The time has come again for Almost Album of the month, a collation of the albums which have marked me this year but for a number of reasons could not hold the title of album of the month. See below 6 albums (as I no longer have enough time to write 12 like last year) which I consider to be uniquely splendid.
Headspace – Levitation Room 2019
The above was my most played track of 2020 and it is not difficult to see why. This album is one which I played over and over and over throughout the year. It is wonderfully inventive, cohesive and offers a very strong sound. This is the height of ‘nondescript modern’ pop.
Marillion – Clutching at Straws 1987
Marillion are a powerhouse British punk/progressive rock band to which my father introduced me while I went to France in the summer, in between quarantines. You will be aware that Misplaced Childhood was album of the month in July and with good reason. I could have chosen any of Marillion’s other albums with Fish as lead singer as well as FEAR with the new singer Steve Hogarth. Fugazi, Script For a Jester’s Tear, or FEAR could have been chosen but I listened to Clutching at Straws most. It is a masterpiece. Please do listen to it.
Steve Harley – Timeless Flight 1976
This album is one which would fit into the album of the year category. I have not in my possession words to describe the masterful work of beauty that is Timeless Flight. It is only not album of the year because the album I have picked this year shook my musical foundations and I have been listening to Timeless Flight since I was 14 and got my first record player. Nothing is Sacred is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.
Nina Hagen – NunSexMonkRock 1982
This marvellous 1982 offering is a splendid and oftentimes confusing album can be categorised as psycho-germanic experimental pop. Rolling Stone called it the “most unlistenable” album ever made, while others praised its experimental nature and Hagen’s theatrical vocals. If you can get past the gauche title, I highly recommend this album which has brought me much joy over the last year.
UB40 Live – 1983
UB40 Live is another excellent example of Birmingham brilliance in pop. This album sees the Brummy band perform songs from its first three studio albums, Signing Off, Present Arms and UB44. I am a fan of UB40 so this album really appeals to me. Nick, Louise and I tried to visit their bar, The Garden Lounge in Zadar, Croatia (in the Before Time) but it was closed at the time. Watch out for tracks such as One In Ten, Folitician, Tyler and the mega Sardonicus, which gives me goosebumps still.
Telekon Live – 2008
2020 was the year of the live album for me. Peter Gabriel’s Plays Live being the crowning jewel of live albums. I have also enjoyed The Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East, B.B. King’s Live in Cook County Jail, Peter Framton Comes Alive (wonderful), Kiss! Alive, Sparks Live at the Record Plant 1974 (mega for Sparks fans) and recently both of Thomas Dolby’s live albums. But none have knocked me over quite so conclusively as Telekon Live. I am a huge fan of Gary Numan and must have about ten of his records on vinyl. This album was released in 2008 by Mortal Records and is a recording of Numan’s 9 December 2006 Telekon concert at the London Forum, 26 years after it was first released. Critics have argued that Numan himself is the only weak link in the album and I am minded to agree. However, together, it is a wonderful contribution to the musical gene pool, as it were. The last track in particular blows me away every time.
Overall these are a few of the albums which have made my year more bearable. I hope they bring you some joy also.