Staff Picks: Simon Ramsay

I can’t really think about anything musical without first noting that, in many ways, 2016 has well and truly sucked donkey balls.It’s certainly been one of the most shocking and surprising years in recent memory. Forget about Brexit and Donald Trump, what about Leicester City winning the Premiership and Beyoncé somehow getting nominated for a rock Grammy? Yet it’s the beloved legends we’ve lost that has made the last 12 months feel like the equivalent of a cruel, and repeated, kick to the nether regions.  

It was bad enough beginning this annum with the news about Lemmy ringing in the ears he’d been abusing for decades, but then David Bowie passed and it was clear the Grim Reaper wasn’t fucking about. Since then he’s taken Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard and way too many more to mention without blubbing like a baby.  

So how do we rally ourselves in the face of such mortal misery? What can resurrect our spirits and allow our sense of purpose to be refreshed and reborn? No, not a chat with David Icke, but the healing power of music. Here’s some things that have helped make the rock ‘n’ roll year of death a bit more bearable.

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

  • The Struts – Everybody Wants
  • The Cadillac Three – Bury Me In My Boots
  • Panic! At The Disco – Death Of A Bachelor
  • Joanne Shaw Taylor – Wild
  • Rival Sons – Hollow Bones
  • Brian Fallon – Painkillers
  • Neal Morse Band – The Similitude Of A Dream
  • Another Long Year – Alien Architect
  • Joe Bonamassa – Live At The Greek Theatre
  • The Temperance Movement – White Bear

SONGS OF THE YEAR

  • The Cadillac Three – Graffiti
  • Another Long Year – He Took Beautiful Away
  • Panic! At The Disco – Crazy=Genius / The Good The Bad And The Dirty
  • Eden’s Curse – Jericho
  • Neal Morse Band – All The Ways Of A Fool / The Man In The Iron Cage
  • Alter Bridge – My Champion
  • Miranda Lambert – Tin Man
  • Kenny Chesney – Rich And Miserable / Setting The World On Fire
  • Blossoms – Charlemagne
  • Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Jesus Alone
  • Blackberry Smoke – The Good Life
  • Whiskey Myers – Stone
  • Airbourne – Breakin’ Outta Hell
  • The Temperance Movement – Oh Lorraine
  • Joe Bonamassa – Mountain Climbing / How Deep This River Runs
  • Joanne Shaw Taylor – No Reason To Stay
  • Dan Patlansky – Run
  • John Paul White – Hope I Die
  • Maren Morris – My Church
  • Albany Down – Feeding The Flame

BEST COUNTRY ALBUMS

Listening to a lot of country this year so here’s a shout out for some very strong records if you’re also that way inclined:

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

Not to be confused with Homer.

Margo Price – Farmer’s Daughter

Thankfully unrelated to Katy.

Miranda Lambert – The Weight Of These Wings.

Possibly married to Rickie.

Kenny Chesney – Cosmic Hallelujah

Not the one and only

ALBUMS I’VE PREVIOSULY MISSED, EITHER BY A YEAR OR A NUMBER OF DECADES

  • Eric Church – Mr Misunderstood
  • Neal Morse – Momentum
  • Kansas – Leftoverture
  • Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park
  • Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit
  • Cam – Untamed
  • Little Big Town – Tornado and Painkiller
  • Lady Antebellum – 747
  • Zac Brown Band – Uncaged and the Grohl Sessions
  • Everything by the wonderful Gov’t Mule.
  • The Top Gun Soundtrack!

COMEBACKS OF THE YEAR

Cheap Trick – Bang Zoom Crazy….Hello

Best album title ever.

The Rolling Stones – Blue And Lonesome

It’s easy to take them for granted, but this showed exactly why the venerable rock n’ roll rascals are one of the all-time greats. We should really value them while they’re still going as they won’t be around forever. Apart from Keith. Obviously.

Metallica – Hardwired….To Self-Destruct

Assuming we just pretend that most of the second disc doesn’t exist.

THE YEAR’S BEST MEAT LOAF IMPERSONATION

Avantasia – Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose

It’s hard to believe Jim Steinman didn’t write this intoxicating slab of overblown, bombastic brilliance in the late 1970s.

THE YEAR’S WORST MEAT LOAF IMPERSONATION

Meat Loaf – Braver Than We Are

Seemingly unaware his voice is now more fragile than a neurotic actor’s confidence after a scathing review, the big man claimed this is one of the best things he’s ever done. What’s the auditory equivalent of Specsavers?

ELSEWHERE…

HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR:  

Liverpool 4- 3 Borussia Dortmund

Unbelievable Jeff.

LOWEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR:

Sevilla 3 – Liverpool 1

Unbelievable Jeff.

VILLAIN OF THE YEAR

3:  Donald Trump

The world is doomed.  The hair piece industry is thriving.

2:  Nigel Farage

Redefining the word serpentine. Send him to America and don’t let him back in. Like, ever.

1:  Alberto Moreno

Even Dracula is less afraid of crosses than Liverpool’s lobotomised full back.

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR

All the internet trolls on the latest season of South Park being locked away by the Danish and subjected to constant Rick-rolling. Oh, and Mr Garrison becoming President of The United States on the back of a campaign that involved an endless tirade of racist, misogynist rhetoric.  Then donning a blonde wig once in power. Like that could ever happen.

FAVOURITE TV SHOWS

Game of Thrones Season 6

Hold The Door. Holy shit.

12 Monkeys Season 2

Gripping, surprising and much better than you might expect given that it’s derived from a hit movie.

The Americans Season 4

Imagine something really tense and then multiply it by the highest number you can think of.  Then triple that. Finally getting recognition and it’s about time.  

Westworld – Season 1

A bit narratively wonky and, at times, too clever and convoluted for its own good, but looked fantastic and was one hell of a fun ride.

Person Of Interest Season 4

If you gave up early on in season one that was a mistake as this swiftly became the most original, intelligent and terrifyingly prescient show ever. While still delivering superbly directed – and narratively crucial – action set pieces. And this season’s spine tingling finale?  Welcome To The Machine indeed.  

HOPES FOR 2016

  • That Kiss are as brilliantly over the top as ever when I see them in Manchester.
  • A new Bruce Springsteen album.
  • A new album from the recently reformed Live.
  • Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart’s third album is as good as the last one.
  • Certain bands from America come over here and play outside of bloody London.  I’m looking, or rather glaring, at you Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
  • An older James LaBrie doesn’t die while attempting to hit all the insane high notes on Dream Theater’s forthcoming ‘Images & Words’ tour.
  • That Liverpool pull out of their mini- slump and win the league. Or Man Utd get relegated.  Either one will do.
  • Channel 5 show the fifth and final season of Person Of Interest. Assuming they find time to squeeze it in between documentaries on body mass and anal lice.

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