We appear to be smack-gob in the middle of another golden age of music, at least for the music I like.
2002 was the first palindromic year since 1991 and the last until 2112. It started on a Tuesday, which was the day the Euro first became legal tender.
2002 marked Q-Tip's Golden Jubilee on February 6th, though her sister - Princess Margaret - died from a stroke in her sleep three days later, and The Queen Mother died in March. Mixed fortunes for the Windsors there, then.
We lost (as always, among many others) Chuck Jones, Spike Milligan (turns out he was ill), Dudley Moore, Layne Staley, Thor Heyerdahl, Linda Lovelace, John Entwhistle, Richard Harris, Jam-Master Jay, James Coburn and Joe Strummer.
2002 is also the name of a new age band from Texas.
The least web-search-compatible band in the world, A had released two albums before this but my advice is to skip them - the songs and the production don't come anywhere near close to matching this cracker. Punchy as hell and great fun throughout. Top track: "Nothing"
In 2002 I became aware of many of my guitarist friends suddenly raving about this Swedish guy called Mattias Eklundh. I found his first solo album mind-blowing and impenetrable in equal measure, but when I heard his band this album became an instant favourite. Clever, sometimes heavy, always interesting. Top track: "Nobody's Laughing"
I've always dug PG's solo albums, though due to his self-confessed "pop voice" they are sometimes a little ballad-laden. This one rocks out though - it even starts with a track called "I Like Rock". Top track: "My Religion"
During my time in advertising, I made one of the best friends of my life - Mr Mathias Hellquist - and it was he who introduced me to this album, which proved to be a gateway drug to the whole Porcupine Tree back catalogue. This one is for my money the pinnacle of the oeuvre, though that may be because I haven't spent enough time with its successors. Either way, it's magnificent. Top track: "Blackest Eyes"
You could not move for this album in 2002-2004 or so. You know why? It's good. Top track: "Can't Stop"
And the winner is…
Damien Rice - O
Oh god, this album.
It took me a while to get down into it, having been played it a few times at a friend's flat, but a few more repeat listens and a heart-rending live gig at the Union Chapel later and I was a Damien Rice convert. This album…
I find it hard to even write about, since I often find it hard to listen to. And I find it hard to listen to purely because if I actually pay attention to it (as opposed to, say, having it in my headphones while working) then I find it drags me on an emotional roller-coaster journey that frankly wears me out. I know music is supposed to do that, that's generally the idea. But the epic trek comprised of these ten tracks demands a lot of the listener. Don't get me wrong, it's not challenging music - it's just… deep. I think. I could be wrong.
I'll say this - go with it. You'll get back at least as much as you put in, though you might end up a little different by the end.
Top tracks: "The Blower's Daughter", "Amie", "Cannonball"
Turkey of the Year
Bleurch. Honestly. Wow. No. Don't do that.