As we head into 2011 I thought I would share a few of my own music related highlights of 2010.
Firstly Surprise Of The Year goes to the John Legend And The Roots Album for reasons I have stated already on these pages; Dissappointment? - the Rumer Album - I thought "Slow" was a real head turner of a record but all the hype led to yet another drab dinner party album with little to celebrate other than it is quality but not very interesting - having seen a couple of TV performances and had reports from friends of gigs - Rumer needs some personality added to that glorious voice.
I don't get Arcade Fire - despite them being flavour of the year in most polls - it just doesn't move me (although "Rebellion" is one of my favourite tracks from recent years). I love the "Strickland Banks" album from Plan B - I hope to go to the gigs in March 2011. "The Element of Freedom" from Alicia Keys. Not so mad on the latest Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - again it has nothing new to offer - yes it's good and authentic soul but I can go back to the originals of the genre in preference. I love "The Lady Killer" by Cee- Lo Green but was let down by the second Cherry Ghost album. Diane Birch is one to watch as "Bible Belt" works for me; I've followed Eli Paperboy Reed with interest as he writes and performs new soul pop songs with his own swagger attached; Amazed at Mavis Staples, at 70, turning out "You Are Not Alone". I got the two Open Souls albums from New Zealand which are mixed but the high points outweigh the less so and are well worth seeking out. I have ended the year with a mixed bunch of presents of music in the shape of Kanye's latest, Roy Ayers (1979); Springsteen's "The Promise"; Basie/Sinatra "At The Sands"; a return to UB40's roots with a new copy of "Signing Off" and,of course "Soul Alive!" from Solomon Burke.
Gigs this year have been few on the ground with a Union Chapel Peter Green gig which displayed him as part brilliant part "not quite his former self" mode (think Brian Wilson on the first solo tour a few years ago); Supertarmp at the O2 - my comments werte not well received by the Hodgson faithful but I thought it was a great show - pity everyone wants to take sides; Again the Legend/Roots gig is top of my list but probably shared with the final Simply Red gig in December. Alicia Keys in February - high on a list of wonderful performances. I hope to get out a bit more in 2011.
Lost But Not Forgotten
The sad passing of Solomon Burke - he of great soul legend. I was introduced properly to him via Peter Garulnick's invaluable southern soul history "Sweet Soul Music"; saw him live at the Barbican in 2008 and have slowly collected much of his catalogue and newer albums as a result. Marvel at the Later version of "Don't Give Up On Me" on YouTube - there was more to come and he will be missed. Also lost is Harvey Fuqua - someone who has contributed so much but not been centre stage.
Guilty Pleasure - the X-Factor 2010