The Chain #34

Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant, come to the Festive edition of The Chain!

I’ve been beset by technical issues this week, not just those which have delayed this by a day, but also the issues with several contributions mysteriously being marked as Spam and disappearing from the Comments section.

But, nevertheless here we are, with another mixed bag of your suggestions, linked to last week’s final record, “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake.

As usual, the suggestions can be split down into various categories – namely songs or artists which include the words or some derivative thereof, of “Nick”, “Drake, “Pink” or “Moon”. Surprisingly, almost none of you suggested anything which contained more than one link, so here’s one to get us started.

From “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd (who have a band member called Nick), here’s:

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Pink Floyd – Time

I set you all an additional challenge last week: since this week’s post would be available in Christmas week, I asked you to see if you could provide suggestions of a festive nature where possible, and some of you  duly obliged.

Surprisingly, though, none of you suggested this, a song by a band so un-Christmassy I’ve always found this to be a slightly odd addition to their canon of work, let alone the fact that they released a whole album worth of this stuff:

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The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick

So, over to you, but where to start? I suppose really, given that he has made more contributions this week than our most regular of readers have made since we started doing this, we should probably hear something from Rol of My Top Ten, right? Agreed.

So, here’s Charity Chic from Charity Chic Music then:

“Another Nick busy at this time of year is St Nicholas better known as Santa Claus. When another Nick shuffles of this mortal coil he will almost certainly be canonized. Can we have The Man That I’ve Become from Dig My Mood an album by St Nick of Lowe please?”

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Nick Lowe – The Man That I’ve Become

Is it just me, or does the picture on that sleeve have more than a passing resemblance to a certain orange President-Elect?

CC wasn’t the only person to suggest this particular Nick this week. Here’s Walter from A few good times in my life:

“Taking his first name it is a short step to Nick Lowe. Probably one of the best songwriters in the early 80’s and blessed with a great voice. So what about the first Stiff single ever ‘So It Goes’?”

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Nick Lowe – So It Goes

Regular visitors will know that generally, each week, after I’ve received several suggestions, I get a comment from Alyson from What’s It All About, Alfie? bemoaning the fact that all of the songs she was going to suggest had already been made by co-Chain Gangers. It’s a bit like when the person on the third podium on ‘Pointless’ says that the person on the second podium had just taken their answer. Anyway, so imagine my delight when the very first comment I got this week was from Alyson:

“Time for sleep now, then work tomorrow, so will no doubt be late again with my suggestion…but before CC trumps me, it might involve Lily the Pink.”

Several hours passed. Article 50 was activated and nobody noticed. Civilizations rose and fell. And then, finally, this:

“Well, sleep, work and xmas shopping got in the way so 18 hours after my first comment, I have decided against Lily The Pink by The Scaffold…”

Oh no you don’t. You’re having it, whether you like it or not, young lady:

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The Scaffold – Lily The Pink

And since we seem to have stumbled into Pink territory, back to Walter:

“Pink leads me to Pink Flag, Wire’s first record. Three Girl Rhumba was one of these little masterpieces in this era. Groundbreaking and always worth to listen to.”

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Wire – Three Girl Rhumba

A few years ago, when I still shared a flat, I did my usual Friday night routine of doing a playlist to get drunk with my flatmates to; it included that Wire rune, followed by the next record. I had neglected to tell my new flatmates that it was a playlist they were listening to; they thought my iPod was incredible for knowing to play these two records together (along with a whole host of other songs which sounded like/had been ripped off (allegedly) from each other. Hmm…maybe there’s a new topic for me there….). What I mean to say is *ahem* *clears throat* *offers a cheeky wink to the audience*…Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this:

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Elastica – Connection

Right. I suppose we’d better make some in-roads into this mountain sized pile of suggestions by Rol. Oh hang on, Alyson’s back:

“I have always thought that the multi-talented American singer Pink, and Sharon Watts from Eastenders, were dopplegangers and who did Sharon date for a while on that show – Yes it was “Nick” Berry who had a big hit with Every Loser Wins. (They don’t, every loser generally loses, but it worked well for him). A tenuous double link.”

Much as I’d love to post that, it has featured here before and the rule is that the only records we can feature twice are a) “Back on the Chain Gang” by The Pretenders, and b) records which turn out to be the next record in The Official Chain which we’ve already had. Have another go.

“…perhaps Lily The Pink it will have to be, although just remembered that the brother of Mike McGear of The Scaffold was Paul McCartney whom I also seem to remember recorded a theme for the teatime soap “Crossroads” which Nick Drake’s sister, aforementioned Gabrielle, appeared in. Don’t know if theme tunes count as a suggestion but another double link.”

Well, we’ve featured the theme tune to Bergerac and Space:1999 here before, so I don’t see why not, especially when The Great Gog made reference to the same theme tune via a different link in his suggestion:

“There is Nick’s sister, Gabrielle, who starred in Crossroads at one time. The theme tune to Crossroads was written by Tony Hatch…”

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The Tony Hatch Orchestra – Crossroads Theme

I have had that firmly lodged in my brain ever since I listened to it. It should come with some sort of Government health warning. As should have the programme it book-ended.

“Things hatch from eggs,” continues The Great Gog, “which to me at least is as good an excuse as any for “Egg Shaped Fred” from Mansun.”

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Mansun – Egg Shaped Fred

Catchphrase alert! Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this, from the magnificent “The Mysterious Production of Eggs” by Andrew Bird:

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Andrew Bird – Fake Palindromes

Right, where were we? Ah yes, Alyson, back to you:

“Final pink suggestion is simply ‘Pink Cadillac’ by Natalie Cole simply because she is yet someone else from that long list of artists who have left us since this time last year.”

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Natalie Cole – Pink Cadillac

It’s probably about time put a dent into Rol’s suggestions. No, really this time.

“I’m resisting the obvious Springsteen link from Alyson’s last suggestion as it’s Christmas and I don’t want to upset George” This would be most admirable, were it not for the fact that Springsteen wrote Pink Cadillac, but I’m sure George appreciates the sentiment.

“However, since no one else will dare suggest a song by the best damned pop star of the last 20 years, can I suggest ‘So What’ by Pink?”

The Chain would like to make it very clear that the views of Rol re: the best pop star of the last 20 years are not necessarily shared by the publishers of The Chain.

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Pink – So What

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this, by one of the greatest pop stars of the last 60 years:

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Dame Shirley Bassey – Get the Party Started

There’s something rather wonderful about hearing a seventy-year old Welsh woman proclaiming: “I’m comin’ up so you better you better get this party started”, isn’t there? Bear that in mind when your grannies farting herself to sleep in front of the television on Christmas Day.

Which reminds me: Christmas records, anyone?

Ah, here’s Julian from Music From Magazines, he seems the sort of cheery fellow bound to supply us with something festive. Which he will, but first, he’ll expand a little on the whole Gabrielle Drake thing. She rather seems to have set racing the hearts of several of the men of a certain age who contribute here:

“Nick Drake’s sister was Gabrielle Drake who was in the TV show UFO (any picture would be a Christmas gift for any man of a certain age [See? I told you so]), the heavy metal band UFO is not a gift.”

It’s okay, we’re not having anything by UFO. Although, had you actually suggested something by them, I would have been honour bound to post it. Oh and by the way, I am not posting a picture of Gabrielle Drake. If you’re reading this, you’re already connected to the internet, so you can find one yourself, you mucky sod. (c6e302534f132c440893dd44980da6ce)

Before you all go cranking open a spare browser to do exactly that, stick around folks, because if you piece together this little bit of connected thinking out loud, you get a rather fine example of Comment Showboating.

“On the other hand ‘Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” by The Carpenters is a fine song written by the Canadian group Klaatu, a bunch of session musicians, who some folk thought were The Beatles.”

klaatu_-_3_47_est_coverKlaatu – Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft

I’ve always thought that was a pretty odd, uncharacteristic record for The Carpenters to have recorded, had assumed it was a cover version, but had never actually thought about finding out for sure. Consequently, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard it.

By the way, many years ago, I was drafted into what turned out to be the winning team in a pub quiz. (There was a music round, and without wishing to sound immodest, I was often asked to join teams for pub quizzes which featured a music round). The prize was “A Tribute to The Carpenters”, which I had assumed was going to be a night of people performing cover versions of their many hits, but which actually turned out to be a selection of middle aged men displaying a rather fine range of bureaus and occasional tables they had made.

I digress. Back to Julian:

“A slight detour to the movies for the classic sci fi ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ starring Michel Rennie as the alien called ….Klaatu. A still from the film was used (with some editing) for the cover of Ringo Starr’s LP ‘Goodnight Vienna’.”

It’s okay, he’s going somewhere with this. Trust me.

And he’s not wrong you know. The original:

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and the “Peace and Love! Peace and Love! No autographs! Peace and Love” rip off:

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“Which of course leads on to Dora Bryan and ‘All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle'”

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Dora Bryan – All I Want For Christmas is a Beatle

At last, a Christmas record! And am I alone in being reminded of a certain other iconic performer from the North West of England when I hear that? No? You know who I mean, surely?

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Frank Sidebottom – Oh Blimey It’s Christmas

Take that back a step, before I interrupted and brightened your lives up with Frank, and Rol has another link:

“…this leads me to think of ‘Doris Daytheearthstoodstill’ by Future Bible Heroes.”

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Future Bible Heroes – Doris Daytheearthstoodstill

Julian’s not quite done yet, and we’re most definitely not done with the Gabrielle Drake links just yet. Here’s Julian, ruining all that excellent Comment Showboating by suggesting the Worst Record of the Week:

“Back to Gabrielle Drake. The organisation that [Spoiler alert!! – Considerate Ed] will save the world in UFO is the Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization or SHADO which is only a short step, (or a W) to a truly crap Christmas song”:

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Cliff Richard – Mistletoe & Wine

“All this talk of Gabrielle Drake being in Crossroads but am I the only one who mainly remembers her from that 1970s Sunday Night drama set in the exciting world of haulage – ‘The Brothers’?” chips in Alyson. “So many links to bands/duos with Brothers in their name so won’t overload you and was really just looking for one that might have done a seasonal ditty but all I could find in my library was Count Basie & The Mills Brothers with ‘December’! (Goodness knows where that came from as can’t remember ever noticing it before.)”

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Count Basie & The Mills Brothers – December

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Okay, let’s wrap up the rest of the Drake related suggestions, and we’ll go back to The Great Gog:

“A contender for worst record of the week [Too late, even though you did suggest this first. It is nowhere near as bad as Sir Cliff – Cut’n’Paste Ed]”:

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Charlie Drake – My Boomerang Wont Come Back

More Drake-related shenanigans from The Beard now:

“Drake is a popular Canadian rapper. Another, much better, Canadian rapper is Abdominal. He is best known for his collaborations with DJ Format. When not hip-hopping Format makes spaced out funk as part of The Simonsound. ‘Tour De Mars’, their cover of Kraftwerk’s Tour De France, is almost as good as the original.”

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The Simonsound – Tour de Mars

Even more Drake related nonsense from Rigid Digit of, appropriately enough, Stuff & Nonsense fame:

“Drake = a male duck
 A wild duck = mallard
Mallard = Steam Train

Next up:
The only* Heavy Metal song about a Steam Train

* probably not the only, but the only one I can think of right now”

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Saxon – Princess Of The Night

And the Drake links just keep on coming. Here’s Swiss Adam from Bagging Area:

“Nick Drake was related to  Elizabethan sailor, privateer and adventurer, Francis Drake.[Has anyone checked this? – Ed] Francis Drake was a thorn in the side of the ‘King of Spain’, which is a song by Galaxie 500.”

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Galaxie 500 – King of Spain

Over to The Robster from Is This The Life? now:

“A drake is a male duck. Chuck Berry was famous for his ‘duck walk’ and he had a song called Havana Moon, first released in 1957, later re-recorded for the 1979 album Rock It. Interestingly, that was the last studio album Chuck released, but he has a new one lined up for 2017, the year he turns 91. Yes – 91. I wonder if he can still do the duck walk?”

I imagine if he can, it would be The Duck Walk sponsored by Stannah Stairlifts and Sanatogen Vital 50+.

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Chuck Berry – Havana Moon

Props for the Duck/Drake/Moon double-linker by the way, Rob.

A quick additional duck-link from Walter:

“I don’t think he can’t do the duck walk any more but I’m surprised that he will us give a new record at the age of 91 and I ask myself if Keith Richards will still be on the stage at this age. So Ducks Deluxe came to my mind with Who’s put the bump”

By which I think you mean this (and apologies, I could only find a live version, but it doesn’t sound like there’s many people in the audience, so it’s practically a live studio version):

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Ducks Deluxe – Daddy Put the Bomp

Whilst we’re on ducks, a song which I remember from my childhood, which I haven’t been able to find a decent copy of, but did find this clip from TOTP2, which means it is top-and-tailed by Steve Wright, which makes it even worse than it already is:

It was around this point that the Comments went all wonky and some got deleted. As far as I can tell, this affected Charity Chic, who compensated by reposting his links over and over again until they worked, and SWC and Badger’s. If anyone else’s got lost, my apologies.

One that didn’t get lost, was this from Kay. In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you all know that Kay is not just a friend of mine, but also my boss, so you’ll forgive me for allowing her suggestions, irrespective of how terrible the record or tenuous the link she suggests. I can say this without fear of retribution because by the time she reads this, she’ll be at least halfway through the bottle of Chocolate Orange liqueur we bought her today. Delicious on Coco Pops, I’m…er…told.

“Nick Drake links to Drake, same name but then realised I didn’t really know any of Drake’s stuff. [I have just Googled him,and I’m none the wiser] So went the same way as The Robster and linked drake to male ducks, then realised I knew no songs that are linked to ducks [It’s going well this, isn’t it?] …. but [I sense a Eureka! moment is imminent] ducks live in ponds and frogs do too…so my choice is Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus’ ‘We All Stand Together’, which was the first record my sister brought.”

Or, as he is forever known Chez Jez:  Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft. Some of you will understand the reference.

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Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus – We All Stand Together

I’m going to avoid the lazy joke about that being Nigel Farage’s least favourite record since it contains a bunch of frogs suggesting unity. Although I appear to have just made it anyway.

By George, it’s George!

“Worst song of the week contender [Nuh-huh]. From Nick Drake to Ted Drake (the footballer) who played for Southampton (and Arsenal)., and was manager of Chelsea when they won their first league title in 1954/55. And born in Southampton, in 1955 (double chain link there!) was Howard Jones. Now, I could it leave it to Charity Chic to pick a Howard Jones track from his record shelves But I’m going for…”

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Howard Jones – New Song

“…which had that bloke in chains prancing around on Top of the Pops. Who was he, anyone know?”

As I said in the Comments, I do. His name was Jed, a name I have been mistakenly called many times, and as such one which is indelibly edged into my brain.

And in case you don’t know who George is on about, here’s Howard and Jed, singing and prancing around on Top of the Pops:

 

I’m having a flashback, I swear…

Let’s move on to wrapping up the Pink links, and I’ll hand you over to George again:

“Pink Moon to Pink Industry and their single ‘What I Wouldn’t Give’. (The cover of the single featured a picture of Morrissey).”

It does indeed, which is precisely the reason I have a copy of it, poor obsessed fool that I was:

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Pink Industry – What I Wouldn’t Give

By the way, as I’ve uploaded that I’ve realised that there’s about three minutes of silence at the end of it. Time constraints prevent me from editing it, but I may come back and do it later on, if anyone’s that fussed. What I mean is, when the song sounds like it has ended at around the 3:30 mark, it has: don’t sit around in silence on the off-chance something interesting might be about to happen, as it isn’t.

As I mentioned earlier, the glitches that meant some comments went AWOL seem to have affected Charity Chic, SWC and Badger’s. I think we got there in the end though, although what with SWC and Badger both posting from their excellent When You Can’t Remember Anything blog I’m not 100% sure that I’ve attributed the right song to the right chap this week. So, more apologies if I’ve messed it up.

So, I think this is SWC taking us, as he puts it, “down the pink route” now he’s “finished watching Gabrielle Drake’s finest moment ‘Commuter Husbands’ “

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“The obvious link from here is to ‘Snooker Loopy’ by Chas ‘n’ Dave and The Matchroom Mob” which has featured before, so I can’t allow, I’m afraid, “But another song that features pink would be ‘Pink Glove’ by Pulp.”

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Pulp – Pink Glove

Plus,  “Aerial Pink who was in a band called Holy Shit with Christopher Owen from Girls. So you could have the very Christmassy:”

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Girls – Vomit

It’s Rol time again, with more pinkness:

“‘Hey Eugene’ by Pink Martini would be good too.”

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Pink Martini – Hey Eugene

From vomit to Martini. I don’t just throw this together you know.

Here’s babylotti with a hat-trick, starting with a pink connection, and ending with something festive:

“First of all, I can think of Fuzzbox (had they dropped the ‘We’ve Got a …& We Know How to Use It’ by then?) [Yes and no, is the answer: officially they were now just Fuzzbox, but as this was the first single they released under that moniker, the “We’ve Got…” part was snuck onto the record sleeve just in case there was any doubt as to who was responsible for it. There’d been quite a make over in between the ‘Bostin’ Steve Austin’ album and this, so you can’t really blame them – Ed]) and Pink Sunshine. Bostin’”

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Fuzzbox – Pink Sunshine

“From there that leads me to another one introduced to me by Peel, Fuzzbox’ label mate Ted Chippington. I’d love to go for his version of ‘D.I.S.C.O.’, but I will settle for ‘Rockin with Rita’…”

That’s fortuitous, I haven’t been able to find ‘D.I.S.C.O.’, but ‘Rockin’ with Rita’, no problem:

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Ted Chippington – Rockin’ with Rita

“Finally from ‘Rockin’ with Rita’, I’m going for a festive link to Mel & Kim’s [no, not those ones, but it’s only a matter of time before they turn up here] ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’.”

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Mel & Kim – Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree

Next, a stone cold classic, courtesy of Charity Chic:

“No repetition here and something that is neither obscure nor obtuse, just a song that is demanding to be played:”

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The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink

What we need now is something that neatly takes us from Pink to Moon. Preferably by way of one of the greatest records ever recorded. Any takers?

The Swede from Unthought of, though, somehow confidently steps up to the oche:

“‘Pink Moon’ was produced by John Wood and among his many other credits are several of Squeeze’s early hits, including ‘Up the Junction’.”

That will do nicely.

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Squeeze – Up The Junction

So, moons. Over to Martin now (forgive me if I’m rattling through these a bit now…time is ticking away….) who offers a song and a critique:

“I’ll go with an obvious moon connection instead and throw Morrissey’s ‘Moon River’ hat into the ring, even if it does go on a bit.”

You can say that again. Somehow he manages to drag this out for 9:40. I’d put the kettle on if I were you:

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Morrissey – Moonriver (extended)

Rol’s back:

“Moon River is from the excellent 1961 movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Ten years earlier, one of Audrey’s first ever screen roles was as a “Cigarette Girl” in the movie Laughter In Paradise in which she appeared alongside another famous George… George Cole. That George would go on to become immortalised as Arfur Daley in the TV show Minder, and in 1983, he would release a Christmas single with his co-star Dennis (“write the theme tune, sing the theme tune”) Waterman.”

I wish I could say I didn’t actually already own this. I think this may over-take Sir Cliff in the Worst Record of the Week stakes:

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Dennis Waterman & George Cole – What Are We Gonna Get ‘Er Indoors?

“Their Top of the Pops performance is worth a watch.” It is, just so you can see the dictionary definition of the words “excrutiating” and “embarrassing” acted out:

It is at this point in the Comments section, that Julian and Rol had a bit of a chat, coming up with more suggestions. Nice to see you boys getting along!

Julian: “Back to the movies, in the film ‘New York New York’ Blue Moon is destroyed by Robert De Niro who costarred in ‘What Happened Next’ (2008) with Bruce Willis……..”

Which leads us to what has been argued to be the greatest Christmas movie ever: Die Hard. (It’s not. It’s pretty much Home Alone for grown-ups.)

The end credits have this festive number playing over them:

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Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Rol: “Blue Moon was also the detective agency where David Addison (Bruce Willis) worked in the aforementioned [last week] ‘Moonlighting'”

Julian: “Nice. Al Jarreau “The Christmas Song” anyone?”

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Al Jarreau – The Christmas Song

And since we’ve landed on some Christmas songs again, here’s another suggestion from Rol:

“Can I add ‘Run With The Fox’ by Chris Squire & Alan White (roughly a quarter of Yes) because it contains a Christmas Moon, which isn’t pink but probably has fairy lights hanging from it. It might keep old proggies like The Swede happy… or not. “

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Alan White & Chris Squire – Run with the Fox

Respect to the guys in the Art Team for the many hours they must have put in coming up with the concept for that sleeve. Money well earned, chaps.

I haven’t used my catch-phrase for ages. It’ll never catch on at this rate. Let’s do it.

Well, if you’re going to suggest that, then I’m going to suggest this, since it’s actually called “Christmas Moon” and because it’s ace:

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Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Christmas Moon

Which I think just leaves us with Badger. Since his comment was one that was lost, I received a summary of both his and SWC’s suggestions. We’ve had SWC’s, here’s Badger’s:

“Nick Drake also recorded ‘Road’ which was covered by scouse punk band Drive on their ‘Out Freakage’ album…”

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Drive – Road

“…Roads lead to nowhere as Talking Heads told us…”

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Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere

“…Or if you want to go festive you drive home on them like Chris fucking Rea….”

Or like Saint Etienne, for that matter (bullet dodged, there, I think):

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Saint Etienne – Driving Home for Christmas

And this is where it gets complicated. For at the end of their summary of the lost comments, posted by which of our fine friends I know not, was this:

“He also said something about Malcolm McLaren but I true to form can’t remember what.”

Later, this, again, author unconfirmed: “It was to do with ‘Duck Rock’.”

I sought clarification: “Was there a song from ‘Duck Rock’ you had in mind? If not, it’s going to be ‘Double Dutch’…”

The response, again author unconfirmed: “Well most of it is rubbish to be honest [Fair point]. I only thought of it because I saw a copy in a charity shop. Double Dutch is fine.”

But I felt a bit bad about…erm…badgering them into letting me play the track I like the most, so I persevered:

“Yeh, it’s that or ‘Buffalo Girls’ really isn’t? Your call, I have them both lined up ready to go. Which did you suggest in your original lost comment? We should go with that one, really.. “

No response, but to be fair, the boys have probably been swamped with comments and nice things being said about their frankly phenomenal final post (for now…?) over at When You Can’t Remember Anything. If you haven’t read it yet, do your self a favour: click that link and read something incredible. Advanced warning: you will undoubtedly shed a tear.

The reason I was trying to check whether or not one of them had suggested ‘Buffalo Gals’ (as I have subsequenty realised it’s actually called) was this. I never look at what the next record in the Official Chain is until I’ve finished sourcing all the tunes you suggested and thought of a few myself. Seems only fair that we have an even playing field, where I don’t know what the next record in The Chain is any more than you do. Besides, it’d just look plain fishy if I “guessed” right every week.

But when I did look to see what the next record in The Official Chain was, this is what I found:

“From Nick Drake to the following (which is on the ‘Duck Rock’ album)..”:


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34. Malcolm McLaren – Buffalo Gals

So, SWC, Badger, jointly as I have no idea which of you suggested Malcolm McLaren, and in honour of your bloody marvellous (please keep going, you’re too good at this to stop) blog, have some bonus points. Merry Christmas.

Okay. So. This is the last edition of The Chain for 2016. I’ll be taking next week off, bar a couple of pre-planned posts I have lined up. Due to the nature of it, I can’t really write The Chain in advance, obviously.

So, you have two weeks to get your suggestions to me, via the Comments section below, for songs which link to “Buffalo Gals” by Malcom McLaren, along with the usual explanation about how you got from record A to record B.

Oh and one more thing. I love doing this, and I’ve said it before and I really mean it – I just host it, the majority of the work is down to you lot and your quite brilliant suggestions. I’ve followed blogs for over ten years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever come across a blog that does what we do here at The Chain. Not me, we.

I  cannot think of a single other blog where requests are invited and all are posted; where all is good-natured, pleasant and friendly and everyone accepts they may get a bit of a ribbing every now and then, and nobody objects, nobody trolls, nobody flounces off in a strop because I’ve said their record choice was terrible; where I’ve been introduced to God knows how many songs and artists that I would probably never have heard were we not doing this (and where I hope I’ve returned the favour a few times); and where we get the most incredibly diverse range of artists – just look at that Tag list underneath this!! 46 songs!! Where else would you get that?

What I’m trying to say is this: if you’ve ever made a suggestion here, thank you. You have helped make this place what it is.

Have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

More power to your elbows.

Oh. And More soon, obviously.

It’s Chriiiistmas!!!

Of course, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I mentioned I was reluctant to do any posts involving Christmas songs. My how times have changed.

There was a reason for this, other than thinking you’d all be sick of hearing Christmas songs by now. Let me take you back a few years.

I was still sharing a flat with Hel, and she, along with our two other flatmates (I say two, I actually mean one other official flatmate and his girlfriend who practically moved in on the same day as he did) suggested we had a Friday night in, just the four of us (so I’m reluctant to call it a House Party, although that’s exactly what it was) and they asked me to do a Christmas playlist to last the night.

I spent the next few weeks finding songs to fill a few hours, my idea to be structure them into sequences of three or four upbeat cheerful ones to have a bit of a dance to, then a slower one or two for us to sit down, catch our breaths, and of course, have a ciggie. And more booze.

Alas, time caught up with me, and I didn’t have chance to fashion them into any kind of order, so I elected to simply put the playlist on shuffle and hope for the best.

You can guess what happened next. My iPod decided to get the ratios the wrong way round, merrily skipping to six or seven slow, depressing Christmas plodders in a row, then chucking in Shaky’s “Merry Christmas Everyone” to lull us into a false sense of security, before reverting back to the death dirges again.

Needless to say, it was not the joyous Christmas knees-up that had been requested. I think we were all in bed by 10.30.

Well, they say that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger, so I thought I’d post a few of the less cheerful songs today, just to temper those Christmas spirits, you understand.

First up, breathy songstress Isobel Campbell and gravel-throated Mark Lanegan, from their excellent third album “Hawk”:

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Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Time of the Season

Next up, a slightly more upbeat track by an actual couple (at the time anyway, I’ve no idea whether they still are) from what is one of my favourite Christmas albums of recent years:

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Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Home for the Holidays

Could that sleeve be any more twee indie?

A few songs by female artistes now, and taken from her breakthrough album “I Speak Because I Can” (I call it her breakthrough album partly because it was the first thing I ever heard by her, but also because by now she had ditched Mumford & Sons, who I seem to remember used to be her backing band at some point, but I’m buggered if I can find any reference to this anywhere, so maybe I dreamt it):

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Laura Marling – Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)

Moving swiftly on, here’s a bona fide female icon performing a rather over-looked single. Released back in 1980, shortly after her second album “Never for Ever”, I think I had managed to completely avoid hearing this until one of those Top of the Pops 2 Christmas Specials came on last year. You know the kind of thing, where Steve Wright, or more latterly Mark Radcliffe, make super lame jokes about the clip he’s introducing. Whoever would do such a thing? (*coughs…looks guiltily around*)  Needless to say, it’s an absolute joy:

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Kate Bush – December Will Be Magic Again

A word of warning. When I was searching for the sleeve for that single, I actually mistyped her name, writing Hate Bush by mistake. Let me tell you, that brings up a whole different set of search results than I had been expecting, only about 2% of which referred to the former US President.

Mind you, “Hate Bush” would be an excellent slogan for a t-shirt, like those “Brian Maiden” ones which were doing the rounds a few years ago. Does me typing it here count as my having copyrighted it?

(Why do I think there was one of those t-shirts about Motorhead too…? Ah yes, a certain someone I know once got Iron Maiden and Motorhead mixed up and accidentally referred to them as “Maidenhead”. Pffft! You know who you are!)

Anyway, you want iconic female singers doing slightly unhappy songs about Christmas? Well, you came to the right place, I got ’em. How about some nice Joni Mitchell:

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Joni Mitchell – River

Actually, I have a confession to make about that choice: I was rather hoping I’d be able to track down Michael Ball’s version somewhere, but have had no joy. Ho Hum. There’s always next year.

Anyway, never mind that its opening melody is “Jingle Bells” in a minor key and that the lyrics begin with a seasonal scene: “It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees/They’re putting up reindeer, singing songs of joy and peace.” Ultimately, “River” is a bereft song about a broken romance and a woman who desperately wants to escape her heartbreak, saying repeatedly: “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

Well Joni, this must be your lucky day!

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Smith & Burrows -When The Thames Froze

For the unitiated, that’s Tom Smith – lead singer from Editors – and Andy Burrows who you will no doubt recognise as being the drummer from Razorlight (and now of We Are Scientists, apparently). So, proper indie royalty then (*ahem*)

Speaking of Indie Royalty, hands up who remembers this lot? Pretty huge a little while back weren’t they?

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The Killers – Boots

Three to go for today, two of which are from artists that I have banged on about an awful lot on these pages. Firstly it’s Gruff Rhys, lead singer of Super Furry Animals, from his bloody-wonderful-but-then-I-would-say-that-wouldn’t-I? “Atheist Xmas EP”:

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Gruff Rhys – Post-Apocalypse Christmas

Think yourself lucky I didn’t post (and I shit you not, I haven’t made this up) “Slashed Wrists This Christmas” from the same EP. Still brilliant, but maybe a little too dark for tonight’s post.

Instead, something which could quite easily have cropped up in my “From Leeds With Love” series, had I actually been arsed to write any of them for a while; yes, it’s The Wedding Present covering Sir Elton:

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The Wedding Present – Step Into Christmas

And lastly for today, before you get all cheerful again, this, two minutes of a newscaster reading horrible headlines about how terrible everything is whilst the evil ones from The Detectorists sing “Silent Night” in the background:

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Simon & Garfunkel – 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night

Now, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I’ll be travelling home to spend Christmas with my parents, so there may, or may not, be a post-tomorrow, depending on whether I get all of the things done in time that I need to. Which you could take to be a cover story to obscure the fact that I am actually Father Christmas. You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.

More soon.