[…continued from last post]
So the painful reality of things is that last year was my least efficient year since maintaining records again from 2011. I spent about 75% of my largest outlay for a middling amount of titles. the two graphs are overlaid at 10:1 scale with the two dots for 2020 almost reaching parity; indicating nearly $10 spent per title! An all time high. The closer the two dots are on the vertical axis are, the more expensive the music was to buy. 89 titles for nearly $900 was not an inexpensive average. Quite the opposite.
2020 was the year of the Boxed Set OF God®. I purchased four ultraboxes, and three of them were all over $100. My stats were skewed majestically by the final purchase of 2020; the Heaven 17 “Play To Win: The Virgin Years” which set me back $158, though the dealer was selling the ltd. autographed Amazon version, complete with the replacement disc pak® – all in mint, unopened condition! Good thing too, since Edsel Records, who released this, is under lockdown and unable to send out any of those replacement discs right now. I had not cared too much about obtaining the signed copy, but having the replacement discs bundled, NIB for each, was Monsastic Catnip.
The fact remains that these four titles:
- Ultravox: “Vienna” @ $58
- Prince: “1999” @ $104
- Prince: “Sign O’The Times” @ $113
- Heaven 17: “Play To Win” @ $158
Came to a total outlay of $433. Or roughly HALF of my entire $864 music budget. So, yeah. This was a very unusual buying year. The splits between vinyl and CD are nearly equal with vinyl up 50% from last year with the amount of 12″ singles, thank goodness. If I get vinyl, better that it’s the holy 12″ single format. Other stats that were higher on last years numbers were DVDs and DownLoads. This year there were five DVDs, with four of them bundled in boxes. The only standalone was the Nits DVD we got last January. The show was the band playing their music live with the Scapino Ballet. How we wanted to see this show live in the Netherlands back in 2016, but that was certainly not in the cards so having the DVD was as good as it would get for us. All of the other DVDs were bundled with boxes and CDs. The Ultravox one was high-res 2.0 and 5.1 mixed audio only. The Prince sets had shows from the respective album tours.
2019 Top 5
- John Foxx + The Maths: “Howl”
- It’s Immaterial: “House For Sale”
- The Vapors: “Together”
- Barry Andrews: Live @ The Tin Angel ’03
- Stic Basin: “Stic Basin 2”
- Shriekback: “Live @ The Orange ’94”
Given the modest numbers of titles this year, there were deucedly few albums released this year crossing my desk. This year just six! Though I am most often looking backwards, this was in indeed a spartan year for 2020 albums. Even so, my 2020 list consisted of two vintage live shows released only now.
The John Foxx +The Maths album fit right into the uncomfortable year of 2020 with guitarist Robin Simon adding his heft to The Maths this time out for something radically different. Having It’s Immaterial release that loooooooong-simmering third album was a delightful treat that we had waited several years for. And The Vapors made regrouping after almost 40 years seem to be an easy thing.
EP Of The Year
This was an easy one. There was only one new EP under my roof, but it was a corker.
The Countess Of Fife was the new Fay Fife band of tough country music that acted as a taster for their new album coming next year. The band just had a Kickstarter last month for the costs of recording their debut album and the projected £5K budget got funded by fans at over twice the amount asked for! Fantastic, but with the higher costs of the new lockdown, they will need every penny they got. Good to know they got breathing room. It’s weird. There are no labels any more, but less than 300 fans can make an album happen. It’s astounding.
Singles Of The Year
There were many new singles this year; half on vinyl and half on DL. Try a Baker’s Dozen this year!
- Green Gartside: “Tangled Man”
- Peter Godwin: “You!”
- Steven Jones + Logan Sky: “Sons Of Hallucination”
- Iggy Pop: “Family Affair”
- John Foxx + the Maths: “The Last Time I Saw You”
- John Foxx + The Maths: “Howl”
- Steven Jones + Logan Sky: “Shedding My Skin”
- Peter Godwin: “You! [Johnson Somerset Mix]”
- John Foxx + The Maths: “Tarzan + Jane Regained”
- OMD: “Enola Gay [extended mix]”
- Ultravox: “Sleepwalk [Steven Wilson 2.0 mix]”
- Ultravox: “Herr X [Steven Wilson 2.0 mix]”
- ABC: “Look Good Tonite”
I can’t remember the last time that I bought a dozen new singles in a calendar year, but most of these were well worth the effort. The only dud was the ABC lockdown single. Amazing things from the reluctant, yet talented Green Gartside; putting an end to 14 years of musical reticence with an amazing 7″ of folk music covers transformed into pure Green/Scritti Politti music. Perennial favorite Peter Godwin released two mixes of a new single that managed to both move the needle dramatically with the rock-hued “You!” and also release it in a remix by long time partner Johnson Somerset that kept up his residence in widescreen chillout territory.
OMD and Ultravox released new mixes of 40 year old singles to worthy effect. Ultravox went back to their clear vinyl tropes and this time we now had “Sleepwalk” on a clear 12″ single. More on OMD on oxblood vinyl later. John Foxx + the Maths released three singles from their new album with edits on DL and even a 7″ single.
Steven Jones and Logan Sky are now straddling an intriguing synthpop/art rock axis most deliciously with their new material. The album, “European Lover” should happen this year and it should be another bold move by these two. We await with bated breath following on these two single efforts.
And finally, Iggy Pop somehow released a cover of Sly + The Family Stone’s “Family Affair” with Guest Star Bass by Bootsy Collins [!] this spring on his birthday without anyone mentioning it to me until last month! But it was incredible. More to come on this one.
Reissues Of The Year
This year was filled to the max with some astounding reissue material. It just exploded this year with boxed sets, and the output or Rubellan Remasters, in particular was like having a part of my brain running an actual instead of fantasy reissue label [my hobby].
- Prince: “Sign O’The Times” [SDLX]
- Berlin: “Pleasure Victim”
- Visage: “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection Dance Mix”
- Visage: “The Anvil”
- Ultravox: “Vienna [40th SDLX]”
- Fingerprintz: Bulletproof Heart – The Best Of Fingerprintz”
- Divinyls: “Desperate”
- Ric Ocasek: “Beatitude”
- Berlin: “Love Life”
- Roxy Music: “Roxy Music [Steven Wilson 2.0 mix]”
- John Foxx: Concrete + Organized Noise.”
The placement of Prince at the #1 spot won’t come as a surprise for any fans. His legendary Vault tracks [this box had three CDs full of relevant material to this album era] are simply the best of breed bonus track material that no other band can touch. He’s got a probably 8-10:1 ratio of recorded/mixed songs to released material and his stuff isn’t Portastudio demos. To put it mildly. As long as the Prince Estate will be releasing boxes as heavy as “Sign O’The Times,” look for him in this spot each year. Last year’s best reissue in my list would have been “1999 [SDLX]” if I hadn’t bought it this year instead [owing to budgetary issues].
Scott Davies of Rubellan Remasters slayed me this year with six discs that take my breath away. His Visage program kicked into high gear with the “Anvil” we have been waiting for for decades, and then he topped that with the “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection Dance Mix” CD!! When I made my copy a few years ago, I was cockily confident that it would not happen in a million years, but I’m eating crow this year! And not just the remixed album, but his laser like focus on relevant material not elsewhere on CD [or on CD sounding worth a damn] was stunning attention to detail. In any other year this and “The Anvil” would be tied for top slot, but boy howdy, he does fantastic work.
His Divinyls and Fingerprintz CDs of this summer were more things I’d given up on. I fully expected Virgin to make this Fingerprintz CD in the 90s but noooooooooo! It took 30 years further for Rubellan Remasters to do the job right. I had imagined that I would have to source an incredibly expensive “Desperate” OZ pressing to finally hear the original album released in their territory but now he’s added the stuff edited out of that album in the Northern hemisphere by Chrysalis and some further extras to make the ultimate Divinyls CD.
We lost Rick Ocasek in 2019, but gained this fully packed CD of his first solo album last year. Rubellan’s reissue of “Pleasure Victim” by Berlin was a transformative experience for me. Resulting in a completely different view of that album; now made even better by the incredible bonus tracks. I still need to review the fascinating Steven Wilson 2.0 remix of “Roxy Music” that should be a must hear for any Roxy Music fans. Too bad about the awful CZ LP pressing! And we know it’s a heck of a year for reissues when a John Foxx LP of rarities, with a beautiful Barnbrook cover sits at the bottom of my reissue list.
So this was an exciting year. Particularly from the boxed set and reissue action. Not so much from current material, which if you’re me, isn’t exactly #1 priority. But there are at least two handfuls of albums issued this year that are on my want list and I’ll probably get them in a few years like I usually do. I really should go back and issue year end best ofs 20 years onward, when I’m finally in a position to do that sort of thing. Because it might take me that long to get the new things I wanted this year but was too entranced by the re-polished gems of the past instead.
Had I not gone hog wild on the boxes, I would have been on line to spend at an all time low level last year. And I’m fine with that. I have tried in the last month to listen to the records I buy on a regular basis. I have so much vinyl bought in the last 20 years but still unheard that I could probably not buy anything and not notice! Or maybe even care. Last month I bought another Big Box O’Records® [my 2nd one this year] and that to me is about as happy-making as it gets. It’s so satisfying to bust out the Discwasher and digitize those puppies. Hopefully making REVO discs of the results. Lately I’ve been pretty active on that front and we’ll get to those in due time. I think that this year I’d like to try to hit a target of $500 for the year…if it’s possible.