Welcome folks, welcome to the third annual 1537 awards. These awards are often eagerly anticipated by the artists, industry and press alike and seen as a good indication of the Grammy and Oscar awards later in the year*. After the lavish displays and pre-award entertainments of the previous few years I thought I’d tone things down a bit for our new age of austerity and sombrenecessityness, so it’s just me sat here in last year’s tuxedo, eating peanut butter on toast, drinking lemonade and solemnly typing this, like I mean it (man).
The Lemmy Memorial Award For the Rudest LP Cover Bought This Year:
Again, another disappointing year for nudity, suggestiveness and outright rudery being depicted on record covers. The second-best I could manage were a pair of amusingly fake ones on the cover of The eagles of Death Metal Zipper Down, but luckily 2015 was the year I found 1994’s Blood Orgy Of The Leather Girls, in all its’ deviant glory. The appeal of the LP cover was described, by no less an authority than, umm, me as ‘four be-weaponed chicks standing atop the body of a supine dude on the cover, the lady on the left with the clear plastic pasties and Hitler moustache being a particular draw for me’. I feel the great man himself would approve.
The Philthy Animal Taylor Award For The Best Looking & Put Together LP Bought in 2015:
Some great LPs of thisteryear and yesteryear were purchased, in strict order we have:
Pond Man It Feels Like Space Again. I was hipped to this by my Antipodean chum Mr V. Connection. I loved its primo psychedelic riffing on the Big Brother & The Holding Company cover and I have always had a thing for die-cut covers. Oh, the music is pretty fab too!
But the winner is … (drum roll please) … Ian Gillan Band Clear Air Turbulence, because of the rather far out picture of a spaceship by, the immortal, Chris Foss. I was so pleased to make this find in my dad’s record shop, even if the music is pretty dodgy in places.
But now for the main event. The Primo Evento. Numero Uno Eventissimo. Dos Eventsos Primososs. The 1537 Top
5 8 9 LP’s of 2015.
1. The Biters Electric Blood. I’ve been waiting for a good commercial rock LP to come along and seduce me for years now; Electric Blood spotted me across the bar, winked at me, bought me a beer and before I knew it, had made a man of me outside in the car park, before ignoring all my calls afterwards. Shades of pop punk, glam Bowie, Thin Lizzy and even some Cheap Trick, all stirred up to make a really fizzy rocktail. I’ve had more fun with this album this year than any other new one and every single time I’ve played it Mrs 1537** has asked me what it was. If you like life, cheap thrills and fun buy this record, if you don’t then I don’t want to be your friend, but buy this LP anyway.
2. Locrian Infinite Dissolution. A complete impulse buy late at night on the Relapse Records website, on silver vinyl (natch). WOW!! A proto-ambient-death metal post-rock extravaganza, just like grandma used to bake. Like the cover art suggests, glacial and cold are the words I’d use to describe this, razor cold. Infinite Dissolution was a precise, exacting, calculated assault on your senses and simply does not sound like anything I’d ever heard before. The perfect album to soundtrack a nuclear winter, or maybe just a strontium spring.
3. Bad Guys Bad Guynaecology. Man, I’ve been waiting for this album for years without knowing it. It’s ferocious, funny, heavy, soulful and damned clever, all they’re lacking is a talkie bit in the middle of one of their tunes and I could die contented. Bad Guynaecology makes me happy and let’s me know that I’m not out here alone – well worth the outlay, if you ask me. The fact they were kind enough to give me an interview and an amusing one at that, only makes loving this record even better. But don’t take my word for it, Zack likes ’em too!
4. Ufomammut Ecate. Inaugural winners of the 1537 Best LP of 2012 with Oro: Opus Primum, the Mamms^ came back this year with an album that was just MORE. More spacey, more atmospheric, more heavier (?!), more metallic, more Italian-space-stoner-doom. You want quiet bits vs. loud bits? you want a desperate (space) plea for the intervention of Goddess in mortal affairs? you want great cover art by Malleus? you just need a blissful crushing? then listen on.
5. Songhoy Blues Music In Exile. I know, I know, there’s a Malian LP in here every year, but maybe I’m just an easy mark, I just can’t help myself when I’m faced with bands who are just clearly so in love with the sound of the guitar; a band who are fighting back despair with joy and life-affirming melody; a band who really do have a worthwhile story to tell us. I defy anyone with a soul, half a soul even, not to grin and shuffle about a bit listening to the track ‘Soubour’. This is exactly why that bloke invented electricity, you know the one.
6. Ecstatic Vision Sonic Praise. Another silver vinyl Relapse Records 25th anniversary release, this is the sound of an indeterminate number of freaks flying their freak flags high and free; very high and very free in fact. A great tip-off from Mr Hubner, this LP is precisely what the world has needed since Lemmy left Hawkwind, a groovy, strung-out electric coda that sounds eerily like the effects of Martian drugs on the human nervous system. Whether you’re cruising the galaxy, flashing through uninhabited systems at light speed, or merely orbiting your parent’s basement approaching terminal velocity then, my little stoner, this is right up your third eye.
7. White Hills Walks For Motorists. This was released so long ago, it could almost be 2014, or at least that would be the case if this beauty didn’t sound so much like 2015 to me. The best gig I went to all year showcased this for me perfectly. White Hills went for an external producer for the first time and added a large quotient of bass power to their trademark space rock, the likes of ‘Automated City’ slunk along rather seductively, meshing perfectly with the epic widescreen inter-galactic ballyhoo of ‘Lead the Way’. Great album, very nice people too.
8. Mbongwana Star From Kinshasa. Probably the most acclaimed LP on this list, this band from the Democratic Republic of Congo, teamed with an Irish DJ have produced a bunch of sounds almost like no other I have heard in all my years of WOMAD-ing. To pinch a line from a review I read, it can be a disorientating experience, like plunging yourself straight from a plane into an African marketplace. There is a wonderful, organic flow and feel about From Kinshasa a bit akin to letting yourself relax into a river current. The guest spot from 1537-faves Konono No.1 is also very welcome. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I was still playing this LP and discovering new corners to it in another 10 years^^.
9. Night Flights Vol.1. Okay, so this came out in December 2014 and I am bending the rules a bit here, but then again I am omniscient. An expansive, gorgeous (mostly) analogue synth voyage between the stars by the man from Carlton Melton, it sounds like it’s cover looks and that really is no bad thing; especially on yellow vinyl. This has been a record I’ve listened to all year-long.
So those are the releases I’ve spent the most time with and those which have just given me the most fun this year by far. A couple of new old friends in there along with a whole bunch of new bands for me to watch out for, nostalgia wasn’t really my thing this year at all^* . 2015 was definitely the year that the vinyl finally ate my brain, which on balance was a good thing.
Best of the old stuff I bought was Blue Öyster Cult Secret Treaties – man why has no-one ever told me how good they were? I thought you were supposed to be my friends! This is genuinely one of the best LPs I’ve bought in years, I sang the whole of ‘Career of Evil’ in the shower this morning. The other real find for me was a reissue of Le Tigre from 1999, their strident, bouncing blast of a debut album, feminism has never sounded so groovy.
But that’s enough nauseating self-indulgence from me, normal service will be resumed after the commercial break.
620 Down (Still)
*in that I have a proud 100% record of not anticipating any of them, ever; particularly not the Oscars.
**the exacting immortal high Empress of Rock.
^as we fans call ’em. Well, me and my mate Steve anyway.
^^but don’t take my word for it:
^*I’m afraid I didn’t even rate the new Star Wars movie very highly, although I am already quite fond of BB-8