I’m afraid my interest in the Mercury Music Prize is diminishing wi’ the passing of every year. The last three awards have disappointed. Two years ago the very ordinary Klaxons picked up the gong, twelve months ago the worthy enough Elbow won the prize but at the expense of the remarkable Burial and last week Speech Debelle vanquished to a sigh and a muttered ‘hmm’ from this scribe. To be fair, the vast majority of the 2009 nominees underwhelmed. Looking back at the list of previous winners, only Portishead’s Dummy (1995) and the first Franz Ferdinand long player (2004) really catch the eye as deserved prize winners.
I am intrigued by this thread on the wondrous Word Magazine website that ruminates on the plethora of fabulous long players released thirty years ago in 1979 (I can do maths, me) and debates what the winner of the Mercury Prize would have been that year. I do enjoy a hearty hypothetical question. For the record, my choice would have been Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures with earnest mentions in despatches for Metal Box by Public Image Ltd., The Specials’ self-titled debut, Gang of Four's Entertainment, The Clash’s London Calling and The Fall’s Live at the Witch Trials. I do think that there is so much fabulous music around these days but a brief scan of the nuggets available back in ’79 does make me consider that any golden age of long playing recordings may be firmly in the past.