The Zaw Towers Review of 2002

So what did 2002 hold for me? Well now is your chance to find out..

Best Single of 2002 - "United States of Whatever" - Liam Lynch
And why? Simple. Garage rock in just one and a half minutes and a general pisstake of anything that Americans say, like "whatever", all the time. It's so short, but that's its point, with spoken word details of scenarios where someone would say "whatever" followed by full on garage rock guitars and Lynch proclaiming that this indeed was the United States of Whatever in full pelt. Amazingly catchy and just so wanted you to listen to it again and again and again.

Also recommended:
"Keep Fishin'" - Weezer
- Weezer were always fun and quirky, but for this single they were even more so, it was infectiously catchy pop sensibilities, and they scored squillions of bonus points by getting to appear in the video with the Muppets. So much so that it was a really popular requested video during the year. It's quirky, it has everything you need, including that feelgood factor all great pop singles should have.
"Hate To Say I Told You So" - The Hives - Swedish punksters make a great three minute record that anyone of the original punk era would have enjoyed. It had a lead vocalist almost screaming out the vocals like Black Francis of the Pixies, crunching guitars and memorable hooks that didn't let you go very easily. One to pretend to air guitar along to, and one to remember for sure.

Best Album of 2002 - "Black Letter Days" - Frank Black and the Catholics
Two albums released on one day? Surely commercial suicide? Far from it, matey. Starting and ending with wonderful versions of Tom Waits' "The Black Rider", everything in between is a reminder of the Frank Black of old and new, the louder vocals in parts reminding you of the Pixies old output, and fused together with the Catholics' excellent playing, comes an epic of an album that makes you feel a variety of emotions all the way through, not least on the likes of California Bound and Jane The Queen of Love which both were superb standouts. It holds it own easily against anything he's ever done solo.

Also recommended:
"Heathen" - David Bowie
- David Bowie still cutting it? Yes, very much so, thank you. Not least here in that the more sparse and more accessible at the same time modern day Bowie still managing to make some bloody good songs along the way. Add the only ever good cover of a Pixies song I've ever heard so far (Cactus, simply superb) and many little surprises along the way, and it shows you that the old master still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
"Enemies of Silence" - K-Pist - Was it electronica with rap? Was it punk with attitude? Who cared? What we cared about was that it was a great second album from the Swedes, paying homage to old gaming habits in C-64 along the way and making a slightly more accessible (but still less classifyable) release which had the right amount of attitude and DIY to really come across as something that you think you could do yourself, but in reality never with the right amount of balls that this had.

Best Concert of 2002 - Rollins Band, Sheffield Leadmill
No Manchester gig, but that didn't deter me. Over the pennines to Sheffield and to the Leadmill to see one of the best live performances I've ever seen. It wasn't just the intensity, it wasn't just the fact it was two hours plus, but the fact that it was rock and then some. Henry Rollins was way up to his usual standards, pelting out many songs with no filler in between, and the band did their best to absolutely rock, rock and ROCK in that order. Quite simply, you don't often get proper rock concerts on this smaller scale anymore, and an absolute shame. For me it was just a pleasure to see someone really give their all for the many fans inside who had braved the freezing weather.

Best Film of 2002 - xXx
So what if there wasn't that much in terms of plot that hadn't been done before? That wasn't the point. What was the point was that it was all done for the modern day era, in effect the modern day superspy and what James Bond should really be like now. With a clutch of superb one-liners along the way and with Samuel L Jackson playing a vastly under-rated role as Agent Gibbons, who sends Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) on his mission, it really is action from the word go, not least the opening stunt with the drop off a bridge of an expensive motor car, and the chase down the river in Prague of the lethal weapon. The film only knew one pace, that is 200 miles an hour, but what the hell? It was fun and enjoyable, and that made it for me.

Best DVD of 2002 - The Young Ones Series 1
Just how long have we waited for the Young Ones to come out on DVD? Ages. And was it worth the wait? Yes, without question. Even though there were no extras at all to speak of, what mattered was that the picture quality was as good as it could be considered the first series was shown way back in 1982. No visual artefacts, no hassle, and unlike the repeats of a few years ago, the full unedited versions of the shows. And no glossing over them either, just as they were, raw, uncompromising, and just what was needed. Series 2 got released in 2003 with just the same quality control too, thankfully.

Best TV Programme of 2002 - Phoenix Nights Series 2
Midweek nights on Channel 4 just weren't the same without a look at the Peter Kay critically acclaimed comedy. Not least for the fact that it actually improved on Series One, with many of the plots being hilariously funny, not least their own talent contest to try and raise some money for the venue, and the two security guards (one of which played by Kay himself) providing little amusing interludes. Something for everyone here without a doubt and featuring other good Northern comedians such as Toby Foster and Justin Moorhouse, everything completed nicely here. Clubland will never die, as Brian Potter himself would have said.

Best Sporting Moment of 2002 - Paula Radcliffe's World Marathon Record
The BBC showing coverage of the Chicago Marathon I thought? Something going on here, I think. And I watched, and ended up being glued to the screen for two hours as Paula went hell for leather to try and get the world marathon record. Half way she was thereabouts, but in the second half of the race she sped up a little and with the help of some male pacemakers, she kept going and ran a perfect race for that time, and completely obliterated the record by over a minute and a half. What a performance that was, and certainly stuck in the mind of people as quite rightly she was BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Incidentally, just for good measure in the London Marathon 2003, she beat her own record by almost two minutes.

Best male personality of 2002 - Shaun Goater
And with good reasons. The Goat had scored over thirty goals in season 2001-02 to help Manchester City back to the Premiership where they belonged which only cemented his relationship with the City fans. Nothing though could prepare him for his god-like status come November 9th. City hadn't beaten arch rivals United for what seemed an age, and with the score 1-1, The Goat chased a lost cause ball, robbed Gary Neville and slotted it past the United defence to score and go 2-1 up. Not finished there, in the second half he latched on to a ball from Eyal Berkovic and dinked it over Barthez to make it 3-1, give City that bit of history and also his 100th goal for the club - against the team who'd rejected him as a youngster. One of those moments you can only dream about, but one that made all City fans proud and elevated the Goat to even higher status amongst all City fans. Quite simply, feed the goat and he will score!

Best female personality of 2002 - Paula Radcliffe
And not just for the world record I mentioned above, but also for being personable, always very friendly whenever interviewed, being outspoken about drugs cheats in a sport which has been blighted by drugs in the last few years, and serving as an inspiration to a lot of female and male athletes. When a male long distance legend such as Ethiopia's Haile Gabresalassie tells you that even he gets inspired by what Paula does, then sit up and take notice. Her humbleness at taking the BBC Sports Personality of the Year showed the person she was, and also the fact she preferred others to take the limelight on that night spoke volumes for her as a person too. I saw the Commonwealth Games, and when she won there I knew it was a turning point.

Best personal moments of 2002 - Buying my house, and the Commonwealth Games
I had to have two this year. It was a dream fulfilled to buy my own house and manage to move and live somewhere I feel comfortable with, as well as be much more independent in my life. All throughout the time from agreeing a sale to completion, I was imagining how I'd like my house to be, and when I moved in, it was everything I'd thought of and more, and all came together well (not least thanks to almost all my family for mucking in and helping out). And for Manchester, hosting the 2002 Commonwealth Games put it on the map in such a big way. I spent a fair few days at various events and really got behind the athletes in whatever sport, and to see the last night of the athletics and see England get six gold medals was something I'm never going to forget, it was just awe-inspiring to watch and be a part of. They did the city proud!