...This is the track listing and sleevenotes for a wee best-of-2008 mix-tape/CD I've put together for family and friends. I know, I know: Some tracks are from 2007 or earlier, and there should be some Hello Saferide. But on the whole I think it's pretty good stuff. Elbow and Ry Cooder really shine for me. Album of the year has to be the Ry Cooder Anthology The UFO Has Landed, which is stunning (and, technophiles, BEAUTIFULLY mastered)
I think all these tracks are available from iTunes if you want to investigate further:
NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL QUITE DISTRACTING
Twenty top Tom Morton tracks from 2008 (with some obvious omissions and anomalies)
Steve Earle: Way Down In The Hole (2:56) from the album Washington Square Serenade. Theme for the fifth season of the Greatest TV Series Ever Made (Way Down in the Hole is a Tom Waits song, used with different performers as the theme for each season of The Wire). Steve acts in the show as an alarmingly overweight addiction counsellor.
Elbow: Grounds for Divorce (3:39) from The Seldom Seen Kid. Stunning album, bringing long-deserved success for the band. First time I heard this track I thought my car stereo was going to explode
Bon Iver: For Emma (3:41) from the album For Emma, Forever Ago. Recorded on a laptop in a wilderness log cabin, apparently. Hugely atmospheric album, literally out of nowhere.
Ladyhawke: My Delirium (4:17) 'Ladyhawke' is the debut CD from the woman also known as Philippa Brown, who writes and plays everything. She's from New Zealand, and this album took ages to penetrate my consciousness. But, as the year ends, this is 80s electronica revivalism destined to dominate in 2009. Maybe.
Colin Macintyre: Be My Saviour (3:46) From The Water. Mull Historical Society was a much better name. This is a very good album but Colin seems to be slipping further and further under the radar. He's a kind of Calvinist Prince (pop star not royalty).
The Fortunate Sons: Wasted Time (3:41) Eponymous debut album from the Glasgow team is an absolute cracker, Sam West's voice almost ripping the microphones to shreds. Great songs, fantastic playing, loads of good humour and they're supposed to be excellent live.
Mark Knopfler: Secondary Waltz (3:44) This is from the 2007 album Kill To Get Crimson, but I only really got into Mark's solo stuff this year. It's enormously underrated and under-exposed, considering he's such as huge star with Dire Straits. The songs are worthy of Richard Thompson.
The Killers: Spaceman (4:45) I am not ashamed to say that I absolutely love The Killers. There's something endearingly odd about them...they're like Abba trying to be U2, or Roxy Music crossed with Deep Purple and Slade. Three great albums so far and Day and Age is no exception.
Martin Simpson:Never Any Good (4:14) Hold onto your hats and prepare to weep. Martin wrote this about his dad, and it's on the 2007 album Prodigal Son. Songwriting to break the hardest heart.
Ry Cooder: Ridin' With The Blues (3:01) I've played this obsessively ever since I almost crashed a VW camper when I first heard it. Brand new Ry, as good as anything he's ever done, showing where Keef got those licks. From I, Flathead. The anthology The UFO Has Landed is exemplary. This track's a tad politically incorrect, though...
George Formby: Andy The Handy Man (2:49)...and speaking of politically incorrect...2008 was my ukulele year. From the absolutely essential double CD The Ultimate Collection. Technically, he was a uke genius, too. But filthy.
Nick Lowe: Failed Christian (3:56) Came across this via David Mundell at the Inn At Lathones. It's a song by Henry McCullough, once of Wings, and among David's collection of rock memorabilia there's a letter from Nick pleading with Henry for the use of it on Dig My Mood. Chillingly sad.
Peter Case: I'm Gonna Change My Ways (3:25) Peter is one of the greats. It's just nobody knows it except me and a few folk in Greenock! I'll be heading there I hope in February when he arrives for a wee tour of...Inverclyde. from the mini-album Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (4:12). Apocalyptic Testamental rock with great Australian jokes. Grinderman were superb at the Connect Festival, and this Bad Seeds album is a joy and a dark thrill.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Killing The Blues (4:19) Raising Sand was the groovy dinner party album of the year, beautifully produced by T-Bone Burnett but, like Springsteen's Magic, horribly mastered. This is a transcendent John Prine song.
Sigur Ros: Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur (4:03) from the wonderful album Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust. probably best asked for as 'the one with the arses'.
Vampire Weekend: M79 (4:16) This eponymous debut lasts the pace, for me, whereas I'm quite sick of Fleet Foxes, and I'm not sure why. If I want America, I'll just have CSN and Y, thank you. or possibly just Y.
Geraint Watkins: Easy To Say "Bon Temps Rouler" (4:00) Low-key Welsh delight from aged ex Dominators frontman and Nick Lowe pianist. From the CD In A Bad Mood. Great cajun version of Heart of the City on it.
Justin Currie: What Is Love For? (3:10) Title track from one of the great depressive break-up albums, a long time coming from former Del Amitri frontman, who looked seriously pissed off during his set at Belladrum.
Shebang: Sheena is a Punk Rocker. Swedish punk-pop courtesy of Mr L Hutton. Gloriously, intelligently dumb. Like all the best pop.