By Alun Thomas
Several weeks ago the editor of a website I write for asked me to compile a list of my top ten albums for the year. Despite being sent truckloads of cd's throughout the year I failed to find ten albums worthy of such recommendation and the rest of the writing staff was represented except myself. There were some worthwhile albums throughout the year, especially releases by The Who, Iron Maiden, Lamb Of God and Slayer, but even those have long since faded from airplay on my computer. I asked myself why this was. Where is the longetivity, the urge to return to this newer music? Eventually the answer was obvious, I don't care and havent for years now. My top ten albums of 2006 were all recorded in the 70's and 80's.
I find the case of Iron Maiden especially curious. Delivering an album which reached the Billboard top ten, Maiden have rarely been heavier or more progressive than on 'A Matter Of Life And Death'. It should have been an album I listened to repeatedly. Yet I found myself dabbling with it only two or three times. The same goes for The Who and Slayer, both of whom I lauded here at the Zephyr, largely because there was little else worth writing about. After enthusiastic early listenings both have disappeared from view. It isn't due to a lack of quality, only more pleasure is to be found delving into the past and music unheard.
So a slew of albums sent to me remain in in limbo. Scanning some it's easy to see why. Hydrogyn, Violent Divine, Damsel Fly, Donnie Iris, Brother Firetribe, Motorhead, Sepultura, Metal Church, Krokus and Unearth are various bands that came and went through my ears at certain stages during 2006, most of them only finding themselves played because I had to review them. There is ample room for a top ten list to be made from that group, but if I included any I would be lying. Due to my savaging of Chavis Record's artists Hydrogyn and Violent Divine I also noticed I was not sent the new Quiet Riot cd by the label. Criticism hurts indeed, and all the above artists albums in 2006 will be remembered by nobody in a few years.
The music that caught my ear during the year wouldn't be recognisable to most onlookers. Without this music I might possibly be dead in a forest at this moment due to a lack of belief of life in general. Scanning the play count of my Media Player reveals such masterpieces by Beggars Opera and Electric Eels to be at the forefront of my aural experiences. Who remembers Beggars Opera, a 70's progressive rock act? Or Electric Eels self titled 1974 metal classic, so far ahead of its time that Van Halen were usurped in 1978? These newly discovered joys were thanks to a contact named HERO who while in London in September provided me with thousands of albums to pore over, helping me forget the year we live in.
Therefore the discovery of bands like Goblin, Fireballet, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Bentwood Rocker, Heldon, Boss and Heavy Metal Army plus hundreds of others puts paid to the shambles we call the music scene today. Where's the new bands? Ones with believability? Ones that inspire devotion and fanaticism the way Genesis and Yes once did in the early 70s while pumping out epic, keyboard dominated prog rock? When you see the challenging musical mindset of the 70's in particular, it makes the backwards evolution of the current age so much more miserable. Take an artist like keyboard legend Vangelis who pushed the dynamics of the instrument to its limits with albums like 1976's 'Albedo 0:39'. That's what you'll find me sitting here listening to in the dark with my knife ready.
As long as there is undiscovered music from a superior era to be located then the complete and utter dismissal of 2007 is already complete. Is that an unfair and premature allegation? No, because I've had that feeling for the better part of the decade. It fascinates me that critics still balk at how predictable the rock scene was in the 70's which necessitated the bloated animal known as punk. If a twenty minute syntheisizer based epic with a host of chord changes and patterns is rock at its worst then maybe I've been listening to the wrong music for the last fifteen years. There's nothing out there today that can compete. Admit it. If there was I'd give you ten albums justlikethat.
RIP James Brown