Every year, in our End of year review, we have selected the best LP's of the year. But last year marked a change when I found it very hard to pick whole LP's to recommend. The nature of the music industry has changed markedly in my opinion, where now we can all pick and choose tracks from an artists release rather than buying it as a whole.
This has led to a real detriment in quality, LP wise IMO. where "Conceptual" works barely exist nowadays. In Part One of our 2014 Review, Marc Mac put it best when he said: "Quality in 2014? not an easy one for me to be honest, there has been some great tracks but not LP’s I can put my finger on in my opinion, I think a lot of artists have given in to the fact people download singles and tracks so they don’t make full conceptional albums of quality but just some good tracks."
Not that there isn't great music out there, there is, but an Album as a piece of thought through, linear, interlocking piece of work is hard to find nowadays. Albums are fragmented pieces of work, with some great songs (the "Singles") but not much else that makes you WANT to purchase the whole piece of work.
But that's not to say there isn't some works purchasing as a whole; Pick any LP from the above cover art and you've purchased quality work.
But, for me, one stood out. D'Angelo went and released his 3rd LP after a 14 year wait, and there's greatness there. Not sat with "Black Messiah" long enough to form opinions on where it lies in his discography, but its great work. It actually feels like an album, with themes that run through it both lyrically and musically. You get that instantaneous espresso hit of D'Angelo on tracks like "Really Love" and "Another Life", but you know with further listens the other tracks are gonna creep up on you. There's been great love for the LP as well as disappointment; Too many expected Voodoo Part 2 I think, but this is the work of an artist that we greatly need at this time. So, unsurprisingly, its my LP of the year.
Having said that, there were other fine pieces of work produced; Hiatus Kaiyote teased us with an EP that precedes their 2015 LP, and its got me real excited for it. Nai Palm's voice is something else; There are great LP's from Eric Roberson, the UK's Fatima, my fave beatmakers The Stuyvesants; Brandon Williams XII, coming on like a "Black Radio" part 3; and a great selection of unreleased material from the legendary Steve Arrington.
But this mix is about the best SONGS of 2014; And most are there. Some notable exceptions need a shout out: from the likes of Soulperfreesia (Check out their LP too, some great stuff there), the excellent 2000 Black remix of Paul Johnson's "Better than this", some nice Soul/Jazz work from Jarrod Lawson, "Florina" a soulful/Spacey work from Taylor Mcferrin, Mark De Clive-Lowe's excellent "Hollow", the Dangerfeel Newbies fantastic "Always with me", plus a few more, only left out for mix length reasons.
However, Remember this: If you purchased each tune on this mix and supported the artists, it would only cost you approx £30/$30. So get those iTunes/Amazon vouchers working for you. Because as negatively sounding this write up started out as, we gotta remember that WE, as purchasers, have the power to reward great music/art by buying it. And if truly great LP's don't make a comeback, then maybe we can make our own BEST LP of 2014. Just as Ive done in my mix below.
So press play, revel in some great music, and ill see you in 2015.
Happy Holidays and New Year from #TheSoulMixtape