Here are my year-end list – a top 20 of new music, and a 25 A-Z list of reissues and archive releases because “there’s more old music than new music.” (Bob Dylan)
1. THE NITS | Angst
Weird chamber-pop from the Dutch masters, est. 1975 and still the best band in the world.
2. COLIN HARPER | Titanium Flag
Cinematic psych-folk which I already praised here.
3. GAS | Narkopop
Pulsing neoclassical techno from the deep dark German forests.
4. MARTY STUART & HIS FABULOUS SUPERLATIVES | Way Out West
Twanging psychedelic country with a bit of Benny Goodman thrown in from Connie Smith’s husband.
5. ANDROMEDA MEGA EXPRESS ORCHESTRA | Vula
Berlin’s avant-prog orchestra/big band goes Sun Ra.
6. STEVEN WILSON | To The Bone
Wilson does strange Eighties. Also strongly recommended – this year’s other albums from him: “Blackfield V” (pop-prog with his buddy from Israel) and “Last Days Of June” (Game soundtrack album of instrumentals and remixes).
7. EMEL | Ensen
Like some femme arabian version of Massive Attack.
8. PAUL WELLER | A Kind Revolution
Edgy and adventurous Weller-rock with an especially groovy instrumental bonus disc. Also recommended – his other albums from this year: “Jawbone” (Paul writes Ellington-style epic soundtrack) and Stone Foundation’s “Street Rituals” (in case you’re still wondering if the Mod Revival is over).
9. YASMINE HAMDAN | Al Jamilat
Haunting middle-eastern trip-pop via Paris and New York (with a little help from Sonic Youth drummer).
10. MERIDIAN BROTHERS | Donde Estas Maria?
Is there such a thing as melancholic psych-cumbia? (Sure it is.)
11. THE FEELIES | In Between
More Feelies stuff is always great.
12. DIAGRAMS | Dorothy
Pastoral english folk-electronica with esteemed poetry.
13. OUMOU SANGARÉ | Mogoya
Forget all those self-proclaimed divas – this is the real thing: groovy modern pop from a strong woman.
14. CHUCK JOHNSON | Balsams
Widescreen ambient steel guitar soundscapes.
15. JUANA MOLINA | Halo
Shimmering alternative tropicalia with a touch of electronic trickery.
16. SLOWDIVE | Slowdive
The return of dream pop (or is it shoegazing?).
17. LILA DOWNS | Salon, Lagrimas y Desea
Darkly romantic Mexican songs with strings and horns.
18. BJÖRK | Utopia
Probably Björk’s idea of a happy pop album. With flutes.
19. FLAMING LIPS | Oczy Mlody
Reliably out-of-their-minds pop from the ‘Lips.
20. ALEXANDER THARAUD | Barbara
French artists like Jane Birkin, Vanessa Paradis and Helmut Berger pay tribute to singer/songwriter Barbara. Slightly less recommended: “Gerard Depardieu Chante Barbara” where the old walrus does the same (and sounds like Jack Nicholson grumbling the songs of Joni Mitchell). Both albums include covers of the brilliantly great song “Göttingen”.
And so, here’s some “Old”:
A.R. & MACHINES | The Art Of German Psychedelic (10 CD + hardcover book)
The legendary “Green Journey” and “Echo” albums (inspiration for Eno, Bowie and many others) finally reissued: pulsing echo guitar over motorik beats. Plus lots of outtakes, live albums, remixes, etc.
ACTION PACKED! (6 CDs)
Trashy red hot rockin’ tracks from the original compilation LPs, plus bonus tracks and booklet with sleazy sexist pulp illustrations. What’s not to like?
LUTHER ALLISON | A Legend Never Dies (7 CD + 4 DVD + 7″ + hardcover book)
Remastered albums and lots of live gigs on DVD from the blues guitar legend.
AT THE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE TONIGHT (20 CD + 224-page hardcover book)
24 hours of country/hillbilly radio shows from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, featuring comic skits, audience quiz, advertisement breaks, and fantastic live music from Hank Williams, Elvis, Johnny Horton, June Carter and a couple of 100 more…
THE BEATLES | Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (4 CD + BR + DVD + hardcover book)
Everybody knows this.
DAVID BOWIE | A New Career In A New Town (11 CDs)
Don’t be put off by the alleged “Heroes” mistake – the real version (in English/German) is included and not affected.
THE BRAIN BOX | Cerebral Sounds Of Brain Records 1972-1979 (8 CD + hardcover book)
Krautrock, acid guitars and weird jazz from 70s Germany. Not everything sounds like what the BBC wants you to believe that “Krautrock” sounds…
BOB DYLAN | Bootleg Series Vol. 13 • Trouble No More (8 CD + DVD + hardcover book)
Sadly lacking his furious sermons.
ESQUIVEL | 4 Jackpot reissues (8 albums on 4 CDs)
JETHRO TULL | Songs From The Wood (The Country Set) (3 CD + 2 DVD + digibook)
Another one in a great series.
GEORGE JONES | Birth Of A Legend 1954-1961 (6 CD + 172-page hardcover book)
All his early recordings – including pre-rockabilly stuff like “White Lightning”, and all his anonymous cover recordings for budget hits compilations. And great haircuts.
KING CRIMSON | Sailor’s Tales (21 CD + 4 BR + 2 DVD)
see my review at https://chickswithdisks.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/sailors-tales
PAUL MCCARTNEY (& Elvis Costello) | Flowers In The Dirt (3 CD + DVD + 4 books + downloads)
Includes Paul’s best song (“This One”, since you ask)
NEW JAZZ FESTIVAL BALVER HÖHLE 1976-1977 (8 CD)
All surviving recordings from two festivals (held in a German cave) – 8 hours of weird jazz with Archie Sheep, Willem Breuker, Mal Waldron and Peter Brötzmann
PENTANGLE | The Albums (7 CD + big booklet)
All the original albums (sounding better than before) with lots of bonus tracks. Perfect!
PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION | Purple Rain Deluxe (3 CD + DVD)
How it should be done: all the 12″ mixes, 80 minutes of stuff from the archives, and a great concert on DVD. (Next time with a Jethro Tull-style book, please.)
R.E.M. | Automatic For The People (3 CD + BR + hardcover book)
Wonderful album, great string arrangements, and lots of fine demos and live versions.
RADIOHEAD | OK Computer OKNOTOK (3 LP + MC + 3 books + downloads)
Fabulous looking set (even the cassette sounds quite nice…).
RONI SIZE & REPRAZENT | New Forms (4 CD + digibook)
Brilliant reissue of trip-hop/jazz album with lots of 12″ mixes
THE SMITHS | The Queen Is Dead (3 CD + DVD)
The world stops turning: the Smiths release outtakes! (But why did they change the cover?)
STARDAY CUSTOM SERIES #500-675 (10 CD + hardcover book)
Rockabilly, country, hillbilly and gospel singles from private pressing singles (incl. Willie Nelson’s first & self-financed single)
LAL & MIKE WATERSON | Bright Phoebus (CD)
Slightly left field roots of folkrock.
XTC | Black Sea (CD + BR)
Another one in a great series.