasure
  • Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud
  • Thundercat – Drunk
  • Robyn Hitchcock – Robyn Hitchcock
  • The Felice Brothers – Tonight At The Arizona
  • Bob Dylan – Triplicate
  • British Sea Power – Let The Dancers Inherit The Party
  • Amee Mann – Mental Illness
  • Spoon – Hot Thoughts
  • Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Navigator
  • Ron Gallo – Heavy Meta
  • The Shins – Heartworms
  • Alison Krauss – Windy City
  • Temples – Volcano
  • Grandaddy – Last Place
  • Son Volt – Notes Of Blue
  • The Dears – Times Infinity Volume One
  • Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway
  • Chuck Prophet – Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins
  • Ryan Adams – Prisoner
  • Kendrick Lamar – Damn
  • Duke Garwood – Garden Of Ashes
  • The XX – I See You
  • Elbow – Little Fictions
  • Brian Eno – Reflection
  • Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody
  • Paul Heaton & Jaqui Abbott – Crooked Calypso
  • Robert Plant – Carry Fire
  • Sparks – Hippopotamus
  • Steven Wilson – To The Bone
  • The Horrors – V
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast
  • Lana Del Rey – Lust for Life
  • Laura Marling – Sempa Femina
  • Chris Stapleton – From a room vol 1
  • Iron & Wine – Beast epic

NEW JAZZ

  • Vijay Iver – Far from over
  • Charles Lloyd New Quartet – Passin Thru
  • Ahmad Jamal – Marseille
  • Anouar Brahem – Blue Maqams
  • Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference
  • Charles Lloyd – Wild Man Dance
  • John Abercrombie Quartet – Up And Coming
  • Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau – Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
  • Avishai Cohen- Cross My Palm With Silver
  • Jan Garbarek – Places
  • Dejohnette, Grenadier, Medeski, Schofield – Hudson
  • Chris Potter – The Dreamer is the Dream

REISSUES

  • David Bowie – A New Career In A New Town [1977-1982]
  • Radiohead – OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017
  • Dennis Wilson – Bambu (The Caribou Sessions)
  • Lift To Experience – The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads (vinyl)
  • U2 – The Joshua Tree – 30th
  • The Beatles – Sgt Pepper – 50th
  • Interpol – Our Love to Admire
  • Neil Young – Hitchhiker
  • REM – Automatic For the People (box set)
  • Brian Eno – ½ Speed Remasters (Abbey Road Viny)
  • The Smiths – The Queen is Dead (boxset)
  • Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks (reissue of reissue)
  • Donald Fagen – XMas Box (vinyl)

JAZZ REISSUES

  • ECM vinyl reissues:
    • Circle – Paris – Concert
    • Keith Jarrett – The Survivors’ Suite
    • Gary Burton / Chick Corea – Crystal Silence
    • David Holland Quartet – Conference Of The Birds
  • Music Matters vinyl reissues (all extremely good)
  • Analogue Production – Prestige Vinyl Reissues (particularly Eric Dolphy)
  • The Bill Evans Trio – On A Monday Evening
  • Thelonius Monk – Les Liaisons Dangereuses

 

Neil Young – Jones Beach – June 14th 1989

•August 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I see that “Hitchiker” will be finally be released by Neil Young on September 8th. I never knew about the album until recently – how about Chrome Dreams Neil? Anyhow, I will buy it immediately on release. 1970s Neil Young is irresistible. The 1980s were another story….that was until the glorious summer of 1989. That year Neil released “Eldorado” – a Japan only EP (easy to obtain on Amazon these days) and the “Freedom” – my personal favorite from his canon – and one of my favorite records of all time. I’m not sure why this record resonates so well with me – I clearly remember the first time I heard it was in the Coffee Inn (long gone) in Dublin. Mostly the record, famous for “Rocking in the Free World,” is a rag-tag collection of leftovers and an extraordinary cover of “On Broadway.” But everything fits together perfectly and unexpectedly.

freedom vhsAbout a year after the release of Freedom – a VHS tape appeared under the same name. This was Neil playing live and solo at Jones Beach – a fantastic concert – but only 7 tracks. WTF? Many years later, I obtained a bootleg DVD (there is also a soundboard CD circulating), with perfect sound and really poor video. For the most part, this is 90 minutes of Neil, with his guitar and harmonica playing solo – an unbelievable setlist (?his greatest ever). Accompanied only by Ben Keith and Frank Sambedro, the great surprise is saved till last – a duet rendition of “Down by the river” with Bruce Springsteen. It is a fantastic concert. Hopefully, some day, anyday, we will get a nice high res audio-video release of this 5 star concert.

NEIL YOUNG JONES BEACH JUNE 14TH 1989 SETLIST

  1. My my hey hey (Out of the blue)
  2. Rockin’ in the free world
  3. Comes a time
  4. Sugar mountain
  5. Pocahontas
  6. Helpless
  7. Crime in the city
  8. For the turnstiles
  9. This old house
  10. Roll another number
  11. Too far gone
  12. This notes for you
  13. The needle and the damage done
  14. No more
  15. After the goldrush
  16. Heart of gold
  17. Ohio
  18. Rockin’ in the free world
  19. Powderfinger
  20. Down by the River (with Bruce Springsteen)

My Lifetime in Albums

•August 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Since January I have been listening to my life – one album a year for every year. Once album per artist – unless they had a very long career. Here is the list, roughly 2/3rd of the way through the year. Thoughts and reflections to follow.

Date Artist Album Year
01/01/17 The Beatles Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967
01/02/17 The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico 1967
01/03/17 The Doors The Doors 1967
01/04/17 The Kinks Something Else 1967
01/05/17 Love Forever Changes 1967
01/06/17 The Moody Blues Days of Our Future Past 1967
01/07/17 Tim Buckley Goodbye and Hello 1967
01/08/17 Van Morrison Astral Weeks 1968
01/09/17 Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland 1968
01/10/17 The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet 1968
01/11/17 The Band Music From the Big Pink 1968
01/12/17 Big Brother & The Holding Company Cheap Thrills 1968
01/13/17 Blood Sweat & Tears Blood, Sweat & Tears 1968
01/14/17 The Byrds Notorious Byrd Brothers 1968
01/15/17 Frank Zappa Hot Rats 1969
01/16/17 King Crimson In the Court of Kind Crimson 1969
01/17/17 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin 1969
01/18/17 Captain Beefheart Trout Mask Replica 1969
01/19/17 Crosby, Stills & Nash Crosby, Stills & Nash 1969
01/20/17 Santana Santana 1969
01/21/17 Fairport Convention Liege & Leaf 1969
01/22/17 Derek & the Dominoes Layla & Assorted Love Songs 1970
01/23/17 Traffic John Barleycorn Must Die 1970
01/24/17 The Grateful Dead Workingman’s Dead 1970
01/25/17 Black Sabbath Paranoid 1970
01/26/17 Nick Drake Byther Lyter 1970
01/27/17 Spirit Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus 1970
01/28/17 Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water 1970
01/29/17 The Who Who’s Next 1971
01/30/17 Marvyn Gaye What’s Goin’ On? 1971
01/31/17 David Crosby If I Could Only Remember My Name 1971
02/01/17 Can Tago Mago 1971
02/02/17 Jethro Tull Aqualung 1971
02/03/17 The Allman Brothers At Filmore East 1971
02/04/17 Joni Mitchell Blue 1971
02/05/17 David Bowie The Fall & Rise of Ziggy Stardust 1972
02/06/17 Yes Close to the Edge 1972
02/07/17 Roxy Music Roxy Music 1972
02/08/17 Harvest Neil Young 1972
02/09/17 Something / Anything Todd Rundgren 1972
02/10/17 Eagles Eagles 1972
02/11/17 Aphrodite’s Child 666 1972
02/12/17 Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon 1973
02/13/17 Bob Marley Catch A Fire 1973
02/14/17 Little Feat Dixie Chicken 1973
02/15/17 Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 1973
02/16/17 Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells 1973
02/17/17 John Martyn Solid Air 1973
02/18/17 Emerson Lake & Palmer Brain Salad Surgery 1973
02/19/17 Gene Clark No Other 1974
02/20/17 Gram Parsons Grevous Angel 1974
02/21/17 The Meters Rejuvenation 1974
02/22/17 Bad Company Bad Company 1974
02/23/17 Tom Waits The Heart of Saturday Night 1974
02/24/17 Richard & Linda Thompson I Want to See Bright Lights Tonight 1974
02/25/17 Gordon Lightfoot Sundown 1974
02/26/17 Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks 1975
02/27/17 Parliament Mothership Connection 1975
02/28/17 Patti Smith Horses 1975
03/01/17 Brian Eno Another Green World 1975
03/02/17 Willie Nelson Red Headed Stranger 1975
03/03/17 Rod Stewart Atlantic Crossing 1975
03/04/17 Tangerine Dream Rubycon 1975
03/05/17 Boston Boston 1976
03/06/17 Electric Light Orchestra A New World Record 1976
03/07/17 Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive 1976
03/08/17 Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life 1976
03/09/17 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers 1976
03/10/17 Ramones Ramones 1976
03/11/17 Boz Scaggs Silk Dreams 1976
03/12/17 Fleetwood Mac Rumours 1977
03/13/17 Meat Loaf Bat out of Hell 1977
03/14/17 Iggy Pop Lust for Life 1977
03/15/17 Steely Dan AJA 1977
03/16/17 Television Marquee Moon 1977
03/17/17 Original Soundtrack Saturday Night Fever 1977
03/18/17 Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks 1977
03/19/17 Blondie Parallel Lines 1978
03/20/17 Jean Michel Jarre Equinoxe 1978
03/21/17 Queen Jazz 1978
03/22/17 Kraftwerk The Man Machine 1978
03/23/17 The Cars The Cars 1978
03/24/17 Van Halen Van Halen 1978
03/25/17 Elvis Costello This Years’ Model 1978
03/26/17 Supertramp Breakfast in America 1979
03/27/17 Tubeway Army Replicas 1979
03/28/17 The Clash London Calling 1979
03/29/17 The Specials The Specials 1979
03/30/17 The Police Regatta De Blanc 1979
03/31/17 Pink Floyd The Wall 1979
04/01/17 Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps 1979
04/02/17 The Jam Sound Effects 1980
04/03/17 ACDC Back in Black 1980
04/04/17 UB40 Signing Off 1980
04/05/17 Joy Division Closer 1980
04/06/17 Dire Straits Making Movies 1980
04/07/17 Echo & the Bunnymen Crocodiles 1980
04/08/17 Pretenders Pretenders 1980
04/09/17 The Human League Dare 1981
04/10/17 Motorhead No Sleep Till Hammersmith 1981
04/11/17 New Order Movement 1981
04/12/17 Adam & The Ants Kings of the Wild Fronteir 1981
04/13/17 Squeeze East Side Story 1981
04/14/17 Depeche Mode Speak & Tell 1981
04/15/17 OMD Architecture & Morality 1981
04/16/17 Donald Fagen The Nightfly 1982
04/17/17 Roxy Music Avalon 1982
04/18/17 Joe Jackson Night & Day 1982
04/19/17 Dexys Midnight Runners Too-Ray-Ay 1982
04/20/17 ABC Lexicon of Love 1982
04/21/17 Michael Jackson Thriller 1982
04/22/17 The Cure Pornography 1982
04/23/17 REM Murmur 1983
04/24/17 Violent Femmes Violent Femmes 1983
04/25/17 Big Country The Crossing 1983
04/26/17 Aztec Camera Hard Rain 1983
04/27/17 The The Soul Mining 1983
04/28/17 ZZ Top Eliminator 1983
04/29/17 Eurythmics Touch 1983
04/30/17 Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA 1984
05/01/17 Prince Purple Rain 1984
05/02/17 Sade Diamond Life 1984
05/03/17 Lloyd Cole & the Commotions Rattlesnakes 1984
05/04/17 Brian Adams Reckless 1984
05/05/17 Frankie Goes to Hollywood Welcome to the Pleasuredome 1984
05/06/17 The Style Council Cafe Bleu 1984
05/07/17 Kate Bush Hounds of Love 1985
05/08/17 The Jesus & Mary Chain Psychocandy 1985
05/09/17 Tears for Fears Songs from the Big Chair 1985
05/10/17 Sting Dream of the Blue Turtles 1985
05/11/17 Prefab Sprout Steve McQueen 1985
05/12/17 Talking Heads Little Creatures 1985
05/13/17 The Replacements Tim 1985
05/14/17 XTC Skylarking 1986
05/15/17 The Smiths The Queen is Dead 1986
05/16/17 Steve Earle Guitar Town 1986
05/17/17 Peter Gabriel So 1986
05/18/17 Crowded House Crowded House 1986
05/19/17 Paul Simon Graceland 1986
05/20/17 The Bangles Different Light 1986
05/21/17 U2 The Joshua Tree 1987
05/22/17 Level 42 Running in the Family 1987
05/23/17 Guns ‘n Roses Appetite for Destruction 1987
05/24/17 Terence Trent D’Arby Introducing the Hardline 1987
05/25/17 The Housemartins The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death 1987
05/26/17 George Michael Faith 1987
05/27/17 Pet Shop Boys Actually 1987
05/28/17 Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man 1988
05/29/17 Morrissey Viva Hate 1988
05/30/17 Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Session 1988
05/31/17 Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back 1988
06/01/17 Sonic Youth Daydream Nation 1988
06/02/17 Talk Talk Spirit of Eden 1988
06/03/17 Life’s Too Good Sugercubes 1988
06/04/17 The Stone Roses The Stone Roses 1989
06/05/17 De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising 1989
06/06/17 The Beautiful South Welcome to the Beautiful South 1989
06/07/17 Nirvana Bleach 1989
06/08/17 The Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique 1989
06/09/17 Pixies Doolittle 1989
06/10/17 The Cure Disintegration 1989
06/11/17 Heaven or Las Vegas Cocteau Twins 1990
06/12/17 The Las The Las 1990
06/13/17 Uncle Tupulo No Depression 1990
06/14/17 Garth Brooks No Fences 1990
06/15/17 Happy Mondays Pills Thrills & Bellyaches 1990
06/16/17 World Party Goodbye Jumbo 1990
06/17/17 The Sundays Reading Writing & Arithmetic 1990
06/18/17 Primal Scream Screamadelica 1991
06/19/17 My Bloody Valentine Loveless 1991
06/20/17 Matthew Sweet Girlfriend 1991
06/21/17 Simply Red Stars 1991
06/22/17 Pearl Jam Ten 1991
06/23/17 Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magic 1991
06/24/17 Massive Attack Blue Lines 1991
06/25/17 REM Automatic for the People 1992
06/26/17 Pavement Slanted & Enchanted 1992
06/27/17 Dr Dre The Chronic 1992
06/28/17 Spiritualized Laser Guided Melodies 1992
06/29/17 Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works 1992
06/30/17 Annie Lennox Diva 1992
07/01/17 Sugar Copper Blue 1992
07/02/17 Suede Suede 1993
07/03/17 Afghan Whigs Gentlemen 1993
07/04/17 The Posies Frosting on the Beater 1993
07/05/17 The Authers New Wave 1993
07/06/17 Aimee Mann Whatever 1993
07/07/17 Grant Lee Buffalo Fuzzy 1993
07/08/17 Morphine Cure for Pain 1993
07/09/17 Oasis Definately Maybe 1994
07/10/17 Jeff Buckley Graceland 1994
07/11/17 Portishead Dummy 1994
07/12/17 Soundgarden Superunknown 1994
07/13/17 Underworld Dubnobasswithmyheadman 1994
07/14/17 Weezer Blue Album 1994
07/15/17 Green Day Dookie 1994
07/16/17 Teenage Fanclub Grand Prix 1995
07/17/17 The Jayhawks Tomorrow is the Green Green Grass 1995
07/18/17 Supergrass I Should Coco 1995
07/19/17 Ron Sexsmith Ron Sexsmith 1995
07/20/17 Pulp Different Class 1995
07/21/17 Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball 1995
07/22/17 Foo Fighters Foo Fighters 1995
07/23/17 Beck O Delay 1996
07/24/17 DJ Shadow Entroducing 1996
07/25/17 Jamiroquay Travelling Without Moving 1996
07/26/17 Ocean Colour Scene Mosely Shoals 1996
07/27/17 Manic Street Preachers Everything Must Go 1996
07/28/17 Super Furry Animals Fuzzy Logic 1996
07/29/17 EELs Beautiful Freak 1996
07/30/17 Radiohead Ok Computer 1997
07/31/17 The Verve Urban Hymns 1997
08/01/17 Eliott Smith Either / Or 1997
08/02/17 The Chemical Brothers Dig Your Own Hole 1997
08/03/17 Guided By Voices Mag Earwig 1997
08/04/17 Stereophonics Word Gets Around 1997
08/05/17 Ry Cooder Buena Vista Social Club 1997
08/06/17 Mercury Rev Deserters’ Songs 1998
08/07/17 Gomez Bring it On 1998
08/08/17 Catatonia International Velvet 1998
08/09/17 Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 1998
08/10/17 Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road 1998
08/11/17 Dixie Chicks Wide Open Spaces 1998
08/12/17 Air Moon Safari 1998
08/13/17 The Flaming Lips The Soft Bullitin 1999
08/14/17 Travis The Man Who 1999
08/15/17 Wilco Summerteeth 1999
08/16/17 Beth Orton Central Reservation 1999
08/17/17 Muse Showbiz 1999
08/18/17 Dream Theatre Metropolis Part 2 1999
08/19/17 Mogwai Come On Die Yung 1999
08/20/17 The Dandy Warhols 13 Tales of Urban Bohemia 2000
08/21/17 Ryan Adams Heartbreaker 2000
08/22/17 Lambchop Nixon 2000
08/23/17 Grandaddy The Software Slump 2000
08/24/17 The Avalanches Since I left You 2000
08/25/17 Goldfrapp Felt Mountain 2000
08/26/17 Emimem The Marshall Mathers LP 2000
08/27/17 The Strokes Is This It? 2001
08/28/17 Elbow Asleep at the Back 2001
08/29/17 Turin Brakes The Optimist LP 2001
08/30/17 Starsailor Love is Here 2001
08/31/17 I am Kloot Natural History 2001
09/01/17 Tool Lateralus 2001
09/02/17 The Shins Oh Inverted World 2001
09/03/17 Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head 2002
09/04/17 Brendan Benson Lapalco 2002
09/05/17 Neko Case Blacklisted 2002
09/06/17 Queens of the Stone Age Songs for the Deaf 2002
09/07/17 The Libertines Up the Bracket 2002
09/08/17 The Roots Phrenology 2002
09/09/17 The Rising Bruce Springsteen 2002
09/10/17 The White Stripes Elephant 2003
09/11/17 Drive By Truckers Decoration Day 2003
09/12/17 The Pernice Brothers Yours Mine and Ours 2003
09/13/17 Death Cab for Cutie Transatlanticalism 2003
09/14/17 The New Pornographers Electric Version 2003
09/15/17 Broadcast Haha Sound 2003
09/16/17 Sufjan Stevens Michigan 2003
09/17/17 Arcade Fire Funeral 2004
09/18/17 Keane Hopes & Fears 2004
09/19/17 Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand 2004
09/20/17 Brian Wilson Smile 2004
09/21/17 Kasabian Kasabian 2004
09/22/17 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Abattoir Blues / Lyre of Orpheus 2004
09/23/17 Hot Fuss The Killers 2004
09/24/17 I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning Bright Eyes 2005
09/25/17 Bloc Party Silent Alarm 2005
09/26/17 Spoon Gimmie Fiction 2005
09/27/17 My Morning Jacket Z 2005
09/28/17 Sleater Kinney The Woods 2005
09/29/17 Low The Great Destroyer 2005
09/30/17 Robert Plant The Mighty Rearranger 2005
10/01/17 Artic Monkeys Whatever People Say I am… 2006
10/02/17 Belle & Sebastian The Life Pursuit 2006
10/03/17 David Gilmour On An Island 2006
10/04/17 Back to Black Amy Winehouse 2006
10/05/17 Snow Patrol Eyes Wide Open 2006
10/06/17 Raconteurs Broken Toy Soldiers 2006
10/07/17 Band of Horses Everything All The Time 2006
10/08/17 Bon Iver For Emma 2007
10/09/17 Okkervil River The Stage Names 2007
10/10/17 Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Rising Sand 2007
10/11/17 Rilo Kiley Under the Boardwalk 2007
10/12/17 Of Montreal Hissing Fauna 2007
10/13/17 Interpol Our Love to Admire 2007
10/14/17 Delta Spirit Ode To Sunshine 2007
10/15/17 ELbow The Seldom Seen Kid 2008
10/16/17 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes 2008
10/17/17 Kings of Leon Only By the Night 2008
10/18/17 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend 2008
10/19/17 Sigur Ros Med Sud Eyrum 2008
10/20/17 MGMT Oracular Spectacular 2008
10/21/17 Last Shadow Puppets Age of Understatement 2008
10/22/17 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion 2009
10/23/17 Biffy Clyro Only Revolutions 2009
10/24/17 Field Music Field Music 2009
10/25/17 M. Ward Hold Time 2009
10/26/17 Mumford & Sons Sigh No More 2009
10/27/17 Besnard Lakes Besnard Lakes 2009
10/28/17 Larsen B Musketeer 2009
10/29/17 John Grant Queen of Denmark 2010
10/30/17 Yeasayer Odd Blood 2010
10/31/17 Wolf People Steeple 2010
11/01/17 Blitzen Trapper Destroyer of the Void 2010
11/02/17 Beach House Teen Dream 2010
11/03/17 The National High Violet 2010
11/04/17 Tame Impala Innerspeaker 2010
11/05/17 PJ Harvey Let England Shake 2011
11/06/17 The Black Keys EL Camino 2011
11/07/17 Jonathan Jeremiah A Solitary Man 2011
11/08/17 Singing Adams Everything 2011
11/09/17 Decemberists The King is Dead 2011
11/10/17 Iron & Wine Kiss Each Other 2011
11/11/17 The Vaccines What Do You Expect from the Vaccines? 2011
11/12/17 Lana Del Ray Born to Die 2012
11/13/17 Jack White Blunderbuss 2012
11/14/17 Howlin’ Rain Russian Wilds 2012
11/15/17 Alt-J An Awesome Wave 2012
11/16/17 Mark Lanegan Blues Funeral 2012
11/17/17 Dr John Locked Up 2012
11/18/17 Frank Ocean Color Orange 2012
11/19/17 Jonathan Wilson Fanfare 2013
11/20/17 Palma Violets 180 2013
11/21/17 Steve Mason Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time 2013
11/22/17 Caitlin Rose The Stand In 2013
11/23/17 Jason Isbell Southwestern 2013
11/24/17 Steven Wilson The Raven that refused to sing….. 2013
11/25/17 Matthew E White Big Inner 2013
11/26/17 The Felice Brothers Favorite Waitress 2014
11/27/17 St Vincent St Vincent 2014
11/28/17 War on Drugs Lost in the Dream 2014
11/29/17 Sturgill Simpson Metamodern Sounds of Modern Country 2014
11/30/17 Hozier Hozier 2014
12/01/17 Hurray for the Riff Raff Small Town Heroes 2014
12/02/17 Hiss Golden Messenger Lateness of Dancers 2014
12/03/17 Grimes Art Angels 2015
12/04/17 Julia Holter Have You My Wilderness 2015
12/05/17 Father John Misty I Love You Honeybear 2015
12/06/17 Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly 2015
12/07/17 Courtney Barnett Sometimes I sit and Think 2015
12/08/17 Gretchen Peters Blackbird 2015
12/09/17 Jamie XX In Colour 2015
12/10/17 Margo Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter 2016
12/11/17 Michael Kiwanula Love and Hate 2016
12/12/17 Case, Lange, Viers Case, Lange, Viers 2016
12/13/17 David Bowie Blackstar 2016
12/14/17 Max Jury Max Jury 2016
12/15/17 Kevin Morby Singing Saw 2016
12/16/17 Julia Jackson Don’t Let the Kids.. 2016

 

 

Top Jazz Albums 2016 – the Critics

•December 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I have my own selection of best jazz albums – but there are always a few that I haven’t heard. It is remarkable how dissonant the critics are with their best-of lists. It all feels very subjective. Here are a few that I googled.

Jazzwise

  1. Tim Garland – One
  2. Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling – Upward Spiral
  3. Dinosaur – Together, As One
  4. Donny McCaslin – Beyond Now
  5. Brad Mehldau – Ballads and Blues
  6. Charles Lloyd & The Marvels – I Long To See You
  7. EST Symphony – EST Symphony
  8. Impossible Gentlemen – Let’s Get Deluxe
  9. Aziza – Aziza
  10. Phronesis – Parallax
  11. Kit Downes & Tom Challenger – Vyamanikal
  12. Jazz At Lincoln Centre – Live In Cuba
  13. Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau – Nearness
  14. John Scofield – Country For Old Men
  15. Jeremy Pelt – Jive Culture
  16. Bill Frisell – When You Wish Upon A Star
  17. Dhafer Youssef – Diwan of Beauty and Odd
  18. Barnes/O’Higgins & The Sax Section – Oh Gee!
  19. Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison In Movement
  20. Michael Wollny Trio – Klangspuren

The Observer

10) John Scofield, Country for Old Men (Impulse!)

9) The Robert Glasper Experiment, ArtScience (Blue Note)

8) AZIZA, Aziza (Dare2)

7) Donny McCaslin, Beyond Now (Motema Music)

6) Kris Davis, Duopoly (Pyroclastic)

5) Esperanza Spalding, Emily’s D+Evolution (Concord)

4) MAST, Love and War (Alpha Pup)

3) Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison, In Movement (ECM)

2) Julian Lage, Arclight / Live in Los Angeles (Mack Avenue)

1) Jeff Parker, The New Breed (International Anthem, Ltd.)

Stereogum

10 Vijay Iyer & Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith – A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM)

9 Battle Trance – Blade Of Love (New Amsterdam)

8 Tyshawn Sorey – The Inner Spectrum Of Variables (Pi)

7 Jeremy Pelt – #jiveculture (HighNote)

6 Freddie Hendrix – Jersey Cat (Sunnyside)

5 John Raymond – Real Feels (Shifting Paradigm)

4 Donny McCaslin – Beyond Now (Motema)

3 Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus – The Distance (ECM)

2 Black Bombaim & Peter Brötzmann – Black Bombaim & Peter Brötzmann (Shhpuma)

1 JD Allen – Americana (Savant)

 

Stereophile

  • Henry Threadgill’s Ensemble Double Up, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi).
  • Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Real Enemies (New Amsterdam).
  • Frank Kimbrough, Solstice (Pirouet).
  • Fred Hersch Trio, Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto).
  • Brad Mehldau Trio, Blues and Ballads (Nonesuch).
  • Wadada Leo Smith, America’s National Parks (Cuneiform, 2 CDs).
  • Dave Douglas & Frank Woeste, Dada People (Greenleaf).
  • Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove, Checkpoint (Table Pounding Records).
  • Kenny Barron Trio, Book of Intuition (Impulse!).
  • Matt Wilson’s Big Happy Family, Beginning of a Memory (Palmetto).

The Telegraph

1: Greg Abate & Phil Woods: Kindrid Spirits Live (Whaling City Sound)

2: Bucky Pizzarelli: Renaissance (Arbors Records)

4: Dr Lonnie Smith: Evolution (Blue Note)

5: Nils Landgren With Janis Siegel: Some Other Time, A Tribute To Leonard Bernstein (Act)

6: Aly Keïta, Jan Galega Brönnimann, Lucas Niggli: Kalo-Yele  (Intakt Records)

7: Sam Crockatt Quartet: Mells Bells (Whirlwind Recordings)

8: Ian Shaw: The Theory Of Joy (Jazz Village)

9: Huw V Williams: Hon (Chaos)

11: Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra: All My Yesterdays (Resonance)

12:  Avisghai Cohen: Into The Silence (Ecm)

14: Herlin Riley: New Direction (Mack Avenue)

15: Aldevis Tibaldi: Twentysix Three (Galetone Records)

17: Snarky Puppy: Culcha Vulcha (Decca)

NPR

  1. Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up, ‘Old Locks and Irregular Verbs’
  2. Wadada Leo Smith, ‘America’s National Parks’
  3. Jack DeJohnette / Matt Garrison / Ravi Coltrane, ‘In Movement’
  4. Mary Halvorson Octet, ‘Away With You’
  5. Michael Formanek / Ensemble Kolossus, ‘The Distance’
  6. Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith, ‘A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke’
  7. Nels Cline, ‘Lovers’
  8. Matt Wilson’s Big Happy Family, ‘Beginning of a Memory’
  9. Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, ‘Time/Life (Song for the Whales and Other Beings)’
  10. Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone, ‘Sélébéyone’

 

State.Com

  1. Henry Threadgill’s Ensemble Double Up, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
  2. Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Real Enemies (New Amsterdam)
  3. Frank Kimbrough, Solstice (Pirouet)
  4. Fred Hersch Trio, Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto)
  5. Brad Mehldau Trio, Blues and Ballads (Nonesuch)
  6. Wadada Leo Smith, America’s National Parks (Cuneiform, 2 CDs)
  7. Dave Douglas & Frank Woeste, Dada People (Greenleaf)
  8. Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove, Checkpoint (Table Pounding Records)
  9. Kenny Barron Trio, Book of Intuition (Impulse!)
  10. Matt Wilson’s Big Happy Family, Beginning of a Memory (Palmetto)