Eddy Says

Eddy Says: More than a lot (of headaches)

By | Published on Tuesday 17 January 2012


When a hard drive meltdown at the end of last year left Eddy Temple-Morris without his music collection, and most importantly the last twelve months of new music, it delayed his traditional review of The Remix year. Thankfully, with technical difficulties overcome, he has put together his annual ‘Bombs Of The Year’ show. But working technology didn’t overcome the biggest problem – what to pick as overall album of the year?

Ever since I can remember, when putting together my ‘Bombs Of The Year’ show, choosing an album of the year has always been a relative walk in the park. Certain artists managed to make it easy by providing an album that, for me, just stood head and shoulders above everything else around.

Two and a half years ago, I remember getting stick for choosing my album of the year at the end of August. It was that clear-cut for me that Calvin Harris’s second album would not be beaten that year. The year before that, Empire Of The Sun provided the soundtrack to a monumental twelve months, personally, managing to pull me right out of the mire of separation with their astonishingly uplifting sound and sense of pop song writing nous.

Near the start of 2011, I had that ‘Calvin Harris feeling’ with ‘No More Idols’ by Chase And Status. It was a record of such staggering ambition, the list of collaborators alone was enough to make my head spin. The production was adept, a glorious nailing of the pop culture zeitgeist, and the whole effort was like a line in the sand, when underground music becomes mainstream.

Will and Saul came in for a full album playback, and it was a riveting couple of hours of radio, getting the full scoop on all these tracks from the men who made them. I remember their manager – no easy man to please – texting me, saying: “Dude this sounds great – I’m so glad we did this”.

Soon afterwards I recall Steve Harris on Xfm saying (with some incredulity): “Eddy thinks this is the album of the decade, not the album of the year!” That’s not exactly what I’d said, but Steve could be forgiven for the over-expansiveness. What I actually said was that I think this album will be looked back on in ten years time as one of the records that defined the decade, and I stand by that.

The point is that I thought, for yet another year, I’d just breeze through the next many months until December, then name ‘No More Idols’ as album of the year. So I mentally ordered the champagne, put the guest list together for the party, got my fancy dress costume sorted, then BOOM. The unthinkable happened. I had to postpone the champagne and send back the oversized turban. What’s this? Someone had come along to spoil the party. Or, someone had come along to make the party better – you know me by now, the glass is always half full.

Another two men, but called Dan and Joe, ironically signed to Will and Saul’s label, MTA, delivered an album that took my breath away. They were Nero. Their debut album, ‘Welcome Reality’, gave me, on the one hand, an immense amount of joy, but on the other, a massive headache.

I was now torn.

My head said Chase And Status.

My heart said Nero.

My life is a constant battle between my head and my heart, with my heart winning most of the time, but in the last few years, I will confess to, on a personal level, listening to my head a lot more.

‘No More Idols’ had the pizzazz, the superstars, and was a broader vision of urban inspired music – drum n bass, dubstep, hip hop and electro-house all represented on one dazzling record. But it was also a little colder, and more clinical than its cheeky cousin, Nero’s ‘Welcome Reality’.

One of Chase And Status’s circle of trust even confessed to me, privately, that he wasn’t counting ‘No More Idols’ as a proper artist album, saying it was more a “collaboration compilation”. He also felt it was too devoid of emotion. I feel that’s harsh and a little unilateral. Yes, it’s certainly less of a cohesive journey, but the scale of it is massive, and the sheer confidence of Chase And Status was reflected in all these glittering stars and interesting wannabes from major label A&R departments wanting to take part.

But then Nero gave us the single of the year, and the first dubstep track to be playlisted by Xfm, so this was a historical benchmark record too, that would equally be looked back on with reverence with the advent of time. It was a warmer experience, with Dan’s girlfriend singing on most of the tracks, and ‘Bladerunner’ – my favourite film – providing an inspirational focal point for the sound and the imagery. This was a record as huge as their label bosses, but huge without the Dizzee Rascals and the Cee-Lo Greens, this was dance music that sounded like it should be played in stadiums because of the music itself, not the guests.

I really did go through the mill, in my own head, for weeks and weeks. I see-sawed between the two records, at various points, convinced that my heart should listen to my head, or vice versa. The turning point came when I arrived at the realisation that they were almost the same record, or a flipside of the same coin. Both artists were, in some way, involved in the making of the other, whether it was inspiration or guidance, or just that unconscious rubbing off you get with talented people that are close to you.

The choice was just too hard, and both records deserved to win, or both records deserved not to lose to the other, so an honourable draw was, in the end, the only way I could call it. But I have to say that it’s an incredible achievement by Chase And Status to not only come up with an album of the year, but also to sign, encourage and guide Nero to what is one of the greatest debut albums in electronic music, ever.

Just my personal opinion, remember; I know there is an army of dubstep purist Nero haters, seething as they read anorak bell-ends like me wibbling on about how amazing Nero’s drum programming is. But there it is, my show has always been an extension of me and so my album of the year is just that. MY album of the year. And how brilliant, now that the dust has settled, that there’s two of them, when normally you’d only get one.

I must quickly doff my cap towards some of the other great records I added to my heaving collection in 2011. Like Alex Metric’s deft mix compilation, which is all we could expect after he sacked off his entire debut album in a fit of classic over-thinking. He’s such a perfectionist that, when it comes, it will have to be perfect, and probably will be.

Scroobius Pip cast off his double act preconceptions and delivered a phenomenal nu-punk album with hip hop overtones, and videos that put others with ten thousand times the budget to shame.

Apparat, Stateless, Washed Out, SBTRKT and M83 charmed and cajoled with their work. Blake accidentally invented a sub genre with his, Officers plugged the gap left by a bored Trent Reznor, and Brookes Brothers delivered a wonderfully bright and optimistic drum n bass record.

Tom Vek reminded us never to write him off, Friendly Fires proved they are no flash in the pan, Justice got kudos for doing their own thing, while DJ Shadow and Kasabian released their best work since we first fell in love with them. Austra united The Remix and X-Posure with love from all sides, and The Horrors came of age with the surprise of the year for me.

So that’s enough looking backwards for now, January on The Remix has traditionally been a time to scan the horizon for the next big thing, or in the case of most of the artists we love on the show, the next small to medium thing. So next week I’ll do just that, and tell you what I’m most looking forward to in 2012. I have a strong feeling this year is going to be a classic, we’re going to make some incredible memories, I’m feeling so up for it, and it’s nice to have you along for the ride.

As Tone Loc would say: “Lezz do it”.