This was a sign in a lift in Guangzhou on my recent trip to China. Any clues what you are not allowed to do - twist? chill-out?
Izzy with her U10 tournament winning team. The last tournament of the season and won the final 6:0. Three tournaments played winners twice, runners up once losing the final on penalties. #DBAngels (at Kowloon Cricket Club 九龍木球會)
I am liking Spotify a lot when I can discover music that I have never heard before. Really liking this album.
Just discovered Norah Jones - 2012 Album - Little Broken Hearts and loving it. Probably should be in my albums of the year.
Blatantly stealing the idea from @SpikeHK, for the second year running here is my favourite albums of the year in no particular order. 2012 was another great year for new music and all of these albums I will continue to play for many years to come.
First up is:
Tank Full Of Blues - Dion
Yes this is the same Dion that wrote and performed “Run Around Sue” back in 1961. He is 73 years old - my hope is that I look that good when I am his age (though unlikely). This is really good blues - whilst he is a great guitar player what really stands out for me is the quality and strength of his voice. Stand out tracks are the title track “Tank Full of Blues” and “I Read It (In The Rolling Stone”.
Django Django - Django Django
I am not sure how to categorise this album. Is it dance? Is it electronic? Is it pop? It probably is all three of those categories and more. Maybe even a bit of Mamas & Papa’s though maybe that is stretching it…. All I know is that this is a great album that I have consistently listened to since it came out. I don’t know why but it kind of reminds me also of Moby. Stand out tracks are “Hail Bop” which has great guitars and an incessant pulsing rhythm & “Default” which has this crazy beat and sounds like something that originated in 60’s California.
Love Is A Four Letter Word - Jason Mraz
There are artists & bands that are considered cool and those that are not. Jason Mraz seems to fall into the later category. It’s a shame that just because your music is “popular” it is not hip and trendy to like it. For me, I just like great music. When I look at a group like ABBA who were incredibly popular and incredibly uncool at the time; are now revered, it just makes me think what a nonsense this music being fashionable is. I like Jason Mraz - there I have said it. I really like Jason Mraz. I saw him live in Hong Kong at Asiaworld Expo - which is an aircraft hanger of a venue with challenges of both sound and atmosphere. I have to say it was one of the very best concerts that I have ever seen. It takes some talent to just sit there with a guitar and get the 2000+ people completely into the music. This is his most recent album and it does not disappoint. I liked the album from the very first play which is unusual for me. The standout tracks for me are “The Freedom Song”, “Living In The Moment” and “93 Million Miles” which was the highlight song from the concert - sentimental without being sickly. This is a great album.
Driving Towards The Daylight - Joe Bonamassa
Is Joe Bonamassa the hardest working man in music at the moment. He has had so many releases in the last couple of years, but I am glad to say that he doesn’t appear to be spreading himself too thin. This isn’t a great album, but it is still very good and his guitar playing remains stellar. To me the standout track is his cover of “Who’s Been Talking” which manages to evoke Led Zeppelins “Whole Lot of Love”.
Born and Raised - John Mayer
I clearly have come late to hearing about John Mayer. I really like this album which could have been written in the 60’s or 70’s. This is just simply good “acoustic” guitar music and is very accessible but also has lots of layers and depths to uncover. There are so many stand out tracks on this album but if I had to pick a couple it would be “Shadow Days” and the sublime “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey” (which is spelt the correct Irish way!) I love the harmonica and it’s hypnotic repetitive chorus.
Playback Is A Bitch - Jun Kung
This is a brilliant album by a local artist in Hong Kong. Jun Kung is a drummer who has played on a numerous Cantopop songs by various artists. I think this is his third or fourth album and is very accessible as he sings mostly in English. I saw him play the tracks from the album at Clockenflap music festival in Hong Kong and I have to say he brought the house down and was probably my favourite performer of the whole weekend. I love the energy and the standout tracks are “Damn” & “Do It All Over Again”. This is an album that needs to be listened to LOUD.
Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da - Madness
I first became a fan of Madness when I started High School/Secondary School over 30 years ago! I sort of lost touch with the band but stumbled across this new release. I have no idea how they have managed to create an album that sounds classic Madness yet not cliched or a pastiche of what they have done in the past. This is a genuinely good album. Standout track is “My Girl 2” which updates the original single but now talks about his daughter as opposed to his girlfriend. As always the lyrics are very British, funny, poignant and sad.
Lonely Are The Brave - Maverick Sabre
I have no idea how I discovered this album. I don’t think it has been a particularly big hit anywhere. It sort of has the same feel as Findlay Quaye’s debut album. He has a very individual voice that you are either going to like or hate. I like the fact that he sounds different and this on top of rich production works very well for me. Stand out tracks for me are the opener “I Need’ and one of my favourite tracks of the year ‘Let Me Go’ which must have one of the most sampled tracks in history - Issac Hayes “Ike’s Rap II”
Live At The Moody Theatre - Warren Haynes Band
Man in Motion was one of my albums of 2011. Live albums for me can be very hit or miss. This is definitely a hit and I love the expansion of the songs without them lengthened just for the sake of it. His guitar playing is stellar and given space to ‘sing’, but I also like the strength of his voice. The horns also add a great dimension and something I loved when Robert Cray used the Memphis Horns. There are so many great tracks but the stand outs for me are “Man in Motion”, “River’s Going To Rise” and “Hattiesburg Hustle” with it’s combination of electric organ and guitar.
Nothin But Love - Robert Cray
I first saw Robert Cray on The Tube a British Television programme in the 1980’s and was instantly a huge fan. He played tracks from Strong Persuader and I immediately rushed out to buy it. It was actually the first CD I ever bought. I gave away or sold my records which is a really bad mistake as digital has never matched the sound quality I got from my Mission Cyrus One amp, NAD speakers and Dual turntable. Enough of the digressing - I was a huge Robert Cray Fan and was rewarded over the years with great albums. However in the mid 90’s with the “Some Rainy Morning” album things started going off the boil. Sure there were good tracks on most of his subsequent albums - “Moan” on that particularly one. However he didn’t make a great album. “Time Will Tell” showed promise and I did like “Twenty” but none matched his 80’s output. We were treated in 2008 to “Robert Cray Live At The BBC” - a concert that I actually attended which reminded of those past highs, which made his recent output even more disappointing. His last album “This Time” was his worst ever and didn’t have even one standout track. I therefore approached this album with trepidation. What the hell happened. Robert has got his Mojo back! It even has horns on it. This is his best album since the 80’s. The standout track for me is the opener “[Won’t Be] Coming Home” which is a good a song as he has ever written. I hope that quality control can be maintained and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.
Okay - so these are my albums of the year - the ones that didn’t quite make it are An Awesome Wave - alt-J ∆, Blues Funeral - Mark Lanegan Band & Privateering - Mark Knopflier. All good albums and alt-J ∆ was very close to being in the Top 10. Biggest disappointment was Sonik Kicks - Paul Weller. I haven’t really loved an album from him since the brilliant Stanley Road and that was 12 years ago. I didn’t get his last album “Wake Up The Nation” and I don’t get this one. Maybe I am only ever going to like the first three albums of his solo career.
So what is my Album of the Year? None of the above; I reserve the right to pick 11 albums and my choice is :
One Day I’m Going To Soar - Dexys
Kevin Rowland is bonkers and I have no idea why he has decided to shorten the name; probably just to annoy me and my OCD with my iTunes categorisations. But make no mistake this is a brilliant, brilliant album. This is clearly concept album with a story arc from the first song to the last. The songs are catchy, accessible and damn damn good. I know how much I have listened to this as iTunes tells me… This has soul in the best sense of the word and I like EVERY single track which is unusual for me. The standout track is “She Got A Wiggle” which is a rubbish title but a monster of a song, I love the piano intro before the drums and the beat kicks in. Is this the best Dexys album ever? It might possibly be so.
I hope you will take the time to check this music out, and if I have missed a great album out - do let me know…