It’s December again, and the world is just as fucked as ever. Possibly slightly more, possibly slightly less. I guess it’s easy to lose track of these things without an ordered list to tell you what to think. Having been precariously perched on the 2015 bar stool for quite some time now, we’ll soon be staring down the menacing barrel of 2016. So how best to celebrate yet another successful orbit around the Sun?
We thought about publishing an objectively correct ranking of the year’s best records. But sadly we couldn’t get hold of any doof doof scientists to determine what the metrics should be. Instead, we’ve fallen back on our Top 8 Whatevers. You know the score – our trusted team of R$N scribes pitch in with lists of music they’ve enjoyed, petty grievances they want to air, obscure interests they want to highlight. Basically whatever’s on their mind. Let’s do this. Here's Ally's Top 8 of 2015...
Straight Jacket - The Greatest Part of Loving
This record is a lot of fun. The flip side is for the parties, the opener for the soul within. A favourite of Marcellus Pittman this one had me leaping for joy when I saw it was to be reissued by Athens Of The North after I heard him play it to a tiny basement club in Glasgow last year. To be honest you could have picked a host of their little 7" records to throw into this chart but this one held special significance for me.
Tribo Massahi - Estrelando Embaixador
There is an undeniable energy which runs throughout this record. Recorded in Brazil in 1972 it captures the soul of the country and runs wild with it across two long extended cuts on both sides. This one is absorbing, rough, rugged and a blur of neverending percussion and chants. Deemed as the 'holy grail' of Brazilian music amongst record collectors, this was a very welcome reissue in 2015.
Letta Mbulu - In The Music The Village Never Ends
Be With Records really knocked it out the park this year. The Nohelani Cypriano album could very easily have made it into this cut as well but it's hard to deny the groove of Letta Mbulu's standout record. The whole release really is incredible, danceable and catchy beyond belief. This one is tried and tested but made a very welcome return in 2015. "Nomalizo" , "Down By The River" and "The Village" remain the highlights for myself personally but you could hear any of these in a club and they would make sense. Simply wonderful.
The Supreme Jubilees - It'll All Be Over
The Supreme Jubilees remain a little bit of a mystery. In 1979 "It'll All Be Over" emerged as one of the most beautiful gospel records ever released, it was later followed by a 7" to which only one person claims to own a copy on Discogs. Since then they had all but disappeared: this album could very easily have been lost and forgotten. However, 2015 saw it revived in a collaborative effort between the original label and Light In The Attic and a rerelease was unveiled. It's beautiful, truly: some of the best funk, gospel and soul that I have ever heard.
Elias Rahbani And His Orchestra – Liza... Liza
And the most provocative cover sleeve of the year goes to Elias Rahbani, who says sex doesn't sell? In all seriousness though this is a masterpiece, who knew Lebanon liked disco? As one of the hugely talented Rahbani brothers Elias was really onto something with this one back in the late 1970's. There are elements within this which set a precedent of what a great disco record should sound like, the euphoric strings, the plucked guitar, this one was big from the get go.
Ndikho Xaba And The Natives – Ndikho Xaba And The Natives
This for me is arguably one of the greatest jazz records ever produced. From before the days of Sun Ra this one really pushed the boundaries, blurring the lines between cosmic freeform and some of the most stunning percussion and structured jazz which I have ever heard. Beautiful melodies run wild throughout this one and "Flight" gives me goosebumps every single time. I recall picking this one up on my first trip to Honest Jon's and I left that shop with the biggest smile on my face.
Taxie - Rock Don't Stop
It's hard to think of anyone who had as good a year as Floating Points. 'You're A Melody" was Sam's much loved party at Plastic People. Since the club has closed I believe to be looking for a new spiritual home. This release was unleashed around the time of the club's recent closure and represented a sound and energy which was born in the venue, it is yet to be replicated in London. The detail and care which went into this release is evident, accompanied by a zine and a sweet illustration of a floating balloon, this one represented more than just the music itself.
Insanlar - Kime Ne
Honest Jon's are good at reissues. In fact, musically speaking Honest Jon's are good at most things. If there's a way of doing things it's probably best to watch and learn from them. Insanlar are a Turkish psychedelic band who incorporate folk and whirring electronics into their productions. This track first surfaced in 2013 on a limited basis. In 2015 Honest Jon's stepped up to save the day and went above and beyond by not only reissuing, but by reissuing in style. Accompanied by two extended remixed versions from Ricardo Villalobos, this one has been on heavy rotation.