Of my final ten tracks of the year, one is by Bowie and two by big pals of Bowie.
This might just be construed as sentimentality but really this isn’t remotely to do with the death of the icon. I happily included the track Blackstar in my best of 2015 list and while his final album probably wouldn’t feature in my list of ten favourite Bowie LPs, I reckon it displayed as much creativity as any album released in 2016.
If not more.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain the connections between Bowie and Iggy or Ian Hunter but you might not know that the ex-Mott singer was far from an Iggy fan, once putting the boot in by claiming: ‘I think Iggy’s the most overrated star ever. Iggy has all the attributes of stardom, except that he doesn’t deliver on any level. He’s the all-time ‘should-have-but-didn’t and it’s because he’s just not good enough.’
Well, Mr Hunter got that one spectacularly wrong but hey, Iggy fans were pretty thin on the ground back then.
The first two Stooges albums met with mostly scorn from critics and music lovers – well, the minority of them that had even heard the records, Rolling Stone, for example, branded their debut as ‘loud, boring, tasteless, unimaginative and childish.’
Sandy Robertson, the author and former Sounds journalist, once told me that when import copies of Raw Power first hit Britain, one guy serving behind the counter of a music shop was utterly flabbergasted that he wanted to buy a copy.
This might strike you as strange and I struggle to get my head around it myself having only discovered The Stooges later. James Newell Osterberg, Jr. was obviously out of sync with the pre-punk times and way ahead of the curve. Of course, nowadays he is enshrined as a music legend and just about everybody hailed his Post Pop Depression as a late period masterpiece. Which it might just be.
Incidentally, whether Iggy rates Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople I have no idea but I’m sure that he surely must harbour at least a soft spot for Dandy, Hunter’s tribute to David Bowie from his album Fingers Crossed. ‘This world was black and white, you showed us what it’s like to live inside a rainbow.’
Anyway, back to the man who I guess doesn’t have too many shirts hanging on the rail of his wardrobe. This is Iggy and Gardenia live at some hall in London:
After their drummer Chris Acland committed suicide in 1996, the idea of the three remaining members of Lush continuing on as a band was too painful to contemplate and although there had been talk of a reunion for some years, it wasn’t until 2015 that they decided that they really should get back together.
A couple of months ago, Lush issued a statement that they would split up again after their Manchester Academy show. ‘It is now time for us to return to our families and homes, and bring our time together as a band to a close.’
So not one of the longer reformations in pop history.
Their time back together, though, wasn’t just an exercise in nostalgia and they recorded four new songs, released together as an EP titled Blind Spot.
From it, this is Out of Control, which resembled their early ethereal phase rather than their rollicking pop days of the mid-1990s:
Radiohead are always a band that put a lot of care into their promos, making sure they pick an imaginative director with a distinct vision. Just think of Michel Gondry’s Knives Out or Jonathan Glazer’s Karma Police for starters.
Last year they persuaded Chris Hopewell to produce the video for Burn the Witch and Hopewell certainly provided them with another classic with this tribute to The Wicker Man and Camberwell Green. Here it is:
These are my thirty favourite tracks of the year in no particular order:
David Bowie: I Can’t Give Everything Away
Ian Hunter: Dandy
Iggy Pop: Gardenia
Lush: Out of Control
Radiohead: Burn the Witch
Holy Esque: Tear
White: Private Lives
Dot Dash: Dumb Entertainment
The Eastern Swell: Run Down Country Palace
Ian William Craig: A Single Hope
Gabriella Cohen: Downtown
Steve Mason: Planet Sizes
Anna Meredith: The Vapours
Girl Ray: Trouble
Fat White Family: Breaking into Aldi
Rituals: Black River
The Limanas: Garden of Love
Stoor: Witchfinder General
Cate Le Bon: Wonderful
The Parrots: Too High to Die
Gold Furs: Nobody Knows
Honeyblood: Waiting for the Magic
Pixies: Classic Masher
The Jesus and Mary Chain: Amputation
Those Unfortunates: The Servant
Explosions in the Sky: Logic of a Dream
Lurkers GLM: Nearly Home
Miracle Glass Company: T.R.O.U.B.L.E
The Strokes: Drag Queen
And here I’ll give a special mention to Dot Dash, an act that have featured in all of my best of the year lists since the first in 2013. Why they aren’t better known I have no idea but they should be.
As for re-issues, well, last year I tried to cut down on buying too many of those although I was tempted by a couple of Soul Jazz compilations that deserve to be highlighted, namely Venezuela 70, the first-ever album of its kind to concentrate on experimental rock music created in Venezuela during the 1970s and Les Punks: The French Connection, which examines the first wave Of French Punk.
Sharon Signs to Cherry Red is another goodie, a compilation of British female acts from the post-punk era. It maybe isn’t as consistently strong as the two Soul Jazz comps but it was very enjoyable to hear Strawberry Switchblade, The Twinsets and Sunset Gun again.
Also recommended is the 4 CD boxset, Action, Time, Vision (another Cherry Red release, this time of British independent punk releases of the 1970s) which had many a good track on it including our own Subs, Skids and Johnny and the Self Abusers.
I was tempted by the Alex Harvey The Last Of The Teenage Idols 14 CD box-set too and I’ll maybe add it to my collection in 20017, although as I already own so much of the music collected in the boxset I’m finding it hard to justify the cost. Lastly, it was fascinating to finally hear The Gouster on David Bowie’s (that man again!) Who Can I Be Now?