When I was at my folks’ house for Christmas, my Dad spent a morning playing some of his vinyl. I have that effect on people.
One of the records which had survived the great cull that three house moves in the space of 15 years inevitably brings, was this one, which I had completely forgotten about, and really enjoyed listening to again for the first time in…God knows how many years.
As we head towards 2018, times when the President of the United States can say things as idiotic as this:
…there’s an important message in this morning’s song.
And that message is not that Johnny Cash was really good at impersonating various musical instruments, though this is made all the finer for his efforts:
The Carter Family – The World Needs A Melody
Today’s nonsense backing vocals come courtesy of, to my mind, one of the most unique and most under-rated bands ever: Stereolab.
This track first appeared back in 1994 as one of the extra tracks on the Ping Pong EP, and later resurfaced on Oscillons from the Anti-Sun, a 2005 three-CD, one-DVD box set.
Coining a phrase that adequately describes Stereolab’s sound is no mean feat: I’ve seen terms such as post-rock, avant-pop, Marxist pop (one which the band objected to) used. I’m not great at identifying a genre or generating a pigeonhole into which a band can be shoved, but if I have to I’d plump for saying they’re sound is Euro-Space-Pop, and even then I’m only including the term Euro because more often than not, their lyrics were at least partly in French.
As is the case here. But don’t let that put you off; if you’ve never heard Stereolab before, here’s three good reasons why you should give this a listen:
- Because it’s chuffing well ace
- Because you’re life will be greatly enriched by having Stereolab in it
- Because I will be asking questions as you leave the auditorium to see what you’ve learned today.
Stereolab – Pain Et Spectacles
I’ve had this one lined up for….oh I don’t know how long.
Credit where credit’s due, I picked this up from the Godfather of Music Blogs, Jim over at The Vinyl Villain a few years ago; it’s just gorgeous, and, as we stumble into New Year’s Eve, appropriate:
Cousteau – The Last Good Day Of The Year
Instead of the usual array of cover versions, pop records and the like that usually gets posted around these parts, this morning, just one of the best known Christmas songs, performed, beautifully, by a right old crooner.
Perry Como – The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)
I’ll be taking a few days away from blogging now, I may be back before New Year, but I doubt it.
Which just leaves me to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and thanks for dropping by.
Following on from my last post, whilst I’m safely ensconced in the bosom of my family at Christmas, I’m aware that I’m very fortunate in this respect.
I’ve known people who have lost loved ones at this time of year, and I can’t even begin to imagine how painful that must make the festive period. And there’s the ones that get left behind, with nobody to spend Christmas in the company of. (And I’m not just thinking of poor old June off Gogglebox after lovely Leon passed away yesterday here, although I am thinking of them quite a lot.)
Not to mention those who, for no fault of their own, for whatever reason, find themselves parted from or unable to be with their family or friends.
Comedian Sarah Millican has been organising something quite lovely over the past few year on Twitter. I’ll let her explain:
I wish I could think of a better song than this to play, but at least it’s (hopefully) a slightly different version than most of you will know:
Lucky Soul – Lonely This Christmas
Tomorrow many will be marking that it’s been twelve months since George Michael died.
But me, I’ll be remembering that it was exactly a year ago today that as my train pulled into the station on Christmas Eve, my phone went white hot as people – many of them readers of these pages – got in touch because Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt had died.
I’m not going to dwell on it, though. You all knew this was coming:
Status Quo – It’s Christmas Time
This morning a couple of songs from deceased iconic Country stars, both of whom appear to have a claim to making “The Classic Christmas Album”.
First up, John Denver, with a message that I hope my own parents take no notice of:
John Denver – Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)
And then next The Man In Black, who I imagine didn’t take much persuading to have a wee tipple on the big day:
Johnny Cash – Christmas Time’s A Comin’
Two for contemplation tonight, first up one I posted a couple of years ago and which I’ve found myself listening to quite a lot over the past couple of weeks, by Tom Smith (lead singer from Editors) and Andy Burrows (drummer from Razorlight). Tasked with coming up with a name for their new act, they went down the Hoddle & Waddle rather than the Glen and Chris route:
Smith & Burrows – When The Thames Froze
And what would we do at this time of year without Mark “A Song, A Dance, A Laugh” Lanegan to spread some festive cheer?
Mark Lanegan – O Holy Night
Time to Run:
Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis
…which of course samples this:
Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa
Girls Aloud: who knew that not only were they responsible for some of the best pop records of the 21st century, but that they were also responsible for managing the work diary of that fat old bearded bloke whose one job is to visit all of the kids on Christmas Eve.
And so here’s the girls telling Santa he has arrived prematurely. I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s about, anyway….
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the choice of sleeve, this is lifted from a Bonus CD of Christmas songs which came with their Chemistry album:
Girls Aloud – Not Tonight Santa