Pick O' The Year 2012

Here's what has been tickling my lugholes throughout this year...

Best New Releases of 2012

Focus - "Focus X" (4Worlds CD)
If like me you've enjoyed the music of Focus for the last forty years(!) then you'll be delighted to know that this new album sounds exactly like they did in 1973. All the elements are there: the Hammond organ, the eccentric vocals (yodelling and all), the flute, the neo-classical piano... there are the riffy rocky numbers that sound like "Hocus Pocus", the jazzy bits that sound like "Anonymus", the slightly cheesy-listening pieces a la "Focus 2", the medieval-sounding bits... Only the guitarist has been changed occasionally, but even then, they always manage to find a new one who sounds spookily like Jan Akkerman! Quite a nice package too, although it has to be said, the much-lauded Roger Dean sleeve turns out to be not his best work by a long chalk.

also worth mentioning
Travis & Fripp - "Follow" (Panegyric DVD/CD) Read my take here
Steven Wilson - "Get All You Deserve" (KScope DVD)
Stick Men - "Open" (Bandcamp download) 
Robert Fripp, Andrew Keeling, a.o. - "The Wine Of Silence" (DGM/Panegyric CD) 
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson - "Thick As A Brick II" (Chrysalis CD/DVD) Read my take here
Steve Hackett - "Genesis Revisited II" (Inside Out 2CD) Read my take here

Reissues & Back Catalogue 

Can - "The Lost Tapes" (Spoon 3CD)
In a year when we finally got the "definitive" wide-screen master of "Larks' Tongues In Aspic", who would have thunk that anything else would top the BLASTS FROM THE PAST section of this little list? But this delightful box set storms out in front from nowhere. If you are new to the wonderful world of The Can, then this wouldn't be the best place to start... but if you are already intimately familiar with all of their previous catalogue, then you are probably screaming for more anyway! These three discs gather together some beefy live performances (not strictly speaking "Lost", as some of them have appeared previously on less reputable releases) along with some 'missing' parts from film soundtracks and other studio sessions. It all benefits from some tasteful sequencing and editing, making for a very enjoyable listening experience.

also worth mentioning
King Crimson - "Larks' Tongues In Aspic" (DGM/Panegyric DVD/CD)
Led Zeppelin - "Celebration Day" (Atlantic 2DVD/2CD)
King Crimson - "Live In Argentina 1994" (DGM/KCCC/Panegyric 2DVD)
King Crimson - "Live At The Marquee 1971" (DGM/KCCC 2CD)

It's been a very good year for the 'multimedia' experience - lavish box sets containing old favourites presented in multiple formats and a mixture of top-notch audio and video content. I wouldn't be at all surprised if I "review" the first two items on this 'also worth mentioning' list in their own right, sometime after the hols, once I've lived with them for a while!