I hope everyone has had a good Christmas.
I like lists, I like the book and film of High Fidelity and I like Desert Island Discs. But sadly, I don’t really like these end of year lists.
This has been a good year for album releases. The old-guard represented by new albums from a long list including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, John Cale, Scott Walker, Dr John, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Weller, Donald Fagen, Bill Fay, Ry Cooder, PiL, Richard Hawley, David Byrne, Bobby Womack and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
The right-on guard represented by Django Django, The XX, Grimes, Japandroids, Jack White and The Black Keys and a load of bands I’ve never heard of.
The online music blogs have lots of obscurities in their top tens that make me feel old and more than a little out of touch. But hey, George and I are part-timers in this music business and our stock is in line with the MOJO and Uncut magazine demographic.
Uncut magazine has a list of 75 albums of the year. http://www.uncut.co.uk/lps-of-the-year-news I own only one of them*. Bugger! I like to give an album my full attention.
If you have a big listening pile already where do you start? Its easy for Uncut to review all of these records as they have a team of writers and they get the albums for free. What about the general punter? Or say a small Edinburgh record shop co-owner with dreams of…. anyway that’s £750- £1500+ of new music depending on your favourite format and there are the records that didn’t make the top 75. Like my top album of the year.**
I’ll try to catch up with 2012 music in 2013 while still trying to keep up to date with 2013. But there is no quiz at the pearly gates and listening should never be a chore. Nor is it a competition for trainspotters. Ticking off albums that other folk have listed is ok. But it is as (human) natural as counting the bricks in a prison cell.
This year seemed to have had a lot of deaths (There’s another list). Cheery stuff this blog! But bear with me, it gets better. From Ravi Shankar and Dave Brubeck most recently, two people who we had maybe forgotten were still alive, to a long list of legends including Levoln Helm (The Band), Davy Jones (Monkees), Whitney Houston, Etta James, Robin Gibb, Fontella Bass, Donna Summer and Beastie Boy Adam Yaugh (MC-A). Most came as a big surprise but I remember that MC-A continually said that he was ill. We shouldn’t wait for a death to look at a career and say wow, this is genius. It’s important to play and appreciate the good older stuff while they are alive and gigging.
I had a look at some of the top 100 albums of 1969. http://www.besteveralbums.com/yearstats.php?y=1969 I’m familiar with this lot, I have 63 of this list. (I too am one of the Record Geeks. Tick, tick, tick…)
There is some fantastic music in that lot, some albums that never took off in their time, some that still haven’t taken off and some things that I have tried and just couldn’t really get into (King Crimson). Also why isn’t Unicorn by Tyrannosaurus Rex on that list?
Art Is Hard. So rating albums isn’t for me. You always have to leave out too many worthy discs.
So I’ll leave you with my end of year list that should keep everyone happy:
18cm Cake Tin
3 large eggs
175ml vegetable oil
175g Light brown soft sugar
140g grated carrot (about 3 medium carrots)
Grated zest of 1 large orange
50g walnut pieces
175g Self Raising Flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:
300g soft cheese (Philidelphia type but use own brand stuff, it tastes the same)
125g of icing sugar.
2 teaspoons orange juice.
Put on some of your favourite tunes. Record, cassette tape, 8 track, CDs or, if you have an ipod and docking station with 10,000 illegal downloads, plug it in, stick it on shuffle. This takes about as long as listening to Blonde On Blonde.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Gas Mark 4. Get your cake tin. Line with tin foil. Add a tiny amount of vegetable oil to line the foil. Stir together eggs, oil and sugar in a mixing bowl. Grate carrot. Add carrot, orange zest, walnut pieces and raisins and stir them all in. Add the flour and sprinkle on the Bicarbonate of Soda, the Cinnamon and the Nutmeg. Stir this lot in.
Great! Now pile it into the cake tin and level it off.
Put tin into the oven.
Wait 45mins. It might need a bit longer. Check it by firing a sharp knife into it, there should be no sticky goo on the knife although it can look a tiny bit oily. The centre should feel springy to the touch. Don’t open the oven door early or the cake will flatten. When ready, take oot and let it cool a bit. Turn it onto a wire rack and remove the tinfoil.
Make the frosting.
Whisk icing sugar, cream cheese and orange juice together. It will get a bit runny as the sugar dissolves but it will firm up again on standing and cooling.
Once cake on the wire rack is cool, you can spread on the frosting.
Sprinkle on some spare walnut pieces.
That’s it, cut it up and feed Award Winning carrot cake to friends. Yum. ***
Thank you for reading.
Here’s to 2013!
* Bob Dylan’s Tempest
*** This cake won me the 1st prize at the Raeburn Place Save The Children charity shop’s Easter baking competition.