- 12 May 01
All things considered, the past twelve months are unlikely to be considered essential in the rock’n’roll scheme of things. It was a year when few new acts came to the public eye and those that did weren’t breaking any particularly new ground.
All things considered, the past twelve months are unlikely to be considered essential in the rock’n’roll scheme of things. It was a year when few new acts came to the public eye and those that did weren’t breaking any particularly new ground. Both the Daintees with the sublime ‘Boat To Bolivia’ and Peter Case with his eponymous solo debut could have appeared at any tim in the past fifteen years to much the same reaction, which I suppose says something for the durability of the art of songwriting but still, the future of rock’n’roll it ain’t.
So, with little by way of fresh blood making its presence felt, it fell to the old hands to provide the year’s listening highlights. Album of the Year was undoubtedly R.E.M.’s ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ which found the Athens four-some clearer and more forceful than ever and with their best collection of songs to boot. The same could be said of The Smiths’ ‘The Queen Is Dead’ as Marr’s guitar work took on a more dominant role and Morrissey’s lyrics became funnier than ever; humour aside, ‘I Know It’s Over’ still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Paul Simon’s experimentation with South African music on ‘Graceland’ proved an exhiliaration success and Elvis Costello made a resounding return to form with the excellent ‘King Of America’ and ‘Blood And Chocolate’.
On a local level the year’s most surprising development came in the shape of Blue In Heaven’s ‘Explicit Material’ which, for all its Iggy-isms, is the dirtiest album I’ve heard all year (more filth please!) and there were also fine debuts from both The Stars of Heaven and The Fountainhead.
Singles-wise the local pack was undoubtedly led by Stag/Hot Press Award Winners Aslan whose ‘This Is’ graced the airwaves during the summer and even though it was very much a year of consolidation for them, Light A Big Fire managed to maintain their standing as the country’s most consistent singles act in years with no less than four substantial releases, ‘You Can Love A Woman’ being the best in the bunch.
With virtually its last breath the year did eventually produce one of the most memorable musical events to hit the city in a long time with the three-night mini-season by Elvis Costello at the Olympia Theatre. Backed by the never-better Attractions on the opening night, solo on the following evening and back with The Attractions and The Spectacular Spinning Songbrook for the last show, Elvis proved beyond doubt that he’s the best songwriter rock music has produced in the past ten years bar none. The warmth and humour of these performances will be remembered by those who were there for an extremely long time.
I can only hope that 1987 will be a good deal more exciting than the past year although there are promising signs already with the recent release of Something Happens! debut EP and the scheduled early new year release of albums by Microdisney and L.A.B.F. with ‘Crooked Mile’ and ‘Surveillance’ respectively.
MCMLXXXVI … R.I.P.