Michael’s Top 10 Records of 2007

 
Joe Henry – Civilians:  A masterpiece from a musician who has several astounding ones already.  Intimate, burnished, chamber folk-jazz made with a huge cinematic scope.  It’s the slowburning record of the decade.  Bill Frisell on guitar, Van Dyke Parks on piano, Joe Henry writing majestic poetry and using his trademark production that makes a small, intimate set-up sound like the largest soundstage you’ve been inside.  Thoughtful, personal, brilliant.
Robert Wyatt – Comicopera:  Perhaps the only 60’s relic who’s still producing records as good as his old stuff?  Which says an awful lot here with the legacy involved…  A three movement concept record with topics ranging from war and religious hypocrisy to communism and Che Guevara.  Sung in English, Italian and Spanish, it’s the rare record (nowadays) that demands that you release all expectations of content, both lyrically and musically.  At times really a jazz record, even when played with traditionally un-jazz instruments, and sung with Wyatt’s traditionally intimate, other worldly vocals.  A second masterpiece for the year.
Tinariwen – Water is Life: Further proof that the new prog movement is in West Africa.  Hyponotic re-constructed Danelectro blues by a nomadic group of desert musicians.  It’s refreshing to hear guitars played in completely new ways; indeed the group began 25 years ago when members stumbled upon a room with dilapidated old electric guitars, and began to completely learn in isolation with no one to influence or copy.  Banned by the government for years, these protester/soldier/rebels have only just now started to be able to record songs that have been developed for decades.  Mojo Magazine’s 2007 Best “World” CD.  (God, what a stupid term…)
Dungen – Tio Bitar:  Schizophrenic Swedish psychedelia wearing all sorts of influences on it’s sleeve: Tull, The Who, Donovon, Hendrix, Can, Gong, Coltrane, etc.  Gorgeous analog production recorded all on tape, and it makes you realize you forgot how bad digital sounds. 

Grant Lee Philips – Strangelet:  Another dreamy, floating trip with Philips’ hypnotic vocals, beautiful poetry, and meticulous orchestral arrangements.  The best voice in rock today produces his finest solo album that rewards more and more with repeated listens.

Chuck Prophet – Soap and Water:  Another great record from Chuck that just keeps on growing on you, with Chuck’s usual flair for mixing R&B,  roots rock, old and modern, with minimalist arrangements.  One minute you think you hear Television, the next you hear Lou Reed, then Zappa, then…

Richard Thompson – Sweet Warrior:  A great return to form with Thompson’s usual intelligent, mature,  metaphorical lyrics, mind bending guitar work, and very live sounding band arrangements.  Can’t wait to hear these live!

Corey Harris – Zion Crossroads:  One of a small handful of journeyman dedicated to traveliing to musical headwaters (Africa and delta America) and preserving and restoring it’s original art forms, Harris here records a fantastic roots reggae album with a tight band that he’s toured for some time with now. 
Iron and Wine – The Shepard’s Dog:  Acoustic psychedelia with a dense but delicate mix of wonderful analog instruments.
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black:  Ok, go ahead and laugh.  Were there many other, better records out in 2007?  Sure, but two things:  One, I liked it, Ok?  Two, let’s face it: the greatest thing that modern pop has aspired to for the last 20 years or so, with a small handful of exceptions, is to affectionately or accurately copy old music.  Is this new?  Certainly not.  But it is a fun “update” of some of my favorite music, and if this causes one kid to become curious enough to discover Phil Spector, The Ronettes, Billie Holiday, or the others she’s channeling, then it’s all good.

And my favorite reissues of the year:
Bonzo Dog Band – Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse
Pylon – Gyrate
Flying Burrito Brothers – Live at The Avalon Ballroom 1969
Roland Kirk with Jack McDuff – Kirk’s Work
Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow
Monk in Paris- Live at the Olympia

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3 Comments

  1. Aunt Sandra said,

    January 4, 2008 at 12:54 am

    OK, now I know I am old, but it was a little disappointing to open this blog and not see Graham and Surae first. Nothing against your music choices Michael but the kids need to take front and center. 🙂
    Love you guys!

  2. Emily said,

    January 19, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Iron and Wine are lovely. As are Pretty Things. Good choices, Michael =]]

  3. Conscious said,

    June 25, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Tito Bitar was my favorite album of last year…! I even wrote a review…

    http://60secondreview.blogspot.com/2007/05/dungen-tio-bitar.html

    Although I may require Pimsleur’s assistance (no need for channeling the dead, there are language tapes available) to decipher the lyrics of Swedish rocker Gustav Ejstes, I’ll gladly take the lessons. ‘Tio Bitar’, sounds like a crispy, vintage recording pulled from a time capsule buried deep beneath the soil, round nineteen sixty-something. I feel trippy-meadows, grass leaking dew suspiciously-suspect and I need a pair of the darkest shades ever made because that fireball in the sky is working overtime. I like the vibe, dig the frequencies throughout. Ten solid tracks and there’s no filler. Think I’ll skip Pim’s method though and find a curvy, Swedish gal to help work the kinks outtah my lumbar region while ‘En Gång I År Kom Det en Tår’ plays just loud enough in the background from my refurbished Hi Fi.


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