Didn't Cat Power's The Greatest come out last year? Yes. Yes, it did, on 7" in January, but to capitalise on the complete lack of reaction from the Brits School crowd in midweek it's coming out on CD. It's no less marvellous for such, of course, but surely it's all downloads now and it's been out on that for a year. Also in our top ten albums of 2006 was M Ward's world-weary folk Americana lament Post-War, from which comes an EP headed by Daniel Johnston cover To Go Home accompanied by three new songs featuring guest spots for Neko Case, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb and Saddle Creek avatar Mike Mogis. The Early Years' Kraut-shoegaze sonics have attracted a good deal of attention, and they take a step forward with four new efforts on The Great Awakening EP. Nick Cave's garage psychobilly...what would you call it? 'Side project' somehow doesn't seem to cover its intentions. Anyway, the almost frightening No Pussy Blues - subtle, too - is lifted from their eponymous album. Oh, you want pop, do you? Is it safe to admit our yen for Sophie Ellis Bextor's Catch You, given it's essentially Cathy Dennis channelling Blondie through the medium of our haughtiest vocal vixen? Oh. Alright. Au Revoir Simone, three girls with keyboards and a lovingly winsome synthpop approach. Fallen Snow is the 7" from their forthcoming UK debut album on Moshi Moshi.
We mentioned our sneaking love of la Ellis-Bextor up there, and we've made the comparison in terms of ice cold diffidence inside warm vocals to Sarah Nixey before now. Not that we're making a direct comparison - Nixey, of course, knows exactly what she's doing when she elevates her vowel sounds, which makes it all the better. Debut solo album Sing, Memory, produced by ex-Auteur and most recently string arranger on A Weekend In The City James Banbury, goes the same way Black Box Recorder's presumably last album Passionoia was heading, less detached but still deep in the heart of sullen electropop, like Xenomania writing for adults. Lord alone knows who Bobby Conn writes for, King For A Day being the sixth release by the mildly disturbing Chicagan multifaceted glam-funk concept disturber whose Never Get Ahead used to turn up on VH1's Worst Videos Ever roundups alongside you Renee & Renatos and Black Laces. The best thing about this was it was never explained who or more likely what this was, just shown without context. Oh, and his drummer is supposedly behind that gay artist 'Bands to watch out for' spoof website that did the message board rounds a couple of weeks ago. Calling an album Yes, I'm A Witch would be something of a masterstroke for Yoko Ono had she not somehow just been deposed after all these years as Least Likeable Ex-Beatle Spouse. Still, the list of admirers adding new backings to Ono's old vocals is impressive - The Flaming Lips, Cat Power, Jason Pierce, Antony Hegarty Public Enemy's Bomb Squad general Hank Shocklee, Le Tigre, The Sleepy Jackson, the Polyphonic Spree, Peaches, Apples in Stereo, the Porcupine Tree, DJ Spooky and a few others. We're glad to see Trojan haven't made the same mistake in the first of their new series of celebrity playlist compilers made by the compilers of Motown Made To Measure, that is putting the selector's picture on the box as if it were their own album, which caused something of a start when Martin Freeman's picks opened proceedings. Jonny Greenwood Is The Controller is as irie as you'd hope and certainly not obscurists only, with Lee Perry and the Upsetters, Desmond Dekker, Gregory Isaacs, the Heptones, Scientist and Junior Byles among those included. Reissues: for us it's the lesser of his two fabled prison albums, and you could buy them together in a double pack last year anyway, but you'd have to do bloody well to deny the impact of Johnny Cash At San Quentin, now in something called a Legacy Edition which means it's grown a CD of rarities and a DVD of a 1969 Granada documentary. McCarthy were for a few years the great lost jangly satirical lefty political band, and then only really mentioned in dispatches as the band Tim Gane was in before Stereolab, but emerging with the not entirely Marxist forum of C86, but Nicky Wire's flagwaving ("the most perfect record, a Communist manifesto with tunes" he told Word) has helped see debut I Am A Wallet get a reissue with extra tracks and Bob Stanley on liner notes. One day Bob Stanley will write liner notes for every reissue, and then we can all rest knowing our jobs are being done well enough for us. The Undertones' True Confessions (Singles = A's & B's) slips back into print, proving that they were even great when they matured, and for no good reason at all beyond sense, a commodity not in evidence in the disputes over the last few years between Eric Idle and Neil Innes, the Rutles' 1996 album Archaeology is back out.
It won't teach you a lot about where they emerged from or make you feel a lot more confident about their politicised cause, but the Clash's 1980 film Rude Boy is an intriguing historical curio, mixing a screenplay about a fictional roadie with live and studio footage and reportage. Narrative not great, footage very great. Interesting sidenote: the period covered includes the pigeon shooting incident for which Paul Simonon and Topper Headon were arrested and fined despite the defence counsel of David Mellor QC. The Tory minister/toe sucking/6-0-6 twat, yes, although no relation despite sharing a name with Strummer's brother.