Sunday, December 28, 2003

Review of reviews of the year

How's that for a post-modern conceit? Okay, it's not exactly Duchamp's Fountain, but it's a bloggy kinda thing to do.
First up The Observer...Distillers aside, it's hard to argue with Kitty Empire's Top Ten Albums - Dizee Rascall, Outkast, Gillian Welch, Super Furries, White Stripes, My Morning Jacket, The Rapture, Rufus Wainwright and Jay-Z. Her Turkey of the Year is Blur's Think Tank, which was the Observer Music Magazine's favourite of 2003. Beard is with Kitty on this one. It's a boring, boring record. Its much vaunted world music element amounts to little more than some vaguely ethnic percussion. Talking Heads or Combat Rock era Clash it ain't, despite the delusions of loyal fans.
Film critic and Rod Steiger lookalike Philip French used to introduce BBC2's Sunday Night films for a while. He's clearly a dude, and has seen far more obscure French and Japanese films than I ever will, so I can't argue with his choices.
As the theatre and comedy stuff is largely London-centric I'll decline to comment. The only comedian I went to see all year was Jeremy Hardy, who rambled, albeit very funnily, for two hours. The Fringe was really pricey, and I was on the dole at the time, so sue me.

I did take in some good plays though. The Sunday Herald dispatched me to Glasgow's Botanic Gardens to review A Midsummer Night's Dream. Set in a 1920s jazz club it had anachronistic songs (Fever, Dream A Little Dream) and amateurish dance routines. "A pleasant night out, but this is not great Shakespeare." I proclaimed. I'm proud to say my review didn't go up with all the others at the park gates.
The best thing I saw was Patrick Marber's Dealer's Choice at the Tron, which was a favourite of the Sherald's Andrew Burnet
Elswhere in the Sherald, Graham Virtue made Evan Dando's Baby I'm Bored his best album. It's nice to see big Ev (big Ev??) bouncing back with a lovely record, but album of the year? His number two is the Teenage Fanclub best of. Virtue is to be applauded for his TFC evangelism, but inlcuding a best of in your albums of the year is pushing it a bit. But I suppose that's the point. He's honest enought to suggest that Elephant isn't as good as White Blood Cells. Plenty of other good stuff - Outkast, Missy - and some odd choices; Martina Topley Bird's album is sadly no Maxinquaye.
I glanced at the Scotland and Sunday, which was fairly predictable. White Stripes etc.
Reviewing the music mags would take forever, so I'll just say that Mojo and Uncut had the most interesting lists, Q the dullest (suprise, surprise), while NME almost redeemed themselves by finding room for Cat Power and My Morning Jacket among the evil likes of Jet (Stereophonics with a few Iggy Pop albums).

Hey crazy kids - Beard's best of 2003 will be with you shortly

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