Future-Past. 2014 reveiwed

J White WPOld warhorses returned to the frontline this year with many rock ’n’ rollers of earlier generations releasing albums; some looking back, some looking forward, many of them exceptional.

Always against the clock, Wilko Johnson teamed up with Roger Daltrey to blast through Johnson’s back catalogue for Going Back Home, a revising of some of Johnson’s favourite compositions. Lowering his voice to suit the choppy guitars, Daltrey leathered these songs, giving them the energy they had when the needle first hit the vinyl many years ago.

It’s classic British R’n’B, full of vitality and power, totally at odds with the perception of its creaking perpetrators.

Robert Plant has never looked back. His backing band, The Sensational Shapeshifters found their groove and created lullaby… and the ceaseless roar.

An album of world beats and hypnotic shamanism as if the people of north Africa were called Massive Attack hundreds of years before Unfinished Sympathy. Plant sings songs of old England weaving through bendir rhythms, and all the while, Jimmy Page is finalising his legacy with yet another tweak of the Led Zep tapes.

Modern bluesman, Jack White, whose Lazaretto LP contained as much experimentalism and boundary pushing as it did gimmicks and trickery on the vinyl version.

Lazaretto is filled with brain frazzling fretwork, peculiar noises, off kilter piano and an extraordinary blues-rock howl.

Not to mention holograms, tracks under labels and songs to be played at 33, 45 and 78rpm.

Using the momentum gained from 2013’s The Messenger, Johnny Marr delivered his second solo record in two years with a vibrant follow-up to his debut.

For a guitar hero, Playland is a modern sounding collection of guitar laced electronica. ‘Easy Money’ has a typical Smithsian jangle over an electrobeat.

It’s great collection of assured British pop rock from the matchless Marr.

BFI WPA further return to splendour was an even bigger surprise, especially as his previous release, Happy Holidays, was appalling.

Billy Idol has successfully dug up a thirty year old bottle of peroxide hair dye and used CPR on the contents to create a classic sounding Billy Idol record.

Idol used all the keynotes of his early 80s major success and turned in a modern collection of autobiographical songs with all the synths and guitar licks of any Idol/Stevens work.

Another 80s victory came in the form of Simple Minds, as the band confirmed their recent stock rise with an album of justification.

Simple Minds negotiate rock music’s modern domain with a stylish swagger.

Big Music had pre-release concerns; five years in the making, numerous producers, covers and revamped versions, leading many to wonder if time had been called.

Simple Minds have blown down some cobwebbed tunes, taken them to the top of the highest peaks in Scotland and come back with a blast of the freshest air.

Here is a record thick with dance floor rhythms and generous keyboards opposite hard guitar, reminiscent of their earlier work. So, having been praised, Simple Minds delivered, and much of the press thought so too with positive reviews throughout.

Cold rhythms from Teutonic unrest and futurist thinking saw the Manic Street Preachers reveal more than combustible rock.

Futurology’s rhythmic beats and icy waves of electronica are a sophisticated triumph.

The previous move with an emphasis on electronica disappointed, Lifeblood failed to negotiate the new ground with any success.

Yet, Futurology is brilliantly realised electronica, from a band who sound refreshed, oozing with avant-garde vigour, whose future could take them anywhere on life’s autobahn.

There’s such a glut of great sounding and varied records from 2014, but it is all these factors which make Futurology my record of the year.

These reviews, and more, are available in Future-Past, a compendium of writing in a magazine format designed by myself and complied into a downloadable PDF and placed up on the Issuu website.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: