The year started off so well at January 8th: a new Bowie! Blackstar blew everyone’s expectations out of the water! A beautiful album with new, exciting music. Bowie just did it again! Rumor had it that Prince would release his new album HitnRun Phase Two in a physical format and he would bring his Piano & Microphone Tour to Europe later on in the year. A great number of concerts were ahead and ‘new’ talent emerged with Anderson .Paak’s beautiful album Malibu. This was going to be a great year!
At the end of the year we (sadly) know better: it was the year of David Bowie and Prince alright, but not as it was intended.
The great feeling was already gone by January 10th, when it was announced that David bowie had passed away. He suffered from cancer for some time. Something that was kept secret from the audience. Just tow weeks prior to that I had visited the beautiful exhibition David Bowie Is with my son Rachid and was halfway through my book concerning Bowie´s Berlin period. A huge loss for (pop)music.
On February 15th it was announced that Vanity had passed away. On that same day Prince commenced with his Piano & Microphone Tour in Australia. A visibly shaken Prince told stories about Vanity and dedicated a song to her.
Halfway through February there was good news:
- the new tour led to rave reviews;
- the last album, which was exclusively obtainable though (pay-site) Tidal, HitnRun Phase Two, was available on cd. On Prince’s Twitter account a photo was shared, which showed the cd in the snow outside of Paisley Park. To support his favorite, local, musicstore the cd could be obtained through the Electric Fetus store, in Minneapolis.
And then it was April 21st 2016: completely unexpected Prince passed away, just 57 years old, at his Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis. The cause remains somewhat uncertain, but it seems to be a combination of working too much/hard, chronic pain issues and over (self)medication, legal or not. The last living music genius was dead. A shock to many, including myself.
Yet more deaths
Prior to the passing of Prince the following people had also passed away:
Natalie Cole, Pierre Boulez, Black, Paul Kantner, Eagles’ Glen Frey, Blowfly, producer Robert Stigwood (Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever en Grease, etc), Earth Wind & Fire’s Maurice White, producer George Martin (The Beatles), ELP’s Keith Emerson, Merle Haggard, Dennis Davis (drummer on such Bowie albums as Low and “Heroes”) and Phife Dawg (known from A Tribe Called Quest).
Was it to become such a year? More died, but at a slower rate:
Billy Paul, Guy Clark, Bernie Worrell (genius keyboard player, known for his work with Parliament/Funkadelic and Talking Heads), Scotty Moore (original guitar player for Elvis Presley), Toots Thielemans, Rod Temperton (composer, known for Michael Jackson’s Thriller), Leon Russell, Greg Lake, Dead Or Alive frontman Pete Burns (just like Vanity and Prince, 57 years old), Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones and Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt. Just five days ago George Michael passed away.
And, not to be forgotten, two legends from the world of sports: Johan Cruijff and Muhammad Ali.
Luckily this year had some highlights too:
- On January 8th Blackstar was released: a beautiful album by David Bowie;
- February 15th saw Sezen Aksu deliver the best concert I ever saw her do: impressive;
- Underworld too gave a great show on March 31st: impressive also;
- Iggy Pop (69 years old!) gave an energetic show. A pleasure to watch the Godfather Of Punk once more;
- On June 18the I went to see Doe Maar with both my sons, Timur’s first show. A great night;
- Neil Young came to Holland, but on the wrong day (one of the North Sea Jazz Festival days). Off to Antwerp: he gave an inspired, long and impressive show at the Sportpaleis on June 24th;
- Cat Power gave a very moving show in Utrecht on July 6th;
- One week later, on July 13th, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band gave one of their best shows I ever witnessed from them. A magical night in Paris with my son Rachid!
- In between Cat Power and Bruce Springsteen: North Sea Jazz Festival, containing some very nice shows: Anthony Hamilton, Jacob Collier, Jill Scott and Buddy Guy. Undisputed highlight? Anderson .Paak;
- September 9th: the release of Nick Cave’s new album Skeleton Tree, an impressive heartbreaking album;
- On November 13th The Cure gave a long and impressive concert at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome;
- The concert-year was closed in style by De La Soul on December 5th.
There were celebrations to be had this year. (A selection of) The next albums had a jubilee this year:
- The Beatles – Revolver (50);
- Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On, Sly & The Family Stone – There’s A Riot Going On, The Doors – L.A. Woman & The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (45);
- Queen – A Day At The Races, Boney M – Take The Heat Off Me & ABBA – Arrival (40);
- The Cure – Faith, Japan – Tin Drum, U2 – October, Dead Kennedys – In God We Trust, Inc, The Exploited – On Stage, Doe Maar – Skunk, Rick James – Street Songs, Kraftwerk – Computer World, Motörhead – No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, U2 – October, The Sound – From The Lion’s Mouth & Prince – Controversy (35);
- Prince & The Revolution – Parade, Paul Simon – Graceland, PIL – Album, Beastie Boys – Licensed To Ill, The Fatal Flowers – Younger Days, The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead & Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live 1975/85 (30);
- Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Public Enemy – Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black, Prince & The New Power Generation – Diamonds And Pearls, Michael Jackson – Dangerous & Rain Tree Crow – Rain Tree Crow (25);
- 2Pac – All Eyez On Me, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads, DJ Shadow – Endtroducing…, Prince – Chaos And Disorder & Prince – Emancipation (20);
- Buddy Guy – Sweet Tea & Prince – The Rainbow Children (15);
- Cat Power – The Greatest, J Dilla – Donuts, Patrick Watson – Close To Paradise, Amy Winehouse – Back To Black & Prince – 3121 (10);
- The Waterboys – An Appointment With Mr. Yeats (5).
I turn 50 years old this year. In honor of that (and just for fun) I share my top 50 albums from my 50 years on this earth on Facebook, followed by an epilogue, followed by the top 50 concerts. The (many) nice comments and reactions to those, and the fact I really enjoyed writing them, give me the idea to do more with this. Not entirely clear what and how, but just more: a book, a blog, more Facebook postings?
And then it was April 21st. Prince was dead. I had to act on that (I thought). So: once again stories; 2 planned, and then there were 4, 5, 6. Facebook’s limitations began to show. A number of people with the desire to read my stories don’t have a Facebook account, and thus a blog became a serious option. Got myself some servercapacity, claimed my domainname and building could start. After about a month and a half I was ready: my blog could go live. In the meantime Timur (my, then, 7 year old son) saw me write, build, etc and liked what he saw. He was more than willing to write a story about his first concert (in Dutch). On July 1st my blog went live with a guest story (in Dutch) by Timur about what he likes!
My blog gets a fair amount of readers (more than I expected): on average about 140 readers every article. The article from August 18th was so popular that I decided to translate it into English: over 2,400 showings by now! It made me decide to make an English version of my blog available. In early October the English version went live. My plan was/is to market that version during 2017.
I notice that I put a lot of time into this, a reasonably sized article quickly costs me about 8 to 10 hours of work. That is going to become less next year: I will try to limit myself to 1 article every two weeks (on average). I am really happy with all of my readers, comments and contacts through my blog. I even get back in touch with old friends/acquaintances. Very nice indeed!
It’s funny to notice that lists (the 10 greatest albumcovers, guilty pleasures, etc.) generate more comments and reactions than the ‘regular’ stories and/or reviews. That makes blogging a bit more interactive. I am still contemplating on how I will address this next year.
My personal favorite articles:
Most popular stories
My 10 most popular stories (as measured on 12/31/2016):
|Number of showings|
|30 years ago, the best show I ever witnessed||486||1937||2423|
|George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1||120||639||759|
|The best debut albums||270||275||545|
|Prince – The Rainbow Children||75||464||539|
|Prince – 4Ever||113||356||469|
|Prince satellites, top 10||55||374||429|
|The greatest albumcovers||347||55||402|
|Album top 50, numbers 10 to 1||236||155||391|
|Prince, the closing||39||350||389|
Unfortunately, I can’t make it any other way, but the year’s theme most definitely is death. Apart from the most obvious reasons: the death of David Bowie and Prince, musically also with the release of Blackstar and Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree. Also the year that Dutch music magazine Oor definitely lost touch with the meaning of the word relevance.
2016 was a solid music year. Many good albums and two or three that will still be remembered two or three years from now. No Sign O’ The Times or Black Messiah, genius, albums this year. Also a pretty good number of good shows, which introduced me to new names.
My top 10 albums and top 5 concerts are included below (in no particular order).
Top 10 albums
- Anderson .Paak – Malibu
- Beyoncé – Lemonade
- Blood Orange – Freetown
- David Bowie – Blackstar
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
- Jacob Collier – In My Room
- Gallant – Ology
- Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
- Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
- Max Romeo – Horror Zone
Top 5 concerts (in Dutch)
- Sezen Aksu, 02/15, Amsterdam
- Cat Power, 07/06, Utrecht
- Iggy Pop, 05/10, Amsterdam
- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, 07/13, Paris
- Underworld, 03/24, Amsterdam
What do you think of 2016? A fine music year or (just) a solid one? Let me know, leave a comment!
Header image: nerdist.com
David Bowie – Blackstar image: cult.tpo.nl
Prince tweet 21-01-2016: Prince/twitter.com
Johan Cruyff – Oei Oei Oei image: especial-life.com
Japan – Tin Drum image: 991.com
Public Enemy – Apocalypse 91 The Enemy Strikes Black image: wikipedia.org
Emancipation Promo Poster: unknown
Anderson .Paak – Malibu image: wikipedia.org