#666 Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

I have always been a sucker for the blues, and no one sings them quite like Billie. A contender for one of the most distinctive voices in popular music, she IS jazz. Not just for her music, but her life too is (sadly) representative of many of the great jazz legends. No doubt due to … Continue reading #666 Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

#549 Gang Of Four – A Brief History of the Twentieth Century

 If it’s post-punk political funk you want, it doesn’t get any better than this. Gang of Four, named after China’s Gang of Four of the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s-70s, wear their political left-learnings on their sleeve, their song lyrics dealing with the destructive failings of capitalism (Capital (It Fails Us Now) and To … Continue reading #549 Gang Of Four – A Brief History of the Twentieth Century

#1467 Various Artists – Rough Guide to Afrobeat Revolution

This is another great eclectic compilation from the Rough Guide, released by World Music Network. I’ve bought a few of their comps in recent years and over the last decade or so have become a big fan of Afrobeat, in particular the political drive and pulsing rhythms of Fela Kuti. This collection celebrates the progenitors … Continue reading #1467 Various Artists – Rough Guide to Afrobeat Revolution

#430 Elbow – Leaders Of The Free World

This is Elbow’s third album, where they start to find their feet. After their electronica-leaning debut Asleep in the Back, and the rockier ‘like Coldplay but better’ Cast Of Thousands, this one is rooted in a more emotional, and political, place. Guy Garvey is a great lyricist and a heartfelt, authentic singer. I particularly love … Continue reading #430 Elbow – Leaders Of The Free World

#655 The Housemartins – Now That’s What I Call Quite Good

This is a brilliantly collated and perfectly named 24 track compilation of The Housemartins’ 5 year career from 1983 – 1988. It’s not a best of (they only released two studio albums) though it does include all their hits. But by also including B-sides and BBC Radio sessions as well as fan favourite album tracks, … Continue reading #655 The Housemartins – Now That’s What I Call Quite Good

#792 Manic Street Preachers – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours

I like the Manics. Not everyone does, put off by their oft pretentiousness, but there’s nothing wrong with being passionate, with being political, with being confident and intelligent and allowing your music to shine a light on all those things. Given that they are all of these things, they attract a somewhat obsessive culty fanbase. … Continue reading #792 Manic Street Preachers – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours

#1440 Various Artists – Superfunk : The funkiest album in the world ever!

This is without doubt, a pretty funktastic album. There’s a lot of good stuff on here, and it’s mostly guaranteed floor-filler at house parties. Or at my house these days, an excellent accompaniment to doing the housework. A brief glance at the track-listing and you can see just how funkadelic it is: Curtis Mayfield, Isaac … Continue reading #1440 Various Artists – Superfunk : The funkiest album in the world ever!

#412 Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home

This is an astonishing album, and one that moves away from Dylan’s folk and talkin’ blues roots. Not only is he pushing his own musical boundaries (and famously those of his audience when he first performed this album at the Newport Folk Festival) his lyrical powers are on fire here. It’s an album of two … Continue reading #412 Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home

#1066 Radiohead – Hail To The Thief

Released in 2003, this album was described by critics at the time as ‘a return to form’ and ‘still not as good as OK Computer’. (I made that last quote up, but let's face it, how could anyone top that?) This is certainly a return to more familiar guitar-based territory than their previous two albums … Continue reading #1066 Radiohead – Hail To The Thief