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Observer Music Monthly Top 50 2008

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:54 am
by Peter Culshaw
Some sound picks in todays OMM - including small bits on Umalali (13) by Charlie and Toumani (17) and Damon's Monkey (21) by me plus Amadou and Mariam at Number 2 (selected by editor Caspar Llewelllyn Smith) - also in the list, Buika, Camille, Bellowhead, Seu Jorge, Kasai All-stars....Bon Iver is No 1...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/de ... est-albums

Another week , another list, but anyhow...

inevitable but embarassing subbing slip-up said Toumani ( after he "ventured into African classical terrain" - huh?) quoted The Good The Bad The Queen - errrr..many forumistas will know what I actually wrote..

also- claims on Bon Iver write up has it that it is now impossible for any one artist to capture the zeitgeist - comments?

(Feel free to shift this into a more appropriate bit of the forum..)

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:16 pm
by matt m
Regarding zeitgeists, it's interesting to compare the accompanying text to entry no.11 (London Zoo, by The Bug), the most exciting album in a rather boring list, to no.1. It brings it home that, generally speaking, broadsheet music journalists will always prefer something familiar, warm and recognisable to anything unsettling, chilly and zeitgeisty (Elbow over Burial; Bon Iver over The Bug).

I love the mild disingenuousness of the phrase "an old laptop" in the Bon Iver spiel. Oh how desperately we cling to our myths of authenticity. A wisp of desperation too, in that utterly unsubstantiable cliché that *everyone* who heard the Iver immediately fell under its spell.

It's a pretty conservative list of albums. Apart from the aforementioned, it's only the African contingent that does it for me.

Re: Observer Music Monthly Top 50 2008

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:33 pm
by Ian A.
Peter Culshaw wrote:Some sound picks in todays OMM - including small bits on Umalali (13) by Charlie and Toumani (17) and Damon's Monkey (21) by me plus Amadou and Mariam at Number 2 (selected by editor Caspar Llewelllyn Smith) - also in the list, Buika, Camille, Bellowhead, Seu Jorge, Kasai A

So is that right, that this prominent and widely read list is just selected by a few of their writers? Or maybe by individual writers (rather like Mojo's lists)? And this has credibility, because they're "proper" magazines? Thinking about another magazine poll being disparaged around here, where considerably more people get asked, I think you can see where I might be heading with that question . . .

omm

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:10 pm
by Peter Culshaw
I think I see where you are going....the OMM list as far as I can tell results from the eds emailing their contributors and maybe a few others their reccomendations for the year - they then fashion a list from the responses. After no doubt some heated discussions in the office, in the end Caspar as editor, gets final say. Nowhere near as wideranging a sample of opinion of your esteemed poll, Ian. But they dont make any claims to anything else either...and a lot easier than wading through 300 responses as well.

As far as the flak your poll is getting - doesn't it come down to (at least in a good part) that there will shortly be another pollwinner thingy - namely the BBC Folk Awards - which Jim Moray and Bellowhead etc will be up for gongs there, and worldies feel they will be getting two bites of the cherry at the expense of the likes of Garifuna and Toumani etc. Which is a point- if the BBC Folk Awards were to include world artists, that argument would have less sway, of course. Are the BBC Folk Awards racist? As you were implying, in a probably successful attempt to raise the temperature, Charlie was ...
My own feeling is that Charlie and Nigel should have said what they really think - a bit of controversy is usually helpful (and I could have got a piece out of it - still may, I will try...). Controversy, as a general point - from the Rite Of Spring to the Sex Pistols to Eminem - usually caused by guardians of good taste - of course, often goes with new and often worthwhile musical developments.

Even the waltz created scandal once....not to mention the devils interval being banned by the Pope in the middle ages.

Re: omm

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:29 am
by Ian A.
Peter Culshaw wrote:a lot easier than wading through 300 responses as well.

Ah yes, that's a good reason to devote a big section of a prestigious paper that loads of labels will jump on and use for publicity. Easier than work. Ah yes . . .
Peter Culshaw wrote:As far as the flak your poll is getting - doesn't it come down to (at least in a good part) that there will shortly be another pollwinner thingy - namely the BBC Folk Awards - which Jim Moray and Bellowhead etc will be up for gongs there, and worldies feel they will be getting two bites of the cherry at the expense of the likes of Garifuna and Toumani etc.

It largely comes down to a few self-important individuals who want some music they hate excluded, and that on the first year in ten, it happened on the one that the BBC axed the Awards For World Music - which was certainly not the fault or desire of English folk musicians. But in terms of how you put it above - yes - since expressions involving dogs, mangers, pique and a bunch of stuff like that come to mind. But let's keep that to the other thread I think?

Because it's OK, Amadou & Mariam came second in the Observer poll which is a PROPER magazine and Jim Moray didn't get a mention. Even though it was only one or two people who voted for it, who were probably on the fRoots panel anyway - and it barely made the top 50 in fRoots . . .

omm

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:51 am
by Peter Culshaw
that disappeared into very small writing...

I'm not sure just because the OMM list was how it was invalidated it...after all, they didn't claim to be a widespread poll -

and there are 9 Cds which would be in the world/folk category, most of which have been liked by several poeple on this forum - much higher than if there was a wider democratic music critic involvement, which spans all genres - democracy may be over-rated when it comes to polls??

but in any case, as you say, the action seems to be on the other thread...

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:18 am
by Gordon Neill
Och. Good on the OMM. Because of the Gillett connecton, I've taken to buying it most Sundays and, to me, it consistently shows a healthy attitude to world music. For all the obvious flaws in its compilation and methodology, at least the OMM list treats world music as music. It's just another list. But I think it's great to see the likes of Umalali and Amadou and Mariam rubbing thighs alongside the naff and the tedious. Good grief! It might encourage normal people to go and buy their albums!

As for capturing the zeitgeist, I'd like to think that there's a general feel throughout the modern world that there's no such thing. As soon as there is.... I'm against it!

Re: omm

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:41 am
by Charlie
Peter Culshaw wrote:democracy may be over-rated when it comes to polls??

I often wonder about polls in music, being close to Garth Cartwright's view that all awards events (and by inference, the polls that lead to them) are pointless excercises.

In the real world, the public vote with their credit (or debit) cards. So at the end of each year, there could simply be a totting up, to see who sold the most (in various fields/genres).

The Grammies, Oscars, etc, which are voted for by professionals in the applicable industry can usually either reinforce or completely contradict the reality on what sold over the counter. Very rarely, but sometimes significantlly, the industry professionals over-ride popular opinion, as when Bonnie Raitt (with Nick of Time) and Paul Simon (Graceland) won Grammies for Best Album even though they had not sold well at that point. In both cases, the albums subsequently got extensive airplay as a result, which turned their Grammy acclaim into genuine popular success.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:24 am
by Nick Boyes
Gordon Neill wrote: Good grief! It might encourage normal people to go and buy their albums!


Well I hope I never become one of those.
I like end of year lists wether in magazines or forums such as this. It gives me a nudge to seek out things I overlooked and helps draw up the 'what do you want for christmas list ? '
I always check out the name of the reviewer as some have mirrored my taste in music in the past.
Not having the (dis)advantage of any freebies arriving every week I do what most of us punters do and buy what I like when I hear it. Consequently the I have been dumped, oh poor me bore that's no 1 on the OMM list won't be on in this house. Bellowhead is though and so will be Umalali

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:13 pm
by Ian A.
Gordon Neill wrote:Och. Good on the OMM. Because of the Gillett connecton, I've taken to buying it most Sundays and, to me, it consistently shows a healthy attitude to world music. For all the obvious flaws in its compilation and methodology, at least the OMM list treats world music as music.

Well of course I agree, wholeheartedly, though I do wish it would stop being so obviously the Damon Albarn fan club magazine - that's become so tiresome, month after month. I mean, good bloke, hard working, activist and all that, but it's getting a bit like waiting for the smoke to appear from the Vatican chimney to see which approved bandwagon we can jump on next . . .

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:31 pm
by Charlie
Ian A. wrote: that's become so tiresome, month after month. I mean, good bloke, hard working, activist and all that, but it's getting a bit like waiting for the smoke to appear from the Vatican chimney to see which approved bandwagon we can jump on next . . .

I am on the side of editor Caspar on this - Damon is so conspicuously the only contemporary successful British pop singer to show any real interest in music outside the pop mainstream that he deserves every bit of praise that could be aimed in his direction. If there was even one other comparable person, in either the UK or the US, your point would be reasonable. But as he is unique, why not celebrate his uniqueness?

The only remotely comparable person is Manu Chao, and I think they have a lot in common. In a good way, as the saying goes.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:29 pm
by matt m
Charlie wrote:I am on the side of editor Caspar on this - Damon is so conspicuously the only contemporary successful British pop singer to show any real interest in music outside the pop mainstream that he deserves every bit of praise that could be aimed in his direction.


yeah, but isn't it faintly ridiculous that Mr Albarn is effectively doing music journalists' job for them?!

I mean, it's absurd and more than a little craven of the mainstream music media that it cannot champion a niche music until it receives the official stamp of approval of Albarn, Franz Ferdinand, Vampire Weekend or whoever. There are very few magazines – in print, online or otherwise – out there that lead rather than follow.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:28 pm
by Nigel w
Just caught up with this after my hol and another fascinating read - even if we could surely have done without yet another gratuitous and tiresome attack on those who don't enjoy English folk music as
"a few self-important individuals who want some music they hate excluded"
. (For once, this does not seem to be me, for although I can certainly be self-important, I do not hate English folk music and have regularly said so on SOTW and in print, where I have over many years championed the good stuff by people like the Watersons, Fairport's Liege & Lief , Topic's historic Voice Of The People series etc etc).

I must say, I love polls - especially long ones of 50 or so albums and being able to compare and contrast all the different lists. Fascinating that Amadou & Mariam were no 2 in The Observer, no 19 in Mojo but nowhere in either Uncut or the fRoots poll (I voted for them and expect they will do well in the Songlines poll).

I wonder why so very little black American music seems to get in any of the polls? The Observer has Lil' Wayne in there somewhere but no mention of Erykah Badu. whose album I thought was magnificent and which I was delighted to see made no 8 in the Mojo poll. Neither made Uncut's top fifty, although it was great to see Toumani in there at number 35 among all the guitar bands and Nigera Special and African Scream Contest made the list of the top twenty comps. And here's an oddity: the British acoustic folk guitarist James Blackshaw made the 13th best album of the year according to the rockist Uncut - yet made no impression on the folkie fRoots poll, which you might have thought was his natural constituency.

All deeply fascinating stuff (at least to an anorak like me, anyway...) Somebody with too much time on their hands really should compile a poll of the polls!

PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:49 pm
by John Crosby
Nigel w wrote:And here's an oddity: the British acoustic folk guitarist James Blackshaw made the 13th best album of the year according to the rockist Uncut - yet made no impression on the folkie fRoots poll

I think this has a lot to do with how many votes ensure an album makes the No 13 slot in Uncut. Is it 1, 2 or more? To get to the same place in the fROOTS Poll would, I suspect, require many more votes. The guitar album I voted for in the fROOTS Poll was Peter Walker 'Echo Of My Soul' (Tompkins Square) but there are a lot of new guitar albums out there to absorb different votes.

PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:58 pm
by Nigel w
Yes, John, the Tompkins Square label is putting out some very interesting stuff, isn't it? As you probably know that's the label Blackshaw is on as well as the Walker record, which you like so much.

As to the Uncut voting, it's a poll of 48 critics who write/work for the mag so in that sense it is more 'democratic' than the Observer poll, where Peter says the editor has the final say. For example, the Uncut editor's number one album of the year was Stay Positive by the Hold Steady. But he abides by the democratic vote of his contributors and resists the temptation to fix the poll in favour of his own favourites as his number one record only came 12th overall.