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2018 – Get Your Shirt

July 9th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

As far as music was concerned 2018 was many things: it was even better than 2017, it was a year for female artists and it was a year for comebacks.

The best sort of comeback is when you see an album listed under the new relesaes section on Spotify and think surely they are not still around, must be a re-release or compilation or something, and then you look into it and find that it really is new material. The most spectacular of those has to be Medicaid Fraud Dogg by Parliament, whose previous album came out 38 years earlier. That is a big gap!

Any gap is going to seem small compared to 38 years, but Robyn released the album Honey after a gap of 8 years. Mind you, she did release 3 albums in 2010. Chas n Dave only had a gap of 5 years but it seemed longer because their 2013 album made little impact and had itself been 18 years after their previous album. A Little Bit of Us did make an impact though. It is a lovely album and very poignant as it contains a song about Chas’ cancer that he had treatment for, and he sadly died later in the year.

There was also a comeback for a piece of music rather than a band, or rather a sequel, because Juno Reactor’s album The Mutant Theatre featured a track called Return of the Pistolero. It was the track Pistolero, from 1999, that drew my attention to Juno Reactor when it was used on the soundtrack for Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Finally there was a comeback false alarm when a new album by the Police showed up on Spotify, but it wasn’t a new LP after 35 years after all, just a compilation of B sides and rarities.

As for female artists, 2018 was when everything got interesting for me. I know this is going to come out wrong, but I have never really listened to a lot of female artists because so many of them were making music in genres that I am not heavily into. There have traditionally not been many women involved in heavy metal, reggae, rap, krautrock, psychedelia, and other genres. There was some market research form one of the big guitar makers that more of their guitars were being bought by girls than boys and that seems to be starting to bear fruit in 2018. Or maybe its just that I was getting to hear them more, especially on Radio 6.

Just in 2018 there were excellent albums from Anna Calvi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Janelle Monae, the aforementioned Robyn, Let’s Eat Grandma, She Drew the Gun, and the Orielles. Then there was Kim Wilde with the much-better-than-the-cover-would-suggest Here Come The Aliens. Ibibio Sound Machine with their female frontperson, Angelique Kidjo with her re-working of the Talking Heads’ Remain In Light and the Riton album which featured Kah-Lo on most tracks, including the splendid Fake ID. You could also count Brix Smith’s new bandproject, Brix & the Extricated.

Other highlights that were neither comebacks or women: White Denim (been going 10 years but new to me), Hookworms (ditto), Fantastic Negrito (ditto but going a lot more than 10 years) new albums from Arctic Monkeys, Idles, Blancmange, BEAK>, Joachim Witt, Paul Simon and the Prodigy. There was a Baxter Dury/Etienne de Crecy collaboration, B.E.D. and at least 4 albums from Sly & Robbie, including Nordub – a collaboration with Norwegian jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. How many albums have they made now? I doubt anybody actually knows.

Unfortunately there was no new album from Public Service Broadcasting to make 2018 complete, but there was the White Star Liner EP to keep us going.

The album that most impressed me during 2018 was probably the Sons of Kemet album Your Queen is a Reptile. It really is a remarkable piece of work. I heard a track on the radio and immediately had to find out more. It is tuba-heavy jazz, but that description really undersells it. It was nominated for the Mercury prize and I was really rooting for Sons of Kemet, the first time in years that I have taken a great interest in the prize, but they lost out to Wolf Alice.

Ater banging on about all the female artists grabbing my attention in 2018 I should really put something like Anna Calvi’s As a Man on my playlist for 2018. The thing is that I heard that on the radio a lot during the many journeys I had to make to Guildford for various cancer treatments and scans so it has mental connections that I am not keen on.

What I put on instead is the song that made me smile the most during the year: Get Your Shirt by Underworld and Iggy Pop from their Teatime Dub Encounters EP, which is the best UK Dance/US Rock collaboration since X-Press 2 and David Byrne did Lazy. Bringing together two acts who provided highlights of the Trainspotting soundtrack, it is a bit of an ironic song as Iggy is famous for being shirtless.

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As a bonus, this is the Anna Calvi track As A Man. The tune of the verse owes a lot to the Shirley Bassey vocal on Propellorheads’ History Repeating to my ears, but it is still a great song.

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