It's been a long time I know. Two years in fact. I may (hopefully) post some reviews of, you know, stuff in 2012 but until then I will be doing some "best of" 2011 lists.
We start with the Top 5 re-issues or compilation albums of 2011.
5) Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage - REM
The title itself is no doubt intended as one of those kind of jokes that are both funny and too close to the knuckle to be that funny. There was a general "it's for the best" vibe surrounding the announcement in 2011 that REM were to split; commercial success never wholly equates to artistic merit of course but in REM's case the dwindling (yet still relatively strong) sales of their past few efforts was perhaps "deserved". That said, I don't think there is an REM album that doesn't have "it's moments".
So whilst there is definitely a tail off on this compilation and whilst I would have to admit that the trio of new songs pretty much sum up the 21st Century output from the boys (far from dreadful but far from memorable) there is enough on display here to show just how good REM were at their best. And if you've ever found yourself humming an REM tune but never got around to investing in a CD this is an absolute winner.
4) Some Girls - Rolling Stones
By a quirk of fate, Some Girls was the only studio album of the Rolling Stones that I had ever bought. I now have it twice! Rolling Stones going "disco" in the form of opener Miss You has perhaps a particular resonance in 2011 given Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" but this is more about the late 70's Stones trying to fit in with the (then) modern pop world and pulling it off with supreme ease. Throw in a great second disc of other tracks (which would make for a killer album in their own right) and you have a great package.
3) Best Imitation Of Myself - Ben Folds (Five)
It might not mean much to the uninitiated, especially given the success Mr Folds has had since dropping the "Five", but I'll always consider his solo stuff as second best to his Ben Folds Five days. So the surprising news that the trio would be contributing THREE new songs to this collection was one of 2011's most welcome musical developments. Not your traditional "greatest hits" collections (mainly because Folds would himself readily admit he hasn't got many hits) this showcases all that is great with both Folds and his old band. One CD of the "favourites", one CD of live stuff (and Folds is a superb live performer, so it makes perfect sense) and one CD of rarities makes this a must have package for any fans of the man and his old band. And if things go well 2012 could see the Five come back with a whole new album...
2) The Monument Singles - Roy Orbison
One of the finest voices of any era, Roy Orbison is a true great. This collection, compiling together the A and B sides of his Monument recordings is absolutely essential. And let's face it if all Orbison had was Pretty Woman his place in history would be assured. But the classics just keep coming at you on this collection; Only The Lonely, Running Scared, It's Over, In Dreams.... but there is also a lot of great stuff on the flip side too, showing just what a talent Orbison was. This collection shows him at his peak. (The bonus DVD is great too!)
1) Elvis Is Back/Something For Everybody - Elvis Presley
1960's Elvis Is Back is regarded by many as his best album and you won't find me disagreeing with that point of view. Here it's remastered beautifully, has added singles Stuck On You, It's Now Or Never, Are You Lonesome and Surrender with their b-sides (mostly). It also has 1961's Something For Everyone album on disc two which whilst not as good in terms of the songs contains what could be Elvis' best vocal performances AND has yet more singles and B-Sides. Superb and sublime.
Don't worry folks, the next couple of lists I do will make up for the fact that these were all blokes!