This morning I’m listening to the Plastic Ono Band’s Live Peace In Toronto. I bought it for the Yoko Ono stuff; I really don’t like the Beatles. I never did. But I like Yoko’s voice atop a raucous guitar-rock band. I think she should do an album with Keiji Haino.

I guess since it’s the 31st, I should make some comment about The Year In Music. Well, I’m not going to instead I’m going to reflect on 2002 instead.

The two genres that seemed to have the strongest year (2002), to my ear anyway, were metal and jazz. I heard a ton of great jazz this year, from the NY “free” scene (David S. Ware, William Parker, Sabir Mateen, and Jemeel Moondoc all released great records, and DJ Spooky collaborated with many great NYC players on the best record of his career) and some out-of-town folks (Fred Anderson put out another great album; I don’t think he’s dropped a dud since his re-emergence in the late 90s). Some specific recommendations:

Fred Anderson, On The Run (Live At the Velvet Lounge)
David S. Ware Quartet, Freedom Suite
Sabir Mateen/Hamid Drake, Brothers Together
William Parker’s Clarinet Trio, Bob’s Pink Cadillac
DJ Spooky, Optometry
Jemeel Moondoc Trio, Live At Glenn Miller Café, Vol. I
Cecil Taylor/Bill Dixon/Tony Oxley, s/t

That year saw a ridiculous amount of incredible reissues, too. Much of the legendary BYG catalog re-emerged, on vinyl and on CD, including the following essential titles:

Dave Burrell, Echo
The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Reese And the Smooth Ones
Archie Shepp, Yasmina, A Black Woman
Alan Silva and the Celestrial Communications Orchestra, Seasons
Sonny Sharrock, Monkey-Pockie-Boo

A lot of non-BYG stuff came back into the light, too, like Sonny Sharrock’s Paradise, the Art Ensemble’s Live In Milano, Fred Anderson’s The Missing Link, Peter Br?tzmann’s Balls, Manfred Schoof’s European Echoes, and literally dozens more. It’s about the best possible time to be a fan of 1960s and early-70s free and avant-jazz.

Metal seemed to be the only rock genre with any vitality. All that garage-rock bullshit was just that; hype with little or no actual sonic pleasure to back it up. I really don’t understand how anyone could listen to the White Stripes for more than five minutes at a stretch, let alone the warmed-over Nirvanarama of the Vines. And don’t even get me started on the Hives. Since when do matching suits, and white shoes, count as rock ‘n’ roll? Somebody call Pat Boone; his look has finally come back in!

Here’s a short list of great metal albums from 2002:

High on Fire, Surrounded By Thieves
Yakuza, Way of the Dead
Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope
Isis, Oceanic
Theory of Ruin, Counterculture Nosebleed
Napalm Death, Order of the Leech
Stone Sour, s/t
Bloodbath, Resurrection Through Carnage
Immortal, Sons of Northern Darkness
Meshuggah, Nothing

There are probably two dozen others I could name, but those’ll get anybody who might have lost touch with metal, for whatever reason, back in the game. It didn’t look like the resurgence is anywhere even close to over, either. There were some great releases from Amon Amarth, Grave and others for 2003 as well, another good year.

Reflection over.