Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Yardbirds


It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums For July


It Starts With a Birthstone - Songs For July


Long Players: Writers on Albums That Shaped Them # 38 Linda Grant - Joni Mitchell - Hejira


'I never heard in anyone but Joni Mitchell what it was to want the refuge of the roads, as well as 'love that sticks around'.It was the great paradox of seventies feminism.'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 928 Fairport Convention - Liege & Lief


Should be much, much higher. Probably the most improtant Folk record released in the last sixty five years.

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 360 Teenage Fanclub


'Glasgow's most cuddly began as Dinosaur Jr with a smiley face before their long career as Creation's resident Neil Young worshipping record collector rock classicists.'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,743 Skirts


Warm, intimate electric guitar driven debut called Great Big Wild Oak from Texan, Alex Montenegro who goes under the name Skirts. Seems to take some kind of inspiration from introverted Indie sounds but also leans towards Country Folk. Didn't really grab me by the lapels but there are some nice gentle, reflective moments.

Friday, July 30, 2021

All Time Favourite Albums

So here is a total arbitrary one. and now I'll stop  A list made in five minutes from my favourite albums from 1965 to 1999. To bring in my favourites from 2000 onwards would have complicated matters too much. 
  1. 1983 - R.E.M. - Murmur
  2. 1977 - Television - Marquee Moon
  3. 1968 - Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
  4. 1971 - Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
  5. 1975 - Patti Smith - Horses
  6. 1966 - The Beatles - Revolver
  7. 1967 - Love - Forever Changes
  8. 1972 - David Bowie - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars
  9. 1980 - Talking Heads - Remain In Light
  10. 1978 - Blondie - Parallel Lines
  11. 1988 - The Go Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane
  12. 1989 - De La Soul - 3 Feet High & Rising
  13. 1969 - The Beatles - Abbey Road
  14. 1992 - R.E.M. - Automatic For The People
  15. 1976 - The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
  16. 1986 - The Triffids - Born Sandy Devotional
  17. 1970 - Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
  18. 1974 - Gram Parsons - Return Of The Grevious Angel
  19. 1981 - Echo & The Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here
  20. 1994 - Portishead - Dummy
  21. 1985 - Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen
  22. 1982 - Simple Minds - New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
  23. 1979 - Gang Of Four - Entertainment
  24. 1984 - Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - Rattlesnakes
  25. 1990 - Public Enemy - Fear Of A Black Planet
  26. 1987 - Prince & The Revolution - Sign O' The Times
  27. 1991 - Nirvana - Nevermind
  28. 1973 - Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure
  29. 1997 - Cornershop - When I Was Born For The Seventh Time
  30. 1998 - Elliott Smith - XO
  31. 1965 - The Beatles - Rubber Soul
  32. 1995 - Radiohead - The Bends
  33. 1996 - DJ Shadow - Entroducing
  34. 1993 - Tindersticks - The First Tindersticks Album
  35. 1999 - Travis - The Man Who
Make of that whatever you will ! Apart from Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue, this wouldn't make a bad Top 35 albums for me. Though there are a few other omissions. Most notably The Smiths, Sly & The Family Stone, Young Marble Giants, The Clash, Pixies, Stones, Wire, Ramones, The Human League, Kraftwerk, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Kate Bush, Dylan, Can, B-52's, Grace Jones, New York Dolls, Japan, Big Star, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, Al Green. Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Dexys, Beefheart, Jefferson Airplane, Neil Young, Byrds, Aretha and Nina. Have I forgotten anyone. I'm sure I have.

Perhaps I need to start another list!!! On second thoughts I hope I don't feel the need to make another music list for a while. My end of year favourite albums of the year will be starting in September this time round. Oh dear, it's almost August.

Albums of the Year 2000-2020


I'm not going to continue with Top Ten lists for 2000-2020. Music became a bit of a mish mash for me in the early years of this century, I'd struggle to make a coherent list for many years. The Internet, downloads and Spotify brought about new musical realities for me and most other people I imagine. Started getting back into new music properly in 2013, when I started this blog and what a good thing that's been for me. So I'm just going to post lists of the top album on the Best Ever Albums list and my own favourite album for each year. Whether I own it or not. Here's the former:

2000 - Radiohead - Kid A

2001 - The Strokes - Is This It?

2002 - Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

2003 - The White Stripes - Elephant

2004 - Arcade Fire - Funeral

2005 - Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

2006 - Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

2007 - Radiohead - In Rainbows

2008 - Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

2009 - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

2010 - Kanye West - My Beautiful dark Twisted Fantasy

2011 - Fleet Foxes - Helpessness Blues

2012 - Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

2013 - Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

2014 - The War On Drugs - Lost in the Dream

2015 - Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly

2016 - Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

2017 - Kendrick Lamar - Damn

2018 - Car Seat Headrest - Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)

2019 - Tyler The Creator - Igor

2020 - The Strokes - The New Abnormal

Here's the latter. My own favourites from each year:

2000 - Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump

2001 - The Strokes - Is This It?

2002 - Beck - Sea Change

2003 - Sufjan Stevens - Michigan

2004 -  Arcade Fire - Funeral

2005 - The National - Alligator

2006 - Joanna Newsom - Ys

2007 - Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

2008 - Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

2009 - Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

2010 - Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

2011 - P J Harvey - Let England Shake

2012 - Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold

2013 - Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

2014 - Lana Del Ray - Ultraviolence

2015 - Adrian Crowley - Some Blue Morning

2016 - David Bowie - Blackstar

2017 - Protomartyr - Relatives In Descent

2018 - Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer

2019 - Bill Callahan - Shepher in a Sheepskin Vest

2020 - SAULT - Untitled (Rise)

Long Players: Writers on Albums That Shaped Them # 37 Mark Ellen - The B-52's - The B-52's


'I've just lowered the need on this much-adored crackling slab of vinyl to be ferried back to the outer-reaches of science fiction.... You weren't invited to make a personal connection with any of it, just to be richly entertained.'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 929 Garbage


State of the art. But never very exciting to my ears. Always sounded like 'product' to my ears. Some toe tapping slightly Gothic moments.

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 359 En Vogue


                             'throaty, adult sex, love and desire over tough, sparse hip-hop beats...'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,742 Dot Allison


                                       'Flowers growing on a hill. Dragonflies and daffodils.'

'Haunted' is an immediate description that comes to mind when listening to Dot Allison's latest album Heart-Shaped Scars. It positively invites the description, the second track here is entitled The Haunted, after all. This is pastoral Folk, of the kind we've heard many times before over the years.But that fact doesn't tire me of it and I'm quite happy to add this to the pile.

Immediate reminders are inevitably drawn. Of the kind of music heard on the Whicker Man soundtrack. Of PJ Harvey, Vashti Bunyan, Nancy and Lee, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Nick Cave and many others. Heart-Shaped Scars is not shamed by any of these comparisons. It slots nicely into this particular sub-category of the ethereal and other-worldly. An album to rech for when you're in need of a fix of this particular sort. 

Allison has an incredible CV. During her career she's woked with Scott Walker, Hal David, Kevin Shields, Paul Weller, Massive Attack, Pete Doherty and numerous others. You can see why here. She's an artist.

The album skates over to the sunnier side of this particular pond for the most part. The record becomes a little samey after a while, falling short of true classic status. Nevertheless, it makes a highly compelling late night or early morning listen. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Albums of the Year 1965 - 1999

 This seems time to take a pause and record the Top Albums for each year on the Best Ever Albums list and my own. From 1965, the year I was born, to 1999 when I turned 34. Hey, I'm a trainspotter, and not ashamed of that fact. Here are the Best Ever Albums chart toppers:

1965 - Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisted

1966 - The Beatles - Revolver

1967 - The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club

1968 - The Beatles (White Album)

1969 - The Beatles - Abbey Road

1970 - Black Sabbath - Paranoid 

1971 - Led Zeppelin - IV

1972 - David Bowie - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars

1973 - Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon

1974 - King Crimson - Red

1975 - Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

1976 - Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life

1977 - Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

1978 - Bruce Springsteen - Darkness At The Edge Of Town

1979 - The Clash - London Calling

1980 - Talking Heads - Remain In Light

1981 - Rush - Moving Pictures

1982 - Michael Jackson - Thriller

1983 - R.E.M. - Murmur

1984 - Prince & The Revolution - Purple Rain

1985 - Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love

1986 - The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

1987 - U2 - The Joshua Tree

1988 - Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

1989 - Pixies - Doolittle

1990 - Depeche Mode - Violator

1991 - Nirvana - Nevermind

1992 - R.E.M. - Automatic For The People

1993 - The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

1994 - Jeff Buckley - Grace

1995 - Radiohead - The Bends

1996 - Weezer - Pinkerton

1997 - Radiohead - OK Computer

1998 - Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

1999 - Sigur Rois - Agaetis Byrjun

and here are my own favourites. A handful coincide:

1965 - The Beatles - Rubber Soul

1966 - The Beatles - Revolver

1967 - Love - Forever Changes

1968 - Van Morrison - Astral Weeks

1969 - The Beatles - Abbey Road

1970 - Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

1971 - Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

1972 - David Bowie - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars

1973 - Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure

1974 - Gram Parsons - Return Of The Grevious Angel

1975 - Patti Smith - Horses

1976 - The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers

1977 - Television - Marquee Moon

1978 - Blondie - Parallel Lines

1979 - Gang Of Four - Entertainment

1980 - Talking Heads - Remain In Light

1981 - Echo & The Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here

1982 - Simple Minds - New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)

1983 - R.E.M. - Murmur

1984 - Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - Rattlesnakes

1985 - Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen

1986 - The Triffids - Born Sandy Devotional 

1987 - Prince & The Revolution - Sign O' The Times

1988 - The Go Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane

1989 - De La Soul - 3 Feet High & Rising

1990 - Public Enemy - Fear Of A Black Planet

1991 - Nirvana - Nevermind

1992 - R.E.M. - Automatic For The People

1993 - Tindersticks - The First Tindersticks Record

1994 - Portishead - Dummy

1995 - Radiohead - The Bends

1996 - DJ Shadow - Entroducing

1997 - Cornershop - When I Was Born For The Seventh Time

1998 - Elliott Smith - XO

1999 - Travis - The Man Who

And my favourite of all? This one? Not the best album of all time but the one that means most to me. It's all arbitrary isn't it.

Albums of the Year 1999

Here's the Best Ever Albums Top Ten for 1999.

1. Sigur Rois - Agaetis Byrjun

2. The Flaming Lips - Soft Bulletin

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication

4. Fishmans - 98.12.28

5. Blur - 13

6. The Disemenberment Plan - Emergency & I

7. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Songs

8. American Football - American Football

9. Built To Spill - Keep It Like a Secret

10. Wilco - Summerteeth

 A very strange list. A funny old year for music 1999. The Number One album on the Best Ever Albums chart, an odd, floaty, ambient record from an Icelandic combo, perhaps it could only happen on the cusp of a new millenium. As for my own favourite record of this year it was The Man Who by Travis. THE MAN WHAT?!! BY WHO?!? Do you want any credibility? Do you deserve any credibility? To be honest I don't really care much about either. That was the record I loved most from that year and still love most now. Possibly my least favourite Albums of the Year since I've started these lists in 1965, but definitely my favourite of 1999.

Travis were and are a pretty unremarkable Scottish band in many ways, (it seems they realised it themselves, their next album was called The Invisible Band), but they were huge in 1999. They were somewhat symptomatic of the times. It was a space between Oasis and Blur, then Radiohead and The Verve, who all had their big moments in the sun successively in the previous few years, (though Radiohead have remained both huge and hugely credible ever since and rightly so), then wandered off to do something else. This left some space, and the unlikely likes of Stereophonics and Travis hovered as possible contenders for a while before the equally unlikely Coldplay walked off with the prize as the next big thing as far as British guitar based bands were concerned. Just one year later, an extremely wet Chris Martin would walk down an extremely wet looking beach, singing the extremely wet Yellow. It was apparently what the world had been waiting for.

Travis were probably pretty wet to many ears too. They had their own Yellow in Why Does It Always Rain On Me? just as much an exercise in self-pity really, but I much preferred it to Yellow. And I much preferred The Man Who to anything by Coldplay, although their second album was decent.Travis had a good knack with classic songwriting of the traditional sense, seemed like a proper band and walked a nice line between melancholy and positivity. Listening to these songs again now, they still touch and move me.

Elsewhere, Shack put out another fine album in HMS Fable. They and Michael Head in particular, were one of the great unheralded treats of the Nineties. Blur put out another strong record in 13. I went for Red Hot Chili Peppers for the one and only time in 1999, buying a bootleg copy of  Californication while I was in Sicily with The Otherside in particular holding me under a spell for a while. I wouldn'y stand by the whole record but I would by that and Scar Tisue. Much else on the record is simply horrible. 

Talking of horrible, perhaps Eminem's Slim Shady LP was the record of the year in some ways. There seemed to be a fair bit of cynicism and misanthropy in the air at the time. But I'm not prepared to endorse cynicism and misanthropy anymore, so it gets seventh. Meanwhile, we all waited for the new millenium with a certain amount of anxiety rather than partying like it was 1999. Perhaps we were right. 9/11 after all was less than two calendar years away.

* The Sigur Rois record is certainly a rather lovely one. Other honorary mentions for Summerteeth, (I've never disliked a Wilco record without ever truly loving one, they're a byword for quiet consistency), and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides

1. Travis - The Man Who

2. Shack - HMS Fable

3. Blur - 13

4. Beth Orton - Central Reservation

5. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication

6. Underworld - Beaucoup Fish

7. Eminem - The Slim Shady LP

8. Beck - Midnite Vultures

9. Gomez - Liquid Skin

10. The Charlatans - Us And Us Only

Me? I went to Austria for three months on a teaching tour with a language school. Towards the end it felt like we were on either a tour of America as roadies with The Who or else at the Battle of Stalingrad. Hotel rooms began to get mistreated. It was a highly memorable experience anyhow. But possibly not something you should do every year.

Then at the end of the year I packed my bags and went to Catania, Sicily for a school year at another private language school. Nominally to teach but really to write my novel which I misguidedly thought the world needed. I was wrong. It wasn't that good as it turned out. But the experience I had there was one of the best of my entire life.

Long Players: Writers on Albums That Shaped Them # 36 Musa Okwonga - Outkast - Aquemini


'this album has everything: breadth, depth, length, supreme storytelling, wild, almost reckless divergence of moods; at turns triumphant and melancholic, but always mesmerising

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 930 Queen - News Of The World


The first of four Queen records in this countdown.

Song(s) of the Day # 2,741 Golden Apples


Coming out of Philadelphia, Pensylvannia, Golden Apples latest, Shadowland, is a very fine thing indeed. Immediately 'indie' in terms of it's sensibilities, (whatever that means entirely these days) it's never obvious in terms of its sound. You can't immediately place it as Felt or Stereolab, or Pavement or Wire or the standard referential touchstones for these kind of guitar  driven records.

Russell Edling is the man behind this. Golden Apples is a new moniker for him apparently, he previously went under the banner of Cherry. All this means little to me, I think this is the first time I've come across his work 

It's a record that takes a slightly blurred focus. Like all the best leftfield records, you're not given a script. 'T's are not crossed and 'I's not dotted. Imperfections which make the record more fascinating and tempt you back for another listen.

I'm grateful to Darren Jones, regular supporter of this blog, who constantly encourages me to listen to records I might not otherwise come across. Golden Apples and Shadowland is second only to Dark Tea, something he directed me to earlier on in the year. 

Both splendid examples of the American underground and how it can still come up with fascinating stuff. Just doing my bit here and passing on the recommendation to you.

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 358 My Bloody Valentine


'Indie-dance's most cosmic and spine-tingling missive.'

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Long Players: Writers on Albums That Shaped Them # 34 Neil Gaiman - David Bowie - Diamond Dogs

 Forgot to post...

'It's not the best David Bowie album. It's definitely not the most iconic. It didn't change anything for ever the way that other Bowie albums changed the face of music ... it's my favourite album because it's mine - in a way no othe Bowie album had been or would be again.'

Dusty Hill 1949 -2021






Albums of the Year 1998

 Here's the Best Ever Albums site Top Ten:

1. Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

2. Massive Attack - Mezzanine

3. Air - Moon Safari

4. OutKast - Aquemini

5. Boards of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children

6. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

7. Elliott Smith - XO

8. Madonna - Ray Of Light

9. Mercury Rev- Deserter's Songs

10. Eels - Electro-Shock Blues

Elliott Smith had put out records before but this was the first one I heard, played for me by my sister, in her flat above the Maid of Honour tea rooms opposite Kew Gardens. It was one of those moments when you first hear an artist you will come to love deeply and you're alive to the fact that you're listening to something really special.. It happened to me with Nick Drake and Big Star too. You're imperceptibly changed in a wonderful way. That feeling stays with you forever.

I had a conversation with a barmaid about sad and happy songs the other day. I don't know if Smith wrote sad songs. They always make me happy. They're about how the human condition is difficult, and it quite definitely is, but so many of his songs make the world a better place. They're profound and moving in a way that few other artists are. XO, and the memory of hearing it for the first time, will always be special for me.

Not much else to compare with it for me, though Moon Pix, The Boy With The Arab Strap and Mezzanine are all fine albums. I probably played Gomez's Bring It On, more than all of them then but it does seem a little bit of it's time from this remove.

Music in some ways seemed to be winding down for the new milennium though no one realised this at the time of course. For 1999, I'll scrape a bit to get a decent Top Ten together.

1. Elliot Smith - XO

2. Cat Power - Moon Pix

3. Belle & Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap

4. Massive Attack - Mezzanine

5. Gomez - Bring It On

6. Air - Moon Safari

7.Madonna - Ray Of Light

8.Pulp - This Is Hardcore

9. Beck - Mutations

10. Fatboy Slim - You've Come a Long Way Baby

Other good records from Silver Jews, (especially Silver Jews, if I had a copy it would be Top Five), Duster, Beastie Boys, Sparklehorse and Afghan Whigs. As for In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, the underground slow burner of the year and according to Best Ever Albums, the 15th best album of all time, I'm afraid I'm indifferent to it. The  Boards of Canada  record is excellent though.

As for me, a rather uneventful year. I completed a PGCE I've never used and will never use and returned to my parents in Canterbury plotting what I'd do next. Some years are like that.

Will Sergeant - Bunnyman # 13 David Bowie


The Bunnymen sign to Sire Records, Pete De Freitas joins on drums and the book closes. And what a magnificent book it is. He chose a song from David Bowie early on as his last musical selection. Can't wait for the next installment.

Mega Bog - Life, and Another


I was enthralled by Mega Bog's last album Dolphine, which came out in 2019. It was a fascinating record. Murky, twisted and blessed with the most beguiling melodies which wormed there way deeper and deeper inisde me with every listen.

So I was very pleased to see another record from Erin Begy, who is essentially 'the Bog' coming up the pike. Life, and Another arrived yesterday and I'm on my second play, and pleased to report it already gets a thumbs up.

Mega Bog is an unusial artist in that you have to live with her records fror a while before you can truly say you know them. I immediately like this record but I'm not quite sure how much. It takes the basic ingredients of Dolphine and twists them into new shapes. It's no mere retread.

Laurie Anderson is probably the artist that comes most to mind though Begy is much more concerned with melody and surface conventional song structures than Anderson ever was. But there's a quirky and angular approach that is very reminiscent of Anderson.

Begy can also be quite 'witchy' in the way Kate Bush used to be. Her songs are just fascinating. They can be jazzy and folky but most of all there's a fierce and determined individuality about everything here that's incredible refreshing. There may be basic reminders of Anderson and Bush occasionally, but she's her own person.

She takes a while to reveal her gifts as I said. I'm on my third play now and the layers are still shedding. That's the sign of a good record and a proper artist I'd say. This will certainly be on my end of year albums list and I imagine rather high.

Long Players: Writers on Albums That Shaped Them # 35 Tracy Thorn - Stevie Wonder - Innervisions


'what a giant of an album it is ... lyrically profound, conscious...visionary and impassioned...'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 931 Cafe Tacuba - Re


                                        Gentle Gypsy Kings like sounds from Mexico and 1994.

This is Uncool - The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 357 Happy Mondays

                                  'The Mondays started to take the mainstream on a weird trip.'

Song(s) of the Day # 2,740 Anika


Annika Henderson, also of Exploded View, has a new album out entitled Changes. The mood of the record is determined by her voice and delivery. That of cool detached froideur. Reserved and ultra European detachment. Nico takes a turn on the dancefloor.

This can lead to a certain saminess as the record progresses but it's all deftly done. Less jagged than Exploded View but no less remote. I'd give it seven.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Albums of the Year 1997

 Hete's the Best Ever Albums Top Ten for 1997:

1. Radiohead - OK Computer

2. Bjork - Homogenic

3. Elliot Smith - Either / Or

4. Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West

5. Spiritualised - Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space

6. God Speed You ! Black Emperor - 

7. Verve - Urban Hymns

8. Built To Spill - Perfect From Now On

9. Foo Fighters - The Color & The Shape

10. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Boatman's Call

My list is quite different. Strange looking back at this year for music now. It's actually a really, really wonderful year for British stuff, hence my entirely British Top Ten of records that I own, or CDs mostly. Perhaps it's the real year of Brit Pop, highlighting all the diversity and creativity that can emerge from these strange islands musically. Something the Brit Pop movement itself singularly failed to do, given its obsessions with The Beatles, The Kinks and oddly Wire.

Songs From Northern Britain is the only thing here I own on vinyl, having bought a re-issue recently. It's my favourite of Teenage Fanclub's albums. Sounds great after all this time. A band mature beyond their years.  But, even though I set myself a rule that I would post the records that I own on vinyl on the top of my list, I'll make an exception here. Because Cornershop's outstanding album When I Was Born For the Seventh Time tops it for me. It's not available on vinyl anymore. Why is that? It's just an exceptional record.

Elsewhere, Blur came out with what I'd say is the best album of their career. Beetlebum particularly seemed to cast a shadow over much of the year. They'd come good by realising the utter dead end that The Great Escape had been, and started listening to what Graham Coxon wanted to do again and taking an interest in obscure American Lo Fi and making it sound distinctly Hi Fi. 

Perhaps the three records that most will think of as defining the mood of the year in the UK come 5, 6 & 7. OK Computer, Urban Hymns and The Fat Of The Land. They're all three very, very fine records, though I rarely, if ever listen to the latter two anymore or even very much the whole way through at the time they came out. CDs were like that. They're all three highly paranoid albums and I don't really care to listen to overly paranoid records these days. OK Computer is a magnificent statemen,t but it's commonly posited as the best album ever made. Even ahead of The Beatles or Pet Sounds which in bygone days had traditionally got the nod.  Is it? Is it really? I'm not entirely sure how these things work but then I prefer Murmur, Marquee Moon, Forever Changes, What's Going On and Kind of Blue. Even Heaven Up Here It's all really just about opinions and the moments when records hit you innit? 

* thanks for a friend for reminding me of the wonderful The Magical World of The Strands by Michael Head & The Strands. Head and Shack were one of the best things happening beneath the surface throught the Nineties.

What happened this year in a broader sense? Princess Diana died. The ensuing week is still one of the strangest and most inexplicable of my life. Here's my list:

1. Cornershop - When I Was Born For the Seventh Time

2. Teenage Fanclub - Songs From Northern Britain

3. Blur - Blur

4. Michael Head & The Strands - The Magical World of The Strands

5. Radiohead - OK Computer

6. Verve - Urban Hymns

7. Prodigy - The Fat Of The Land

8. Primal Scream - Vanishing Point

9. Stereolab - Dots & Loops

10. Portishead - Portishead

Also great albums from Super Furry Animals,Supergrass, Spiritualised, Portishead, and The Chemical Brothers. And an honorary mention for one record from outside the UK, Red Apple Falls. As for Be Here Now, ir was hopeless.

And me,. I was in Brighton, and then embarked on a PGCE at the University of Greenwhich, near Eltham in East London. Just after the Stephen Lawrence murder. Now that was a strange and unpleasant place.