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Manhattman’s Favorite Records 2012

Another year of music going through my ears and into my head, another year of music added to my collection. The hills are alive with the sound of music!

More CDs and vinyl records piled on my desk and arranged on the shelves throughout my music room. Yes, I’m still and old fashion guy, in love with LPs, CDs and box sets. Physical media that I can actually hold in my hands, peruse the artwork and packaging as I listen to the songs. Each album is a spatial and temporal art piece for me, rather than something that is invisible, imaginary and doesn’t really seem to exist. Sort of like a Zynga game. You pay your good money, but its not really there. Or is it? Well, enough of that, that’s an entire discussion of its own.

2012 brought lots of great new tunes along with the continued rebirth of vinyl records. The kids, x & y gens and audiophiles embraced releases in the old format by old and new acts alike. And the used bins were picked through by many new vinyl enthusiasts. I too have revisited my own large LP collection, pulling out some that have been sitting unplayed for many years.

I also gathered up more than few wonderful new releases and remastered editions. Acts like Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, the Black Keys, Nick Drake, Love, the Flaming Lips, Beck and of course the Beatles, put out new vinyl editions of current and classic releases which have also been added to my collection. But again, I digress….

So here is my top ten album list for 2012. In no particular order (except that the Leonard Cohen album is the one I played more than any other this past year). These are records I have been listening to over and over again. At home on my stereo, on the road in my car and on my iPod. Even though I listen to quite a lot of new music, I was particularly surprised about how many great new albums were from the old guard. No loss of artistic creativity there.

 

Leonard Cohen Old Ideas

Tame Impala Lonerism

Neil Young Psychedelic Pill

Bob Dylan Tempest

Fiona Apple The Idler Wheel

The Black Keys El Camino

Jonny Greenwood The Master Soundtrack

Calexico Algiers

Patti Smith Banga

Ry Cooder Election Special

Donald Fagan Sunken Condos

 

Best Cover and Colored Vinyl:

The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends

 

Best Reissue Packages:

The Beach Boys SMILE

The Beach Boys SMILE is technically not a reissue since it was never actually released as a complete album at the time of its recording.

SMILE would have been the band’s follow up to Pet Sounds, but Brian Wilson went wacko and never issued it. It became an unreleased lost masterpiece. Some of the songs later came out on other albums, bits and pieces surfaced over the years on bootlegs and passed around between collectors, until Brian released his own full length solo version of SMILE in 2004. This new Beach Boys collection contains what the album might have been like in its complete form, in addition to a plethora of works-in-progress and pieces of brilliance and frustration. Although this box set was released in November of 2011, it didn’t make it to my house until this year.

The Beatles On Vinyl

Of course I already have these albums. In fact I have hundreds of pressings and cover variations and issues from the US, UK, Japan, France and even places like Uruguay, Brazil and Russia. This new box takes the 2009 digital remasters as a staring point and attempts to keep them faithful to what the original 1960s recordings sounded like. Audiophiles are already bitching that these were not taken from the original fragile analogue tapes, but all the same, they sound wonderful. Fairly pristine pressings (search out the European pressings if you can) at a reasonable price. And if you buy the full box rather than individual discs, you get one of the most beautiful Beatles books ever created.

 

And an end of year schmaltzy guilty pleasure:

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MANHATTMAN is hosted by Norman Maslov, whose Agence Internationale, represents a small group of wonderful photographers. This blog showcases images from these artists along with scribes about music, films, food, gin martinis and hats. Pontifications from a native San Franciscan and his extended family and friends. So it goes.

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