This was the year I turned 50, when I might have been expected to retreat into listening to back catalogue and leave new Music to the youngsters. I would have been happy to do that, but instead there was some excellent new music coming out that was right up my street, although a lot of it was quite retro.Some of the new music was by older established artists. Donald Fagen released Sunken Condos, which was almost identical to all his other solo albums and not a million miles away from Steely Dan. Pet Shop Boys had another album out that was OK in itself but not a radical departure for them. Elton John’s colaboration with Pnau was different though, and fair play to him for keeping current.
VCMG were a new-old act, being the reunion of Vince Clarke and Martin Gore from the original Depeche Mode line-up for a collaboration that was synth-heaven. Another dose of old-school synth sounds was dished up by John Foxx.
The most pointless album of the year has to have been Jeff Wayne’s umpteenth attempt to extract a few more quid from the War of the Worlds project with something called Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds – the New Generation. This was a remake of the original but with slightly re-arranged music and new singers like Gary Barlow, Ricky Wilson and Maverick Sabre and the Richard Burton narration being done by Liam Neeson. To be honest, it sounds OK but there was no need for it, and Justin Hayward was so much better on Forever Autumn than anybody else ever could be.
As far as capturing the public’s imagination goes, the song of the year would be Gangnam Style by Psy. It was everywhere. The song was catchy, the video was addictive, and the dance was irresistible. I can remember being persuaded to do my interpretation of it in a hookah bar in Egypt for the entertainment of my family.
But something else was going on. A lot of new bands were knocking out music with krautrock and psychedelic influences. Bands like BEAK>, Thee Oh Sees, Tame Impala, Goat and TOY were all at it. I could listen to music that could have been made any time in the last 40 years but still kid myself I was being current.
The cream of the crop was Public Service Broadcasting and their War Room EP. Not exactly krautrock but with the same feel to it, it has instrumental tracks rolling along with clips of old film over the top. The track London Can Take It is absolutely epic, but even that is eclipsed by Spitfire, which is probably the most ‘motorik’ of the tracks, and one that I still listen to often now. It is just so hypnotic and magnificent, and now PSB no longer automatically means ‘Pet Shop Boys’. It is such a brilliant track that nothing else comes close to it as my track for 2012.
Here is the video for it…