12.12.14

THE GUARDIAN'S TOP 40

It’s all over. Just Backdated might just as well pack up and go home. Today’s Guardian G2 Film & Music supplement lists what their music critics consider to be the top 40 ‘best’ albums of the year; not only have all 40 passed me by but I haven’t even heard of about half of the acts on the list. I really do need to get out more.
              However, as much as this shames me, what does strike me as odd is that none of the new albums I chose to review this year on Just Backdated, many of which were given glowing reviews in the Guardian and elsewhere, are mentioned. No Wilco & Roger Daltrey, which won Classic Rock magazine’s album of the year award; no Dylan/Band and their Basement Tapes Complete which was awarded five stars in the Guardian; no Robert Plant whose Lullaby… got five stars elsewhere; no Elbow or Paolo Nutini, both of whose 2014 albums were glowingly reviewed across the board; and, less likely perhaps, no Pink Floyd or Empty Hearts, let alone Abba’s Live At Wembley set or the Dylan Howe album of Bowie instrumentals that charmed me and managed four stars, unlike – and this is a random example I chose – Owen Pallett’s In Conflict (at number 20), an album with which I am unfamiliar but which a glance at the Guardian’s website tells me was awarded only three stars when it was reviewed in May, one less than Wilco & Roger (and Elbow and Nutini for that matter).
              So there’s a definite inconsistency between the reviews that appeared when the albums were released and the critics’ end-of-year assessments. In some ways this doesn’t surprise me as back in the day the staff of Melody Maker were asked to choose their Top 10 albums of the year for the Christmas issue and, such was pace of all things rock in those days, it was easy to forget an album that was nine month’s old when October and November’s LPs were spinning around my turntable.
              Nevertheless, it does seem that the Guardian list is designed to focus on newer acts to the exclusion of those that my own generation might probably prefer. The oldest act on the list, at 79, is Peggy Seeger, closely followed by Leonard Cohen and Scott Walker. With the possible exception of Damon Albarn, all the rest are of my children’s generation.
              I haven’t reviewed every new album I’ve bought or been sent this year, of course, but I’m pretty sure there are many others – the Manic Street Preachers’ Futurology (four stars on review) springs to mind – that have also been ignored. So I’m not really sure what to make of it. Either I get out more or investigate some form of anti-aging treatment. Or stick with what I know. 

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