Yes, Winter drawers on! It's that time of the year when we consider THE FRESH MUSICAL NUGGETS thrust beneath our eager noses in the last twelvemonth and then list those which have brought us the most continuous pleasure.
CDs of 2010
Robert Plant - “Band of Joy” (Esparanza)
In which Percy continues to re-invent Nashville, following his genre-smashing outing with Alison Krauss. It doesn't QUITE have the spooky 'otherness' of T-Bone Burnett's production on “Raising Sand” (although it comes pretty damn close in places), but Buddy Miller conjures up a nice line in Richard Thompson-like vintage-rootsy-twanginess. Another Grammy Nomination? Most probably!
The Orb featuring David Gilmour - “Metallic Spheres” (Columbia)
Does exactly what it says on the tin - An Orb album with Dave Gilmour in the 'Guitar Atmospherics' chair previously occupied by the likes of Steve Hillage or Robert Fripp. Orbfans will not be disappointed, but just don't go expecting “Another Brick In The Bleedin' Wall”!
Travis & Fripp - “Live at Coventry Cathedral” (DGM/Panegyric)
A fairly representative selection from Bobby and Theo's (ongoing) string of churchy dates - Not the best gig, but a good start for the merely curious. For me, this music serves the same function (and conjures similar atmospheres) as Jan Garbarek's church recordings with The Hilliard Ensemble. Those with a head for THIS SORT OF THING will want to proceed swiftly to DGMLive to download some other gigs in the series. Others with shorter attention spans and less of an ear for nuance might share the view of this gentleman.
Reissues & Back Catalogue
King Crimson - “Islands” (DGM/Panegyric)
My musical life comes full circle - This was the first KCrim album I ever had played at me in the fifth-form lunchroom, so I've always had a soft spot for it. But I was also aware of its shortcomings as a production. To hear it dragged screaming into the 21st Century in this new form is nothing short of a revelation (even with my decidedly non-5.1 'funny ears'). It has also given me a new appreciation of this particular 'jazz-rock' phase of KCrimHistory, and I've been systematically 'studying' the various 1971-72 live dates from the DGM concern.
King Crimson - “Live in Chicago 1995”
Peter Sinfield - “Still”
Emerson Lake & Palmer - “Works (Volumes 1 & 2)”
None. It is now such an expensive and complicated process to attend concerts and (especially) festivals in this country, that I have to all intents and purposes OFFICIALLY RETIRED from live events. They have lost their appeal. Most venues are either too large and acoustically tiresome (arenas) or too small and boisterous (pubs and clubs) for musical appreciation to be possible. The few bands I would still like to see choose not to tour the UK. The only concert ticket I bought this whole year was for Tom Zé at the “Festival Brasil” in London. And that show was cancelled. I have instead found a new appreciation for free community events like the Southampton Mela and other such multi-cultural 'picnics in the park'.
Speaking of 'multi-cultural' (gratuitous video link)...