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2009 - week 49, from 5 Dec - albums of the year

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:45 am
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Staff Benda Bilili - Moto Moindo - Tres tres Fort - DR Congo - Crammed Discs - CRAW 51

2 - Imam Baildi - De Thelo Pia Na Xanarthis - Imam Baildi - Greece - Capitol - 509992 3680425

3 - DVA - Vals Liepája - Fonok - Czech Republic - Indies - MAM435-2

4 - CéU - Cangote - Vagarosa - Brazil - Six Degrees - 657 036 1160-2

5 - Blue Asia - Kun-nu-Shu - Sketches of Myahk - Japan - Vivid Sound - VSCD 9692

6 - Bonga - Zukada - Bairro - Angola - Lusafrica - 562212

7 - Fat Freddy's Drop - The Raft - Dr Boondigga & the Big B W - New Zealand - Fat Freddy's Drop - DRP013CD


I am always suspicious of lists of best albums – how often did the voter play them in the past month? In my own case, the test is: how many different tracks did I play, and am I now prepared to choose a new one, never previously played on the radio? Six of the seven albums here passed my first test, I did play them a lot and not only while searching for a new track. But in the end I did return to previously played tracks in several cases.

First impressions of the debut album by previously unknown Staff Benda Bilili were that it was better than previously acclaimed Congolese albums by the same producer (Vincent Kenis) for the same label (Crammed Discs). But this not only turned to be better than Konono Number One, but emerged as a consistently enjoyable suite of songs from which virtually any track could safely be played on the radio. The distinctive sound of the home-made satongé caused some controversy when the band played live, because its shrill tone could get wearing during a long solo. But heard in brief interludes on the album, the sound adds a vital and unique flavour to songs that follow in the tradition of great Congolese music.

Imam Baildi’s self-titled album is the only one in this selection which had only two tracks that I like unreservedly, although I note that forum regular Gordon Neill put this is in his albums of not just this year but the entire decade.

DVA is a Czech duo whose debut album was never distributed in the UK and among forum contributors only Howard Male followed through to obtain a copy and support my advocacy. I had been advised that most of the songs on the album are delivered in an invented language, but after I first played ‘Vals Liepája’, several listeners emailed to suggest that this is recognisably a traditional Latvian song. Regardless of category or origin, the entire album is quirky and often amusing.

Having been slightly disappointed by CéU’s sole London live performance, I wondered if I might then think less of the Brazilian’s second album. No, I still like it as much as before: continually interesting and original.

Blue Asia’s album is so new, it will probably be seen as a 2010 release. But it’s here now and I like it as much as anything they have done before, high praise in the light of their outstanding album Hotel Bangkok. This one was researched on the Okinawan island of Myahk.

Bonga’s album came out so early in 2009, it was in danger of being swamped by all that followed, But it still holds up as being one of his best, full of surprising rhythms.

The most recent album by Fat Freddy’s Drop feels like an improvement on their best-selling Based on a True Story and The Raft might be its catchiest track. Radio One, are you paying attention? It is among the songs played by the band in a live session on my Worldon3 show on Radio 3 on December 18th.

Re: 2009 - week 49, from 5 Dec - albums of the year

PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:35 pm
by Charlie
emails from:

1. Ryan Riskowski, Omaha, Nebraska USA

Your top picks from 2009 (show on December 5th) has gotten all my friends into your show. Thanks goodness for streaming; you're on at about 2am in Omaha, Nebraska USA.

Keep up the good work,
Take care,
Ryan