The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Vintage WineThere was one thing I was conscious of when I opened the polling booths for the CLUAS writers to vote for their top Irish albums of the last decade - the possibility that the final results could be biased towards releases from more recent years, considering more recently albums could well be to the fore of a writer's mind when casting their votes.

The first chart below however testifies that the CLUAS writers are not such a fickle bunch. It shows the breakdown - by year of release - of the CLUAS writers' top 50 Irish albums of the last 10 years and it is encouraging to see their choices are nicely spread across the full decade (although memories apparently don't stretch too well back to 1999, with only one fin de siécle album making the top 50...).

Top 50 Irish albums clustered by year of release

One thing that is striking in the above chart is 2003, which saw the release of more albums in the top 50 than any other year. Before rushing to the conclusion that 2003 was, therefore, a vintage year for Irish music I thought it'd be instructive to check the average ranking in the top 50 of albums released in a given year (see chart below).

Average ranking of top 50 irish albums released in a given year

First up, it shows that 2004 does not appear to have set the writers on fire in terms of memorable releases - the five 2004 releases had a low average ranking of 38 in the top 50. The other end of the scale reveals that, while 2003 may have produced the highest number of albums in the top 50, the average ranking of the 2003 albums (8 albums with an average ranking of 25.3) was lower than the releases of 2001 (3 albums with an average ranking of 16.7) and 2002 (5 albums with an average ranking of 18.2).

Conclusion? It is clear that, without any shadow of even a micro-doubt, the real vintage period for Irish music in the last decade was 2001-2002. So that's one discussion laid to rest then (until someone asks a different 35 people for their fave Irish releases of the last 10 years and get a completely different answer...)

Annex 1: The albums in the top 50 released in 2001 and 2002, i.e. the "vintage period":

Year Artist Album Ranking
2002 Damien Rice O 3
2002 Cathal Coughlan The Sky's Awful Blue 13
2002 JJ72 I To Sky 34
2001 The Frames For The Birds 1
2001 Ash Free All Angels 5
2001 David Kitt The Big Romance 16
2001 Divine Comedy Regeneration 25
2001 Snow Patrol When It's All Over... 44


Annex 2: The albums in the top 50 released in 2004, i.e. the poorest performing year in terms of rankings:

  Artist Album Ranking
  U2 How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb 29
  The Tychonaut Love Life 35
Made from Sand 38
  Damien Dempsey Seize the Day 39
  Waiting Room Catering For Headphones 49

More ...

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