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Annual article: Bright young things like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen captured the HP critics’ hearts this year, though they somehow neglected Johnny Cash and Mark Lanegan...
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 03 Jan 2007
Well whaddya know? The vote was spread wide this year, with no clear favourite to rival last year’s virtually unanimous winners Arcade Fire. It reflects the nature of the year’s best albums: no drop dead classics, no Astral Weeks or Deserter’s Songs to swoon over – but a selection of good to great records, many of them from the old guard.
So, Dylan not only crowned his resurrection and completed a hat-trick that began with Time Out Of Mind, but he scooped the Album of the Year accolade with Modern Times, a record that was never less than very good, and contained at least four songs any songwriter from any era would’ve forfeited his or her eye teeth to write.
A few surprises too: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs garnered all round respectful reviews for Show Your Bones on release, but the record gained power and momentum with repeated plays and deserved its No.2 billing. Springsteen also pulled off quite a coup with We Shall Overcome, a raucous and rambunctious modern folk record and his first complete covers album, rendered as Depression-era vaudeville show bristling with punk-Pogues-Woody Guthrie upstart energy.
All of these deposed the Arctic Monkeys, newcomers who started out of the traps as clear favourites, but as the dust settled, Whatever People Say I Am assumed its true form – a muscular and promising debut, but hardly the greatest thing since The Beatles. Speaking of: who'd have thought a George Martin-masterminded Stars On 45 assembly of Fab classics would almost breach the Top 10 in 2006?
You could hear evidence of Fab-dom all over The Raconteurs (pictured) album too. ‘Steady As She Goes’ deservedly made No. 2 in the singles poll; the rest of the record wasn’t quite as pop-tastic, but was still strong enough to dispel any hint of vanity project. Elsewhere, devoted fanbases – they exist even among critics! – ensured that the Flaming Lips, Thom Yorke, The Strokes and The Killers (what a single!) scored highly with what were regarded as alternately dense, ambitious and challenging records. And Muse finally preached beyond the converted with the slinky pop-sussed grooves of Black Holes & Revelations providing welcome contrast to their well-perfected Kubrick ‘n’ roll routines. There was a strong showing from domestic acts: business as usual from Snow Patrol and Damien Rice, but Republic Of Loose received gratifyingly generous garlands for the wonderful Aaagh! – and the fresh faced triumvirate of The Immediate, Director and The Blizzards also made an impressive showing.