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Posts Tagged ‘Popular Music’

Gerry’s Top Sixty Albums of the Decade Part Four

December 16th 2009

Nos. 30-21

30. Post-War, M. Ward, 2006

This sound very old and very modern, fragile and unique and covered in a sepia-toned mood with Ward’s vocals as if they are coming from the past and the future. It all creates a very distinct atmosphere, with the ghost of Dennis Wilson in there alongside a cover of Daniel Johnston. This album follows his ‘Transfiguration of Vincent’ which is also superb, containing an acoustic, spellbinding cover of Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’.

29. The Drift, Scott Walker, 2006

This is music matching the dark moods of the early 21st century, dark, brooding and intense, and full of insight and a sense of history and the act of remembering. Walker’s muse covers serious subjects: genocide in Bosnia, Mussolini’s mistress, but the biggest leap imaginatively is the track ‘Jesse’ comparing Elvis Presley’s twin brother who died stillborn with the attacks on 9/11, seeing them both as ‘twin towers’. Utterly brilliant and the work of a genius. I am glad someone has the courage and vision to make music like this.

28. Frank, Amy Winehouse, 2003

That Amy was a major talent and had ‘unfinished issues’ was apparent the moment this came out. For a start, there is the music here which sounds more late Billie Holiday than a 19 year old. Its cool, laid back jazz with great songs, delivery and songs, ranging subject wise from dating to boyfriends, sex, love and the music business. I saw her live just after this came out and it was a near total car crash. But this is timeless and personally I prefer it to the soul nostalgia of ‘Back to Black’. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry’s Top Sixty Albums of the Decade Part Three

December 16th 2009

Nos. 40-31

40. America Brasil, Seu Jorge, 2008

Rio born Jorge broke through with the music for the film ‘City of God’ and then at some point did an album of Bowie covers in Portuguese which got a lot of attention, but passed me by. This is an album of his own compositions, which while varied in style, has an overall sense of up-beatness, the spirit of bossa nova, being breezy and filled with life and vitality.

39. In a Bad Mood, Geraint Watkins, 2008

Watkins is one of these Dave Edmunds like figures who has long been in the music business, but more played the role of session man, rather than come out front himself. The mix on this album is part-blues, part-shaped by the spirit of Welsh working class miners’ colliery bands and evokes an aura of old-fashionedness in places without becoming too explicit or claustrophobic. In this there is some similarity to Michael Marra but crossed with Peter Skellern and Edmunds.

38. A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), Terence Blanchard, 2007

This is a modern jazz masterpiece and Blanchard’s soundtrack for Spike Lee’s ‘When the Leeves Broke’, his film about the tragedy and disgrace of Hurricane Katrina. An air of elemental power, destruction, frustration, loss and hope pervade this whole enterprise, which opens with ‘Ghost of Congo Square’ and the chant ‘This is the tale of God’s Will’ and concludes with ‘Dear Mom’, a tribute to his mum, who lost her house, but survived. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry’s Top Sixty Albums of the Decade Part Two

December 15th 2009

Here is Part Two; numbers 50-41 ….

50. Singing for Life: Songs of Hope, Healing and HIV/AIDS in Uganda, 2007

What an unbelievably life-affirming album this is. Addressing one of the most serious issues of our time: the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, ‘Singing for Life’ details the response of Ugandan musicians. With titles such as ‘Death is Bad’, ‘AIDS Finished Us’ and ‘The Graveyard is Our Home’ some might think this a bleak listen, but it is a celebration of the human (and musical) spirit.

49. My Everything, Anita Baker, 2004

I have also been a Baker aficionado since ‘Rapture’ and ‘Sweet Love’ in 1986 and this is her first album in over a decade. The good news is she is back unchanged and with a bang. Proof that smooth, sophisticated soul does not have to be bland. And the songs reflect proper adult themes, ‘Men in My Life’ about her husband and boys, ‘In My Life’, a gorgeous tribute to grown up desire and attraction.

48. Eddi Reader sings the Songs of Robert Burns, 2003

I have never really been in my heart much of a Reader fan (I mean Fairground Attraction for goodness sake!) and not much of a Burns’ true believer either. This is a beautiful Scots folk album, setting Reader’s voice in subtle settings and giving life to the spirit of Burns. The whole thing has the feel of a joyful, warm Hogmanay. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry’s Top Sixty Albums of the Decade Part One

December 14th 2009

Here it comes day by day …. Gerry’s countdown of the grooves he was listening to over the decade. First things first, this is my chart so the criterion is made up by me. It is mostly new things which came out over the ten years, but also includes some compilations and reissues. Second, looking back on it is interesting to see what is missing. So no ‘latest things’ such as Panda Bear or Fleet Foxes (bought and stuck on amazon within days of purchasing), and no Franz Ferdinand or Arctic Monkeys, who are fun but derivative.

More importantly, as anyone who knows me will know there are some of my major influences conspicuous by their absence. Thus, no Frank, Fred Astaire, Tony Bennett, Miles or Ellington, and that is for the reason that not one album of theirs stood out in the decade that I listened to a lot. Feels wrong to have a best of without Frank, so with apologies to David Torrance, here goes. Each day this week I will be publishing a chart leading to the No. 1 on Friday!

It is also fun to note that the only other time I have ever attempted to do my best of a decade was years ago as a spotty teenager when I had a regular pop column reviewing albums and singles each issue in the community paper ‘Ardler News’ and at the end of the 1970s I attempted an overview of a decade I had no real understanding of.

Well many years later it does not feel as if a decade has passed since George W. ‘stole’ the 2000 US elections and then Tony Blair decided to become his best pal. A decade without a name (the noughties), has felt musically less like a decade than the 80s or 90s. And then we have the influence of Simon Cowell, returning music to the era of the pre-Beatles pop svengali. Anyway on with the countdown …. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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