Guess Who? is a good game, isn't it? Let's be honest though, the original version had some serious diversity issues. Look at that lineup. It looks like one of Nigel Farage's special dreams where he has to put his pyjamas in the wash after he wakes up.
Thankfully kids today are playing a version that is a bit more representative. Thank God they made the changes before Twitter though. Imagine the tears from Those People as their childhoods were ruined yet again.
We never had any information about these people whose faces we flicked for hours at a time. We focused entirely on appearance. In order to honour the legacy of the 24 (twenty-four) individuals who spent so many years staring unblinkingly at children, Tha Knows set out an a journalistic quest for information on each member of the original Guess Who? lineup so that their stories may be heard by hopefully as many as 60 people. It also turns out that they are all well into music and have picked their favourite records of 2016 for us! What a treat!
We caught up with Alex in Wagamamas in Leeds. He was clutching the latest album of a side project by two indie rappers on a picture disc that had a monster on it that looked like a fanny. He was wearing a t-shirt of a French band that plays a mixture of black metal, shoegaze and post-rock which had a picture of some sort of fucking wood elf on it with an owl on its head. He'd used an app to order his food so he didn't have to talk to humans and was reading a 900 page sci-fi novel with a palindromic title while he was waiting for a tiny club to open so he could see a woman play doom-infused ballads to sad goths.
We asked him what music he'd been enjoying in 2016 but before he answered, his phone buzzed, "Excuse me, I need to check this," he said. As he read the message on his phone, his eyes grew wider and wider. "Planning for Burial have finally released I Miss Our Conversations, I'm Sorry digitally. It's from the rare floppy disc release that came out with the original release of Quietly on cassette. It's essentially a reprise of the song Nightswimming from Quietly. I believe this is the first time it's available digitally anywhere."
After buying the song using the Bandcamp app and at the same time gifting the Black Wing album to a Twitter friend using #MetalBandcampGiftClub, Alex was finally ready to pick an album for our list.
Oathbreaker - Rheia
"These guys really made a leap forward with this album. It's ferocious, beautiful, terrifying and mesmerising. However, I actually prefer the Epistasis album from 2014 which is similar but has a saxophone and a bit that sounds like a Dario Argento film."
In his spare time Alex runs a website that collates cover versions of 80s political pop songs.
Many Guess Who? players unfairly tagged Alfred as a serial killer. In fact he has only done three or four murders and the style, motive and victim demographic was different for each one so the term "serial killer" can not be accurately applied in this case. Alfred's kill total is not even the highest among Guess Who? characters. He's more of a naughty pest than a full-blown murderer.
Alfred is currently in hiding so we were unable to meet face to face but we were able to converse using an elaborate system of letter writing involving those red bins in parks that people put their dog eggs in. After a number of test communications, Alfred sent us his favourite album from 2016.
This was the most exciting note from an on-the-run criminal we'd received this month as The Impossible Kid is also one of our favourite albums of the year. Aesop Rock's lyrics have always been intensely personal but they have historically been wrapped in six layers of metaphor. On The Impossible Kid, Aesop strips away some of those layers and lays his insecurities (almost) bare for us all to see.
We get a song about his brothers, including a beautifully told story about a Ministry gig, a song about his cat "more than a pet to worship, it's an MD recommended sense of purpose," and an incredible exploration of the relationship between psychiatrist and patient (see video above.) "She said, "When you start getting all expressive and symbolic It's impossible to actualize an honest diagnostic." I said, "When you start getting all exact and algebraic I'm reminded it's a racket, not a rehabilitation."
19 years since his first album and at the age of forty, Aesop Rock is better than he's ever been, The Impossible Kid is essential listening.
The current holder of the most kills record among original Guess Who? characters, Anita is a proper baddie. By day she writes articles for tabloids in which she spouts utterly horrendous opinions which many believe she couldn't possibly actually hold. By night she adopts the persona of Common Sense Girl and hunts enemies of free speech and the Forces of Political Correctness online using her weapon of choice, The Snowflake Trigger. The Snowflake Trigger works by firing truthbombs into the faces of cucks and libtards who are unable to handle the uncomfortable truths of the post-truth era and explode at their computers.
As she fires The Snowflake Trigger, Anita yells her favourite line from the film Jerry Maguire.
Anita's favourite album of 2016 is:
Alcest - Kodama
"This is everything you could hope for from a new Alcest album," she told us while caressing The Snowflake Trigger. "It's the perfect combination of all that has gone before with added Japanese influences, apparently. The black metal screams are back too after being absent on the last album. I was pleased to hear the screams again but to be honest at first I didn't want to be. Dicks like Tom have been whinging on the internet for years about the lack of screams on Shelter and I just really didn't want those people to be happy in any way. The return of the screams feels like an undeserved victory for those wankers. The very first Alcest album has no screams on it FFS. What's wrong with these people? Anyway the album is great and the screams really work. Alcest are named after an imaginary land that the singer visited in a dream. I also have an imaginary world which I visit in dreams. It's..." REDACTED FOR HORRENDOUSNESS.
Tom hates everything and everyone. He's that bloke that you see in the supermarket who is having a furious row with his wife about which tin of beans to put in the trolley. He's that bloke who thinks that Messi is rubbish. He's that bloke who hates The Descent because some of the caving equipment used wasn't suitable for exploring the type of caves that the albino cave monsters lived in. Tom has a dash cam in his car to record the 15 near misses he has every single day which are definitely the fault of other drivers and in no way down to his terrible driving because it's totally normal to be involved in so many incidents that you feel the need to video every journey you make.
Tom didn't like any albums this year but he especially didn't like:
Opeth - Sorceress
Tom is that guy that says that only the first three albums are "real Opeth". Tom has been whinging about Opeth since they sold out on Still Life in 1999 but he still feels the need to comment on every single Facebook post and YouTube video in order to point out people's incorrect opinions.
We are happy to print Tom's Sorceress review in full below.
Tom would like to acknowledge Barney Farmer who does the real Male Online strip for Viz.
Out of all the Guess Who? characters, patriot, common-sense advocate and keen racist Charles has been the most vocal in denouncing the changes made to the game over the last 30 years.
For years Charles has been pushing for Guess Who? to become independent from Hasbro, encouraging the characters of Guess Who? to "take back control and get their board game back". Charles has campaigned tirelessly against what he refers to as "uncontrolled immigration" into the Guess Who? board and has accused Hasbro of "rubbing our noses in diversity."
Other characters have accused Charles of whipping up racial hatred. Things got so bad during the Hasbro referendum of 2016 that a number of characters refused to appear on the same board as Charles and many planned gaming sessions were abandoned, including several high profile matches in the Guess Who? World Cup.
Charles has declared himself International Guess Who? Ambassador and embarked on a number of unofficial junkets, embarrassing his fellow characters on a global scale.
His latest trip was cut short however after a plane accident.
Despite being a terrible human, Charles has excellent taste in music and has particularly enjoyed:
Kemba - Negus
Charles told us, "Kemba used to be called YC The Cynic and I've been banging on about this kid for ages. This is his first album under the new name and is THE soundtrack for 2016. Negus paints a brutally honest picture of the realities of being black in modern day America."
We asked Charles how he could listen to an album with this type of content when he is quite clearly a massive racist. He told us that he found the term "massive racist" offensive and that we should "try to understand his viewpoint," so we punched him in the face.
According to Wikipedia, "The original version of Guess Who? featured only one non-white character - Anne. In newer versions of the game, Anne was redrawn as a white woman."
Anne must have been non-white for about three days because our copy of Guess Who? is super old and there she is, whiting about up there.
Anne is a recluse who only leaves the house on bin days to knock over everyone else's bins on her street. Her favourite album of 2016 is:
Emma Ruth Rundle - Marked For Death
Anne scrawled her review of Marked For Death on the back of some train tickets and shoved it under our door on bin day.
Frans was binned off Guess Who? in 1998 for not having enough distinguishing features. If your opponent had Frans it was basically game over for you unless you played a very high risk game and got lucky.
Since leaving the game Frans has concentrated on his banter. Either on his Twitter account as @MichaelTheDug
or IRL as we can see here when he had his photo taken with plane hijack japester Seif Eldin Mustafa.
Max, one of Frans' closest friends from his time in Guess Who? told Tha Knows that he was a “wild man” and “very into his banter”, and that the stunt was “totally in character for him”.
You'd think that Frans would be into Oasis and maybe Robbie Williams and spend his nights in Lloyds dancing around like this.
That just shows what a massive racist you are though, because the only thing Frans loves more than banter is doom metal which is why he's picked out:
SubRosa - For This We Fought The Battle of Ages
"You know your boy doesn't mess around when it comes to tunes." Frans told us on Snapchat. "If Fransy-boy's picking something out you know it's choice. As you know I love banter and what could be more bantabulous than an album full of 10 minute-plus metal songs with two violins and three-part vocal harmonies?"
We went to see SubRosa in Birmingham earlier this year and Frans is right. The banter was strong.
Robert made a deal with a charismatic stranger who promised that he would help to make his disposable plate manufacturing business more successful.
Unfortunately Robert did not read the small print and soon discovered that as part of the deal he would be trapped for eternity inside a Guess Who? card.
Robert lived this way for many years, able to see and hear all but trapped within the confines of the card. The only time he would see his family was when they would play Guess Who? together, usually on evenings when Blue Peter was on instead of Grange Hill.
His children quickly outgrew the game and spent more and more time playing ESWAT: City Under Siege or David Robinson's Supreme Court Basketball on the Megadrive. He spent most of the 90s staring directly into the face of Frans, unable to escape his ceaseless banter. On the rare occasions when his family would open the box and sit down to play, the game was often abandoned after fewer than three turns due to arguments about whether Robert had a thin moustache or big nostrils.
In 1999 Robert was removed from Guess Who? completely and replaced by Victor.
Robert hasn't listened to any albums in 2016 because he's basically dead.
Robert was the original inspiration behind Kay Burley's popular art piece Sadness In His Eyes.
Human egg Bill has become a minor celebrity over recent years after receiving a large bill from Virgin Media for pay-per-view adult entertainment despite having definitely ordered and watched no porn at all.
He has become known as Virgin Media Bill and can be found in several of the top memes. of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
In his pare time Bill enjoys watching no porn and listening to instrumental post-metal which is why he has picked:
Russian Circles - Guidance
Claire has two main passions in life, science fiction and rapping so 2016 has been an incredible year for her. So incredible in fact that she has picked four things for us. Claire has been too busy scrying on her orb to do any write-ups of her picks so we've had to do them ourselves.
clipping. - Splendor and Misery
In case you haven't noticed yet this isn't a normal AOTY list and it's definitely not in any particular order. However, the clipping. album is definitely our favourite. We've hardly listened to anything else since it came out in September which is why we've had to farm out this list to characters from a children's board game from the 80s.
"Splendor & Misery is an Afrofuturist, dystopian concept album that follows the sole survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship, and the onboard computer that falls in love with him. Thinking he is alone and lost in space, the character discovers music in the ship’s shuddering hull and chirping instrument panels." https://clppng.bandcamp.com/album/splendor-misery
We can't really describe how amazing this album is. It's so complex that Heavy Blog Is Heavy spent 15,000 words over three blog posts attempting to unlock its secrets.
We recommend reading the blurb on the album's Bandcamp page first, then listening to the album a few times and then reading those posts on Heavy Blog is Heavy before listening to the album again loads more times. It's the most satisfying listening experience we've had in a long time.
Willie Green - Doc Savage
Willie Green is one of underground hip hop's top producers and he's assembled an impressive lineup of MCs for Doc Savage. You could play your own game of Guess Who? using this roster. ELUCID, billy woods, Open Mike Eagle, Henry Canyons, milo, Premrock and many more appear over Green's diverse and beautifully crafted production.
Although not as clearly established as the clipping. album, there is a theme to Doc Savage and each song is accompanied by unique artwork by game developer Graeme Borland.
L'Orange & Mr. Lif - The Life & Death of Scenery
Mr. Lif hadn't released anything for years and then popped up with two releases on Mello Music Group in 2016. First he released the full length Don't Look Down and then followed it up with this short album/long EP with L'Orange.
We love L'Orange beats at Tha Knows so were very excited to hear about this collaboration. The Life & Death Of Scenery "tells the story of an adjacent future called the “last society,” where culture has been obliterated and physical survival has taken precedence over art. Lif inhabits the role of The Scribe, frantically showing the post-apocalyptic survivors the power of what's been lost." https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/album/the-life-death-of-scenery
It features Wyatt Cenac of The Daily Show and the least good editions of the re-launched Bugle podcast as The Narrator.
Signor Benedick the Moor - Maiden Voyage Suite
This is a single not an album but it's eleven minutes long and a masterpiece. Musically it covers gospel, prog, drum and bass, hip hop, soul and metal. Lyrically it's a commentary on the historical and present day injustices faced by people of colour in the USA told through the concept of an inspirational leader inviting oppressed people to leave planet Earth and create a new society in the sky. We can't do it justice, just go and listen, and then listen again.
SB The Moor is an actual real genius. If you haven't read our interview with him, take a look.
It's been a great year for fans of both sci-fi and hip hop.
Cold War triple agent and body parts thief (he has Robert's nose and Frans' mouth) Bernard was difficult to track down, what with him being a spy. Buoyed by our success with Alfred we set up lines of secure communication with Bernard. Our conversations took place in numerous train stations with Bernard attending in various disguises. In the example below we conversed using a microphone and speakers hidden inside a bear's head while Bernard pretended to wait for a train.
The bear told us that Bernard's favourite album of 2016 was:
Open Mike Eagle and Paul White - Hella Personal Film Festival
Eric is a Young Tory. Obviously, look at the absolute state of him. He had an early taste of the power that he will rightly soon inherit when he and his school friends were invited to the Kremlin to meet Vladimir Putin.
Eric loves folk music which focuses conceptually upon the symptomatology of trauma, a pattern of experiences marked by a fragmentation of the self. 2016 was a great year for him as it saw the release of:
Emily Jane White - They Moved In The Shadow All Together
They Moved In The Shadow All Together "focuses conceptually upon the symptomatology of trauma, a pattern of experiences marked by a fragmentation of the self" https://talitres.bandcamp.com/album/they-moved-in-shadow-all-together so Eric has been having a lovely time with it.
George is a Private Investigator. Obviously, look at the absolute state of him. He spent most of the 80s and 90s being hired by fellow Guess Who? characters to investigate other Guess Who? characters. In his last case he was hired by Anita to investigate Alfred in 2001. What he discovered shocked him to his very core and he immediately resigned from the game, never to return. He spends his days now attempting to take the most depressing photographs of all time. Below is an example of his work titled Playtime at Cleethorpes.
For his album of the year, George has picked:
Street Sects - End Position
"It's absolutely disgusting," he told us. "It sounds like the sort of thing Alfred would listen to while he's doing one of his killings." George then started to cry and wouldn't stop so we just slipped away.
The rest of the characters didn't really want to engage with us but we did manage to convince them to at least send us an album each so here are the tips from our remaining pundits.
ELUCID - Save Yourself
Muscle and Marrow - Love
Onry Ozzborn - DUO
A Dead Forest Index - In All That Drifts From Summit Down
Homeboy Sandman - Kindness For Weakness
All Your Sisters - Uncomfortable Skin
Vanishing Life - Surveillance
Died in 1997 when he got his entire head stuck on one of those inflatable velcro things that you have outside pubs sometimes.
Killed by Alfred in 2002.
Attempted to take over the world from his evil lair in 1995. Killed by Andy McNab.
Is now Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and doesn't have time for music.
Here's a Spotify playlist to go along with all this.
Bye! See you in 2017!
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We're not doing an AOY list this year. Instead we'll be reading all of yours and asking you why they have so many rapey racists in them.
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