Welcome ladies, gentlemen, all non-binary folk, owlbears, and gelatinous cubes to this, my fifth annual 1537 Awards Ceremony, which was recently voted Best-Pointless-Music-Based-Award-Ceremony by Total Egomaniac Magazine for the fourth year running!
So in a time-honoured awards show stylee lets relax, sit back scoff a canapé and sip on a champagne cocktail and watch a montage of all those musicians who passed away this year. Or in fact, let’s not; since I don’t have 4 hours to spare and I’m guessing someone has probably covered that elsewhere – let us instead endure a 29-minute live video of Suicide playing ‘Frankie Teardrop’ in honour of Alan Vega, whose death I am still very bummed out by*, possibly the most out of all the reapings of 2016.
Well, wasn’t that great folks? I’m sorry about spontaneously deciding to play it three times in a row, whilst overriding the ‘unlock lap belt’ function on your chairs, but that was just the way the moment caught me. There there, don’t worry, some of you aren’t even hemorrhaging from your ears, yet. Relax again while my hermaphroditic midget servants refill your glasses, replenish your dips and see to your every carnal craving in time for the first award of the evening.
The Philthy Animal Taylor Award For The Best Looking & Put Together LP Bought in 2016:
I bought a lot of LPs this year and a whole bunch of great looking ones too. Amongst the non-rude ones there are some very honourable mentions for Jessica Curry Everybody’s Gone To the Rapture, which was a wonderfully satisfying nugget of perfection to own, there was also the effortlessly cool Jimmy Smith Midnight Special, the awesomely old-school Iron Maiden Piece of Mind** and the gorgeously blue All India Radio The Slow Light*^.
The winner is Man Be Good To Yourself At Least Once a Day. Okay, so I’m biased, what with these rocking chaps being fellow Welshmen and the fact that this LP was released in 1972, the same year that everything that is great, Godly and good under the sun was created and released into the world. Look past the rather dreary front and back covers and straight to the best (and possibly largest?) fold-out gatefold ever in the history of Welsh psychedelic rock – it’s a Man-customised map of my homeland, showing such wonders as my hometown Carmarthen being ‘just a mad place’ and the country of Wales being sawn off England and floated out into the Atlantic. Again thanks are due to Bruce Connection for reminding me this one existed and spurring me on to picking up a mint copy of it. It is, helpfully, really a rather groovy LP too.
The Lemmy Memorial Award For the Rudest LP Cover Bought in 2016:
I am pleased to report that 2016 was a far better year for LP-cover related rudery than the previous few years. It would be immodest and indiscreet of me to claim that it was my constant lobbying of the powers-that-be that has achieved this, but yes, it was all down to me. I have quoted you his words before, I know, but I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, ‘Let generations as yet unborn, rank our success not by material wealth and ease, but by the nipple count on our LPs’. True story.
My three nominees are:
The Cramps Big Beat From Badsville: Thanks for not buying me the censored version of this one for my birthday mum and dad!
Los Alamos Grind! RSD 2016 cartoon three-boobedness from this great early rock weirdness compilation.
However the winner is, of course, for reasons of the sheer number of revealed lady secrets, Bloody Hammers Lovely Sort of Death. Rather fittingly, just click on the gallery below, to make it bigger …
Now, ladies and gentlemen after a brief tribute to Sir George Martin by Milli Vanilli, Ice Cube and Iced Earth we will cut to the main part of tonight’s festivities the hotly contested honour that money and record company lobbying cannot buy … The 1537 Top
5 8 9 7 LP’s of 2016!!^
1. The Limiñanas Malamore. They’re French, they’re a husband and wife duo and they play a very groovy kind of laid back, very chic, garage rock, that sounds like absolutely nobody else in the world. Malamore is no novelty record though, it has a wonderfully soothing, cool late night quality to it – I have played this album an awful lot this year and I cannot imagine even beginning to spin it before dusk, it’s just that sort of LP. With lyrics sung in French, Italian or English – whichever sounds best for the track and a couple of great instrumentals, Malamore has been a real balm for my troubled soul in 2016. The likes of ‘El Beach’, the Lee Van Cleef-esque ‘Malamore’ and the guitar-slinging ‘Kostas’ are just the tip of the genius-berg.^^
2. Gregory Porter Take Me To The Alley. I certainly would not have foreseen my heart being won over by a soul LP at all, but maybe that is the point. I saw him leading a tribute to Prince on a TV show and was just knocked sideways by his voice. From the opening seconds of opening track ‘Holding On’ I was smitten, this is a classy act indeed. Mr Porter has by far the best voice I have heard in years, smooth, tough and strong like no other around and is backed by a great array of jazzers for this Blue Note release, Chip Crawford on piano and Keyon Harrold on trumpet being particularly great here. Here be love, optimism, encouragement and the best song about Christ returning to Earth I’ve heard in many a year.
3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree. It was impossible to listen to this record without reference to the tragic loss of Cave’s son. Death and loss, salvation and rage have always figured big in Cave’s work and you get that here, in spades. This is an LP that casts a long shadow, by turns dignified and measured, by others angry, harrowing and sometimes playful, this is the sound of a fight for mental equilibrium and reason; gained, as it usually is, only by way of a Pyrrhic victory. The Bad Seeds approach accompaniment here minimally, to great taut effect. File under ‘H’ for honesty.
4. Earthless/Harsh Toke Split LP. This split LP made me very happy indeed, here was a single-track whole side of music each from two of my very favourite space/psych rockers on translucent yellow vinyl. Two totally out-there tracks from two totally out-there bands I love. Earthless on ‘Acid Crusher’ take us through a blissed-out groove run out through the Milky Way, powered by nothing more than cosmic intentions. Harsh Toke on the other hand give us a rockier, bumpier passage on ‘Mount Swan’^*, sure we do achieve some orbital ecstasy but it’s a harder won peace this time. I have spent aeons in these guy’s company this year, man.
5. Zig-Zags Running Out Of Red. Need rock kicks? we got rock kicks. Need some crazy great swearing? we got some crazy great swearing right here. There’s rawness, anger and a song about an alien with three boobs. One eminent rock critic was moved to write: ‘it’s just like the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ without any of the sentiment, or piano and more thrash stoner metal about mutant boobies. Hurrah!’. Praise indeed, plus lead Zig Jed Maheu was kind enough and funny enough to give me a great interview.
6. Mugstar Magnetic Seasons. I know I’m a sucker for instrumental, progressive space rock and in 2016 it was time to welcome back one of my very favourite bands, local nice guys Mugstar. Magnetic Seasons is a sprawling 4 sides of spiralling excellence, which pulls off the hardest of all psychedelic tricks of sounding free without tipping over into rank self-indulgence. Each track here has a very grounded feel and a real sense of where and why it is going where it is.
7. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein Stranger Things S/T. Over the last year and a half I’ve become somewhat glutted in both the analogue synth and tasteful analogue synth soundtrack departments – I have enough, I don’t need any more of them; a law of diminishing returns prevails. Not so here. Mr Hubner, as ever, hipped me to the series first, which was a wonder (oh, Barb! You’re not forgotten) and also to the ‘track. It’s great from the rolling portentous notes of the opener, on in and it also stands perfectly well as an interesting suite of 80’s synth-inflected wonderment, even if you have never seen the show. A lot of thought and care has been lavished into these grooves and so this was the exception that broke the rule for me; that and the groovy splatter vinyl.
So there you have it folks and whilst I forcibly lock your lap belts again for five go arounds of ‘Frankie Teardrop’, I’ll run the closing credit awards and bid you adieu.
Biggest Vinyl Disappointment of 2016: Rival Sons Hollow Bones. I was really looking forward to this one too. Excellent live, excellent back catalogue, but with two exceptions they really forgot to bring any ammo to the fight with this one. It felt like a painstaking historical re-enactment of a civil war battle, rather than the back alley dust-up I wanted from them.
Best Old Stuff Bought in 2016: I bought the world’s best ever batshit-crazy Tex-Mex country spoken word concept album released in 1975, Terry Allen Juarez. It’s incredible, it’s rude, it’s poignant, it’s arty, it’s mind-blowing and it’s coming to a numerically based-based review blog near you soon. I finally tracked down one of my real favourites on picture disc (Yay!) Municipal Waste The Art of Partying and I’m also surfing my inner crustie with Ozric Tentacles Jurassic Shift – great album!
More Frankie anyone?
722 Down (still)
*as, I’m guessing, he probably is too.
**that nasty Ladano fella bullied me into buying it. Watch him.
*^my favourite Australian, Bruce encouraged me into buying it.
^I would have made it a Top 9 again like last year, but there weren’t enough LPs I’ve liked enough this year. These are all great, but it was a poor general crop, this time around the sun.
^^but don’t just take my word for it – the band don’t make an appearance until 2:03 though:
^*which I hope is a topographical feature and not a stage direction for a very unsavoury experimental play.