Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Seasonal Felicitations!

And that's it again.

The good news - if you see it as such - is that if the Government declared tomorrow that January had been cancelled and we're having Christmas all over again, I have another 25 songs ready to go at a moment's notice. Failing that, they will have to wait till Christmas 2014 - God willing.

Thanks as ever for your support this year and hope to see you all next year.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Day 25 - "Last Christmas" - Wham!

Surprised? Can't say I blame am I! But although I usually start off on December 1st with a vague idea of where I'm going and what I'm going to put into the Calendar, the whole thing is intentionally pretty fluid and often ends up going somewhere I wasn't expecting.
This blog was always intended as an addition to the usual fare we hear every Christmas and over seven years - barring the odd foray - it's pretty much nibbled at the crusty edges of the great pie of Christmas music rather than drop a spoon into the mushy centre. But it was never the intention to drive a 10-ton truck through the accepted traditions of the season and I realise not everyone shares my enthusiasm for scouring the WWW every October onwards searching for obscure festive tunes.
Such a person is the Good Lady Blagg who has to put up with me disappearing into the Blagg Acre offices every year, and hearing some strange noises emanating from the PC as I chase up some bizarre web site from out of Wisconsin where someone has loaded some Carols from a Tibetan Nose Flute player.
Never a well-woman, she's suffered from particularly bad health this year and had some further bad news yesterday. 'Last Christmas' is her favourite Christmas song and this is for her, with love.
As an addition, I've been able to get some stats from the blog this year I've never had access to before and I can now see where people have accessed the Calendar from. It makes from some pretty fascinating reading and - although I'm not really au-fait with the popularity of George Michael in some areas of the Far East, some Pacific Islands and Eastern Europe, I'm reckoning there may be a few people out there who've never even heard this before. Possibly.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Day 24 - "Bells Are Ringing" - Mary Chapin Carpenter

Christmas Eve: Best day of the year for me (I'm a man who prefers to travel than arrive)  and even though things get unbearably poignant at times, there is great happiness and hope in the day too - there are reasons for this but I'm not going to share them with you surly oiks - and regulars will know that, try as I might, I can't run with a dance tune on such a seismic day even if you do want to don a paper hat and act the giddy goat. So...
This is a simply beautiful song from Ms C - Wherever you're walking tonight / Whoever you're waiting for / Somehow by the stable's faint light / Peace in your heart is restored - that will make you feel warm and comfortable as the storm rages outside.
Peace and Goodwill to you all!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Day 23 - "Gift X-Change" - Calexico

The spirit is broken. the path is overrun / You can't move forward and now nothing gets done
I hope you find some inner peace along the way / Whatever it takes, I pray you'll make it home on Christmas Day
Heartbreaking offering from Americana / Indie band Calexico. Turn off all except the Christmas Tree lights, pour yourself a stiff drink, crank it up loud and count what blessing you have.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Day 22 - "The Wassail Song" - The Albion Christmas Band

One of the unexpected 'pleasures' of the Advent Calendar is opening emails at Easter or in June or September and finding someone, somewhere has sent me a Christmas record to listen too.

There have been quite a few instances where I've removed sun glasses or adjusted T-shirt or logged on to check the Test Cricket score and found myself listening to a festive tune. For the first time this year though, I got a Carol not through email but from the stage - and from no lesser person than Fairport Convention's very own Simon Nichol who - for reasons I found it hard to fathom when you consider the number of albums the Fairport's have had in their history - decided to play 'The Wassail Carol' during their closing set at Cropredy in August.

"It's a warm August night, it's a Carol - must remember it for the Calendar" I thought. And here it is. There is a Fairport version on YouTube but I went with the Albion Band because I'm seeing them in concert on 23rd in Bury St Edmunds. 

"Wassail. Wassail, All over the town / Our toast it is white / And our ale it is brown". Good for you, the ale I got from Morrison's yesterday is a strange red colour...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Day 21 - "Little Drummer Boy / Silent Night / Auld Lang Syne" - Jimi Hendrix

"The tape recorder still running?" asks Hendrix as the drums strike up for this festive obscurity: it was and here's the result. Seven minutes, thirty seconds of a visceral denouncement of the season or nearly eight minutes of pointless noodling - you buys yer ticket and takes your choice, I guess.

The problem with Hendrix is the man was a product of his time and the 'Last Post' echoes a couple of minutes into this, just remind us that the Vietnam War was still raging when he shuffled off this mortal coil in September 1970 and everything he did reflected the world that was going on around him at the time.

You can't help but wonder what he'd be doing had he lived. Live sets on 'Strictly' probably. Len Goodman: "I tell ya what Jimi, you still got it son". Who can say...


Friday, 20 December 2013

Day 20 - "Santa Claus Is Coming" - Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

A storming Rock 'n' Roll track recorded at a time that Doo-wop was crossing with R 'n' B to form it's own hybrid. In fact Hank Ballard wrote and performed 'The Twist' before Chubby Checker picked up on the whole thing, and there are elements of that in this electric performance from 1959. A wild sax solo, bells and tight harmonies make this an essential for party night.

Wonderful and as rare as those Christmas Tree crumpets that ASDA are allegedly supposed to be selling.