Album of the Year: David Bowie‘s Heathen
Not listed in Rolling Stone’s 50 best albums of 2002. No, my precious. Nastie filthie rock journalists hid it away, they did. (“Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.” Frank Zappa said that.) If you haven’t heard Heathen, if you ever enjoyed Bowie in the past, I commend it to you. The song-writing, performances, and arrangements are first-class. If you have time for listening to music, it will reward you.
My one complaint regards the typography on an otherwise beautiful package. Ornate typographic flourishes are obliterated by a horizontal rule design the “crosses out” nearly every word on the package. It is nearly illegible, at least in the “limited edition” CD version that I have. It is so painful to read that it essentially redirects you to put all your attention on the recordings. If that was the designer’s intention, it would have been better to not hire typographers at all.
Other 2002 music that I listened to with pleasure:
- Bryan Ferry’s Frantic. This made me relive the feeling of devouring new Roxy Music work back in the 70s.
- Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Are these guys “the new Kinks”? “I am trying to break your heart” strikes me as owing a lot to the R. Davies storytelling style.
- Sleater Kinney’s One Beat. Have to be in the right mood for that, but I’m still not over my crush on Carrie.
- Beth Orton’s Daybreaker. A bit of a disappointment after her other work, but fine nonetheless.
A few 2001 works that I didn’t hear until 2002:
“It’s a Wonderful Life” by Sparklehouse. Richly spooky American hand-made gothic folk rock… Something like Skip Spence’s Oar if it had been produced by Eno and Lanois.
“No More Shall We Part” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The one and only non-festival concert I attended in 2002 was seeing Nick and the Seeds at the Paramount in Seattle. His live rendition of “God is in the house” was awesome.
“Far End of Summer” by David Francey. If you ever loved Gordon Lightfoot’s best work, you should dig this up. Francey lives in Quebec. He’s spent more time working as a carpenter than a musician. Each song is a loving portrait in a beautiful frame. http://www.davidfrancey.com/
Not on my list: Coldplay. Reminds me too much of Sting and the Police, and I just don’t seem to need them even though a couple of their tracks are quite majestic.
I read a lot of trashy sci-fi in 2002, as usual. For Christmas, I received a recent edition of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” (1932). NPR’s end-of-2002 analysis of human cloning and stem cell research quoted several scientists whose titles were virutally “Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning.” And W. isn’t far from a “Community, Identity, Stability” platform, eh? Quite frightening how well Huxley could see the patterns that would spread out from what the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford built on top of the Industrial Revolution.
Movies? From the list of films I paid to see in theatres in 2002 (even though some are considered 2001 releases)…
* The Fast Runner
* Spirited Away
* In the Bedroom
* The Royal Tenenbaums
Five biggest disappointments:
* Reign of Fire
* Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
* Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets