on the crest of a new year it is somewhat inevitable to, look you see, gander back across the one which has passed. and what a formidable one it has been, for both good and bad. all years are, i suppose, but this last one is one i'd suspect most would agree as being rather more event laden than most.
here, then, i will give only what i can give. that would be my look at the best, and sometimes the not so best, of the year that was in vibes and cinema, the movies. the very definitive list of the best of 2016 is basically that which you enjoyed the most is the best. don't worry so much about what other people think you should have liked or disliked.
off we go, then, with what has been - should i have the word right - a tumultuous year for vibes.
the above be just some of the major record releases from the year that was, or shall soon have been. missing, for a start, from the above are releases off of Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones and Suede, although the latter shall pop up just now. also missing are the 2 - two!!!!! - new singles off of The Stone Roses.
for a variety of reasons it could be said, then, that music mattered once more this year. over the last few years music has allowed, in the acute observation of JJ Burnel out of The Stranglers, to become wallpaper. no more, it was back at the forefront. we lost and we mourned some of the finest talents the world of music has ever known, we rejoiced at the release of quality albums.
best album of the year? for me, in my opinion, etc, it was comfortably - if not controversially, considering how much of a fan of certain others i am - Girl At The End Of The World by James.
i would describe myself as, at best, a casual James fan. i've got a best of from them tucked away somewhere, maybe Laid and/or Seven too. this album was bought very much on a whim on the day of release of another, more anticipated release - possibly the decidedly underwhelming Chaosmosis off of Primal Scream.
what makes Girl At The End Of The World my choice for best of the year? not sure, after many months of listening to it, that i can word it. the whole thing just touches on so many emotions and feelings as it goes along. a perfectly constructed album from start to finish, wonderfully performed, well written and oh so beautifully sang.
the best part of this record was that i was not alone in reacting the way i did. in the week of release word of mouth spread and people picked it up. it very nearly became number one, challenging the top of an album chart that had spent some six months dominated by Adele and David Bowie. if you haven't heard the album, or of the band, then you could do a lot worse than give it a try.
second best of the year, although that title sounds rough and not quite right. and no, it's not that album, although the singer off of this one provided one of the best comments i have ever heard, when Morrissey described him as being "perpetually angry at God for not making him Angie Bowie".
yep, Night Thoughts off of Suede. this record came out, i think i remember right, towards the end of January. it was always planned that way, but boy did it come when we needed it most. a reminder, after a terrible start to the year in music, about why music matters, why musicians are celebrated, and what makes music oh so beautiful.
for the cynics out there, the best thing about this Suede album is that it's the first one i can recall when Brett "Angie" Anderson does not rely on references to diesel, cellophane, plastic or anything like that. it's all the personification of passion, lust, desire, longing, wanting, being. again, like Girl At The End Of The World it just flows as a perfect record from start to finish. and again, a record well worth your time obtaining.
third best? hardly. the most profound, important, bold and complete one off statement of the year came in the form of the first major release of the year; the last major release in the lifetime of someone that was, is and always will be so very important to me, and millions more who are now or are yet to exist.
Blackstar by David Bowie. a confusing release for that first weekend, as the blog post i made and did not take down revealed. but a release that made all the sorry sense in the world just a couple of days after it came out. looking back it's obvious what he was saying with it. maybe we just didn't want to see it. one person said at the time of his passing that it simply had never occurred to them that David Bowie could die.
i've just finished listening to the record again. it's a really strange thing; whenever i play it a speck of dust or something must land for a tear seems to form in the eye. me, and many others, have written lots about this record and the artist who used it to say goodbye. all i can add is just listen to this, and all the other music.
other releases in brief? sure, why not. Hidden City from The Cult underlines what an underappreciated band they are - solid, classic hard rock album. Heavy Entertainment Show off of Robbie Williams showcased his status as the last mega-mega pop star standing. it's a record of enormous fun, but people seem to be avoiding enjoying it and rather having a pop at him. there's a handful of highlights on Chasomosis by Primal Scream, but overall as mentioned it underwhelms and disappoints. Encore off of Barbs is Barbs allowing you to listen to her for an hour or so. Blue & Lonesome is The Rolling Stones rediscovering what made them fall in love with music at the start, and in so doing reminds the world why we fell in love with them. Hardwired....To Self Destruct is a great, great metal record which for some reason Metallica themselves decided to try and distract from with bloated packaging and dumping the whole thing dans le internet for free the day before it was available in the shops.
actually i've just put Hidden City off of The Cult on now and it's even better than what i described it as above. it really is a sensational record. and sorry for any other releases that i missed out above. it's just been that there's been so many fantastic ones this year.
on to cinema then, or if you like the movies. most would seemingly agree with the idea that whilst 2015 was a vintage year, 2016 was not so much. there was, however, more than enough to keep one entertained. even i, he who had not set foot in a cinema for some three years, saw two movies on the big screen, and a few of the other new releases at home.
of what i saw, then, what did i enjoy the most? well, an honourable mention to Rogue One, but i'm not jumping on the "second best ever Star Wars film" bandwagon. it was good, but i'd agree with those that say it would be even better if they had an opening crawl and cut some 30 minutes out of the film as the tone and characters were all set up in that crawl.
my favourite film of the year was, and this took me somewhat by surprise, this one.
yes, the (loving) remake of Pete's Dragon. my (considerably) better half summed it up best when she said that the only thing worse than them remaking a beloved classic and it turns out awful is when they take a film which you had fond memories of and they go ahead and make a much, much better film.
as far as i am aware Pete's Dragon more than doubled its (hefty) budget at the box office, so it was by no means a flop. and yet it still feels like the film flew somewhat under the radar. there wasn't an excessive marketing campaign associated with it, and weirdly from what i could see little or no merchandising.
Pete's Dragon is a wonderful, sad, happy, emotional rollercoaster ride of pure family entertainment. great cast, outstanding effects and if Robert Redford really does bow out of acting after this then what a truly great way to say goodbye. if you skipped this one, go grab it, watch and enjoy.
it's quite likely that the previously mentioned Rogue One will be the biggest money making film of the year. or, if not, then this one will end up being that, if not just a handsome close second.
i am one of those that has a concern that all these super hero / comic book films will crash upon reaching saturation point, that it will all end up being quite tired, repetitive and, well, leaving us all at a stage where enough's enough. not so, thus far, and Civil War was indeed brilliant.
yes, comic book / graphic novel fans, i am aware that this film has nothing to do with the illustrated story of the same name. i, like many cinemagoers, not so much don't care as just plain don't see the relevance. the story they do here fits in perfectly with the "Marvel Universe" on the go.
the only downside of Civil War is that to "get" the full thing you really do have to have seen the previous ten or so movies that feature or reference the characters involved. as they are all really, really smart films, however, no bad thing.
by no means would i call this next film one of the best of the year, but it was way more entertaining that those loud voices of discontent on the internet made out. and, in truth, there really was only the one major thing wrong with it.
Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice was a very, very good idea allowed to deviate from its nature and natural course. the protagonist and antagonist of the title (you feel free to decide which is which) was a clash enough in itself to provide entertainment; but no they shove in "son of" Lex Luthor and some massive monster. it is the former that really is the main problem with the film, Jesse Eisenberg is terrible and very distracting in giving an awful performance.
i really, really liked Man of Steel. the performance of Superman in it was the best we are going to get now that the greatest to play the part is sadly with us no more. as for Affleck as Batman, even those that didn't like the film take the time to say how perfect the part was played.
should you have wished to see this film but got scared off by all the noise on the internet, ignore it and give it a try. whilst it lacks the humour and bright colours of the Marvel films off of Disney, as i said there are more good parts than bad ones in it.
also, there's a super massive spoiler for the above in the start of the next one, and as i thoroughly recommend watching the next one i suppose you'd best watch it first.
again, i appreciate that Suicide Squad did not deliver on all the expectations. these were not unrealistic expectations either - Warner Bros, a studio i seldom speak ill of, really did mislead audiences with just how prominent or relevant the character of The Joker would be in it all. but still, as and when he is in it, he's good.
to be honest about it i didn't watch this one by choice. the boys had seen the marketing of it and wee keen, but it came with a 15 certificate. we watched to "vet" it, and elected that it was just about suitable for the eldest but the youngest was to be kept away from it. well them's the breaks.
overall i would say i very much enjoyed it, and will say that Will Smith was 100% right to drop out of a belated Independence Day sequel to do this instead. my favourite character, though, is the Australian one. which should not be much of a surprise.
nice one if this has all been of some interest to someone out there. if you disagree with my choices and highlights, well then so much the better. it'd be a dull world - although admittedly a welcome quieter one - if we all agreed on everything and liked the same stuff.
now let's see what the year ahead brings......
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!