I'm just back from a nice sunny break somewhere on the other side of the equator, and surprisingly happy to find London looking more like Iceland than usual (snow, great hats, no trains whatsoever...). This was a holiday featuring two very long flights and time spent lazing around on beaches - that is to say, prime music consumption time.
I had a plan. It was late November and therefore time to start thinking about those all important end of year lists. Obviously. The plan was to catch up on a few albums that came recommended but that I hadn't really got to grips with yet. This is the story of how I got totally distracted from that aim, and what I found instead.
First came a shocking discovery, I had only 7 new actual physical CDs (2 of them signed, this still makes me happy!) this year. I think for years I was probably averaging over 50 annually, times have changed. I admit, I'm not including in that the 10 or so I picked up in Reykjavik in October, I can't kick the physical habit for the Icelandic collection! Still, I've clearly been doing a lot of downloading this year and have, in the main left behind the 'need' to own.
Anyhow, the plan started well on the plane out of Heathrow and I listened first to Caribou and the to Zola Jesus. Then the distractions were started by a surprising source, British Airways' in-flight enterteinemnt system's "Best of Manchester" compilation. And I was gone, the first 4 or 5 days on a tropical beach were spent remembering just how great New Order have been, how remarkable "Bummed" by The Mondays still sounds (not sure I'd ever enjoyed it as much) and finally how much goodness there actually is on that Stone Roses second album. Yes, really. I mean, it was obviously killed by what they had done before but go away now and listen to "Driving South" on headphones, and loud.
My nostalgia trip remained in Manchester for a while longer, I moved on to some old James (in preparation for seeing them in December) and then to some brand new Charlatans ("Love Is Ending" is a great tune) before hitting the road to spend some time with The Pixies, then Suede before inevitably moving to The Sugarcubes - all their albums in full and in order in fact. That's a whole load of pleasure.
For the final couple of days and the flight back I ended up with Prince, my idea of the greatest of them all. The London O2 shows of a couple of years back are, I'm pretty sure, the high point of my live music experiences. I have seven of the twenty-one gigs recorded in full (don't tell Prince, please) and I listened to all of that before I hit the ground in London.
It was a total delight to hear all this stuff again, with the time to just listen and enjoy. I'm a big junkie for hearing new music all the time and discovering new sounds, but the obvious point is that I haven't been doing that for 20 years or so without accumulating a load of great music. I should listen to that more often.
Anyhow, these end of year lists still need doing, so I'm off to double-check that These New Puritans are as shit as I thought when I last had a listen, because the NME seem to think they have made the album of the year.