Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Best Albums of 2008 Not Released in 2008

Peter is pondering the continued loss of Peel, and may well step into the breach with some kind of end-of-year eyebrow raising top three hundred songs of 2008, but only those based on some ctiteria like 'Top Songs Related to Murder but Done in a Jaunty Way-2008'. As my continued exile from all new music looks set to continue for the immediate future, my end of year charts would comprise of albums that I only got round to discovering in 2008. Musos may well shudder in their anoraks and wonder how I could have made it this far without such discs, but I'm ready to zip up the parker hood of destiny and struggle on without being told what to listen to.

Who would have thought that Blue Peter would have a musical influence. The first time I ever saw Jerry Lee Lewis on the telly was on Peter Azul. Jerry was sandwiched between a spot on collecting freezer tags to alleviate suffering in western Hudan, and a nice little segment on how to make sorin gas from old socks. Jerry came on and pounded the piano rather unlike the woman at school who played in morning assembly. Having been a fan for many years (of Jerry's, not the woman from school assembly) it's strange I only came across his Live at The Star Club this year, a good 44 years after it was recorded. Sadly I can't find a video clip from the show, so you'l have to make do with audio only. I think the band are hanging on for dear life.
Jerry Lee Lewis live at The Star Club, Hamburg, 1964

I'm a bit like my Dad in respect to violence on the telly and in films. Unlike him I can stomach slightly more than the Little Mermaid, but I do wonder what sick bastards dream up stuff like Saw 3 or what sick bastards watch it. I found myself watching a nasty little film by Rob Zombie (surely that's enough of a clue to turn over to something else?) one night, about a group of travelling sick bastards who do sick bastardly things to innocent strangers. It was called the Devil's Rejects, the follow up to his previous meditation on life and death - House of a Thousand Corpses.I'd rather not remember anything else about the film, apart from the soundtrack. Apart from gems like Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers, it also featured songs by Terry Reid. Terry who, you might ask, unless you are peeking out from behind the furry hood of your perma wearing anorak (there seems to be a hood theme developing), or have been around a long time, or just know more than me.

If Wikipedia is to be believed he turned down a request from Jimmy Page to be the singer in his new band (and suggested Robert Plant), and also once turned down Deep Purple. He has supported the Rolling Stones and appeared on albums by Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt. He sounds like that bloke who gets into photos with every new president of the USA but nobody knows who he is. Anyway, to return to the travelling sick bastardly bastards in the dastardly devilish Devil's Rejects, it was his song To be Treated Rite that really got my attention. It's of an album called Seed of Memory from 1976, produced by his mate Graham Nash, with one of the all time worst sleeve covers. He has a voice I think you either like or dislike, but it's certainly not run-of-the-mill. So he's my second choice for my best album of the year not released in 2008. The echo-ey flute type sound in this song (I'm not exactly sure of the title but it's off the album) could well be provided by Ron Bergundy.

Terry Reid, The Devil's Rejects closing credits

My third choice for best album not released in 2008 would be Ray LaMontagne, either his 2004 album Trouble (apart from Ron Sexsmith's Whereabouts this is the only album that can reduce me to tears), or his 2006 follow up Till The Sun Turns Black . His was one of the strangest gigs I ever went to, as the mood was almost reverential. He was not an artist of twenty years renown, visiting the UK after a long absence, so it was strange to see an audience so mesmerised and quiet. The spaces between songs were usually filled with the sound of Ray's breathing, as he seemingly struggled to find the confidence to say something. At one point, a member of the bar staff dropped something and was promptly shhhhhushed by someone in the crowd.

I often think singer songwriter types like Ray, particularly if they get a bit of relatively mainstream success, often suffer critically. The true folk or country set won't touch them for being too pop, and the alt set won't touch them for not being alt enough. If they are embraced by the Blunt/Alanis cd buying middlers they end up being incorrectly tagged and lose credibility.

What makes Ray different is that he is the real deal. He appears to dislike the attention and doesn't play the publicity game, can't be in it for the money, so one must assume he's in it for the music, which sounds sentimental but appears, on the surface at least, to be true. His starting point is Tree Top Flyer by Stephen Stills, which is a good place to come from.

Be Here Now by Ray LaMontagne

1 comment:

  1. The Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple stories are both true. It's also true that Aretha Franklin said in 1968: "There are only 3 things happening in London: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Terry Reid." Terry is one of the most talented "Unsung Heroes" and a legend in his own right. I just started series about him on Digital Dream Door forum but I'm thinking of cross-posting it here as well at the