Albums of 2006: #X – #IIX

The end of the year also brings a recall of which albums have been purchased and been spun so many times they are now beginning to look like 7″ Records. It’s been another good year for music and rock seems to be making a bigger impact on pop culture with the top selling album of the year being Snow Patrol’s Hands Open and the Arctic Monkeys closely following their rears, no pun intended! NME have done their up most to insure coolness and style stays as the most important part of the music industry and with image bands such as The Automatic, Gnarls Barkley and Panic at The Disco (I saw them first) keeping the pages turning.

So if you haven’t read hundreds of these already, here’s my opinion on the …huh..hum.. Rock music of 2006.

A most definitely different list not bounded by Indie Snobbery or Personal Credibility…

Ok Go – Oh No

Ok Go - Oh No

Having not scored the media attention in the UK, Oh No is a superb album which has enough raw exuberance to worthy its place in the top ten. Great riffs and catchy lyrics are the strong points of the album within tracks such as “A Million Ways”, “Television, Television” and “It’s a Disaster”. Top single is the cracking “Here It Goes Again” whose riff nods firmly towards nirvana, married with a catchy chorus and a superb video (Treadmills) makes for one of the best tracks of the year.
Top Track: Here It Goes Again

Trivium – The Crusade

Trivium - The Crusade

Metal?? Ahh!! That said the second album from Trivium is rather awesome! A change in vocal style from screaming indecipherably to actual singing has helped immensely and with more classic rock influences it’s hard for me not the love this album. Sure somewhere in there is a lot of showing off and tracks with solo’s brinking on prog length and structure, but that’s what makes the album great. Top track pick is most definitely “Anthem (We Are The Fire)” which pulls a riff right out of Van Halen’s Gun Closet and a solo from Satriani county. The guitar work is so good on this album, you wonder why they even try to sing?
Top Track: Anthem (We Are The Fire)

Graham Coxon – Love Travels At Illegal Speeds

Graham Coxon - Love Travels At Illegal Speeds

Follow up album to the great Happiness in Magazines is Coxons finest solo material to date. He brings the life and kind of childish fun back into punk influenced pop/rock. As we know Coxon is a guitarist, most notably with blur, not a singer. Now not being the worlds most gifted vocalist hasn’t stopped him at all as he has found a style which suits perfectly and his quirky vocals brightens up each track. Vocals aside he can still write some awesome riffs, evident on “Gimme Some Love”, “I Don’t Wanna Go Out” and “Don’t Let Your Man Know”. Yet its the upbeat adrenaline fuelled melodies and catchy chorus’s which steal the show, especially on lead single “Standing On My Own Again”. This is actually a concept album about Love, you wouldn’t even have guessed that though, given that this album is as far from depressing power balladry as humanly possibly.
Top Track: Standing On My Own Again

Back in my day…

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers @ The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend

It’s this sentence opener which so often makes my selective hearing switch into overdrive and most of the time its for good reason. To avoid yet another barrage of how great life was growing up in the heady rock and roll era of the 60’s is almost impossible. “I was there for the free Rolling Stones gig in Hyde Park…”, “I remember seeing the beatles in a pub in Romford…” or my personal favourite “I once saw Hawkwind (the predecessor of Motorhead) and watched a half naked lady coloured in blue paint sit stage front and wobble about alot for an hour and a half” Tasteful? No, True? Yes, and after seeing footage of this wacked out 70’s Lemmy stoner shenanigans on some “When rock ruled the earth” documentary on BBC 32, I have to admit I’m slightly jealous.

My dad is a huge early blues fan of artists such as Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and John Lee Hooker. Yet one ommision from this list was touring the UK and even I can admit he is a legend of british blues. So when the opportunity arised to go see some of your musical roots playing live, I couldn’t turn it down. Especially the fact the ticket was paid for me and I “Forgot my wallet”, oops! So I went along to this evening of blues, balding heads and tapping toes.

John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers, were the original blues artists of the UK. Now I have awesome respect for this dude as he mentored some great guitarists, Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, Mick Taylor of the Stones but most notably “El Slowhand” himself Eric Clapton, plus he still has a full head of hair at 74 (unlike most of the crowd may I add). Support on the tour came from “Chickenshack” who I was told had one hit in the 15th century and have been riding it bareback ever since. Chickenshack was quite an apt name for this technically limited and just, well… boring band, as this is where they should really be playing in. At least most of the crowd would then be awake!

Harmonica Dude

With higher hopes and another free beer down we took to the auditorium for the headline act. The Bluesbreakers themselves kicked off the set with a cover of the Classic Blues Brothers anthem “Sweet Home Chicago”. Already you just knew these guys knew how to sling their weapons. On came John to a nice mature round of applause and soon had his harmonica firmly glued to his lips. When I think of harmonica i get the image of a random hill billy sitting on his front porch on that rocking chair droning himself off to sleep. Not now however, this guy could really play harmonica, almost like the early bluesmen of the american deep south. Rythmn and Blues was there for all and the arena was slightly shaking from the involuntary foot stomping of the entire crowd. Highlight of the evening came in a tribute to one of the great blues bands as guitarist Buddy Wittingham rolled off riff after riff of classic Led Zep tracks, each to appreciative grumbles from the wrinklies. From Moby Dick to whole Lotta Love finishing with Heartbreaker including the sublime solo at breakneck speed, Inspired!

For an elder statesman John Mayall can does a charastmatic job as frontman of one of the forerunners of the blues scene even though those days have long since past. But this was a thoroghly enjoyable evening of roots blues, liveley and technically superb! Did I mention it was free too 🙂