Back to Black: 2013 a year in vinyl (part 1 of 3)

So, that’s 2013 over with and looking through my modest and new record collection I’m thinking to myself that I’m pretty pleased with it.  A fair few of my favourite albums in there.  Some being long established favourites and some new.  I’ve gotten to know each record real well, too.   Anyhoo, while not a list of the best albums in the collection, this is a run-down of my favourite 15.

#15 : Inkspots – The Original Inkspots Sing and Play
inkI knew nothing of the Inkspots until my friend, Mr. Smith, illuminated my music world with their magic. He had spoke about them a few times and he had spotted and bought a few records on one of our afternoon Record Fayre vinyl hauls back in the heady days of summer. Those records, he said, were an absolute joy.

He actually gave me this one. A little something, as he described it. I took it home and sat in front of the stereo. Looking over the album art and the notes on the back cover while I manoeuvred the arm and dropped that needle. The opening track, If I Didn’t Care, sounded exactly as I expected – crackle and all. Then! Then when Bill Kenny had finished singing, Pop started speaking. As the record continued this formula did too. It works a treat and while you would think (like I did) that it’s preposterous, ol’ Pop often sounds like he’s just jamming … it’s actually utterly magical and a joy.

Quite frankly, the songs are gorgeous and the delivery irresistible. I just can’t put into words how great a collection this is. It’s nothing short of genius and I’m real pleased that I have this music in my collection.

#14 : Ry Cooder – Ry Cooder
ryI’ll hold my hands up and state for the record that Paris, Texas and Chavez Ravine were the only Ry Cooder records that I had ever heard prior to December 2012.  It was after finally picking up a copy of Paris, Texas in a sale that I decided to delve further into the musical world of Ry Cooder; adding the self-titled debut and Boomer’s Story to the CD collection just a few days into 2013.

To cut a long story short I was hooked.  The debut record is pretty incredible; a collection of outstanding songs wrapped up with Dark Was the Night. I knew that this was gonna be a favourite of mine.

Fast forward a few month and I have a record player.  Just days into having that thing I spot a copy of Ry Cooder for just £2.99.  A penny less than the CD cost me, too.  So I buy it (alongside Paradise and Lunch).  I take it home.  I play it.  It might just be a psychological thing, but it sounds better than the album I fell in love with just a few months ago.

#13 : Kris Kristofferson – Me and Bobby McGee
krisThis is a 1971 re-issue of his self-titled debut album. It’s the first record I bought. Or at least it was the first one I picked up during the first, excitement fuelled, Record Fayre trawl back in March. Aside from a compilation CD and a few of his newer releases, I hadn’t really delved that deeply into his catalogue. Which is quite something, really … and it’s led to the purchase of a few others, too.

This, though, is perfect with not a bad song on here. There are a few that I was familiar with (mostly due to Johnny Cash), but my favourite on here is To Beat The Devil. As a song that takes a lot of beating. Kristofferson’s delivery perfect also. I tip my hat to him.

There’s also a few pops here and there and a skip just before the second chorus in Blame It On The Stones. But that makes my copy special to me.

#12 : The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

yoshimiI have my brother to thank for this one. A doubler in his collection, so he started off mine when he handed me this along with the record player. Just so happens that it’s one of my favourite albums and not just one of my favourites from Coyne & Co.

The CD was one that I never really had to dust off it was that popular. Not much has changed in that respect. It’s an album that remains popular. Coyne continues to explore mortality, love and a range of emotions while soundtracking it to those beautiful and rather lush textures. It has a foot in both worlds – real and fantasy – and it pulls you right in. What exactly is the Pink Robots? The ID? The manifestation of a disease? Or perhaps just Pink Robots that are indeed attempting to destroy us …

Like other albums I’ve known real well before the advent of the record player in our home, it’s been an absolute joy getting to know this one in a whole new way.

#11 – Michael Nesmith & The First National Band – Magnetic South
magneticMichael Nesmith was a member of The Monkees. I personally didn’t care too much for much of the bands output, but they did have a few gems in their catalogue. Mostly they were written by Michael Nesmith.

When the Monkees split, Nesmith went on to record some incredible music with The First National Band. Magnetic South is the first of their records. When I listen to this is hard to imagine that this is a band who are largely overlooked. Especially given their ‘cosmic Americana’ vibe. For my money their three records are just as important to Americana / Alt. Country as Gilded Palace of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers.

And just as brilliant as that record, too.

Next: Part 2 – #10 – #6



    1. That’s the one! One of my favourite bands … don’t think they have a band album. Some not as accessible as others, but all great …


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