Well, here we are again. Another twelve months of chaos, mostly media-fuelled, has passed us by in the blink of an eye interspersed, I’m pleased to say, with some fabulous albums. Some of them you may have heard on the way, others may be new to you, but I hope that you will enjoy exploring them as much as I have.
So welcome to my Album of the Year 2022 blog, my sixtieth – now there’s something I would never have imagined all the way back in 1963 that I would write, but yes sixtieth – wander through the year’s results from the many taps of my long-suffering debit card.
The One That Got Away has become a regular feature of my annual blog reviewing my year of music acquisitions. Last year I produced a complete blog for them, there were so many, mainly because of the disfunction to life caused by the 2020 pandemic. Now, for the second year running, there have been enough ‘late purchases’ to fill a separate blog.
Late-discovery of an album does not just involve the previous year – some escape notice for decades! And I guess, with 2021 still somewhat disrupted by Covid, especially the continued lack of much live music, it was only natural to search more content on streaming services and the like, opening up avenues of exploration that the busyness of ‘normal life’ would not normally allow. Hence some of the albums up for mention here are from the last century.
Welcome to my Album of the Year 2021 blog. I guess we all had hoped for a better time after the prevails of 2020 but, despite a few short months of relative freedom, its successor has turned into another strange year with a real sting in the tail. Not, however I am pleased to report, in the quality and quantity of great music it has produced.
I guess you find, when you have written about music for as long as I have, that you hear ever more echoes from the past – whether they are influences on new artists or samples from old hits. This year, I found myself both concentrating on a vast array of new music, as well as on my Classic Albums section, which has featured a number of albums that celebrated their 50th anniversary this year, the majority of which still sound as fresh today as they did all that time ago.
When I wrote at the beginning of my Album of the Year blog for 2020 that it was probably the strangest year of our lives, there were two things I was not expecting. Firstly that, six months later, we would still be suffering the majority of restrictions imposed on our lives – particularly in the arena of live music – and, secondly, that so many great albums from 2020 could have got away from being assessed for that last blog.
Regular readers will already be aware of my ‘ One that Got Away ‘ feature most years, mentioning albums discovered too late for inclusion previously. These often arrive as a Christmas surprise from one of my offspring or the subject of emails from regulars where a sentence commences with the words: ‘I’m surprised that you missed ….’ But those can usually be counted on the fingers of one hand, and have normally had their first listening well before the end of January. This year’s crop, however, are now well into double-figures, and have kept on coming through the early months of this year – so many that the regular slot for them would potentially take over this year’s blog. So, halfway through 2021, here is a roundup plus a top ten of all those albums that got away last year.
2020 was probably the strangest year of our lives for a lot of us, especially those like myself, of more-advanced years, who have been semi-isolating for most of it. Even when we were able to escape, the closure of non-essential retail for months on end curtailed the ability to browse record store racks to find candidates for my Album of the Year 2020.
Not only that, but the complete shut-down of live music venues since February has meant, for the first time since I was a teenager in the early-sixties, that this has been a year with no live gigs whatsoever. We did have tickets to see last year’s AoTY winner, Sam Fender, in January (postponed from December) but that gig was also postponed twice further, eventually falling-foul of the lockdown along with another pre-booked gig by Tash Sultana later in the year.