Best of 2012 - Songs, EPs and LPs not to be forgotten

Here's a compilation of songs and no-songs (call them tracks) that made my year (wrapped in a self-made cover sleeve with pictures by Claudia Böhm). With various styles, less sludgy doom than previous years I must admit. Maybe I'm getting old and soft (jelly some would say). This is the reason I splitted this compilation in 2, in order to be more easy to listen to it. Of course Brian Wilson, Kim Fowley and Dr John are old glories and no more at their creative peak, but the fact is they have made each some of the songs I loved the most this year. And for a new generation you got Emily Wells and JFG, 2 of the greatest composers of the last years so far. Doom Tree is a complete hip hop coup-de-coeur (long time I did not have in this genre) and Grass Is Green my noisy coup-de-foudre, one of the greatest album I listened to this year and this song is marvellous (but I could have picked 2 or 3 others in this masterpiece). The tracks are 5 of the most devastating (for Black Skies, Rabbits and Witchstone) or powerful (for Rotting Hills and Sonance) of the year. You can find all these bands on Forgotten Songs (until July, when mf shelved my account) or Dim Damn Doom. Below, the list of my 10 fave albums of the year. Some of course have songs in the compilation but not all. Yes I know you may think I give too much credit to the young Emily Wells. But her album totally blowed me away and was the soundtrack of several important moments during my year. Her music talks to me the way the Unthanks' one talked to me last year. Grass Is Green,  Rabbits, Bezoar, Uzala, Huata, Single Mothers and Black Skies have given to this year its "lettres de noblesse", and they were not many to create something new and exciting. When I look at the other Best of lists from other blogs, I sometimes wonder if really they are in search of some evolution in music. But nevermind, maybe I'm too old, too weird, old and stupid. Hope the 13th year of the XXIst century will offer some greatness too. Enjoy it here.

My best albums of the year (preference order, from 1 to 10)

Emily Wells - Mama

Grass Is Green - Ronson

Black Skies - On The Wings Of Time

Rabbits - Bites Rites

Dr John - Locked Down

Single Mothers - Indian Pussy

Doom Tree - No Kings

Bezoar - Wyt Deth

Uzala - Uzala

Huata - Atavist of Mann


Str... - Live In London (2001-04)

This live set is totally acoustic and has been recorded during the last decade, it's the only thing I can write with assurance since for the rest it's a complete mystery. Released by Carinco, a label who doesn't care to wrap his releases in ugly cover sleeves and to not provide any information to the "cochon de payant" (French expression that means "pig customer" i.e. treating the customer as a pig). See what they did with Melanie's back catalogue and tell me whether it's not what we all despise from a "label". So, I decided to post it here with a better cover sleeve (with amusing pictures ddkated to feet fetichists, from a photographer called Fraser James, see his deviantArt gallery here). What I think is that this concert was recorded between 2001 and 2004 with Brian Willoughby on guitar and before Chas Cronk rejoined the band since there's no bass sound and the setlist is more adequate with the ones they played at their acoustic sets in their beginnings (I mean the beginnings of their new acoustic career). So, I decided to credit Willoughby instead of Cronk but nothing's sure. Whatever, the setlist is a pure dream, without any weak track. If, like me, you love Baroque and Roll and Painted Sky albums, you'll find here another reason to reach paradise cos' these versions are wonderfully delicate (and melancholic), without the mandatory happy songs that they sometimes feel the need to intercede in their repertoire. So here it is, my Xmas gift. Hope we got some day more info about this live concert.


Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Star Truckin' 75 Live at Leiden (1975)

Thanx to Derek from Paris (same town but don't know him) who sent me recently this bootleg relatively well known by the Steve Harley aficionados, judging by what I found on the net, but that I didn't know. So here it is. It must be noted that even if the setlist consists mainly in songs from Human Menagerie and Psychomodo, this is not the original line-up who plays them (except the greater than great Stuart Elliott on drums) but the Mk II line-up, the one who would record The Best Years Of Our Lives (2 songs from it on this live recording). I never found this second line-up was the real Cockney Rebel and the way they play songs from Pyschomodo are sometimes not far from a complete slaughter. To the so singular musical approach of the previous formation, they substitute a sort of strange and unconsistent mix of style that could be a sort of british Steely Dan if they could be a little more concise and focus. Sometimes they are a sort of sad version of SAHB. On "Sebastian" and "Death Trip", things work a little better. The strongest thing here are Steve Harley's vocals. He really lives each word he sings and makes me shivers today (I'm no more a teenager and this band was supposed to be for teenagers) than at the time. Listen to his "Sebastian" dodobatabata impro to see what an English Artaud he could have been if only he had stayed this crazy (but he became very wise some years later). All in all, an interesting document of a band mutating in something else. They would reach other summits 1 year later with Love's A Prima Donna so I won't be too severe. Enjoy it here. This concert was recorded in Netherland (in Leiden) during a collective tour with Wishbone Ash, Caravan, Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Climax Blues Band (what a strange team). The sound is rather good. You know that I don't post here this sort of shitty document you can't even listen to one time without having your ears bleeding ichor. Below a document of "Sebastian" played by the same formation (actually no, I think there is another guitarist backwards) some months before (April) at the Hammersmith Odeon.


Mott The Hoople - Live At Fairfield Halls (1970)

This repost to announce that I reup-ed all the Live Mott The Hoople of the blogs, all had disappeared when my mf account was shelved. A visitor asked me for reup this one yesterday, so I did it for all, surely many who had missed them will be happy to get them on FS. More to come.

Another Mott The Hoople "album that could have been". Actually, failing to find in studio the intensity and excitation of their live sets, they imagined releasing a live album. This opportunity was provided by their opening shows for Free, who were recording their concerts for a future live LP. Fairfield Halls will actually provide some tracks of the official Free Live album. Unfortunately, the Mott set triggered such an excitation than part of the audience climbed on stage and produced some technical problems that were considered annoying enough to withdraw this Live album project. Not very clear where are the problems actually when you listen to this top quality recorded set. But the fact is that the songs would remain in the void until the Mott Box Set ("Ohio" being on it) and then the CD issue by Angel Air. Would this live LP changed the destiny of the band if released in December 1970? Not sure actually cause honestly, it' s often a little too much sound chaos and tracks are rather too long to maintain interest when listened to on records. And the slow ballads (specially "When My Mind's Gone", so wonderful in studio) are a little out of place in this playlist. However, this is a fascinating testimony of a dead-born album and this provides the pleasure to imagine listening to an album that only failed to exist. Enjoy it here. PS. I took the cover sleeves from the Wildlife's inner one (surely shot during this tour).


Kathleen Ferrier - Songs for Dead Children (1949)

I don't think I need to explain why I update this post today. One visitor left a comment that says it all. The recent killing is a sum of sufferings, from the killer (his childhood was surely a hell to do such a thing at 20) to (of course) the killed. The dramatic illustration that something's going wrong in our societies. We got a similar event in France last May, and Norway got their own massacre the previous year, so throwing the stone to US like many French and Europeans will do is misleading (although there's surely a problem with access to any sort of guns). Why some of us are drowning in such a misanthropic and destructive path, is a crucial point. I know what it's like for having taken it (without the act) in my life and for still, from time to time, feeling disgust and hate for my contempories. But I must say that never children are concerned by this inner feeling and that such a hate really questions our ability of understanding (sorry for this poor way to formulate things but as you know my English is quite uncertain). So, provinding a free link  here to what I consider the strongest songs about children death in music, is the only contribution I can make to this awful event.

If someone'd asked which songs I considered the doomest of the 20th century, I would not say "Gloomy Sunday", or "Avec le Temps", or "Black Sabbath" or even anyone by a Doom band, but the Kindertotenlieder (songs for dead children) composed by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) between 1902 and 1904 from 5 poems he chosed in the 428 ones that the poet Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) had written after the death of 2 of his children. Strangely, few years later, Mahler would lost his daughter. In the poems that Mahler had selected, children seem to be out of home and not coming back. Maybe it's a metaphor for death (a far away travel from where they'll never be back) but since it is the main fear of every parent today (children kidnapped, raped and killed while away), this makes these songs still more moving. This is the reason I chose for the sleeve a picture by Wynn Bullock (1902-75), who had begun as a tenor singer and whose picture of this child (her daughter) in the wood is quite disturbing. For the back of the sleeve I took an other disturbing and doomer than doom picture by Peter Hujar (1934-87) that he shot in the catacombs of Palerma in 1963. Kathleen Ferrier had also a doomed life since her career began late (at 30) and finished prematurely in 1953 (she had 41) from leukemia. She is considered as one of the greatest vocalist of the century and to have interpreted the best version of these lieders. I will not have the irony to write enjoy it here, but at least, cry with it here. Lyrics (in German and with the English translation) are in the rar file.

In Diesem Wetter, In Diesem Braus. In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus, Nie hätt' ich gesendet die Kinder hinaus; Man hat sie getragen hinaus,Ich durfte nichts dazu sagen! In diesem Wetter, in diesem Saus,Nie hätt' ich gelassen die Kinder hinaus,Ich fürchtete sie erkranken; Das sind nun eitle Gedanken.In diesem Wetter, in diesem Graus, Nie hätt' ich gelassen die Kinder hinaus; Ich sorgte, sie stürben morgen, Das ist nun nicht zu besorgen. In diesem Wetter, in diesem Graus! Nie hätt' ich Gesendet die Kinder hinaus!Man hat sie hinaus getragen,ich durfte nichts dazu sagen! In diesem Wetter, in diesem Saus, in diesem Braus,Sie ruh'n als wie in der Mutter Haus,Von keinem Sturm erschrecket,Von Gottes Hand bedecket.

In this weather, in the windy storm. In this weather, in this windy storm, I would never have sent the children out.They have been carried off,I wasn't able to warn them! In this weather, in this gale, I would never have let the children out. I feared they sickened: those thoughts are now in vain. In this weather, in this storm, I would never have let the children out, I was anxious they might die the next day: now anxiety is pointless. In this weather, in this windy storm, I would never have sent the children out. They have been carried off, I wasn't able to warn them! In this weather, in this gale, in this windy storm, they rest as if in their mother's house: frightened by no storm, sheltered by the Hand of God.


Kathleen Ferrier

Kathleen Ferrier and Bruno Walter

Gustav Mahler

Friedrich Rückert