Your favourite tracks/albums of 2016

By Martin Smith | 28 December 2016

A tribute to David Bowie

Every year we invite musicians, DJs and readers to send us their five favourite albums or tracks of 2016. In a year that saw so many great musicians pass away, there were a number of brilliant musical recordings. Our readers’ selections are eclectic and cross many genres. I hope you find some new music to explore.


Musician who alongside with Wadada Leo Smith released – A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke in 2016.

1. Tyshawn Sorey: The Inner Spectrum of Variables

2. Kris Davis: Duopoly

3. Steve Lehman:

4. Wadada Leo Smith: America’s National Parks

5. Chance the Rapper:
Coloring Book


Musician pianist performed with Melody Gardot, The Futures and the Philadelphia Improvisation Orchestra

1. Dashon Burton & Nathaniel Gumbs
: Songs of struggle and Redemption: We Shall Overcome

You can listen to samples from the album here.

2. Ennio Morricone: Ennio Morricone 60

3. Johaan Johanannsson: Orphee

4. Danish String Quartet: Thomas Ades, Per Norgad, Hand Abrahamsen

5. Karl Jenkins: Cantata Memoria


Songwriter and broadcaster

1. Kate Tempest: Let them eat chaos

2. PWR BTTM: Ugly Cherries

3. Faustus: Death and Other Animals

4. Darren Hayman: Thankful Villages vol1

5. ShaoDow: Way of Shao


Musician whose latest album Live at Daryl’s House is out now.

1. Judee Sill: The Kiss

2. Willie Nile: Give me Tomorrow

3. Bruce Springsteen: Kingdom of Days

4. Joy Askew: Queen Victoria

5. Louis Armstrong: Lazy River


Musician and member of Steve White and the Protest Family – check out their new album Protest for Dummies.

1. Shirley Collins: Lodestar

One of the key voices of the British folk revival going right back to the 1950s, Shirley suffered health problems and stopped singing even privately 30 years ago. Her return finds her with an entirely new voice, but the timeless phrasing and the frosty haunted quality that was always present in her music are undiminished.

2. Anohni: Hopelessness
You know when you’re having a bad time and you wake up in the morning and for a split second there’s a little empty moment of peace just before you remember everything is messed up? This album is like that. A gorgeous synth drenched soundscape and vocals but whenever you feel like you’re about to drift into reverie the savage lyrics slash at you like a razor blade across the face.

3. Vic Gammon & Friends: Early Scottish Ragtime
Not one you’ll have seen on Jooles Holland, but a fascinating and fun album tracing the relationship between American ragtime and Scottish traditional dance music.

4. Various: Nigeria Freedom Sounds!
I bought this album completely on impulse but I was glad I did. A gorgeous document of the various musical strands released in Nigeria in the early sixties along with comprehensive sleeve notes setting the music in it’s turbulent context.

5. Jinx Lennon: Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift the Grief Magnets
Angry, funny and clever music from the Irish punk poet.


DJ: You can catch her wonderful radio show featuring uplifting soul, funk, hip-hop, RnB and Rare Groove every Wednesday on

Joint First. Solange Knowles: A Seat At The Table/Beyonce: Lemonade

This year has been one where I listened to more of the Knowles sisters than ever before. Both albums offer a commentary about racism in today’s US but for me Solange’s album has the edge lyrically and musically

3. Kano: Made In The Manor
Grime hit the news again this year with Skepta’s Mercury Prize win but I enjoyed Kano’s album. It’s well worth watching the videos when listening too.

4. A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here….Thank You 4 Your Service
It was great to get one last ATCQ album but this isn’t a ‘nostalgia’ choice. As well as all the original members there are some great guest spots and of course samples

5. Frank McComb: Soulmate: Another Love Story
Not at all political but a beautiful voice, and keyboard player. I’ve always looked forward to a Frank McComb release and as well as enjoying this, it also made me go back and play some of his earlier albums. Well worth checking out


Co-author of the wonderful Reminiscences of RAR: Rocking Against Racism 1976-1982 – more details here

1. Charles Lloyd & the Marvels: I Long To See You

Excellent as usual, but worth your money just for the track Masters of War

2. Saul Williams:
Martyr Loser King

Not a lot to say, but he continues on the edge of poetry/song extraordinary.

3. Ethel & Robert Mirabal: The River

Cool New York contemporary meets the heat of Native American New Mexico

4. Alicia Keys: Here

Nudged towards me by what’s happening in the States. Great songs.

5. A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here….Thank You 4 Your Service

Intense words against layers of sound, an album of for the times.


Sun Ra: The definitive 45 singles collection

Sharon Signs to Cherry Red

Moodymann: DJ Kicks

Georgie Fame: The Whole World is Shaking [complete recordings 1963-1966)


Musician and band member, Public Sector

1. Album – Jaimeo Brown Transcendence: Work Songs

Missed their gig at Love Supreme festival last summer but this is such a politically focused work in a year when the whole Black Lives Matter movement has seeped into a varied conscious/rebel music revival. It’s very much a concept album, explicitly rootsy. However, there is an over-use of Alan Lomax’s Library of Congress blues tapes as source material.

2. Track – Solange: Borderlines
Guess it’s the prettiest/poppiest tune on her magnificent album A Seat At The Table. She certainly has a pure voice. Sucker for Q-Tip anyway, anyhow, anytime! Love the restrained production on the whole album.

3. Artist – Donny McCaslin
Therefore my choice is for an artist who I am embarrassed to say was new to me in 2016. Donny McCaslin’s band were hired by David Bowie for his final album. But he was already a classy, distinctive tenor sax player for some years since his graduation from Berklee. Last March he recorded the powerful ‘Beyond Now’. Knocked me out.

4. Video – Jamila Woods: Black Girl Soldier
From her album Heavn which is another militant creation of 2016. Hoping she may tour in UK soon. In Eryka Badu’s absence Jamila is an acceptable substitute!


Independent online electronic music magazine, at – staff choice

1. Babyfather: BBF Hosted By DJ Escrow

2. Equiknoxx: Bird Sound Power

3. Skee: Mask Shred

4. Huerco S.: For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)

5. Omar-S: The Best


1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree


Musician/bass player who has played with David Gilmore, Robert Wyatt, Phil Manzanera, Nigel Kennedy and Gilad Atzmon.

1. David Bowie: Blackstar

The album left such an impression on me – I think it deserves all 5 places!!!


Dream Deferred

1. Mark Prichard: Under the Sun

This album of beautiful and atmospheric music is hard to characterise – ambient, nu-wave, avant-garde electronics and folk are all in the mix. I have come back to the record time after time in 2016.

2. Will Long: Long Trax

This is deep house at its best and contains some amazing samples of political speeches.

3. Islam Chipsy: Kharaba

Ever wanted to know what Egyptian wedding music combined with Techno sounds like? Look no further; this is a record full of joy and hope.

4. Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Mathew Garrison: In Movement

Alabama by John Coltrane is in my opinion the most beautiful and important pieces of music about the US Civil Rights Movement. Fifty years on this trio including two of the sons of the original Coltrane Quartet have re-recorded the song and turned it into a haunting song for today’s Black Lives Matter campaign.

5. The Spirit of Love: The Power of your Love

This is a foot stomping, roof raising 1970s gospel/soul classic. Almost impossible to find but it has now been re-released.




  1. Roger Huddle said:

    Another wonderful bunch of collections. So little crossover shows so much out there. Thanks you all. R

    28 December 2016 at 2:58pm
  2. Alan Fair said:

    Sam Trump: Brother

    Ryley Walker: The Merry go round

    Re-release…King Sighter: The One Eyed Giant

    31 December 2016 at 2:51pm
  3. Alan fair said:

    oops, that Ryley Walker should read ‘Roundabout’ I must have been channelling Wild Man Fischer!!!!
    By the way, am I the only one to have dug Spike Lee’s ‘Chiraq’?

    24 January 2017 at 10:26am

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