Friday, December 09, 2005

2005 Lists

I've spent the last few days going through all of the 2005 albums that I actually did enjoy over the course of the year, and it took quite awhile to get this list completed. There were a few albums that didn't make the final cut, but are definitely great albums worth tracking down. The most notable are the Eels Blinking Lights and Other Revelations and Sparrow's Early Years. But for as great as they are, the thirty listed below are, in my eyes, better. And so, here's the list:

1. Martha Wainwright - Martha Wainwright
2. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Naturally
3. M.I.A. - Arular
4. Sun Kil Moon - Tiny Cities
5. Various Artists - Run The Road
6. Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
7. Al Green - Everything’s OK
8. Kanye West - Late Registration
9. Julien Neto - Le Fumeur de Ciel
10. The Constantines - Tournament of Hearts
11. Jamie Lidell - Multiply
12. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
13. Roots Manuva - Awfully Deep
14. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
15. Konono No. 1 - Congotronics
16. Steve Reich - You Are (Variations)
17. Animal Collective - Feels
18. Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
19. Brooke Valentine - Chain Letter
20. Yesterdays New Quintet - Sound Directions: The Funky Side of Life
21. The Decemberists - . . . Present Picaresque
22. Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine
23. Black Mountain - Black Mountain
24. Beck - Guero
25. Josh Rouse - Nashville
26. Sigur Ros - Takk
27. The Sights - The Sights
28. Vitalic - OK Cowboy
29. Ben Folds - Songs For Silverman
30. Sway - This Is My Promo Vol. 1 & 2

I could do write-ups about all of these albums, but don't hold your breath. But my number one album seems to be getting ignored in the year end lists (at least the ones I've seen), and that just makes me sad. Someone told me that the song "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" was actually written as a rebellion against her musical family, since she didn't even want to be a musician. But clearly she has it in her blood, and with this album, she shows us that she may be the most talented of the Wainwright clan. Martha Wainwright has crafted an album that is so emotional, so gorgeous, and her vocals are filled with such passion and rage that one gets the sense that she needed to make this album to move forward with her life. This, for me, is the essential album from 2005.

In 2005, I also bought quite a few older albums. By older I mean early jazz, soul, blues, funk, and reggae reissues. I also started getting more into African styles as well. The Fela Kuti collection has started, and since he put out almost 50 albums, I'm sure that will be a growing part of my collection for the years to come. Because of my clear interest in the older stuff, I've realized that when it comes to year end lists, I'm as interested in the best reissues of the year as I am the best new albums of the year. I've bought quite a few reissues, greatest hits collections, and compilations of older stuff that came out this year, and the following is a list of my favourites (in no particular order):

Basement Jaxx - Singles (double disc version!)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - B-Sides & Rarities
Doris Duke - I’m A Loser: The Swamp Dogg Sessions . . . And More
Gang Of Four - Entertainment!
Isaac Hayes - Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It?
Willie Hightower - Willie Hightower
Mogwai - Government Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003
Steve Reich and Musicians - From the Kitchen Archives No. 2: Steven Reich and Musicians, Live 1977
T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhthmo - The Kings of Benin Urban Groove 1972 - 1980
Various Artists - The First Days of Funk Vol. 2
Various Artists - Mojo Chess compilations (Originals, Soul Sisters, Tearjerkers and Northern Soul)
Various Artists - New Thing!
Various Artists - Ready Or Not: Deep Jazz Grooves From the CBC Archive 1967-1977
Various Artists - Soul Fire: The Majestic Collection
Various Artists - World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s A Real Thing

Without question, my favourite from this list is the Doris Duke compilation. This single CD contains her brilliant 1969 album, I'm A Loser, and also her 1971 album, A Legend In Her Own Time, as well as three songs which were recorded in the late 60s. The album I'm A Loser is, to this lyric junkie, perfect. It traces a woman's love life from being dumped and feeling miserable, to standing up and walking tall, but then turning to prostitution, becoming pregnant (which leads to a marriage and quickie divorce), to finally meeting Mr. Right. Unfortunately, he's married, and thus, Ms. Duke becomes the "other woman." Lyrically, the songs get right into the woman's head and Duke's powerful voice makes one question whether she has actually lived through all of the ups and downs of love. The packaging includes a review by the infamous Dave Godin in 1970, and in the review he states that I'm A Loser is the best album he's ever heard. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it's definitely one of the best albums I own.
posted by Jonathan


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