Now and again I like to mix things up and do a personal blog post that has nothing to do with photography. I place a high importance on attracting couples who I’m going to get on with – it makes my job more enjoyable and the results I produce reflect that – so the odd personal blog post is a good chance to get a bit of my personality over and let people know a bit more about me. I’m well known as a massive music geek and sometime DJ so I thought I’d post a little music review of 2016.
As a year it’ll sadly probably be remembered more for those we lost over those whose stars rose. The deaths of Bowie and Prince hit me pretty hard. Two of my absolute music heroes and artists in the most pure sense of the word. The full obituary list for the year is depressingly long as I’m sure you all know. To name a few whose music has touched me over the years (each name links to a tune to check out): Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire; A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg; Sharon Jones; Glenn Frey; Leonard Cohen; George Michael and a big shout for Rod Temperton, the lad from Cleethorpes who fronted Heatwave and went on to write some of Michael Jackson and George Benson’s biggest hits… Rock with You, Thriller, Off The Wall…. he probably didn’t get enough of a fanfare.
On a more positive note it’s been a year for great comebacks. I’m not sure anyone saw De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest releasing LPs in the same year, The Pixies are back and bossing it whilst there are welcome returns from the likes of the Super Furries and The Coral. Elsewhere new artists have emerged across the board and there have been notable albums from more established acts. Anyway, onto some music. Here is my Best Of 2016 playlist. It’s very eclectic so I’d be hard pushed to find many who’ll like everything on it, though if you’re a music lover you’re going to find stuff you like for sure and hopefully a few gems you hadn’t heard previously…
Three albums to check
I could have made this a big old list but instead I thought I’d cherry pick just 3 that have stood out for me and hopefully might appeal to you….
1) Steve Mason – Meet The Humans
I always loved the Beta Band so it definitely peaked my attention to see a new album on the way from Steve Mason and what a triumph it is. It’s actually his third solo record but comfortably the best and may very well go down as the career defining LP from a man who really does feel like he’s at the peak of his powers. Like being wrapped in your favourite blanket it’s warm and familiar, uplifting yet at times tender. If you liked the Beta Band or enjoy Elbow, The Shins or The Bees you really should look this up.
2) A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Where do I start… TCQ are comfortably my favourite hip hop outfit and their back catalogue is impeccable so I was honestly rather nervous when I heard the completely unexpected news that they were releasing a sixth and final LP some 18 years since their last one. I really shouldn’t have worried. What.a.banger. It stays true to their signature sound whilst managing to sound as fresh as ever, recorded with the full original line up before Phife’s tragic passing. Expect A-list collaborations and all thriller / no filler on this one. I saw one critic peg it as a potential album of the year and I’m not inclined to start arguing with him.
3) BadBadNotGood – IV
The only act to appear twice on my ‘Best of’ playlist as I simply could not choose between two killer tracks. In case you don’t know this ground-breaking and hard to pigeon hole Canadian band, I guess you’d have to say that they are aesthetically a jazz band but very much with a foot in electronica, in a similar vein to Portico Quartet or perhaps The Cinematic Orchestra. Not that they can likened to anyone that closely…. And like the latter they bring in guests vocalists which on this album produces results that I imagine to be akin to what Zero 7 might sound like had they come out in 2016. This record is both more polished and more accessible than their output up to now and well worth your attention.
Reissue of the year
Danny White – The Twitch / Betty Bibbs – Enough For Everybody
I buy a steady stream of old RnB / soul 45s both for DJing and my own personal listening. My wife will tell you I have far too many! I love to bag an original but so often they can be cripplingly expensive so I’m happy to make do with an official re-issue. This was probably my favourite of the year from the consistently reliable Kent stable, I guess as much as anything because you’re getting two seriously big sides here. Danny White’s ‘The Twitch’ is the sort of New Orleans soul stomper you simply can’t stand still to. Whilst on the flip, the largely unheralded Betty Bibbs delivers a slice of low slung, swaggering RnB that’d give Etta James a run for her money. I’m looking forward to dropping both these at Smokestack in Leeds before the wedding season properly kicks back in.