Year End Comments: 2007

This is where my year-end poll-related comments will eventually appear, once I get around to writing them. Past year's comments have been rather extensive: 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002.


The Ballot

First things first. The ballot, which was due earlier than ever, Dec. 21:

  1. Manu Chao: La Radiolina (Nacional/Because) 18
  2. John Fogerty: Revival (Fantasy) 12
  3. Powerhouse Sound: Oslo/Chicago Breaks (Atavistic, 2CD) 12
  4. Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta! (Side One Dummy) 10
  5. Jewels and Binoculars: Ships With Tattooed Sails (Upshot) 9
  6. David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground (Justin Time) 9
  7. Youssou N'Dour: Rokku Mi Rokka (Nonesuch) 8
  8. Papa Noel: Café Noir (Tumi) 8
  9. M.I.A.: Kala (Interscope) 7
  10. Public Enemy: How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul??? (Slamjamz) 7

The points were divided up for the Voice. Idolator has a scheme that arbitrarily divides points from 15 down to 6, so there's less chance to sway the results with 30-point votes. Soon after filing this, I came upon Mavis Staples' We'll Never Turn Back (Anti-) and slipped it into the 8 slot on the year-end list, ahead of Papa Noel.

I didn't manage a singles list this year. I had left a slot in my working file to keep notes, but never bothered to fill any in.

I gave Idolator a reissues list, grabbed not at random but not in rank order either:

  1. That Devilin' Tune (WHRA)
  2. Billie Holiday: Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles (Columbia/Legacy)
  3. Culture: Two Sevens Clash (30th Anniversary Edition) (Shanachie)
  4. Charlie Mingus: Tijuana Moods (RCA Victor/Legacy)
  5. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (Deluxe Edition) (Geffen)

Earlier I had to settle on a top ten jazz ballot for the Voice poll and my sidebar piece:

  1. Powerhouse Sound: Oslo/Chicago Breaks (Atavistic)
  2. Jewels and Binoculars: Ships With Tatooed Sails (Upshot)
  3. David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground (Justin Time)
  4. Albert van Veenendaal/Meinrad Kneer/Yonga Sun: Predictable Point of Impact (Evil Rabbit)
  5. Chris Byars: Photos in Black, White and Gray (Smalls)
  6. Billy Bang Quintet: Above & Beyond (Justin Time)
  7. Kahil El'Zabar's Infinity Orchestra: Transmigration (Delmark)
  8. Assif Tsahar/Cooper-Moore/Chad Taylor: Digital Primitives (Hopscotch)
  9. Matt Lavelle Trio: Spiritual Power (Silkheart)
  10. Happy Apple: Happy Apple Back on Top (Sunnyside)

I quickly found another album that would have broke into this list: Mostly Other People Do the Killing's Shamokin!!! (Hot Cup).

The Rest of the List

I spent much of January looking at year-end lists, accumulating notes, and streaming candidates via Rhapsody. The result is that by the end of January I had heard about 90% of the top-50 rated records of the year and probably 80% of the top-100 -- more than usual, way more than in recent years. For the January Recycled Goods I split the A-list into two chunks, one for jazz, the other for non-jazz. Here's a corrected and slightly augmented version of that list, including some 2006 entries [06] that I didn't get to last year. A single asterisk marks something I only got an advance or broken promo of; two asterisks mark something I borrowed or downloaded:

The 2007 jazz A-list:

  1. Powerhouse Sound: Oslo/Chicago Breaks (Atavistic, 2CD)
  2. Jewels and Binoculars: Ships With Tattooed Sails (Upshot)
  3. David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground (Justin Time)
  4. Albert van Veenendaal/Meinrad Kneer/Yonga Sun: Predictable Point of Impact (Evil Rabbit)
  5. Chris Byars: Photos in Black, White and Gray (Smalls)
  6. Billy Bang Quintet Featuring Frank Lowe: Above & Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids (Justin Time)
  7. Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Shamokin!!! (Hot Cup)
  8. Wolfgang Muthspiel Trio: Bright Side (Material [06])
  9. Kahil El'Zabar's Infinity Orchestra: Transmigration (Delmark)
  10. Assif Tsahar/Cooper-Moore/Chad Taylor: Digital Primitives (Hopscotch)
  11. Matt Lavelle Trio: Spiritual Power (Silkheart)
  12. Happy Apple: Happy Apple Back on Top (Sunnyside)
  13. David Torn: Prezens (ECM)
  14. Joe Lovano & Hank Jones: Kids: Duets Live at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (Blue Note)
  15. Ted Des Plantes' Washboard Wizards: Thumpin' and Bumpin' (Stomp Off)
  16. Wolfgang Muthspiel/Brian Blade: Friendly Travelers (Material)
  17. David S. Ware Quartet: Renunciation (AUM Fidelity)
  18. Logan Richardson: Cerebral Flow (Fresh Sound New Talent [06])
  19. Pablo Aslan: Buenos Aires Tango Standards (Zoho)
  20. Louis Sclavis: L'Imparfait des Langues (ECM)
  21. Rafi Malkiel: My Island (Raftone)
  22. Fay Victor Ensemble: Cartwheels Through the Cosmos (ArtistShare)
  23. Bloodcount: Seconds (1996, Screwgun, 2CD+DVD)
  24. Vijay Iyer + Mike Ladd: Still Life With Commentator (Savoy Jazz)
  25. Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake: From the River to the Ocean (Thrill Jockey)
  26. William Parker/Raining on the Moon: Corn Meal Dance (AUM Fidelity)
  27. Joshua Redman: Back East (Nonesuch)
  28. Joan Stiles: Hurly-Burly (Oo-Bla-Dee)
  29. Alex Kontorovich: Deep Minor (Chamsa)
  30. Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette: My Foolish Heart: Live at Montreux (ECM, 2CD)
  31. Alvin Queen: I Ain't Looking at You (Enja/Justin Time)
  32. Yerba Buena Stompers: The Yama-Yama Man (Stomp Off)
  33. Tierney Sutton: On the Other Side (Telarc)
  34. The Claudia Quintet: For (Cuneiform)
  35. John Sheridan and His Dream Band: Swing Is Still the King (Arbors)
  36. The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet: Music From Guys and Dolls (Arbors)
  37. Maria Anadon: A Jazzy Way (Arbors)
  38. Chris Potter Underground: Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard (Sunnyside)
  39. McCoy Tyner: Quartet (McCoy Tyner Music/Half Note)
  40. The Neil Cowley Trio: Displaced (Hide Inside)
  41. MI3: Free Advice (Clean Feed)
  42. Brent Jensen: One More Mile (Origin)
  43. The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri Project: Simpático (ArtistShare [06])
  44. Hugh Masekela: Live at the Market Theatre (Times Square/4Q, 2CD)
  45. Myra Melford/Mark Dresser/Matt Wilson: Big Picture (Cryptogramophone)
  46. Ari Roland: And So I Lived in Old New York . . . (Smalls) *
  47. Slow Poke: At Home (1998, Palmetto)
  48. Nublu Orchestra Conducted by Butch Morris (Nublu) **
  49. Frank Wright: Unity (1974, ESP-Disk [06])
  50. Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd Quartet: Early and Late (1962-2002, Cuneiform, 2CD)
  51. Grupo Los Santos: Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea (Deep Tone)
  52. Adam Lane/Ken Vandermark/Magnus Broo/Paal Nilssen-Love: 4 Corners (Clean Feed)
  53. Joe Morris/Ken Vandermark/Luther Gray: Rebus (Clean Feed) *
  54. Bucky Pizzarelli: 5 for Freddie: Bucky's Tribute to Freddie Green (Arbors)

The 2007 non-jazz A-list:

  1. Manu Chao: La Radiolina (Nacional/Because)
  2. John Fogerty: Revival (Fantasy)
  3. Gogol Bordello: Super Taranta! (Side One Dummy)
  4. Youssou N'Dour: Rokku Mi Rokka (Nonesuch) *
  5. Mavis Staples: We'll Never Turn Back (Anti-) **
  6. Papa Noel: Café Noir (Tumi)
  7. M.I.A.: Kala (Interscope)
  8. Public Enemy: How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul??? (Slamjamz)
  9. Balkan Beat Box: Nu-Med (JDub)
  10. Les Savy Fav: Let's Stay Friends (Frenchkiss) **
  11. The Apples in Stereo: New Magnetic Wonder (Yep Roc)
  12. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (Merge)
  13. Holy Fuck: LP (Young Turks) **
  14. Bruce Springsteen: Magic (Columbia)
  15. Konono No. 1: Live at Couleur Café (Crammed Discs) **
  16. Girl Talk: Night Ripper (Illegal Art [06])
  17. Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero (Interscope)
  18. Lucinda Williams: West (Lost Highway)
  19. Buck 65: Situation (Strange Famous) **
  20. 7L & Esoteric: A New Dope (Babygrande [06])
  21. Miranda Lambert: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Sony/BMG Nashville)
  22. Wu-Tang Clan: 8 Diagrams (SRC/Universal/Motown) **
  23. Tinariwen: Aman Iman: Water Is Life (World Village)
  24. Mac Lethal: 11:11 (Rhymesayers Entertainment) **
  25. Pink Martini: Hey Eugene! (Heinz)
  26. Chris Knight: The Trailer Tapes (1996, Drifter's Church)
  27. Gretchen Wilson: One of the Boys (Sony/BMG) **
  28. Imperial Teen: The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band (Merge) **
  29. Fanfare Ciocarlia: Queens and Kings (Asphalt Tango)
  30. Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (Epic)
  31. Amy LaVere: Anchors & Anvils (Archer) **
  32. Lily Allen: Alright, Still . . . (Capitol)
  33. Lee Scratch Perry: Panic in Babylon (Narnack [06])
  34. LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver (DFA/Capitol) **
  35. So Called: Ghettoblaster (JDub)
  36. Slavic Soul Party: Teknochek Collision (Barbčs)
  37. Henri Salvador: Révérence (Circular Moves)
  38. Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
  39. Teddy Bears: Soft Machine (Big Beat/Atlantic [06])
  40. Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador [06]) **
  41. Koko Taylor: Old School (Alligator) **
  42. Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard/Ray Price: Last of the Breed (Lost Highway, 2CD)
  43. The Fall: Reformation: Post TLC (Narnack) **
  44. Colombiafrica -- The Mythic Orchestra: Voodoo Love Inna Champeta-Land (Riverboat) **
  45. Puerto Plata: Mujer de Cabaret (IASO)
  46. Elizabeth Cook: Balls (Thirty Tigers) **
  47. Brother Reade: Rap Music (Record Collection) **
  48. Lupe Fiasco: The Cool (Atlantic) **
  49. McKay Brothers: Cold Beer & Hot Tamales (Medina River [06])
  50. Northern State: Can I Keep This Pen? (Ipecac) **
  51. Teddy Thompson: Upfront & Down Low (Verve Forecast) **
  52. Nas: Hip Hop Is Dead (Def Jam [06])
  53. Daft Punk: Alive 2007 (Virgin) **
  54. Peter Stampfel: Antonia's 11 (Blue Navigator [06])
  55. Todd Snider: Peace, Love and Anarchy (Rarities, B-Sides and Demos, Vol. 1) (2000-04, Oh Boy)

The following are a selection of compilations that could have been folded into the above lists, especially given that most feature music that has rarely (if ever) been readily available in the US. The list does not include obvious single-artist compilations (Billie Holiday, Howlin' Wolf, Van Morrison, Merle Haggard. Stevie Wonder, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, etc.), but some cases are more borderline.

  1. African Pearls 1: Congo: Rumba on the River (1954-69, Syllart, 2CD [06])
  2. That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History: Volume 3 (1934-45, WHRA, 9CD)
  3. The U.S. vs. John Lennon (Music From the Motion Picture) (1969-80, Capitol [06])
  4. Authenticité: The Syliphone Years (1965-80, Sterns, 2CD)
  5. The Vandermark 5: Free Jazz Classics Vols. 3 & 4 (Atavistic, 2CD [06])
  6. Roots of Rumba Rock: Congo Classics 1953-1955 (Crammed Discs, 2CD [06])
  7. Urban Africa Club: Hip Hop Dancehall and Kwaito (Out Here)
  8. Tabu Ley Rochereau: The Voice of Lightness: Congo Classics 1961-1977 (Stern's Africa, 2CD) **
  9. Golden Afrique Vol. 3 (1939-88, Network, 2CD [06])
  10. King Sunny Ade: Gems From the Classic Years (1967-74, Shanachie)
  11. Cachao: Descargas: The Havana Sessions (1957-61, Yemaya, 2CD)
  12. Dennis Brown: The Best of the Joe Gibbs Years (1972-83, Shanachie)
  13. The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru (Barbčs)
  14. That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History: Volume 2 (1927-34, WHRA, 9CD)
  15. Miles Davis: The Complete On the Corner Sessions (1972-75, Columbia/Legacy, 6CD)
  16. Bokoor Beats: Vintage Afro-Beat, Afro-Rock & Electric Highlife From Ghana (1971-79, Otrabanda)
  17. Jewface (1905-22, Reboot Stereophonic [06])
  18. That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History: Volume 1 (1895-1927, WHRA, 9CD)
  19. That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History: Volume 4 (1945-51, WHRA, 9CD)
  20. Tropicália (1968-73, Soul Jazz [06]) **
  21. The War (A Ken Burns Film): I'm Beginning to See the Light (1937-44, Legacy) **

I wound up adding 88 new and 61 old records to my 2006 list after the Jan. 12, 2007 freeze date, but only 9 new and 16 old made the A-list. The 2006 pending list was at 135 (87 new, 48 old) at freeze date, but was reduced to 24 by the end of 2007. Currently my 2007 pending list is at 112 new, 9 old -- did a pretty good job cleaning up the Recycled Goods backlog there. Before I started writing again my A-list would grow by a third to a half in the first six months after the year ended. That doesn't seem to be happening any more. Part of that is doing a better job of catching things before the year ends, but most of it must be not having enough time to go back and check out what I missed. I could, perhaps, use Rhapsody to check out albums I missed in 2006, and that would probably produce results as good or better than I've gotten in 2007.

Numbers

In 2006 I figured I had worked through 1075 albums -- 744 new, 331 old. A chart by grade shows 646 new albums, so that must mean that I had 98 unrated at the time (new only; not sure about old). By the same method, this year I have about the same: 1099 albums, but they've shifted toward new (877) and away from old (222), with 112 unrated new, 9 unrated old. Most likely the only reason the new went up this year was a burst of downloading at the end of the year. The drop in old mostly shows that I didn't pursue Recycled Goods very hard in 2007, which is one of the reasons I wound up dropping the column.

The following is an initial stab at a genre/grade breakdown table. The categories are somewhat arbitrary. In particular, country and blues lean toward the alt end of the spectrum, which means they could be filed under rock. Also, Latin is divided between jazz and world. The non-jazz skews toward the left, because I buy stuff there I expect to be good, and don't get much otherwise. The jazz is a more normal distribution, although compared to other genres it's probably skewed left also -- I don't run into a lot of bad jazz, and I rarely knock merely competent stuff even when it doesn't catch my fancy.

The green lines represent 2006 data.

GENREAA-3*2*1*BB-C+CC-TOT
Jazz 3 45 66137125 85 26 5 6 4502
Jazz 3 46 69136117 96 31 10 1 2511
Rock 1 23 7 4 5 11 2 1 54
Rock 3 16 22 25 24 25 5 4 2125
Rap 3 8 2 1 1 15
Rap 9 7 7 4 3 30
World 1 10 7 6 6 5 2 37
World 2 10 9 12 14 12 3 1 63
Country 5 1 3 2 6 17
Country 7 4 3 2 1 1 1 19
Blues 3 1 1 1 2 1 9
Blues 1 2 3 2 1 9
Folk 1 1 1 3
Folk 1 2 2 5 10
Classical 1 2 2 1 6
Classical 0
Soundtrack 1 2 3
Soundtrack 0
TOTALS 008094086152144114029008006005646
TOTALS 8 90115188167138 40 15 2 4767

Comparing 2007 to 2006 shows remarkable similarity in jazz. Rock, rap, and world raw counts grow, mostly the result of superficial downloading (although I have been getting more world music albums). Last year I tried breaking jazz, rock, and world down into several subgroups. I don't think there's a lot to be gained from that here.

Last year I also put together a section where I picked up Idolator's poll results and picked out the records I hadn't heard. Given my access to Rhapsody, plus a month spent downloading contenders, I've done much better this year. We'll use the Pazz & Jop poll this time. The top rated albums I haven't heard are:

  1. Battles: Mirrored 450 (45)
  2. Lil Wayne: Da Drought 3 262 (24)
  3. UGK: Underground Kingz 243 (19)
  4. Alicia Keys: As I Am 137 (14)
  5. Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris 135 (14)
  6. Bat For Lashes: Fur and Gold 118 (13)
  7. Ted Leo/Pharmacists: Living With the Living 118 (12)
  8. The Clientele: God Save the Clientele 115 (11)
  9. I'm Not There OST 112 (13)
  10. Jesu: Conqueror 112 (12)
  11. Dinosaur Jr.: Beyond 110 (12)
  12. Pig Destroyer: Phantom Limb 108 (10)
  13. Stars of the Lid: And Their Refinement of the Decline 105 (12)
  14. Devendra Banhart: Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Mountain 102 (10)
  15. Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet 99 (7)
  16. Little Big Town: A Place to Land 99 (6)
  17. Magik Markers: Boss 98 (9)
  18. Sloan: Never Hear the End of It 96 (8)
  19. Elliott Smith: New Moon 94 (10)
  20. The Dillinger Escape Plan: Ire Works 93 (8)
  21. Rufus Wainwright: Release the Stars 92 (10)
  22. Menomena: Friend or Foe 91 (9)
  23. Prodigy: Return of the Mac 89 (9)
  24. Black Moth Super Rainbow: Dandelion Gum 89 (8)
  25. Mark Ronson: Version 88 (9)
  26. Dirty Projectors: Rise Above 88 (7)
  27. Neil Young: Live at Massey Hall 87 (7)
  28. Baroness: Red Album 86 (9)
  29. Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge 84 (10)
  30. Aly & AJ: Insomniatic 84 (9)
  31. Amerie: Because I Love It 83 (8)
  32. Ween: La Cucaracha 81 (9)
  33. The Klaxons: Myths of the Near Future 81 (8)
  34. Ojos de Brujo: Techarí 80 (8)
  35. After Dark 80 (8)
  36. Patrick Wolf: The Magic Position 79 (8)
  37. Interpol: Our Love to Admire 74 (9)
  38. AA Bondy: American Hearts 74 (6)
  39. Fratellis: Costello Music 73 (10)
  40. Café Tacuba: Sino 73 (8)
  41. Freeway: Free at Last 73 (7)
  42. Fall Out Boy: Infinity on High 73 (7)
  43. Pissed Jeans: Hope for Men 71 (7)
  44. Stars: In Our Bedroom After the War 71 (6)
  45. Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace 69 (8)
  46. Maximo Park: Our Earthly Pleasures 69 (8)
  47. Roisin Murphy: Overpowered 68 (8)
  48. R. Kelly: Double Up 66 (7)
  49. Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals: Lifeline 64 (6)
  50. Bill Callahan: Woke on a Whaleheart 63 (7)
  51. Paramore: Riot! 62 (7)
  52. Explosions in the Sky: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone 62 (6)
  53. The Weakerthans: Reunion Tour 62 (4)
  54. The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse 61 (7)
  55. Mary Weiss: Dangerous Game 61 (7)

Basically, I picked off almost everything I could find from the top of the list down to around 80. Beyond that I picked around more lightly. From 100-160 and beyond proved to be beyond my reach, with only a few records sampled. The poll goes on to about 1650 albums, with Carly Simon's Into White and Chamillionaire's Ultimate Victory among the more recognizable albums tied for last place.