I’m not normally one to embrace the whole end of year countdown thing, but I’ve been asked for my choices a couple of times now and so I thought I’d jump on the journalistic bandwagon also. Over the next few days I will post my top ten albums of the year, as well as a few other bits and pieces about my year in music.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an affliction necessarily, but I definitely have some sort of condition where I am ruled by a kind of duality. On the one hand I want to be on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’, but on the other hand, there’s my high reach towards that which is completely unpopular, and un-current and unusual.” – Rufus Wainwright, March 2016
First up is Rufus Wainwright’s Take All My Loves, an album that saw the Canadian singer, songwriter and opera composer tackle a batch of Shakespeare’s sonnets with the help of singers like Florence Welch and sister Martha, as well as thespy luminaries Siân Phillips, Peter Eyre and, er, William Shatner.
Your appreciation of this record largely depends on whether a) you’re a fan of Shakespeare and b) you’re a fan of Rufus Wainwright, both of which I happen to be. It is nevertheless a complex and challenging – but ultimately rewarding – album that underlines how talented Mr. Wainwright is; the split between classical and more accesibble fare on the album suggests a return to pop music from the rarefied world of opera that Wainwright has been hanging out in these past few years might well be on the cards.
I fulfilled a longstanding career ambition and interviewed Wainwright about the project for Clash, wherein he explained how gatecrashing parties, hanging out on movie sets and generally being an all-round celebrity pest allowed him to build out the little black book of contacts necessary for the creation of Take All My Loves, as well as how masturbation improbably led to a love of the Bard.
My interview can be read here.
(c) 2016 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence