And, just like that – it was already December! How did that happen? Where did it even GO?!
The year in music, of course, began with the tragic passing of one of the true greats of modern music, David Bowie, leaving behind his final album, the magnificent and mysterious “Blackstar” – seven tracks imbued with a mystery and mortality befitting someone whose music was always questing, searching for more, seeking to rise above the rabble. It really is a tremendous record, up there with his very best – and the vinyl, particularly, is a gorgeous package. One of this year’s best, and destined to rank high on many critics’ lists of 2016 faves.
As 2016 took away, so it also gave – NZ visits from a heap of big names – D’Angelo, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Gillian Welch, Brian Wilson, The Cure, and, perhaps most thrillingly, Prince bringing his phenomenal, solo, “Piano & A Microphone” show our way.
And then the awful news that Prince, too had passed – just as big a shock as Bowie, and just as great a loss. This almost seemed to kick off a chain reaction of deaths of a whole swag of musical greats – singers Sharon Jones and Natalie Cole, country star Merle Haggard, Eagle Glenn Frey, piano man Leon Russell, and then, latterly, the great bard Leonard Cohen (leaving behind the superb “You Want It Darker” as his parting shot).
A crazy, ridiculous roll call of talent hauled in – and that’s without even mentioning actors Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman, comedians Ronnie Corbett and Garry Shandling, nor Beatles producer George Martin. RIP, all of you – you all contributd in no small way to the greater sum of human happinss.
Anyway, no better way to honour and celebrate their life and work than by enjoying the fruits of their talent and creativity – SO much stuff available again, often after being out of print for ages.
There are deluxe vinyl issues of all the classic Bowie and Prince albums, and we are expecting the vinyl of Leonard Cohen’s latest before Christmas! You could try the remastered soundtrack LP to Ron Howard’s excellent Beatles biopic, “Eight Days A Week”, remixed by George Martin’s son Giles, with significant noise reduction on the phenomenal crowd screaming revealing wonderful live performances from the Fabs. There is the new, all covers, all Blues set from the evergreen Rolling Stones, called “Sad & Lonesome”, wherein they tackle songs that inspired them to form the group in the first place, all those years ago – think Muddy Waters, Little Walter and so on – some of the liveliest performances the Stones have captured on tape in an age.
Also terrific this year have been new albums by Bon Iver, PJ Harvey, Radiohead (we hosted a global ‘launch day’ event here in the store, with a live show streaming, an instore competition and giveaways), while Record Store Day back in April was a MONSTER – Dave Dobbyn‘s vinyl release for his superb “Harmony House” (produced by our homeboys Luke Buda and Samuel Scott of The Phoenix Foundation), along with Anika Moa launching her “Songs For Bubbas”, and the terrific Orchestra Of Spheres showcasing their excellent “Brothers And Sisters Of The Black Lagoon” – the whole shebang was also live broadcast by the good people of RNZ National‘s Music 101 (you can even revisit it here – http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/music101/20160416 )
There were also memorable instore performances from Lawrence Arabia (his “Absolute Truth” album was another highlight of the year), as well as booklaunches for Karl du Fresne (“A Road Tour Of American Song Titles”), and, from Brisbane, former Go-Betweens singer songwriter Robert Forster‘s wonderful memoir “Grant And I” – the Q&A conducted by Wellington journalist Richard Langston was absolutely superb.
And then – that dreadful Earthquake business (the store escaped entirely unscathed!!), and suddenly – it’s Xmas again!! So, once again, let us offer a hearty and sincere Slow Boat THANKYOU to all our cherished customers and suppliers. Without you, we’re NOTHING! We appreciate your custom, your enthusiasm and passion for music, bouncing back at us. We appreciate that it is your choice to shop with us, and are grateful and pleased that you choose to do so.
Here’s hoping you all enjoy a happy, healthy, relaxing holiday season, and let’s do it all over again in 2017!!!
A whole lotta love,
XX THE SLOW BOAT CREW XX