So we are into the ‘all important’ top five. The renaissance of Suede has for me been one of the highlights of the last few years. Life Is Golden comes from their 2018 album The Blue Hour, a hit both critically and chart wise. Whilst Suede marks 1 and 2 (pre split) were arguably essentially singles bands, their rebirth has come essentially with a focus on albums, where individual tracks make far more sense in the context of the lyrical and musical narrative of an album. This may seem counter-intuitive or even retro in a world of streaming and instant gratification, but I notice that October 13th was National Album Day, celebrating the album as an artform, so Suede are leading the way in that regard.
My number 5 is also from Suede’s ‘Blue Hour’ – described by 6 Music presenter and music journalist, Stuart Maconie, as a ‘masterpiece’. It is a stunning body of work. As Richard mentions above, each track is a, glorious, interlocking piece, near-symphonic in construction. I debated between the singles, ‘Life Is Golden’ or ‘Wastelands’ for inclusion; as Richard chose the former, I’ll go with the latter. #5 Suede, ‘Wastelands’
My number 5 is no stranger to the upper echelons of my end-of-year lists, although it’s been six years since he appeared with his more-usual outfit, and a further six years before that, for any solo involvement. This beautiful track was part of the soundtrack album released at the end of October to accompany the re-make of the Luca Guadagnino of the same name. The Guardian described it as “nape-prickling”, and who am I to argue?! Number 5…
Number five for me comes from a new find this year. Phil Cook is a US multi-instrumentalist who released a fabulous album called “People are my Drug” (in itself one of the best album titles of the year for me). Not a bad track on the album, it’s largely blues based music, within stated influences ranging from Ry Cooder to Bill Frisell. To my mind it has a broader sweep, as there are clear elements of Americana and gospel too, with (for example) “Now That I Know” sounding like “Music from the Big Pink”-era The Band. The selected track, “Steampowered Blues” is the album opener and gets things off to a rollicking good start.