I know, it’s already January 2017 – but better late than never…
Having spent a large chunk of 2016 pretty much immobile, I haven’t managed to pay my favourite record stores the usual regular visits over the last eight months or so – which means I have been very grateful to the good friends (they know who they are) who have helped out by providing my fix of new music, especially during the latter part of the year. None of them will be surprised that a high proportion of their selections appear on this list!
As usual, this is a very personal and fairly eclectic list, and consists solely of the albums I enjoyed the most in 2016 – I tend to ignore media end of year lists, and focus instead on the music I actually like instead of the bands and albums the music press tell me I should be into. Inevitably, they occasionally get it right and there is some crossover with my list, but compiling these choices is all so subjective anyway…
This is why I owe the late Sir George Martin (and the Beatles) a small and personal debt of gratitude.
When I started this blog in the summer of 2009, one of the first things I needed to do was give it a name. My previous blog hadn’t been called anything, it was just an extension of my MySpace account (yeah, I know…), so it really wasn’t a subject that I’d ever given any serious thought to. I spent several afternoons scrolling through the hours and hours of music on my laptop, hoping to hit upon a song title or a lyric that would fit in with what I was trying to express with this smart new blog I was so excited about.
Eventually, I gave up in frustration and just let the music play (as a wise lady once sang) while I got on with my work. I admit that I wasn’t really paying attention by the time the Beatles’ Revolver began playing – my mind had wandered off elsewhere, as it is wont to do. It would be true to say that I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan full stop (in fact, my views on them could well be considered somewhat…. iconoclastic, perhaps), but I do love Revolver. It’s the perfect transitional album between the ‘pop’ Beatles and the ‘psychedelic’ Beatles, effortlessly picking up where Rubber Soul left off, and it is arguably some of George Martin’s finest work.
Suddenly, that lovely, upbeat almost Motown-style brass opening of ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ kicked into my headphones and Paul McCartney began to sing:
I was alone, I took a ride, I didn’t know what I would find there/Another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there
I instantly sat bolt upright in my chair. That. Was. It. Another kind of mind – it was perfect. It was me. As someone of an imaginative bent who has also had experience of mental illness, I guess I’ve always felt like I do have another kind of mind. It just sounded right. Much later on, I discovered McCartney had written the song about his early experiences with cannabis, and that also amused me no end. It really was the perfect name for this blog then, and it still is today.
So, thank you George Martin – without your genius, the Beatles might never have made Revolver, and this Another Kind Of Mind would have been very different (and probably nowhere near as much fun)…
Frankly, I’m in shock. It’s been a horrible year or so for music fans, with so many greats leaving us – but this was so unexpected, especially as a brand new David Bowie album, Blackstar, was only released a couple of days ago. Now it seems like that the album was his way of saying goodbye, a last gift for his fans.
As an 80s kid, I was always drawn to Bowie’s striking appearance and the music he was making at the time (plus there was Labyrinth, and the lovely intro he did for The Snowman). But it wasn’t until I was older that I began to explore his 70s output, and it immediately struck a chord with me. Here was a man whose music and image told people like me that it didn’t matter that we felt like freaks and weirdos, that we felt different to the rest of the world – in fact, it was a good thing and we should nurture and treasure our differences, our weirdness. He was uncompromisingly himself (whoever that was at any given time) and we should be too.
And that was a message I, and so many others, needed to hear.
For all the immediate, visual theatricality of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane and all the rest, Bowie was real, and that’s why he had such an impact. If it had only been the front, the image, I doubt he would have become as iconic as he did. Instead, he had the image, AND the passion, the commitment and oh! so very much the music. And it’s the music which secures his immortality, beyond question or debate. So, it is with his music that I pay tribute today.
There is no easy way to say this…our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer. He had learnt of the disease on December 26th, and was at home, sitting in front of his favorite video game from The Rainbow which had recently made its way down the street, with his family.
We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren’t words.
We will say more in the coming days, but for now, please…play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD.
Have a drink or few.
Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.
HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT.
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
Born to lose, lived to win.
For anyone who grew up on metal or punk, Motörhead were one of the ultimate, all-time legendary bands. And their frontman Lemmy was one of the ultimate, all-time legendary rock ‘n’ rollers. They simply don’t make ’em like him any more. Personally, I always thought he was immortal. I’ve always had this image of the aftermath of whatever apocalypse destroys us all: Lemmy and Keith Richards sauntering out of the smoke and debris and cockroaches with a couple of crates of bourbon, a guitar and a bass…
After all those Christmas blog posts, it’s time for another seasonal tradition on Another Kind Of Mind – my albums of the year list. As usual, I’ve ignored all the end of year ‘best of’ lists in every newspaper and music publication: these are the albums that I’ve personally loved most or found particularly interesting in 2015 (and yes, it’s been a good year for metal!). They’re listed alphabetically, since we’d all be waiting here until next Christmas if I tried to put them in any sort of order…
- Deafheaven – New Bermuda
- Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi
- Faith No More – Sol Invictus
- FFS – FFS
- Four Tet – Morning/Evening
- Iron Maiden – Book of Souls
- Kylesa – Exhausting Fire
- Leftfield – Alternative Light Source
- Lianne La Havas – Blood
- Little Boots – Working Girl
- Napalm Death – Apex Predator-Easy Meat
- Paradise Lost – The Plague Within
- PiL – What The World Needs Now…
- Run The Jewels – Meow The Jewels
- Slayer – Repentless
- Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love
- The Charlatans – Modern Nature
- The Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes
- The Selecter – Subculture
- Teeth of the Sea – Highly Deadly Black Tarantula
- Therapy? – Disquiet
I did, however, manage to put my Top 5 songs of the year in some kind of order for the Festive 50, and you can find them here.
Update 14/12/15: VOTING IS NOW CLOSED! Watch out for a link to the Top 50 soon…
Update 18/12/15: Sadly, none of my choices made the final list, but you can check out the full Festive 50 for 2015 here!
You know me, I love my lists! Over on Twitter, @TheFestive50 is busy compiling a chart of this year’s favourite songs (voting on Twitter closes next weekend, and the 2015 Top 50 will be available on the Festive 50 Mixcloud soon – you can find the final lists for the last two years at that link too). Obviously, this was a challenge I couldn’t resist. In reverse order, here are my top five choices….
5) Therapy? – Helpless Still Lost (from the album ‘Disquiet’):
As a long-time fan who always welcomes a new album by this kick-ass Northern Irish punk/metal trio, it was inevitable that I would include one of Therapy?’s excellent 2015 tracks in my top five – but it was really difficult to decide which one, since Disquiet (incredibly, their fourteenth studio album – I feel old) has pretty much been glued to my stereo on repeat since it came out earlier this year. With a sound and production which echoes their earlier material but that still feels fresh, this sludgy, riff-heavy clatter of a track was my eventual choice. This is a real return to form, and, like all of Therapy?’s best moments, this track manages to weave a bleakly twisted melody into the distinctively tangled raw-edged mesh of driving guitars and breakneck drumming that the band have utilised to great effect over the course of their career. More please!
Back in March, I compiled a playlist of songs about London. That was so much fun to do I decided to put together another on a different theme, and I’d been thinking about this new one for a while – but when I noticed there was a programme about cover versions on BBC4 this evening, it seemed to be exactly the right time to post it!
Cover versions can be a really bad idea (see any classic butchered on The X Factor, for example), but they can also be the definitive version of a particular song or songs (see pretty much any of The Byrds’s Bob Dylan covers as a sublime case in point there). Some of my choices here are simply great covers, but others are possibly a little unexpected, or even just ones I’m rather fond of. If you think I’ve missed anything, or would like to suggest a theme for the next Playlisting, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me.
Edit 07/11/15: Click here for another ten great cover versions!
Same ridiculously basic rules as last time: One theme + ten songs = playlisting.
Here we go….
And for the third and final birthday guest post, we’re looking at how rock ‘n’ rollers will never really retire, let alone die (although personally, I think both Lemmy and Keith Richards are both undead already…). Thank you to BeatCityTone for this excellent post, and over to him for the important info:
Beat City Tone does a New Music podcast called Beat City and an Old Music podcast called Retro Beat City. He can be found on Twitter here @beatcitytone. The only thing Beat City Tone hates more than people who use stupid pseudonyms on Twitter is people who refer to themselves in the third person. And more power to him for that.
LEMMY CANCELS GIGS BECAUSE HE WAS HIGH:
You may have seen the news that grizzled old former Jimi Hendrix roadie, current Motorhead-fronting Nazi-memorabilia collecting ex-rocker Lemmy has had to cancel a few dates in Texas owing to experiencing breathing problems during a gig in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Finally! The birthday guest posts are here…. First up, I’d like to say a very big thank you to Paul (aka @thehatandbeard) for contributing this highly thought-provoking post on how our taste in music (perhaps inevitably?) changes over time, which I am sure will get you lot discussing and debating! Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments, and watch out for another guest post tomorrow…
This is the story of how I fell out of love with rock music. There wasn’t a specific incident or event that caused it but, rather like falling out of love with a person, a series of clues that, when taken together over time, left no doubt that it had happened.
I’m not going to attempt to define what I mean by rock as entering into the world of genre politics would just take too long. I’m going to assume that, broadly, we all pretty much know what it is.
I love music. I’ve loved it since I would hear my, slightly older, neighbour Richard play The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Keep On Running’ through the bedroom party wall. It was 1965 and I was eight years old. Even before that I can remember being impressed by Susan Maughan’s 1962 hit ‘Bobbie’s Girl’ which I would hear on the family radio.
I went on to love The Beatles, The Monkees and everything similar but didn’t have access to a record player until I insisted on being bought one as a fourteen year old T.Rex obsessive. Electric Warrior was my first buy and I still have, and play, that wonderful LP.