And now for something completely different. . .
Maybe, I’m watching too much Monty Python at present. . . But here, for a bit of relief from the politics, is something completely different – my top five albums of 2011 and finds of the year.
Top Five albums
1st equal. Gracious Tide, Take me Home – Lanterns on the Lake
1st equal. Gentle Spirit – Jonathan Wilson
3. The Harrow and the Harvest – Gillian Welch
4. Blessed -Lucinda Williams
5. Conatus – Zola Jesus
And bless Brighton’s Resident Records whose sampler introduced me to Lanterns, Mr Wilson and Ms Jesus, leading me on to their albums. With Ms Welch and Ms Williams, what can you say – two brilliant artists and for Williams a return to the kind of form found on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Essence and World without Tears.
Best finds of 2011:
Nostalgia 77’s Sessions with Keith and Julie Tippett; this is from 2009, but I only discovered it in 2011. As a huge fan of Julie (Driscoll) Tippett but someone who found her subsequent immersion to free-jazz largely unlistenable, this is a delight. Actual songs, including some written by her. Not as immediately fantastic as her first solo album, the folky-bluesy-rocky 1969, but some beautiful jazz.
I should also mention an album that, while not really a find of 2011 since I’ve known of its existence most of my life, I finally got to purchase in 2011: the first Van der Graaf Generator album, Aerosol Grey Machine, from all the way back in 1969. It doesn’t have Jaxononsax, but it does have the magical trio of Evans, Banton and the master, Peter Hammill whose own latest effort, the double live Pno, Gtr, Vox would be #6 on my list of albums of 2011.
A beautiful album I found last year, which was released in 2006, is Bert Jansch’s The Black Swan; it even includes a very nice version of Behan’s “The Oul’ Triangle”. Over the past few years I have rediscovered Jansch, whom I hadn’t listened to since his Pentangle days. I’d say Swan is his most stunning album since the wonderful Jack Orion way back in 1966, which I got about two years ago. Jansch’s death last year removed an immense talent from modern music.
Also worth a mention, and someone else who died not long ago (January 2009), is John Martyn. Although I bought Solid Air about five or six years ago, and liked it, I remained largely ignorant of Mr Martyn until last year when I began methodically purchasing his albums, beginning with his debut London Conversation (first released 1967), the remastered version which I purchased has one bonus track, the beautiful “She Moved Through the Fair”. So Martyn was a great find of 2011 although, sadly, rather late. (Speaking of “She Moved Through the Fair”, it’s such a stunner there are heaps of wonderful versions; however, my favourite is probably the Fairport Convention version, to be found on their second album, What we did on our Holidays (1968).
Ok, now back to the politics. . .