Bugger. I returned from a new year break to a CD in the post from the infuriatingly efficient Peter Swanson with his selection of best tracks of the year, so naturally I had to drop everything (bags, small children, etc) to get my own one put together. I decided to choose my favourite new albums of 2006 and then include a track from each, so that means no standalone singles (and therefore no Touch the Sky by Kanye West). More importantly though, I had to leave off anything Peter had included on his CD, otherwise the list below would have included the albums from The Arctic Monkeys, Seth Lakeman and (possibly) Neil Diamond.
So here goes with my albums of the year!
Although the original cast recording was probably released in 2005, the show only opened in the UK this year, and so Monty Python’s Spamalot sneaks into the list (and would probably be the first soundtrack ever to do so, even if I’d been doing this list for 20 years). I loved the show. Another soundtrack is Love, the music from the Las Vegas show which is a sort of mashup of Beatles stuff. Doesn’t improve on the originals, but it’s terrific to hear alternative mixes of classics from a production team which obviously cares. To my shame, I went to Vegas in October and didn’t think to book to see the show.
Looking at the critics’ roundups of the year, Joanna Newsom’s Ys is well in there. Given the reviews, I just had to buy it and listen to it a lot, but as yet, I can’t see quite what the fuss is all about, although it is good. Plenty of other female vocalists got a look-in as usual though, including Amy Winehouse (and while we’re at it, how did I take so long to pick up on her earlier album? Never mind, gig tickets are booked for February) and Lily Allen, whose Alright Still was a joy (and contained the best lyric of the year in “There was a little old lady, who was walkin down the road, she was struggling with bags from Tesco; there were people from the city havin’ lunch in the park, I believe that it’s called al fresco”).
On the Folk front, the Cambridge Folk Festival was another good one and I’ve sneaked in a couple of tracks from EmmyLou Harris and
Nickelback Nickel Creek, which aren’t of course strictly from a 2006 album, other than my own compilation of highlights. Roddy Woomble of Idlewild’s My Secret is my Silence was arguably my favourite album of all this year, and it was a special moment to see him “busking” songs from it at Cambridge.
Nouvelle Vague just about successfully showed their earlier album of “lounge” reinterpretations of eighties new wave classics wasn’t a one-off novelty, with the Band A’Part follow-up. You have to hear it to believe it. Morrissey’s May gig was an interesting experience, and naturally I’ve included Ringleader of the Tormentors in my 2006 selection. Other stalwarts from even earlier decades making the grade include Neil Young (Living with War) and David Gilmour with On an Island. Check out Dave performing Arnold Layne with David Bowie as a tribute to Syd Barrett.
Bands more from the noughties whose albums impressed this year were Keane, The Feeling, The Killers, Fratellis and Muse. Most of these were pretty widely approved critically, so I can’t claim to have discovered an obscurity in that lot! But hey, some years you go waaaay left-field, and others you find your taste firmly in the mainstream. This was probably one of those years. Now I’m off to listen carefully to Mr Swanson’s more intriguing choices.