2017 was a rather big year, wasn’t it? The gathering of tribes which allowed for the creation and longevity of MOOF is something that arguably could only have been made possible in this epochal year. As we stagger out of the all-night party of the past twelve months and jump onto the buoyant lily pad of the next, it feels only fitting to eulogise and remember the year gone by in the typical Curiosity Shoppe ham-fisted nature. Perhaps in some dystopian future a band of plucky rebels will seek to protect the vital documents of MOOF magazine from rival gangsters opting to give them a good ol’ short back and insides.
Perhaps my persevering memory of the year will be the sheer volume of sublime music we all discovered together, sitting at the feet of the previous generation’s mystics or taking on recommendations from our brothers and sisters who are wise beyond their years. On a personal basis, 2016 was a hard act to follow, music wise. That was the year I discovered cult favourites such as Tintern Abbey, the Misunderstood and Dantalion’s Chariot, not to mention Captain Beefheart and Tyrannosaurus Rex. I made the jerky transition from wannabe mod to something altogether more difficult to categorise (comparisons abound to Dwayne Johnson morphing into the Scorpion King). Of course, I’m preaching to the converted – that you are reading MOOF at all suggests to me that you’ve shared in this Road to Damascus conversion.
And yet, 2017 did not disappoint. Some of my favourite memories involve walking home from January nights filled with revelry and love with mascots and jesters now sadly confined to the glass floors of the past, watching the carpet of stars merge seamlessly with the streetlights on the horizon to the accompaniment of ‘Some Velvet Morning’ by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, ‘Orange and Red Beams’ by Eric Burdon & The Animals and Jason Crest’s ‘Turquoise Tandem Cycle’. Glorious open air festivals languishing in warm grass with Traffic’s ‘You Can All Join In’ ringing in my ears. Exploring rugged rustic coastlines in search of faeries whilst Donovan implored that life’s very unstable, it’s built upon sand.
Taking this path through the forest and catching glimpses of exploding galaxies has been an even more enjoyable experience thanks to the warmth of the MOOF community. Melanie Xulu is a constant source of kindness and support, even as she juggles the endlessly spinning plates that come married with the responsibility of running MOOF. Matt Kessler, one of many exceptionally talented writers for this magazine, is as friendly and insightful as you could imagine when his wonderful reviews are taken into consideration. And then there’s the MOOF readership, a band of beautiful people with a knowledge and passion for the era that never fails to impress.
To speak of my personal favourite records featured in the Curiosity Shoppe and Moonlight Ride over the past six months is to tempt heresy. Perhaps my favourite long player has been ‘Playback’ by Appletree Theatre– the very first album I wrote about for MOOF, in fact- but to say so outright is to neglect the magic of Leonard Cohen, Family, July, Duncan Browne and dozens of others. As for brand new contemporary releases, I particularly enjoyed the ecstatically lysergic records by Balduin and Green Seagull, both of whom have my utmost thanks (and awe) for getting into contact with us. So indecisive is your unreliable narrator that an effort was made to curate lists of favourite albums and individual tracks from the Curiosity Shoppe, yet this proved too much of a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ dilemma.
Instead, I’ve curated a vastly inflated Youtube playlist which runs in roughly chronological order from January (before the Curiosity Shoppe existed, I know, but humour my sentimental urge to soundtrack the entire year) through to now. Plenty of old friends in there, such as Fairport Convention, Orange Seaweed and the Excelsior Spring. Come along and look yourself in the eye, ensuring of course to raise a lampshaded sun into your sky of whitewashed clouds. When you get to the door, knock twice and remember the password is ‘aspic’. All are welcome.
Moonlight Ride in particular has been a real joy to curate and I hope you’ve found some gems through them. Even if you find it thoroughly unlistenable, it’s still participation of a type and I thank you deeply.
And what of 2018? MOOF will resume business as usual, emerging from the scattered leaves of the precious summer even stronger than before. Hopefully a greater acceptance of the good, bold, niche and misunderstood. We can but dream of an end to the omnipresence of machine guns in our news outlets and a resurgence of that most base of human instincts, love.
I hope the new year sees you happy, contented and without shame or sadness. Remember that your mind and we belong together.
Peace, love and dolly mixtures in 2018,
Your friend Jack.
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