Welcome you goggle-eyed rabble of freaks, dope fiends, werewolves, deviants and poseurs to the 6th annual 1537 Awards! There will be nude go-go dancing*, napkin folding displays and betwixt times I shall endeavour to educate you pitiful mortals in the ways of the gods and draw your attention to the greatest releases of 2017. But first please put your hands together and welcome Ugly Kid Joe playing ‘Everything’ with Bernie Sanders and Noam Chomsky on guest vocals!
Well thank you, thank you ladies and gentlemen, I feel I can say without any doubt that we have just witnessed musical history and I would also like to just take a moment to apologise to viewers for Noam’s wardrobe malfunction, eat your heart out P.J Proby. Without any further ado, let’s launch straight into the reason I have had you all flown in from as far away as Owen Sound, Broadstairs, Melbourne, Glasgow, Thunder Bay, Brazil, Fort Wayne, Kitchener, London, and, God’s Own Country, Wales. First up is …
The Lemmy Memorial Award For the Rudest LP Cover Bought in 2017:
Again this was not a bumper year for LP-based nudity, sadly it feels like I have to say this all too often. Please when you go home tonight make a nuisance of yourselves to your elected officials, lobby them for more record-based nudity, if not for your own delectation then for future generations of smutty teenagers. This year I have had to dip back into the past for my kicks.
First up is. my first ever on-the-day RSD purchase Relaxing With The Heads, for the recumbent harem type lady person smoking a hookah. This provided some much-needed titillation for me in April and is wrapped around a damnable fine LP too. Second is Flower Travellin’ Band’s 1970 debut Anywhere featuring 5 naked Japanese dudes bombing down the highway on their bikes – the very dictionary definition of ‘awesome’.
The winner though and it may be a bit of an all-timer came courtesy of my Roxy Music obsession this year and after, umm, beating off some stiff competition from their own Stranded LP, it is their double-bubble Country Life. This album cover has been thrilling the mucky minded masses since 1974 and I felt it was definitely time it picked up this award. The thrill of it all, indeed.
The Philthy Animal Taylor Award For The Best Looking & Put Together LP Bought in 2017:
I bought a lot of the little beasties this year, so this was a difficult call. before announcing the winner I would like to give honourable mentions to Dead Cross glow-in-the-dark skeletontastic cover and Eric Serra The Fifth Element Soundtrack which was a beautifully put together release on Mondo.
The winner, even against this heavyweight opposition, is Gilroy Mere The Green Line. A concept album about the old London bus line into the countryside, released on the rather delightful Clay Pipe Music label. It’s on bus-appropriate green vinyl but best of all IT CONTAINS A CUT-OUT MODEL OF A BUS YOU CAN MAKE! I haven’t violated my own copy, natch. There should be more of this sort of thing in the troubled times in which we live.
So there we have it ladies and gentlemen put your hands together for our last musical guests tonight Slayer and Cher with their entertaining new mash-up ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (Angel of Death)’. Now here it is, the main event. The Primo Evento. Numero Uno Eventissimo. Dos Eventsos Primososs.
The 1537 Top
5 8 10 LP’s of 2017:
1. Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales Room 29: A beautifully played, witty and charming. This (loosely speaking) concept album about Room 29 at the Chateau Marmont hotel is, I suspect this is the closest I will ever get to buying a Noel Coward album. Jarvis’ lyrics are pithy, pissy and never prissy, dealing with the fads, foibles and failings of golden age Hollywood, I don’t own many other songs about Jean Harlow, or Clara Fitzgerald. Gonzales’ playing is spare and evocative for the most part and, a little like being beheaded with a katana, you don’t realise just how effective it is until later. I have spent months padding around the corridors of this LP, listening at keyholes and spying on the rich and famous, the fact that it can be simultaneously so ironically detached and so compassionate really is no mean feat. It gains bonus cool points for being released on Deutsche Grammophon too.
2. Space, Energy & Light: Okay, okay, calm down! I know this is a compilation of, often obscure, experimental electronic and acoustic soundscapes 1961-88, but it was all new to me and it was released this year, qualifying it for this here chart. Plus I love it. I have listened to this triple LP much more than any other release from 2017. It has been lovingly compiled and perfectly sequenced, feeling more like a planned album than a collection of thematically linked odds and sods. I have bought three LPs from artists on here too … and counting.
3. Dead Cross: When the going gets tough, the Cross get cross. Not just a pretty cover either, this team up featuring the mega talents of Mike Patton and Dave Lombardo really gave me a raging, umm, rage-on this year. A leading rock critic wrote, ‘It’s an incredibly dexterous mix of real thrash metal and hardcore punk with some real oddness sprinkled on top’. Most years this would simply be too much for me, in 2017 it made perfect fucking sense.
4. Endless Boogie Vibe Killer: Endless Boogie in not-double-LP-shock! This was the Boogie, ever so slightly, more compressed and more disciplined and sounding damn good on it too. Another stellar LP from this crew in heavy rotation for me. At times this is almost too perfect to comprehend, too big, too widescreen as the band lock into that groove as guitar lightning flickers overhead. Plus there’s a song about going to see KISS at a kite festival – what more do you need, people?!
5. The Moonlandingz Interplanetary Class Classics: This is what happens when you team up members of Fat White Family with a fictional band apparently. Essentially this is off-colour, off-kilter, off-limits sleazy leather pop of hard left politics and indeterminate sexual orientation; damn thrilling it is too. Do not trust any of these people! My personal favourite is ‘Glory Hole’ which features Randy the Cowboy (from the Village People) and the eerie yowl of ‘This Cities Undone’ which features Yoko Ono. There are plenty more highlights where they came from too. Plus the inner cover has a picture of a guy doing that thing where you tuck your dingly dangly bits between your legs so you look like a girl – always a bonus.
6. Moon Duo Occult Architecture Vol. 2: My favourite drone rock husband and wife duo released two LPs this year, in mood and colour a dark one and a lighter, more crystalline one, this one. If you were
gullible quick enough you could buy Vol.1 as a box with space for Vol.2 in too, I was. The music on Vol.2 was excellent, driving, uplifting and groovy too. Like the Endless Boogie one this year there was nothing new here, just a refinement and restatement of what make this band great. Plus I’ve just got tickets to see them next month and Ripley is one of my very favourite guitarists around.
7. Public Service Broadcasting Every Valley: A clever, dignified album about the decline of the coal mining industry in South Wales; so, not very much like Faster Pussycat then. This is a sensitive, moving album that is deliberately a lot more earthbound than its starry-eyed predecessor. Maybe I am simply wired to like this beast because of my nationality and political sympathies. Public Service Broadcasting, now with added drummer, do what they do best here and nimbly steer clear of all the clichés associated with the Miner’s Strike of ’84-85. It’s also not nearly as dour as I’ve just made it sound!
8. Iron Maiden The Book of Souls: Live Chapter: A total surprise to me how much I liked this one, which I sort of got peer-pressured into buying^ as a souvenir of a great show. I’m cynical about precisely how totally live it all is, but hey that’s why I usually steer clear of live albums. This functions as a great document of latter-day Maiden in all their glory and the sheer brio with which they tear into the likes of ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘Speed of Light’ is totally infectious and I will duel anyone who won’t admit that ‘Wasted Years’ is a perfect set closer. Nobody needed another live Iron Maiden album^^ but this is a really rousing listen. Well done you chaps!
9. Jeremy Soule Skyrim Atmospheres: A recent RSD acquisition for me but I have already spent so many trillions of hours listening to this music whilst playing the game that I feel I know it intimately anyway. Soule’s music perfectly describes the icy wastes and mountain passes of the titular game – a smattering of crystalline keyboards here, some gentle strings there, a chill wind always present. It is so sparse that it is almost music defined by its’ absence and I would like it a lot even if I wasn’t Dragonborn**.
10. Downtown Boys Cost of Living: Scratchy full-bodied strutting Latino punk attack from Providence, Rhode Island. This is a jagged howl of a record from a group who have a lot to be very angry about. Vocalist Victoria Ruiz is an absolute banshee and I have never been able to resist that post-punk sax sound. Downtown Boys add some really interesting melodic touches here and there to keep us all guessing and to keep us all coming back. They were an absolute force of nature live in a small venue this year. The first track is called, inevitably really, ‘A Wall’. SPOILER ALERT: They’re not in favour.
So there you have it my lords and ladies. 2017 was a great year for new music I reckon, there are a whole tranche of good LPs that didn’t make the cut here. But all that remains is for me to perform the nude interpretive dance routine I have secretly been working on all year to a medley of my favourite Shaggy and Front 242 B-sides after two final awards.
The Geoff Nicholls Memorial Award For the Best Old Stuff Bought in 2017:
It has to be Rory Gallagher Irish Tour ’74, reissued expansively (and a bit expensively) on triple vinyl; proper music by a proper musician. Although it was run a bit closer than it should be by Nerf Herder American Cheese, which is just pop punk, needy nerdy perfection.
Most Disappointing LP of 2017:
Sadly it was the Biters The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. The winners of the 1537 2015 LP of the year fall far from grace. It isn’t awful but it really wasn’t anything special at all.
If I was Ice-T I’d sign off with a fed-baiting ‘Told ya, should have killed me last year’, but I’m not so I’ll just wave goodbye in a cheery fashion.
823 Down (still).
*mostly by me I’m afraid, the budget won’t stretch to the usual cast of thousands this year.
**which I am, obviously.
^you know who you are, Canadians!
^^pretty sure this is roughly their 23 such.