Best Music of 2016. It’s out now.

Free to a good home.

This is my 10th instalment, having begun the tradition in 2007.  (It’s the best year for donkeys.)

There is a strong electronic (4songs) and hip hop/dance (also 4 songs) element this year.

With fewer female solo artists than I’ve become known for (only 2 in fact).

It opens with Bowie’s closer and closes with Kosmicher Laufer’s opener. (For those not in the know they are a Leith based 1972 East German Olympic Athletics team training regime music spoof, redolent of early Kraftwerk – so what’s not to love.)

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Life on Mars: Revisited by Mick Rock.

This is one of the classic pop videos.  It wasn’t seen much in the 1970’s when Mick Rock recorded it but earlier this year Rock was given access to the master tape as well as 3 other recordings he’d made of it.  The result a new treatment that plays lots of games.  Which do you prefer?

The original

The new mix/edit.

For me the new take is interesting, but feels over fussy.  I vote for the original and best.

The seven day music challenge.

My pal, Peter Flockhart, challenged me to find seven songs that would sum up my musical taste, but I got a little carried away.  Thought you might like to see them all in the one place as we reach day 30.  They are in no particular order and, surprisingly, only one artist appears twice.  Tom Waits.

Day 30

Day 29

Day 28

Day 27

Day 26

Day 25

Day 24

Day 23

Day 22

Day 21

Day 20

Day 19

Day 18

Day 17

Day 16

Day 15

Day 14

Day 13


Day 11

Day 10

Day 9

Day 8

Day 7

Day 6

Day 5

Day 4

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

Nile Rodgers. The great comeback

Today Nile Rodgers was told he was in full remission from aggressively invasive prostate cancer.

That’s good and let’s face it, any of you 50 odd year old blokes out there will empathise with that.

I am happy for Nile because he made my summer.

Selfish?  Perhaps.  But heartfelt?  Oh yes.

He made my summer because I saw him live on The West Holts Dance Stage closing the first night of my Glastonbury Festival and it was monumental.  (described today in The Telegraph as reaching folklore status.  30,000 at a venue that holds 20,000).

He’s done a lot of festivals and gigs around Britain since, so there’s a good chance you too might have seen his angelically clad 11 strong ensemble.  If you have you will realise, like me, that he is something of a latter-day day musical God.

But that’s just the half of it.

Read this book.

Then you’ll know it all.


Nile Rodgers, Le Freak, is one of the great music memoires.  In that it charts not only a golden era in pop music that he and his bands dominated but it also charts the near destruction of a mega talent addled by drink and drugs.

He was brought up in a fantasy world by junkie parents who frequently abandoned him to a life of substance abuse, starting with glue and ending with shedloads of cocaine and booze.

Which is worse he wonders?  Drink seems to be the conclusion.  Drink is dirtier.

After all is maw and paw were out and out junkies so maybe drugs ain’t so bad.

You’ll have to rise above this and avoid moral high-grounding if you are going to enjoy this read because he likes a toke or two.

B’nard Edwards fell victim, dying of pneumonia in a Tokyo Hotel bed after a gig with Niles.  It was Niles who found him the following morning.   But, B’nard wasn’t the only one.

Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, Chic, Sister Sledge (those puritanical christians who couldn’t stand Rodger’s ethic, but took the success anyhow) are all given their moments of glory in this glorious travelogue through the clubs of Manhattan.

It feels like Niles wrote it himself, not by a ghost.  So, it has its technical flaws, but fuck that.

This is a visceral, beautiful, no gorgeous, celebration of hedonism wrapped up in a blanket of talent.

And you know what?

He got away with it.

You want him to get away with it as you struggle through the genuine challenges that he faced as a youngster and the way he THREW himself at the guitar.  In such a way that he became legendary.

He THREW himself at drugs too.  But he also THREW himself at production so that he defined not just an era but a genre and a genre that came back to bite him.

Disco, which he never claimed to own, became such a desultory term that he was, post peak of Chic, a musical outcast.  A joke.

Yet, he was never a disco diva.  He was R and B,  R and R.


With a dance flavour.

The theme to this book is this wonderful song that he wrote and that I have many, many times enjoyed, perhaps  more than I should have,  with my sisters, my wider family, my work colleagues and my fellow festival goers.

I’ve been exhilarated for a reason.

Today he gives us this…

I am so glad this is a celebration and not an obituary.