From the heyday of heartfelt pop confessionals spotlighted on Great Songs of The Heart through the fundamental sound system classics of It’s Jamaica Jump Blues Time to the soundtrack spoils of our recent John Barry collections, it’s been a year that has seen us exploring every genre and period imaginable. With four lavishly produced gatefold editions, our Sugar series was finally brought to vinyl. This year’s odyssey encapsulated the essences of R&B and rock & roll in New Orleans, Nashville, New York, Memphis and the West Coast; musically thriving metropolitan locales that have proved immeasurably influential. The imposing significance of Elvis Presley’s legacy was also acknowledged in the shape of All About Elvis, a tribute which coincided with the King’s 80th birthday. Curating a comprehensive collection of associated songs and artists, Dave Penny’s efforts were celebrated by BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne who gave it the prize of Compilation of the Week in February. Further Compilation of the Week titles were given to Lois Wilson’s much revered R&B diva digest Ain’t Gonna Hush as well as More Lipstick Powder & Paint, another all female blast which ploughed 50s & 60s pop for unforgettable vocal performances.
As well as It’s Jamaica Jump Blues Time’s forays into early sound system culture our other Jamaican excursions also took in Mento stylings on Jamaica Is The Place To Go and an international, cross-genre medley of reggae rudiments on Out of Many, One Music! Both of them represented revisions of what is accepted as shaping the development of Jamaican music, and the latter was recognized in The Wire magazine’s monthly Office Ambience playlist upon release. Our limited vinyl only release Feel So Fine continued the chronology outlined on these compilations, lifting the lid on the genesis of ska, a genre nurtured by the music featured on our Sound System, Mento and Out of Many collections.
Another vinyl only release Look What The Cramps Dredged Up explored the unfettered rock & roll juvenilia as enshrined on the jukebox of The Cramps. Our rock & roll vaults were then further vitalized by Stranger Than Fiction, an equally revelatory collection which featured rockabilly rarities as revived in the 70s, and Gold Star Rockers a 3CD omnibus celebrating the auteurship of Eddie Cochran through the many tracks associated with his tragically short story. As for the soul stakes, a dual delectation of sumptuous vocal group sounds were profiled on Please Mr Disc Jockey and Motor City, the former concerned with the majestic exploits of the Atlantic record label and the latter focusing on the enduring early sides that emerged out of Berry Gordy’s world dominating dynasty. Soul For Dancers meanwhile turned it’s attention to the proto-Northern Soul floorfillers that provoked dancefloor abandon in Manchester’s The Twisted Wheel and London’s The Scene Club, both precursors of the Wigan Casino, Blackpool Mecca, and The Golden Torch in Stoke. We even found time for a homespun affair in the shape of Liverpool Sounds, a set which assembled the Singing City’s finest for a feature length commemoration of Liverpudlian classics, from Arthur Askey to Cavern Club beat recordings.
Obligatory seasonal supplements were also put together with aplomb. Summer Songs, Summer Love, Summer Fun made for an ideal Summer accompaniment and the comprehensive Merry Christmas Box of Music is likely to encourage festive anticipation before the end of year celebrations.
With that in mind, all that’s left to say is Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and thanks for your support this year!
Fantastic Voyage will be back with more in 2016.