Best Albums of 1967

1967 was probabaly the greatest year ever, mainly because it was the year I came into this world. As a result of being 0 years old I don’t remember any of these at the time but so many of them have endured over the years that it doesn’t matter that much. As with all my lists they are my opinion and there are no doubt records missing that you may think should be included, if so please do say so, I may have just forgotten them. Let’s go.

30 – A Fistful of Dollars – Ennio Morricone

Well, I love the films, I love the music, iconic as it is and I love the composer so this was a must for me. Growing up in the 70’s these spaghetti westerns were the big Saturday night films that were on TV and were an event. We would have a bag of sweets and some pop and settle in for the film. Of course, back then I had no clue about Morricone but that’s probabaly for the best. I loved everything about the movies.

29 – Disraeli Gears – Cream

I know that many people would excpect this to be listed much higher up but it was a record I never quite managed to conect with. Other than the first two tracks I don’t have that much interest in it, and ‘Sunshine of your Love’ I know mostly from Hendrix playing it. Truth is I’m not the biggest Clapton fan and often wonder what all the fuss was/is about, not that I can’t appreciate what he has done I just don’t see it as earth shattering stuff.

28 – Straight, No Chaser – Thelonius Monk

Well I do love a bit of Jazz and I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of this for a while, perhaps now I actualy will. The album was recorded in New York City on November 14/15, 1966 & January 10, 1967 with Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (bass) & Ben Riley(drums). I don’t think it is a particularly well known release from Monk, but it is well worth a listen.

27 – Scott – Scott Walker

I have always found the music of Scott Walker to be old fashioned, a throwback even, but I’ve recently been viewing that more as a positive than a negative and this album has grown on me with repeated listens. The music is beautifully produced and delivered. It makes me think that this is where Divine Comedy came from.

26 – Sings the Blues – Nina Simone

A brilliant album, of course it is, it’s Nina Simone, but in the context of 1967 there are many others that best represent the year and she had performed and released a number of these tracks before.

25 – Wave – Antonio Carlos Joabim

By the time this album was released, Antonio Carlos Jobim was already an international superstar. Having recently won a Grammy (1965) for “The Girl From Ipanema”, by 1967 all the big name stars from up north were breaking down his door to work with the new “Gershwin of Brazil.” In fact, Jobim had just finished working on an album with Frank Sinatra when he went into the studio to record this album. Recorded in 1967, Wave is actually one of the lesser known masterpieces of Brazilian music, and undoubtedly one of Jobim’s greatest. Here Jobim and the great Claus Ogerman lead a top-flight cast on hidden classics like Batidinha, Triste and Wave.

24 – Big Brother & The Holding Company – Big Brother & the Holding Company

Recorded in three days in mid-December of 1966 on a shoestring budget in Los Angeles at United Studios, Big Brother & The Holding Company has a sincere garage band simplicity that pervades the entire album and gives it a certain do-it-yourself sincerity not found on breakthrough release Cheap Thrills. Later releases added “Featuring Janis Joplin” but at this point they were a band and she was yet to be the superstar she was to become.

23 – Their Satanic Majesties Request – The Rolling Stones

Keith Richards probabaly said it best, ““none of us wanted to make [Satanic Majesties], but it was time for another Stones album, and Sgt. Pepper’s was coming out, so we thought basically we were doing a put-on”

22 – Goodbye And Hello -Tim Buckley

I’m sure many people discovered Tim Buckley via Jeff, I didn’t, I discovered him through This Mortal Coil who covered ‘Song to the SIren’ with Elizabeth Fraser on vocals back in 1984. The Buckley album that was taken from was ‘Starsailor’ released in 1970. This album, his second, is less folkey I suppose but contains some great tracks such as ‘Pleasant Street’, which you can hear beow.

21 – Days Of Future Passed – The Moody Blues

Yes, it’s the one with ‘Nights in White Satin’ on it, ‘Days of Future’ Passed is their second album and first concept album it is a fusion of orchestral and rock elements and has been cited as one of the first examples of progressive rock. I’d never listened to it all the way through before, it’s pretty good.

20 – Easter Everywhere – 13th Floor Elevators

Hailing from Austin, Texas, the members of 13th Floor Elevators were quite possibly the first artists to describe their music as psychedelic. Their lyrics and sleeve notes openly and religiously endorsed the use of drugs (particularly LSD) to alter human consciousness for the better. I first came acccross them via the B-Side of ‘World Shut Your Mouth’ by Julian Cope, where he does a cover of the song ‘I’ve Got Levitation’.

19 – Smiley Smile – The Beach Boys

Following Pet Sounds, group songwriter and producer Brian Wilson attempted a more light-hearted approach for Smile, an album that was to be released in 1967, but instead would sit on the shelf for over 40 years, to eventually become The Beach Boys’ first Grammy-winning project as a box set. The grandiose productions of both Pet Sounds and Smile began to seem extraneous to Brian Wilson at the time, and despite the lead single, ‘Good Vibrations’, being the biggest hit in the band’s oeuvre, Wilson left its production ethic behind and moved toward minimalism in order to finish what would become Smiley Smile.

18 – Songs Of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Cohen

Having just re-listened to this album I feel that I probabaly should have put it a little higher, songs like ‘Sisters Of Mercy’, ‘Suzanne’ and ‘So long, Marianne” really stand out, ahh well, maybe ill change it later when nobody is looking.

17 – Soul Men – Sam & Dave

I would expect almost everybody to know the track ‘Soul Man’ but there is more here than just the one song. With the help of Isaac Hayes and Booker T and the M.G.s here is an absolute scorcher of a record.

16 – Bee Gees – 1st Bee Gees

Long before the disco hits of Saturday Night Fever the Bee Gees were no strangers to the charts, although to be honest, before 1977 I’d never heard of them. Apparently, when played on US radio they were repeatedly mistaken for The Beatles, which is understandable I guess. I really enjoyed the songs on this album.

15 – John Wesley Harding – Bob Dylan

Tricky one this as on some days it would most likely be higher up, it does have I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine, All Along The Watchtower and The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest, I’m slightly regretting my decision.

14 – Miles Smiles – Miles Davis

At this point in his career, Davis had been through his number of hardships, from overcoming a destructive heroin addiction, to encountering the brutal effects of racism on the American music industry, to undergoing larynx surgery that left him with his characteristic raspy voice. Miles’ “prince of darkness” persona—his quick temper, his quiet intensity, his perceived existential aloofness—was perhaps a psychological defence mechanism to combat the plethora of troubles in his life.

The quintet embraced the liberating principles of post-bop, a subgenre that featured the virtuosity of bebop, the independence of free jazz and the unwavering commitment to rhythmic and melodic development that runs throughout the many tributaries of the music. It is quite an uplifting album.

13 – Strange Days – The Doors

The second studio album from The Doors that spawned two hit singles, ‘People Are Strange’ and ‘Love Me Two Times’. The album received high praise from the rock press but the listening public was not quite as convinced, particularly in the UK where the album was largely ignored. It is a consistently good set of songs, except ‘Horse Latitudes’ which is shit.

12 – Buffalo Springfield Again – Buffalo Springfield

This, their 2nd release, took notably longer to record than their debut, not least because Neil Young had quit and rejoined the group on several occasions, notably absent for the band’s appearance at the famed Monterey Pop Festival where David Crosby substituted in his place at the request of guitarist Stephen Stills. If you’ve never heard the albums opening track ‘Mr. Soul’ give it a listen and tell me if it reminds you of any other song (that was released the following year).

11 – Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – Pink Floyd

There was a period in time when I couldn’t reconcile early Pink Floyd with later Pink Floyd and I do still tens to think of them as two different groups, although their earlier incarnation was necessary to inform what came later. Nowadays I really rather like all the experimental weirdness they were putting out, it is of its time, but that’s a good thing.

10 – Forever Changes – Love

when I first heard ‘Alone Again, Or’ I didn’t realise I’d heard it before or where I’d heard it, but I most certainly had. maybe it was on the radio as we drove through the valleys and across the mountains of Wales, but somewhere in my head it has sat waiting for me to find it again. Nowadays the album is lauded as one of the most perfect and influential albums of all-time, however, on its release it was a flop. Part of the reason for this may be that it is at times a little odd and it doesn’t really fit in with the other music that was being created in 60’s California.

Oh, the snot has caked against my pants
It has turned into crystal
There’s a bluebird sitting on a branch
I guess I’ll take my pistol
I’ve got it in my hand
Because he’s on my land

(From ‘Live and Let Live)

9 – Absolutely Free – The Mothers of Invention

More weirdness and an acquired taste. Usually, when Frank Zappa was involved the resulting music was at the very least left of centre and sometimes so far left it was right. The music is often complex but still rooted in R&B and the subject matter political and humorous at times. It’s good to be different.

8 – Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane

This album is so evocative of the time period that it had to be here, but not only becasue of that, but because it has really great songs from the well known ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ to the instrumental ‘Embryonic Jorney’, which has some really lovely guitar playing. and the blues of ‘In The Morning’. With different vocalists and styles it is a bit all over the place, but better for it.

7 – London Conversation – John Martyn

The first release from one of my faviourite artists ever and becasue it led to so many, many good later releases I have it here becasue I can, although it is still a good album. Folkier than later releases and with a cleaner vocal that pre-dates the more slurred later performances, it shows where he came from, but not really where he was going.

6 – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

This may well be a contentious placing for some people, however, while I appreciate the importance of the album, I don’t like all of it. ‘When I’m Sixty Four and ‘Lovely Rita’ I can do without and I’m not that keen on ‘Getting Better’ or ‘Fixing a hole’ and don’t like their version of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ (I like Joe Cockers version better). I did put it at number 1 initially, because everybody does but then I got to thinking about which albums I would actually sit down and listen to, all they way through, and moved this down a few places becasue I never listen to it all the way through.

5 – Axis: Bold As Love – Jimi Hendrix Experience

The second album from Hendrix, and the second in the same year. He had a little more time to craft his own songs for this album but still much of the soloing was all first take. Songs like ‘Little Wing’ are beautifully crafted, ‘Castles Made of Sand’, ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ and ‘If 6 were 9’ are fablous tracks and the consistency of the entire album is good from staert to finish.

4 – Velvet Underground And Nico – The Velvet Underground

When I listen to this album it almost always comes as a suprise that there are so many tracks on it that are so very good. While I had heard many of the songs here and there it was in 1993 for what I remember as a Pireli advert, but that was actually Dunlop, where I first heard ‘Venus in Furs’ and just loved both the advert and the music, it was the weirdest advert on TV at the time and possibly ever.

Add to this the other tracks such as ‘Sunday Morning’, ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’, ‘Al Tommorrows Parties’ and more and you have a truly brillian set of songs.

3 – The Doors – The Doors

Here we are at the top 3 of 1967 and the Doors again. It used to be quite te norm to release a coupke of albums a year wheras today the money is not in pysical product so much but in playing live, at least until the current pandemic hit. Of the two album releases in ’67 it is this, the second, where I think they really it their stride with ‘Break on Through’ and ‘Light My Fire’ but add to that ‘The Crystal Ship’, ‘The End’ and the rest and you have an album that helped define the era.

2 – The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

Continuing the controversty, possibly, you may agree with me, but given a choice of sitting down and listening to Sgt. Peppers or Maical Mystery Tour I would choose the latter every time. There are less tracks that I would drop from the running order:

Magical Mystery Tour
The Fool On The Hill
Flying
Blue Jay Way
Your Mother Should Know
I Am The Walrus
Hello Goodbye
Strawberry Fields Forever
Penny Lane
Baby You’re A Rich Man
All You Need Is Love

Is it technically a soundtrack? I’m not sure but it has some of my favourite Beatles songs on it.

1 – Are You Experienced – Jimi Hendrix Experience

Now it may be fair to say that if you aren’t a fan of Hendirx then this choice as the best album released in 1967 may not sit well with you, but I am a fan and this is a fantastic debut album, opening with ‘Foxy Lady’ and ending with the title track, everything inbetween is just brilliant, ‘Red House’, ‘Fire’, it is just, for me, the encapsulation of the music of the late 60’s.

I loved playing what I could of ‘Foxy Lady’ on the guitar, it is a joy to play and sounds great. As a guitarist who could only achieve average proficiancy there is so very much to admire in playing of Hendrix, but with the addition of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, what a three piece! An absolute powerhouse.

Here is a playlist that has a track from each of the albums above in descending order:

Top 40 Joni Mitchell Songs

Quite why I start these almost impossible lists is something I probably need to speak quite earnestly to a therapist about, however, here I am, doing it again. As always it is just my opinion and sometimes I forget the odd track or two, so feel free to demand that anything I’ve excluded is included. I’m not going to write about all of them, but I will about some, just because I will have thought about something to say.

I fully appreciate the pointlessness of such lists having just listened to pretty much the entire back catalogue and again realising that I could probably choose any of 200 songs in any order and it would be just as valid, and I know the moment I finished this I got it wrong, but no matter, it is how I feel today, right now, in ten minutes or an hour it will change, but that’s OK.

40 – The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms) (Chalk Mark In a Rain Storm)

39 – Night of the Iguana (Shine)

38 – The Magdalene Laundries (Turbulent Indigo)

37 – The Last Time I Saw Richard (Travelogue version)

36 – Chelsea Morning (Clouds)

In a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mitchell explained: “I wrote that in Philadelphia after some girls who worked in this club where I was playing found all this colored slag glass in an alley. We collected a lot of it and built these glass mobiles with copper wire and coat hangers. I took mine back to New York and put them in my window on West 16th Street in the Chelsea District. The sun would hit the mobile and send these moving colors all around the room. As a young girl, I found that to be a thing of beauty. There’s even a reference to the mobile in the song. It was a very young and lovely time… before I had a record deal. I think it’s a very sweet song, but I don’t think of it as part of my best work. To me, most of those early songs seem like the work of an ingenue.”

I bought a job lot of 5 Joni Mitchell albums from Ebay, one of which was Clouds and this song, track 2, was the one that grabbed me and drew me in to the album. Even songs she doesn’t think are all that good are, compared to a lot of other writers, quite wonderful.

Interesting fact, Bill and Hillary Clinton named their daughter Chelsea after this song. They got the idea for the name when they were walking through the Chelsea area of London and heard the Judy Collins version of the song. According to Hillary Clinton (stated in her book Living History), Bill said to her, “If we ever have a daughter, we should name her Chelsea.”

35 – The Boho Dance (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

Full disclosure, this is the first Joni Mitchell album I ever owned, bought when I was 16 I think, so 8 years after it was released, and I played it to death. Other than bits and pieces I heard here and there it was my proper introduction to her music and it has probably framed everything I have have listened to since. The album did not receive much acclaim upon its release (The online Rolling Stone review is particularly scathing, some reviewers did rate it highly though) but I’m happy to report that they critics who panned it are all wrong. The problem, I think, was that they wanted folky Mitchell, and this most certainly isn’t that. She was experimenting with a jazzier feel and new forms, which I happen to think she pulled off magnificently.

34 – In France they kiss on main street (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

33 – Amelia (Hejira)

Mitchell (from a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times): “I wrote the album while traveling cross-country by myself and there is this restless feeling throughout it… the sweet loneliness of solitary travel. In this song, I was thinking of Amelia Earhart and addressing it from one solo pilot to another, sort of reflecting on the cost of being a woman and having something you must do.”

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms

32 – Man From Mars (Taming the Tiger)

This is a later album, 1998, and I don’t know it very well. All my Joni Mitchell albums are on vinyl and this was never released other than on CD and Cassette so it doesn’t get much play time but this particularly stood out for me.

I fall apart
Everytime I think of you
Swallowed by the dark
There is no center to my life now
No grace in my heart
Man from Mars
This time you went too far

31 – Come in from the Cold (Night Ride Home)

Another album I’m not that familiar with, from 1991, and one which I really must get a copy of. I’ve given it a good listen over the past few weeks and it was both the hook and the opening lyrics that really caught me on this track.

Back in 1957
We had to dance a foot apart
And they hawk-eyed us from the sidelines
Holding their rulers without a heart
And so with just a touch of our fingers
I could make our circuitry explode
All we ever wanted
Was just to come in from the cold

30 – My Secret Place (Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm)

Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm is the 13th studio album, released in 1988. The album features various duets with guest artists such as Peter Gabriel on “My Secret Place”, Willie Nelson on “Cool Water”, Don Henley on “Snakes and Ladders”, Billy Idol and Tom Petty on the track “Dancin’ Clown”. Henley also performs backing vocals on “Lakota”, and Wendy and Lisa perform backing vocals on “The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms)”. Obviously, I would pick the Gabriel track.

29 – Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody (Wild Things Run Fast)

There is an honesty that Mitchell sometimes conveys that, quite frankly, is painful, and it happens in this song where slipping into Unchained Melody seems the only way to end it.

Christmas is sparkling
Out on Carol’s lawn
This girl of my childhood games
With kids nearly grown and gone
Grown so fast
Like the turn of a page
We look like our mothers did now
When we were those kids’ age

Nothing lasts for long

28 – Talk to Me (Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter)

So there are two reasons I love this song, one is the bass of Jaco Pastorius, the guy was quite brilliant. The second is the way that Mitchell’s opening lyrics paint such a vivid word picture, one that is, perhaps, rather unexpected.

There was a moon and a street lamp
I didn’t know I drank such a lot
‘Till I pissed a tequila-anaconda
The full length of the parking lot!

27- Song For Sharon (Hejira)

26 – Hejira (Hejira)

25 – Coyote (Hejira)

This song was written about the actor/writer/playwright Sam Shepard during Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Sam Shepard wrote The Rolling Thunder Logbook, which is an account of the tour.

The “woman at home” in this song is Patti Smith, who declined the invitation to join the musicians on the Rolling Thunder Revue.

I’ve included two videos as I like them both.

24 – Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

“Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow” is an acoustic guitar–based song with stream-of-consciousness lyrics, focused on women standing up to male dominance and proclaiming their own existence as individuals. 

23 – The Jungle Line (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

22 – Big Yellow Taxi (Ladies of the Canyon)

Mitchell (from a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times): “I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.”

The line, “Took all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum, charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em” refers to Foster Gardens, a place in Waikiki which is basically a tree museum. It’s a huge garden full of trees so tall you feel like Alice in Wonderland.

The line, “Put away that DDT now, give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees” refers to the insecticide DDT, which was used on crops. The deleterious effects of the chemical were in the news, as Americans learned that their food was being contaminated by its use – those spotless apples looked great but held hidden dangers. Also, birds were eating the insects and fish poisoned by DDT, which caused them to lay brittle eggs and put many species in danger, including the bald eagle. In 1972, DDT was banned for most uses.

The song holds a particularly poignant memory for me as it is one of three 45’s that I had as a child, left behind by my mother I think, and I would play it repeatedly. I think it was an original 1970 release with Woodstock on the B-Side.

21 – Free Man In Paris (Court & Spark)

The “Free Man” of the song is David Geffen, who was in charge of Mitchell’s record label. The song is about the pressures the music industry puts on their artists.

Mitchell and Geffen rose up the ranks together. In the late ’60s, he was establishing himself as an agent (an important early client was another mighty female songwriter: Laura Nyro) and she was making a name for herself with her music. They became good friends, and when Geffen started Asylum Records, Mitchell recorded for the label – her 1972 album For The Roses was her first on Asylum. The two confided in each other, and Geffen would often talk about the extraordinary pressures he faced as a high-powered music mogul. Mitchell wrote “Free Man in Paris” based on what he told her: Where Geffen felt most alive and unencumbered was in Paris, where nobody could call him up and ask for favours.

José Feliciano played guitar on this track. He was working on another project at the studios (A&M in Los Angeles) when he heard the song coming from Mitchell’s studio and offered to play.

20 – Same Situation (Court & Spark)

Mitchell (from a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times): “I don’t want to name names or kiss and tell, but basically it is a portrait of a Hollywood bachelor and the parade of women through his life, how he toys with yet another one. So many women have been in this position, being vulnerable at a time when you need affection or are searching for love, and you fall into the company of a Don Juan.”

19 – Help Me (Court & Spark)

In this song, Mitchell sings about a guy she’s falling in love with while at the same time knowing the relationship is doomed, as he is “a rambler and a gambler” who loves his freedom. Mitchell never revealed the identity of this person (if any – she says that not all her songs are autobiographical), but the two prime candidates would be Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, both of whom she dated in the early ’70s.

Interesting fact, Prince gave this song a shout out on his Sign O’ The Times track
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker, where he sings about a tryst with a waitress who tells him it’s her favourite song.

18 – For The Roses (For the Roses)

The whole album is new to me having picked up a copy only last year, which is great for me as it is like having new material even though it is nearly 40 years old.

17 – Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire (For the Roses)

16 – Edith and the Kingpin (The Hissing of Summer Lawns)

This is the song that prompted me to buy the album having heard it on The Friday Rock Show.

“Edith” in this song was inspired by the famous French singer Edith Piaf. In an interview with Mojo magazine February 2008, Joni Mitchell was discussing her songwriting: “Sometimes you write about the exact thing you saw, but other times you take something that happened over here and put it with something over there. In ‘Edith And The Kingpin,’ part of it is from a Vancouver pimp I met and part of it is Edith Piaf. It’s a hybrid, but all together it makes a whole truth.”

15 – Cactus Tree (Song to the Seagull)

“Cactus Tree” is the final song on Joni Mitchell’s debut album, Song To A Seagull. It’s about several men who are in love with a woman, with each story tied together by the common theme of the unnamed woman’s need for freedom and resistance to romantic commitment. In every case, the woman “thinks she loves them all” but ultimately is always “too busy being free.”

The song is written in the third person, but Mitchell is an autobiographical songwriter and the female subject in the song is herself. The feeling is that Mitchell is torn over her simultaneous need for love and her need for freedom, with freedom always ultimately winning out. Every verse tells the story of a lover, or an overview of several lovers, identified with archetypal personas like “a jouster and a jester and a man who owns a store.”

Mitchell has called herself a “serial monogamist.” She carried the inner tension presented in this song throughout her life.

14 – Urge for Going (B-side of the “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” )

What I find great about this clip is how the guys either side of her look blown away by Mitchells performance as though they know she has something they never will.

13 – A Case of You (Blue)

The version found on Blue features Mitchell playing Appalachian dulcimer, accompanied by James Taylor on acoustic guitar and Russ Kunkel on drums. Kunkel is widely regarded as one of the top session drummers of the 1970s.

Joni Mitchell told Robert Hilburn in a 1994 interview regarding this song: “I think men write very dishonestly about breakups. I wanted to be capable of being responsible for my own errors. If there was friction between me and another person, I wanted to be able to see my participation in it so I could see what could be changed and what could not. That is part of the pursuit of happiness. You have to pull the weeds in your soul when you are young, when they are sprouting, otherwise they will choke you.” 

12 – River (Blue)

At the start of 1970, Joni Mitchell’s relationship with her boyfriend Graham Nash was crumbling. On top of this, she was feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the mass adulation her recordings were receiving. The songstress needed to get away, so she took off on a trip to Europe, metaphorically skating away on a river to escape the crazy scene. While Mitchell was in Crete, she sent Nash a telegram to tell him their romance was over. On “River,” the Canadian singer gives her perspective on the doomed relationship as she yearns to escape the emotional bonds. She admits to being “hard to handle” and blames herself for losing “the best baby I ever had.”

11- Court & Spark (Court & Spark)

The title track from what I think was her most commercially succesful release.

10 – California (Blue)

In this song, Mitchell sings of going home to her beloved California. She sings as though she’s been on a long journey – and indeed, she has. After a tough breakup with her longtime boyfriend Graham Nash, Mitchell hoofed her way across Europe. It was during that journey when Mitchell penned many of the songs on her Blue album.

This song, and many of the songs on this album, were inspired by the jazz style of the great Miles Davis.

9 – Blue (Blue)

The title track on Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece 1971 album, the song touches on depression, general sadness and the ways people use to escape from them told over a beautiful piano melody.

Blue
Songs are like tattoos
You know I’ve been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away

Hey, blue
There is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in

8 – Carey (Blue)

Carey was a real person Joni met in Matala. He had flaming red hair and often wore a turban. They met, says Mitchell, when Carey “blew out of a restaurant in Greece, literally. Kaboom! I heard, facing the sunset. I turned around and this guy is blowing out the door of this restaurant. He was a cook; he lit a gas stove and it exploded. Burned all the red hair off himself right through hiswhite Indian turban. I went, ‘That was an interesting entrance-I’ll takenote of that.'”

The following transcript of the introduction to this song that Mitchell gave during a performance at the Troubadour is on this site devoted to Crete:

“I went to Greece a couple years ago and over there I met a very unforgettable character. I have a hard time remembering people’s names, like, so I have to remember things by association, even unforgettable characters I have to remember by association, so his name was ‘Carrot’ Raditz, Carey Raditz, and oh, he’s a great character. He’s got sort of a flaming red personality, and flaming red hair and a flaming red appetite for red wine and he fancied himself to be a gourmet cook, you know, if he could be a gourmet cook in a cave in Matala. And he announced to my girlfriend and I the day that we met him that he was the best cook in the area and he actually was working at the time I met him – he was working at this place called the Delphini restaurant – until it exploded, singed half of the hair off of his beard and his legs, and scorched his turban, melted down his golden earrings.

“Anyway, one day he decided he was going to cook up a feast, you know, so we had to go to market because, like, in the village of Matala there was one woman who kind of had a monopoly – well actually there were three grocery stores, but she really had a monopoly, and because of her success and her affluence, she had the only cold storage in the village, too. So she had all the fresh vegetables and all the cold soft drinks and she could make the yogurt last a lot longer than anyone else, and we didn’t feel like giving her any business that day. Rather than giving her our business we decided to walk ten miles to the nearest market.

“So I had ruined the pair of boots that I’d brought with me from the city, because they were really ‘citified,’ kind of slick city boots that were meant to walk on flat surfaces. The first night there we drank some Raki and I tried to climb the mountain and that was the end of those shoes. So he lent me these boots of his which were like Li’l Abner boots – like those big lace-up walking boots – and a pair of Afghani socks, which made my feet all purple at the end of the day. And I laced them up around my ankles and I couldn’t touch any – the only place my foot touched was on the bottom, you know, there was nothing rubbing in the back or the sides – they were huge – and he wasn’t very tall, either, come to think of it, was kind of strange – I guess he had sort of webbed feet or something. But we started off on this long trek to the village, I forget the name of it now, between Matala and Iraklion – and started off in the cool of the morning. And by the time we got halfway there we were just sweltering, me in these thick Afghani socks and heavy woolens and everything. So we went into the ruins of King Phestos’ palace to sit down and have a little bit of a rest, and while we were there these two tourist buses pulled up and everybody got off the buses in kind of an unusual symmetry, you know, they all sort of walked alike and talked alike and they all kind of looked alike. And they all filed over to a series of rubble-y rocks- a wall that was beginning to crumble – lined themselves up in a row and took out their viewing glasses, overgrown opera glasses, and they started looking at the sky. And suddenly this little speck appeared on the horizon that came closer and closer, this little black speck.

“Carey was standing behind all of this leaning on his cane, and as it came into view he suddenly broke the silence of this big crowd and he yells out, ‘it’s ah MAAGPIE’ in his best North Carolina drawl. And suddenly all the glasses went down in symmetry and everybody’s heads turned around to reveal that they were all very birdlike looking people. They had long skinny noses – really – they had been watching birds so long that they looked like them, you know – and this one woman turned around and she says to him (in British accent) “it’s NOT a magpie – it’s a crooked crow.” Then she very slowly and distinctly turned her head back, picked up her glasses, and so did everybody else, and we kept on walking. Bought two kilos of fish which would have rotted in the cave hadn’t it been for the cats.

“When we got back from that walk, Stelios, who was the guy who ran the Mermaid Cafe, had decided to put an addition on his kitchen, which turned out to be really illegal and it was so illegal, as a matter of fact, that the Junta dragged him off to jail. And torture was legal over there – they burnt his hands and his feet with cigarette butts mainly because they hated, you know, all of the Canadians and Americans and wandering Germans living in the caves, but they couldn’t get them out of there because it was controlled by the same archaeologist that controlled the ruins of King Phestos’ palace, and he didn’t mind you living there as long as you didn’t Day-Glo all of the caves. And everyone was, like, putting all of their psychedelia over all this ancient writing. So they carted him off to jail.”

7 – The Circle Game (Ladies of the Canyon)

In this song, Mitchell tells the story of a child’s journey to adulthood, using a carousel as a metaphor for the years that go by, pointing out how we can look back, but we can’t return to our past.

The song opens with the young boy enjoying the wonder of youth, but looking forward to getting older. In the second verse, he is 16 and driving. The final verse finds him at 20, with his dreams tempered a bit, but still with high hopes for his future.

6 – Woodstock (Ladies of the Canyon)

Mitchell most likely could have, and would have, performed at Woodstock but her manager, David Geffen, made the decision that she would not join her peers on stage in Bethel, N.Y., where the officially titled Woodstock Music and Arts Fair was being held. Mitchell was booked to appear on The Dick Cavett Show the day after the festival, and Geffen took the calculated risk that it was more important for the singer-songwriter to get the exposure the popular national TV program would bring her than to sing for the hippies upstate, who might not even pay attention. Getting stuck in a traffic jam would not do her any good either, Geffen reasoned.

Geffen and Mitchell instead holed up in a hotel room in New York, watching news reports on the festival as friends like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (also Geffen clients) played to hundreds of thousands of rock fans.

After the festival, Graham Nash, involved in a romantic relationship with Mitchell at the time, excitedly regaled her with the details of the event: how it truly felt like a turning point, a sea change, how the crowd was “half a million strong and everywhere there was a song and a celebration.” Mitchell grabbed a pen and paper and started to write.

5 – My Old Man (Blue)

My old man, he’s a singer in the park
He’s a walker in the rain
He’s a dancer in the dark
We don’t need no piece of paper from the city hall
Keeping us tied and true no, my old man
Keeping away my blues

4 – Willy (Ladies of the Canyon)

Graham Nash, whose nickname was Willy, left his crumbling marriage, moved in with Mitchell and they lived together in her house for two years. She eventually split from him with a telegram from Greece stating, ‘If you hold sand too tightly in your hand, it will run through your fingers. Love, Joan.’

3 – Little Green (Blue)

A song to the daughter she gave up. If you do not know the story it is worth looking up and reading, it is a tragic tale that initially seemed to have a happy ending, but things started to go wrong a few years after mother and daughter were reunited.

2 – Morning Morgantown (Ladies of the Canyon)

I would very much like to give a solid and reasoned account of why this song has ended up at number 2, but I can’t. It just says something to me that I really connect with and I’m not even sure what that is, more of a feeling than anything. It may have something to do with growing up in a village and the feeling of belonging which, through circumstance, had to be left behind and was never really found again.

1 – Both Sides, Now (Clouds)

This was the first hit song written by Joni Mitchell, whose version appeared on her 1969 album Clouds. Mitchell recalled: “I was reading Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”

Mitchell had been through a very difficult time when she wrote the lyrics. In 1965, she gave birth to a baby girl, but struggled as a single mom (the father was an old boyfriend who left soon after Mitchell got pregnant). She married a musician named Chuck Mitchell that year, but soon after the marriage, gave up the child for adoption. Soon, her marriage was on the rocks, and in 1967 they split up.

Judy Collins was the first to record the song and it provided her first hit, and also brought exposure to Mitchell. With this song Collins won the 1968 Grammy for Best Folk Performance.

This is Joni Mitchell’s most-covered song; with over 1000 versions recorded, it could be considered a standard. Some of the luminaries to record it include Frank Sinatra (on his 1968 album Cycles), Bing Crosby, and Ronan bloody Keating, a version I haven’t and won’t listen to. .

And that is my imperfect list, which I already want to change havng not included anything from Dog Eat Dog or Mingus, ah well, maybe another day I will make it top 45!




The Tinned PIlchards

For a brief period in the 1980’s one band exploded onto the scene like a comet hitting the planet, only to disappear as quickly as they appeared. That band was The Tinned Pilchards, since written out of the history of popular culture and a mystery to most, their untold story is one of corporate big business destroying what they can’t control through fear that the ancient monolith that was their business model was under direct attack.

There is very little media still in existence, having been deleted or destroyed as a result of multiple injunctions and court cases, but we have managed to obtain rare recordings and footage as well as tracking down one of the members who was willing to talk, well, he didn’t know he was being recorded and we transcribed the recording, which is almost the same thing.

It all began with what they thought was their big break, after weeks of toiling on the local bedroom scene their first official release, ‘Fast’, was picked up by national radio DJ Bob Harris who played the track once, really late at night when very few people were listening. Such was his interest in the song he insisted that it opened the next edition of The Old Grey Whistle Test, however, the band weren’t available to perform so in good old OGWT fashion an old animation was played with the track. No official copies of this broadcast still exist, however, these were the days of video recorders and we have obtained a private tape that you can view now, for the first time since that original broadcast:

An instant classic, I’m sure everyone would agree, but this is where the problems began. Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagan saw the show and was incensed, insisting that the chords used where clearly Steely Dan chords and that whoever was playing them was butchering them by not playing ‘Square’ enough. This was the first lawsuit, there were more to come.

The single itself had been independently released as a 7″ and 12″ with the flip side an almost unlistenable experimental track by keyboardist Peter Bushnell titled ‘Ooh Yes Very Good’. Although all the vinyl copies of the single were destroyed (although it is rumoured that one copy still exists which, if found, could be worth tens of pounds ) some rare footage of a live performance has recently emerged, which we can share with you now, although we recommend not bothering.

Renowned journalist and Media entrepreneur Ella Bushnell (not a relation) tracked down the bands multi-instrumentalist Verian Thomas and had a chat, secretly recording the conversation using one of those new-fangled digital recorders, this is what’s said:

When you played with Dad Pete and Dave in The Tinned Pilchards, what were your inspirations when forming/making music with the band? 

I’d been in bands since school, playing guitar or bass, but moved away in 1983, when I was 16, and lost touch with most of the people from those days so the Pilchards were, to some degree, a way of staying in touch and a social thing. I don’t recall us ever discussing playing in front of an audience other than one of us suggesting a tour of people’s living rooms once, which I probably would have done if any of us actually had the organisational skills to set it up. 

The music that we made was restricted by the capabilities of the individual band members such as Dave (who insisted on being called Dwayne Mustard) stealing most of his lyrics from other people’s songs and Pete playing Steely Dan inspired keyboard chords whenever possible. Despite this we did manage to put together an OK body of work over a period of several years but were limited to some degree by the technology we had available to us to record the songs. We used my Fostex 4 Track, which used cassette tapes, and if we needed more than 4 tracks then it was necessary to merge two tracks together thereby leaving a spare track. Every time we did this the degradation in sound quality was pretty evident. I think our aim was to get together for a day, write and record an entire song and then we all felt it to have been a pretty productive and worthwhile day. It was rare that we didn’t manage that.

There was a very broad range of musical inspirations that each person brought to the band and we ended up sounding nothing like any of them, which is probably a good thing. At the time I was in a 4AD phase, which continues to this day to a degree, and was listening to The Cocteau TwinsThis Mortal CoilDead Can Dance, that sort of thing, as well as The Sisters of MercyThe Cure and Xmal Deutschland, a closet Goth if truth be told, but still listening to and influenced by the music that I grew up with, which was in the Prog Rock musical spectrum, such as GenesisPink Floyd and Yes, or Rock from Led ZeppelinBlack Sabbath and the like. At the same time Dave and Pete would talk about the bands they were listening to and I would investigate those as well, bands like The Blue Nile, China Crisis, Prefab Sprout, but I think the initial desire to write and record was born a few years earlier, in 1983, with the release of Soul Mining by The The. At the time I was told that it was one guy, Matt Johnson, who basically recorded the whole thing in his bedroom on rudimentary equipment, sent off demos and got a deal. There was a point where I thought I could also do that. The story about The The turned out to not be true, but that didn’t really matter.



After your song was played on the Old Grey Whistle Test, how did you feel about everything that happened afterwards?

What do you mean by everything?

Well, the court cases, accusations of plagiarism, your vilification in the music press, that sort of thing.

I was fine about it, if you want to know more about that stuff speak to Dave, or bloody Dwayne or whatever he’s calling himself nowadays. Probably Stong or Peter Gobriel.

At this point he left without saying goodbye

The previously mentioned lawsuits came thick and fast as it became increasingly clear that several elements of other peoples songs had been ‘borrowed’. While the appropriation of Steely Dan chords case didn’t get anywhere it lasted long enough for the initial buzz about the band to dissipate. Even if they could have bounced back from that they faced more hurdles over the lyrics to the songs they had recorded for a proposed album release.

During the plagiarism trials, The Old Bailey judge found in favour of the 63 plaintiffs in all cases stating “That this trial only took 12 minutes is indicative of how bloody obviously the lyrics have been stolen from other songs”. Lyricist and Singer David Bushnell has always maintained his innocence, which is ridiculous as he really did quite obviously steal from Sting, Steely Dan and other sources.

After this the band collapsed, they made no money from that initial release and any future earnings they may make were already sequestered by the court, their only hope was a completely original song, so there was no chance of a comeback although they did return to the studio one more time but none of the recordings ever surfaced.

While researching this article we were approached by a man who called himself only Lionel and claimed to have been the recording engineer at those lost sessions, we didn’t believe him of course, he seemed rather shady, but having heard the tape it was undeniably The Pilchards, for the price of his bus fare home he provided us with the unmixed demo tape of the one song that survived from the session. We feel we overpaid, however, here is that never before heard song.

And so, The Tinned Pilchards, a band that had, momentarily at least, the whole world at their feet faded into complete obscurity and having written this I now feel, perhaps, that they should have stayed there.

Albums of the Year 2019

27 – Lambchop – This (Is what I wanted to tell you)

I’m always excited at the release of a Lambchop album particulalry having seen them live a few years ago. More recently there are elements of electronic music creeping in but I’m ok with that as, while sometimes it can be a wrench when a band moves in a new direction, the other option, which is basically releasing the same album over and over again, is a surefire path to obscurity.

26 – Lana Del Ray – Norman Fucking Rockwell

I’ve never had an issue with Lana Del Ray despite the fangirl worship that grew up around her early on, it really mens nothing to me, she has put some really good songs out and this album is particularly accomplished. It has quite rightly appeared very high, if not on top, of mny critics year end lists. Give it a whirl.

25- Drahla – Useless Coordinates

I very much stumbled upon this album, picked up in a charity shop. I had never heard of them but I put it on in the car and am now having trouble understanding how it ended up on a charity shop. My gain I suppose. As a reference point, perhaps think Sonic Youth.

24- Cigarettes After Sex – Cry

I received this as part of my Rough Trade subscription, I’d heard of them but paid no attention, and the one that arrived in the post was a nice grey vinyl so that was good. What I do know is that ‘Pitchfork’ did not think highly of this release: His second record, Cry, is a 41-minute dream about Penthouse pets and women in silken underthings, filtered through chiaroscuro and top-shelf whiskey. There is a universe where this raciness could conceivably offer a reprieve from indie rock’s occasional prudishness. Unfortunately, Gonzalez’s candor about his desire comes off as lifeless and borderline asinine.

Fair enough but I don’t think I listen quite as intently, they are atmospheric dream pop songs and they sound quite nice.

23 – Bat For Lashes – Lost Girl

Natasha Khan (for it is she who is Bat for Lashes) moved to L.A and set to thinking about classic ‘80s kids films. Films such as The Lost Boys, Never Ending Story, The Goonies, The Flight Of The Navigator, Labyrinth and The Karate Kid. I’m sure you know the sort of thing, the young ‘uns were always right and also the heroes, any sense of reality was unimportant and cynicism had no place in this world. In this mindset Khan wrote a screenplay, however, the soundtrack took over and resulted in this album. I also received a copy of this from Rough Trade.

22 – KOKOKO! – Fongola

Another Rough Trade record that arrived sight unseen in the post. Shortly after receiving it I saw them live and it was a fun set.

21 – DIIV – Deceiver

You will never guess how I got my hands on this record, oh, you did, yes, Rough Trade again, this one a sort of smoky orange coloured vinyl. So if we need to give a reference point for DIIV, think Shoegaze, so Slowdive, Ride, that sort of thing.

20 – Eluvium – Piano Works

I’ve liked Eluvium for a long time now so when I saw this in the record shop I bought it immediately. My copy is 3 × Vinyl, LP, Limited Edition in Iridescent Mother Of Pearl and it was quite pricey. The album is just piano and begins with a song about children’s piano lessons, and culminates with an etude driven by the struggle to hold onto innocence and imagination as adulthood settles in.

19 – Lamb – The Secret of Letting Go

This is not their best album, but I love Lamb (both the band and with mint sauce and gravy) so there are multiple reference points for me, however, for somebody hearing this having never heard them before I’m not sure they would rate it as highly as I do, not when compared to earlier releases such as ‘What Sound’ which is my favourite release of theirs. Don’t be mistaken though, this IS a very good album.

18 – The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

A great album this from the Raconteurs that I need to find more time to listen to as I’m pretty confident repeated listens would send it higher up this list. It has been 10 years since their last record and they have returned with a riff heavy rock and roll record that seems designed more for the turntable than streaming.

17 – Henryk Górecki – Beth Gibbons, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Krzysztof Penderecki – Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs) Op. 36

I have had this music for 20 years and love it, sure, it’s in Polish and I have no idea what they words are but that doesn’t matter. To see that a piece of music that I already adored was to be sung by a singer that I also adored was a lovely surprise. Beth Gibbons (of Portishead in case you hadn’t realised) really does turn in a fantastic performance as does the orchestra.

16 – Pip Blom – Boat

Rough Trade again! Coloured vinyl again! Yeah, I know, but I compile these more recent lists based, as much as possible, on what I own and I own this so here it is. Never heard of them again before it arrived and was pleasantly suprised, as I so often am with the albums Rough Trade send, they rarely send anything that I don’t appreciate. On this, their debut album, the Dutch quartet undercut their perky, grunge-lite melodies with just the right amount of pop-fuzz aggression.

15 – Nérija – Blume

Erm, well, I think i may have got this from Rough Trade as well, I’m losing track, or maybe I bought it at the record shop, no matter. Anyway, I wrote about this here

14 – Little Simz – Gray Area

One of the few albums on this list I don’t own but I’ve streamed it a lot and like it a lot. I may at some point pick up a copy. I thought she would take the Mercury Prize with this album but she didn’t.

13 – Nick Cave – Ghosteen

This is the first record from Cave written entirely following the death of his son and it is very much a meditation on grief, so not particularly cheery, but artistically it is a wonderful and fascinating album.

12 – Swans – Leaving Meaning

Described in a youtube comment as ‘Post-apocalyptic nuclear Hawaiian beach scene’, I can go with that. It’s difficult to explain Swans to anybody who hasn’t heard Swans, it is sort of monolithic experimental rock but you just have to sit down and actually listen to it, it’s the only way.

11 – Ólafur Arnalds – re:member

I bought this on RSD 19, Alternative Artwork Series – One of five alternative covers of “Re:member” LP, plus 7′ String Quartets Vinyl. Packaged together in an outside PVC wrap.
Limited edition of 800 copies (all variants). Unknown number of copies for each variant. I’m not buying the other 4 variants, that would be silly. If you don’t know of him, he is an Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and producer from Mosfellsbær, Iceland. He mixes strings and piano with loops and beats, or you could just have a listen.

10 – Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe

12 years after their last release comes To Believe, a collection of seemingly delicate songs built around the meaning of belief. On closer listen things are not as delicate as they seem and with this album they have, perhaps, realised their potential and produced something genuinely beautiful.

9 – 65Daysofstatic – replicr, 2019

Well I’m a big fan of 65Daysofstatic and tried to get to see them last year, but failed as the only gig I could get too involved buying a 3 day festival ticket and there was nobody else I wanted to see. For reference, think Post/Math rock, or think nothing at all and let the sound fill up the spaces in your head.

8 – Death and Vanila – Are you a dreamer?

I have pretty much everything they have released so it is no surprise that this album appears here. I previously wrote about it here

7 – The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

I played The Comet is Coming on my occasional and little listened to Radio Show having stumbled across a track and have now ended up buying almost everything they have released. I like electronic music, I like jazz, I like rock, they have thrown it all in a blender and I really rather like it.

6 – Thom Yorke – Anima

This is an album focused on anxiety and dystopia but somehow manages to be more upbeat than his previous solo releases. I got the orange vinyl copy and it is all really rather nice. This album, more than the previous two solo releases, will appeal to fans of Radiohead as it is more aligned with that feel and sound.

5 – The Comet is Coming – Afterlife

Here they are again, for all the same reasons as previously mentioned. It’s not my fault they released two albums in the same year.

4 – Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

A surprising inclusion some may think, however, popularity does not always mean generic crap that appeals to the masses. There are some great songs on this album and the whole aesthetic is pretty appealing. Perhaps she reached the pinnacle of her recorded output on day one, we will have to wait and see, but this is a fantastic debut.

3 – Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

In my view an extraordinary record that at first put me in mind of Karen Carpenter but repeated listens gave it an identity of its own. This is a beautifully crafted album, her fourth, and best. The songs have a grace to them that speaks of an older time that sometimes feels lost, but is reclaimed in these songs.

2 – Aurora – A Different Kind Of Human – Step 2

This record was in the SALE bin at the record store and I bought it on just a hunch, it looked interesting. Turns out it was, in fact it’s a bloody great album and I have since become a fan of Aurora (even the song she contributed to Frozen II). She wrote music for herself as early as age 9. When she was 16 her song Puppets was (without her consent) uploaded to a streaming website. It became popular and was noticed by a management company and subsequently officially published under her real name. Soon afterwards she signed to Decca and started releasing her music under her stage name AURORA. Her actual name is Aurora Aksnes. I recommend delving into her work, it’s very rewarding.

1 – FKA Twigs – Magdalene 

This album, in my view, is not only the best of 2019 but also one of the best of the decade. Again, I have everything she has released, but this album is the pinnacle of her recorded output. My disappointment in the Brit Awards was further deepened when Mabel (Who I have nothing against) won over Twigs, for me it was a no contest, Twigs was miles ahead of the other nominees. My view is that Twigs is an artist who produces deeply meaningful music combined with dance interpretations, videos and artwork that defy genres. She is quite brilliant.

If you fail to be moved by the performance of Cellophane above, then you are dead inside.

Best Albums of 2010

Here we are again with one of those best of lists that I do, they take ages, very few people read them and still I don’t care, it has become an obsession to try and complete every year I can. Why? No idea. I started this one months ago so it’s probabaly wrong by now.

50 – Interpol – Interpol

I haven’t listened to this album until now so it may move up over time as I did really like their debut ‘Turn On the Bright Lights’ which I discovered via a mix CD that I was sent, it had the track PDA on it. The band took a break for several years but returned recently with anew album so I’ll have to give that a listen as well.

49 – Anaïs Mitchell – Hadestown

I know literally nothing about this artist or album so I had to go and have a look and a listen as it appears in several best of lists for 2010. Hadestown is the fourth album by Vermont-based Anaïs Mitchell. The concept album follows a variation on the Ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus must embark on a quest to rescue his wife Eurydice from the underworld, so that’s me sold on it as I love that sort of thing. Several of the songs feature singers other than Mitchell, including Justin Vernon (better known as lead vocalist and guitarist of Wisconsin-based band Bon Iver), Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown, and Tanya, Petra and Rachel Haden (referred to in the track listing as ‘The Haden Triplets’).

48 – Yeasayer – Odd Blood

This is another album that appeared in a lot of end of year lists and I do remember giving it a listen at the time, I liked it well enough, but I still don’t understand what about it made it be top 10 for some people.

47 – Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

This was not on my radar at all in 2010 so another first listen for me. I’m a fan of desire trails as a thing, so it’s nice to see a song with that as a title. In June 2010, Deerhunter took a short break from touring to record Halcyon Digest. Initial news of the album became public when music industry firm, Milk Money, posted a message on their Twitter account that the band had been mixing the new record with Ben Allen (who also worked on Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion and Fall Be Kind EP.)

46 – Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

Full disclosure, I love Charlotte Gainsbroug, so I am somewhat incapapble of not saying nice things, although this album doesn’t deserve bad words being said about it so I feel safe in saying that this is a very good album. she is, of course, the daughter of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg but having appeared in 40 or 50 movies and released several albums I think she is well out from under the shadow of her parents now.

45 – Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here

I know the earlier releases pretty well but didn’t pick up on this when it was released, which is ok as I get to listen to it now and maybe, being a little older, appreciate it more than I would have even only 9 years ago. That I now feel the need to pick up a copy for myself is testament to how good the album is. I was touched by opener ‘On Coming From a Broken Home (pt 1)’ and suprised by ‘Me And The Devil’, and on it went until I reached the end of the album without realising where the time had gone.

44 – Forest Swords – Dagger Paths

Technically an E.P. but I like Forest Swords, and I make the rules, so here it is, alos it was re-released with extra tracks and became an album later, sort of. I first stumbled upon this when making a spotify playlist, just listening to random tracks and adding them if I liked them. I then bought the last album, ‘Compassion’, which you will find in Albums Of The Year 2017 at number 5.

43 – Beach House – Teen Dream

Something that very rarely happes is my good lady wife reccomending a band to me, which she did about 6 weeks ago, and it was Beach House. I’d never heard of them and this irks me somewhat that she had the gall to recommend something to me I didn’t know. Hmph! It was a live performance and despite trying hard, on a point of priciple, not to like it, I did like it, damn.

42 – Midlake – The Courage of Others

I have not given this album the chance it deserves, the reason for this is that I really liked their debut ‘Banman & Silvercork’ so that this isn’t that sort of dissapointed me, which is, of course, ridiculous, but I bought the record, played it once and I don’t think I have played it again. Until today. It’s much better than I remembered.

41 – Gorillaz – The Fall

I got my copy of this on Record Store Day as it had only ever been a limited release. The entire album was recorded on Damon Albarn’s iPad over the course of 32 days during the North American leg of the Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour in October 2010 and mixed in England by Stephen Sedgwick. 

40 – Envy – Recitation

There is something particular about the music of Envy that I would not normally listen to, because I don’t understand it, and that is hardcore shouting which are what I imagine having your vocal chords ripped out by a rabid dog sounds like. In this one instance I don’t mind it at all though. Envy are a Japanese screamo band formed in Tokyo, in 1992 apparently, who would have thought I’d be listening to Screamo, it’s a strange world.

39 – Prins Thomas – Prins Thomas

I don’t know much about Prins Thomas, other than that I bought a triple album of his really cheaply and liked it, so that’s why he is here. I gave this a listen, I also like this, so there we are.

38 – The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter

I found a copy of this in a used record store and, typically of The Fall, it’s all rather inconsistent, but in a good way. It is their 27th studio album, of which I only have 4, and was considered by many critics to be one of the best albums of the year, although who really cares what critics think?

37 – Yann Tiersen – Dust Lane

Tiersen is known principally as the multi-instrumentalist composer of the charming soundtracks to the movies Amélie, The Dreamlife of Angels, Good Bye Lenin! et al, though he has released a quintet of solo albums which have gone somewhat under the radar (his last outing, 2005’s Les Retrouvailles, featured vocal cameos from Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Fraser and Jane Birkin, among others).

36 – The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards

Not my faviourite Jack White project to be honest but there is still plenty here to enjoy. Interestingly, to me at least, The album was streamed on the band’s website, via continuous vinyl playback, for a period of 24 hours from April 30 to May 1.

35 – Hammock – Chasing After Shadows… Living with the Ghosts

Hammock are an American two-member ambient/post-rock band from Nashville, Tennessee who create atmospheric music by combining orchestral arrangements with electronic beats, piano and droning guitar. I bought an album of theirs, Oblivion Hymns, back in 2013 and loved it. I don’t have a copy of this one but having listened to it again I feel it should be in my wantlist.

34 – Ólöf Arnalds – Innundir Skinni

Innundir skinni is Icelandic musician Ólöf Arnalds second album. The album was produced by Sigur Rós band member Kjartan Sveinsson, who also worked with Arnalds on her debut album. Skúli Sverrisson, Davið Þór Jónsson, Björk and Shahzad Ismaily all contributed to the album.

33 – Stereolab – Not Music

This is the tenth studio album by Stereolab, released on 16 November 2010 by Duophonic Records. It is a collection of unreleased material recorded at the same time as their previous album Chemical Chords (2008). I’ve only ever heard Stereolab track here and there, on compilations or occasionally the radio, but I’ve always liked what I’ve heard and keep meaning to explore them further.

32 – Suuns – Zeroes QC

As a fan of Suuns I’m disappointed I don’t have this album as yet, but it is on the WANT list. The band are Canadian, from Montreal to be specific and have an interesting sound, it is sort of indie rock informed by Krautrock and shoegaze with a pinch of oddness added in for flavour.

31 – Bonobo – Black Sands

When I first started buying vinyl records again after a long hiatus, this was one of the first 10 or so I bought. This is the fourth studio album, released on 29 March 2010. The cover features a photograph taken of Derwentwater, in northern England. The tower in the background is located in Castlerigg (Fun Fact: Coordinates: 54°35′29.95″N 3°7′3.43″W). As of January 20th 2017 it has sold 72,756 copies in UK, to be honest I thought it would be more.

30 – Ólafur Arnalds – …And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness

You may know Ólafur Arnalds as the guy who did the music for the TV series Broadchurch, and some other TV and film scores, but he also releases music that isn’t tied in to anything else, most recently the excellent Re:member, a copy of which I bought on RSD. He was touring with Sigur Ros around this time which might be where I made the connection.

29 – Efterklang – Magic Chairs

I saw a documentary on Efterklang several years ago where they were collecting field recordings for their next album and it was fascinating, I’ve been listening to them ever since. Efterklang are Danish and have 5 or 6 albums behind them now, all of which are worth a listen.

28 – Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

I’ve honestly not been able to understand what all the fuss is around Tame Impala so I have given them a better listen, this album I like, but I know there were plenty of year end charts where this figured much higher.

27 – Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love

I love a bit of Belle & Sebastian but have to admit that this particular album completely passed me by, so I’m not very familiar with it having listened to it for the first time in the last few weeks. This will probably move up eventually as I get to know it better.

26 – Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales

Ten years prior, Thee Silver Mt. Zion appeared as one of many satellite projects orbiting around Godspeed You! Black Emperor, alongside fellow offshoot acts like Fly Pan Am and 1-Speed Bike. By 2010 they had become Constellation Records’ flagship act. I think it is fair to say that they are often not an easy listen, the first track of this album is over 16 minutes long for example, which is a lot to ask if it is your first listen, and they can be quite different album to album, but I like them.

25 – Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)

It is only recently that I’ve really started listening to Erykah Badu, having tried before but not really connected with the music. I’m not sure why but I put Baduizm, her debut, in the car CD player a few weeks ago and really liked it, since then I’ve listened to several others and am left wondering why I didn’t listen to any of it before. I think her music may be an acquired taste, one which I guess I have now acquired.

24 – Grimes – Geidi Primes

The first time I heard Grimes was the track ‘Genesis’ from her third album, which I really liked, this is her 2nd album and I like it too. Claire Elise Boucher (born March 17th, 1988), better known by her stage persona and character Grimes, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, producer, artist and music video director.

23 – Massive Attack – Heligoland

I am very conflicted about this album, some days I love it and some days I find parts of it disappointing, so it is probably down to my mood on the day, although I think it better than 100th Window most days. It may be that I judge their output based on Mezzanine, which is an almost perfect album.

22 – Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

I first stumbled across Swans in 2014 when I saw what I thought was a cool triple album titled ‘To Be Kind’ which I bought unheard and was really pleased with it, so I picked this up 6 years or so after it was released and it was a little different to what I’d already heard, but it was very interesting, not least because Devandra Banhart makes an appearance, you can hear that track below.

21 – The Black Keys – Brother

This one is pretty well known I should think and I did once have a CD copy but it disappeared somewhere a few years ago. They are an American rock band formed in Akron, Ohio, in 2001. The group consists of Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). It’s a good album.

20 Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me

I’ve been listening to Joanna Newsome since The Milk-Eyed Mender was released in 2004. There aren’t many harpists out there who are part of the ‘Indie’ scene, perhaps no others actually. I seem to recall that I was listening to Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart and lots of fragile folk music at the time and Newsom was a good fit.

19 – Eluvium – Similes

Eluvium is actually just one guy, Matthew Cooper. You never know wjhat you are going to get from one album to the next as sometimes the music is absolutely bare bones and others is very complex and orchestral, perhaps this is one of the reasons I like it so much.

18 – Tricky – Mixed Race

As a long time fan of Tricky I could not possibly leave this release out but even if I wasn’t this album has plenty of tracks that are well worth multiple listens. I’ve been listening to his music since he appeared on the first Massive Attack album and there have been some ups and downs but this one is on the upward curve.

17 – Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can

Rightly or wrongly, I always get the sense that Laura Marling is somewhat under appreciated. She is a wonderful songwriter, composer and performer and this album should have, in my opinion, been huge. It did get to #4 in the UK album charts but is only certified silver, which is for sales of sixty thousand or more. Look into her albums, she’s great.

16 – John Grant – Queen of Denmark

This wouldn’t have been in the list at all if I hadn’t seen him live last summer at the Blue Dot festival, he was really very good and when I got home I caught up on all his releases. He’s a funny guy.

15 – Max Richter – Infra

I’m also a big fan of Max Richter and have several of his albums in my collection which range from electronic to full on classical. This one sits in the electronic section for the most part and as I do delight in ambient sounds it fits the bill perfectly for me.

14 – Jónsi – Go

The first solo outing from Sigur Ros singer Jonsi and it’s exactly what one might have hopd for from it, a slightly more pop orientated version of the band with his distinct vocal style and obscure language very much still intact.

13 – Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Another band where I was late to the party. I picked this album up on CD from a charity shop for 50 pence and it spent several long journeys spinning on repeat in the car as I drove back and forth to work.

12 – Everything Everything – Man Alive

Another charity shop CD, although the band had been recommended to me previously so it was quite a nice surprise to find it for 50p. It has a sort of 70’s Prog feel about it that I like and I went on to get a few more of theirs after this, which are all good.

11 – 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

I am a fan so it is little surprise that this appears here. It’s post rock sort of, maybe math rock at times, so if you like instrumental music then they are well worth giving a listen. It gets pretty heavy at times but there’s a lot of light and shade.

10 – Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

I do love the sound of Gorillaz and yes, this is their second appearance. This is definitely the better of the two albums overall. Damon Albarn went down a path that I would never have expected having seen him fronting Blur right from the start and I like where he’s gone.

9 – Four Tet – There Is Love in You

This is the 5th album from Four Tet, which is one guy, Kieran Hebdan, who produces electronic music and does a lot of remixes for people. I have several albums of his having first become aware of his music from the album ‘Rounds’. Apparently he was in a banfd called Fridge but I don’t think i’ve listened to them.

8 – Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid

Another 50 pence charity shop pick up, what an incredibly talented individual she is. A singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer. This is a beast of an album.

7 – Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

After the albums Michigan and Illinois, both of which are magnificent, I and most other people were expecting another U.S state themed album, and this wasn’t it. As a result I ignored it for a little while but eventually picked up and am glad I did.

6 – LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

Another album I pretty much ignored when it was released and another charity shop CD. The earlier ‘The Sound Of Silver’ is probabaly a better album but this one isn’t far off.

5 – The National – High Violet

I think the BBC summed up this album very well: ‘Its charms are subtle, its grip soft and easily shrugged by those who choose to pay it only passing attention. Live with it a while, though, and High Violet rewards patience with songs that colour one’s waking existence, becoming vivid night-time narratives when curtains are drawn.‘ It took me several listens but it was worth it.

4 – Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

It’s on Warp records, which is usually a good sign, and it has Thom Yorke on it, always a good sign. It is a sort of Electronica album that’s touched with a sense of jazz and it really is a triumph.

3 – Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

The guy is not the most likeable charecter for most, but his musical output is pretty much undeniable, he is very good at what he does.

2 – Robyn – Body Talk

Rated very highly by most critics and completely ignored by me for 10 years, which in some ways is a good thing and I got to it eventually. I would say that under normal circumstances this is not my sort of thing at all, but it is so well writted, produced and generally crafted that it is pop perfection. I can’t help liking it.

1 – M.I.A. – /\/\/\Y/\

In my view M.I.A is a genius, completly unique in what she does in the same way Bjork is. Now I do appreciate that the music might be polarising as it is not catering in a generic way to as wide an audience as possible, but that’s one of the many reasons I like it. Interstingly it received only moderate ratings from critics, averaging out at 68%, some even calling the album a rambling mess, they were all wrong, and that’s that.

Self Isolation Thing I Did

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