1. the streets – original pirate material
Maybe not the most played – but certainly the most original, arresting and affecting. And funny. Entirely new, and yet fitting into a fine tradition of “urban” albums which stretches back through Ian Dury, The Specials, Blur, and Those Of That Ilk.
2. lemon jelly – lost horizons
Because every time I hear it, it just puts me into the best mood possible. Deliciously inventive.
3. jim o’rourke – insignificance
OK, so this is the very template of Uncut magazine approved, finely honed, intelligently crafted, Neo-Americana Nouveau, or whatever we’re supposed to call it. But in a good way. Endless richness, variety, subtlety and depth – and I never even got round to analysing the lyrics. Simply put, I didn’t tire of playing this all year.
4. ms. dynamite – a little deeper
Because sometimes, the Critical Consensus does get things absolutely right. Admirable, noble, mature beyond its years and – surely? – impossible to dislike.
5. the coral – the coral
Gawd, I’m a bit bloody Mercury Music Prize in my tastes this year, aren’t I? I can see why this album might irritate some people (too precocious, too derivative, too bloody Scouse by half) – but for all that, it still scratches where I itch.
6. salif keita – moffou
A late climber up my chart of 2002. In strict musicianly terms, this would be my album of the year without a shadow of doubt. But hey, since when has this been solely about the musicianship? Immaculate stuff, though. If you only listen to one “world music” album from last year, then I urge you to make it this one.
7. solomon burke – don’t give up on me
Deep soul legend returns after many years, with songs donated by all the best people. The result is a slow-burning, smouldering triumph.
8. dj shadow – the private press
Surprise of the year, as I was far from convinced by his alleged “classic” debut, Endtroducing. Can’t argue with friskily inventive electronica like this though. We don’t still call this Trip Hop, do we?
9. aim – hinterland
Bought it – quite liked it – went right off it – re-discovered it – ended up loving it. Slow burner of the year.
10. charles webster – born on the 24th of july
Moody mood music from Nottingham’s erstwhile Mister Moody of deep house, now gone all languidly downtempo and sounding even better for it. Sounds particularly great in the car, when tootling round the Peak District on a moody afternoon.
11. david bowie – heathen
Oh no, honestly, he’s really back on form these days! Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look – I’ve heard Earthling, okay? Except…well, whaddya know? He really is back on form these days. Easily his best album since Scary Monsters. And ooh, don’t he look well for his age? And him such a heavy smoker and all…
12. soulwax – 2 many djs
Bootlegs and electroclash: the two big fads of the Spring were combined to stonking effect on this monster monster party jam of a mix CD. “Danger! High Voltage!”
13. papa noel & papi oviedo – bana congo
Congolese-Cuban fusion music. Not half as silly as it sounds. There is the most wonderful sense of freedom, abandonment and experimentation on this record – and yet it is all so exquisitely marshalled into shape.
14. missy elliott – under construction
Back to her hip-hop block party roots, and all that (you’ve read the reviews, right?) Just the sort of re-connection that hip-hop sorely needs, if you ask me.
15. city rockers present futurism vol.1
A monument to all that was cool and groovy about electroclash (and there was plenty of it, make no mistake). Most of the genre’s top tunes can be found right here.
16. koop – waltz for koop
We don’t still call this Acid Jazz, do we? A perfect soundtrack for the early evening cocktail hour.
17. herrmann & kleine – our noise
Leftfield obscurity of the year. Everything that Boards Of Canada’s Geogaddi promised to be, but wasn’t.
18. doves – the last broadcast
And I don’t even like overly earnest Epic Rock! No arguing with this, though.
19. blind boys of alabama – higher ground
Ancient old blues codgers show us all how it’s done. Just like they did the previous year, in fact.
20. youssou n’dour – nothing’s in vain
Diluted with commercial Western influences, you say? Well – yes, I can see that. Still bloody good, though. Unfairly dismissed by the self-appointed world music cognoscenti, in my humble opinion.
21. lambchop – is a woman
22. beck – sea change
23. cornershop – handcream for a generation
24. joni mitchell – travelogue
25. beth gibbons & rustin’ man – out of season
26. fc kahuna – machine says yes
27. groove armada – another late night
28. warchild: 1 love
29. a late junction compilation vol.1
30. orchestre baobab – specialist in all styles
chemical brothers – come with us
death in vegas – scorpio rising
flaming lips – yoshimi battles the pink robots
groove armada – lovebox
masters at work – our time is coming
mum – finally we are no one
my computer – vulnerabilia
norah jones – come away with me
pet shop boys – release
sigur ros – ()
soft cell – cruelty without beauty
thievery corporation – the richest man in babylon
underworld – a hundred days off
Delayed but played:
angie stone – mahogany soul
black rebel motorcycle club – b.r.m.c.
blind boys of alabama – spirit of the century
fischerspooner – #1
ladytron – 604
shuggie otis – inspiration information
susheela raman – salt rain