Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Very Special Christmas from Neil - Review

Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade

Great start to the mix! I don't think this song has gotten much airplay here, but it sounds like an instant classic. Very catchy and very rock and roll, and the scream "It's Chriiiiistmas!" towards the end is excellent.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Roy Wood

Another 70s era song, but with a more 60s feel. Upbeat and fun, the saxophone line really moves it along, like three girl backup dancers. I'd never heard this one before either, and it's a fun one.

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty Macoll

This one I have heard quite a few times before, as a friend of mine is a big Pogues fan. It's a sad story - bringing "maggot" and "faggot" together in rhyme as they were always meant to be - but uplifting in the end. It's a nice change of pace from the standard holiday tune and a good addition to the mix. And I really like Kirsty MacColl's voice.

Santa's Laughter - The Attery Squash

"Santa's laughter mocks the poor, you've known it all along" - a jolly and cynical little tune. Not a bad one, nor is the sentiment out of place, but it's a fairly forgettable song.

Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses

The Waitresses! Quintessential early eighties sound - somehow I missed or forgot about this Christmas story-song. I really like their sound - a favorite!

Donde Esta Santa Claus - Augie Rios

This one is so bad it's good - like Cheesy Poofs, for instance. It's sung by child in a Spanish accent - the many many many whys of this song are probably not worth pondering - and I think he even sings "I know that I should be the sleeping" even though the googled lyrics show no unnecessary "the"s. Anyway, huge hit for me - thanks for including it.

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Mel and Kim

Cutest version of this song I've ever heard. I also enjoyed the youtube clip, with more comedy.

Hazy Shade of Winter - Bangles

The Bangles did a nice job with this classic. I think they brightened up the original with all their energy. Not one of my favorite songs, but I did enjoy hearing this version.

Girl In a Time Machine - The Fast Ood Rockers

I didn't care for this one the first time I heard it, but it really grew on me with a few repetitions. I found a youtube video that clarified the Christmas connection - there seems to be a big story behind the song. Unfortunately, I've never seen a Dr. Who episode - maybe if I had, I would like it even more!

Christmas - The Who

This one just doesn't sound like a holiday song to me, despite all the repetitions of the word Christmas. The lyrics are interesting and seem to question the Christian salvation dogma, so that's cool. But unfortunately I've never had more than fairly lukewarm enthusiasm for The Who.

Driving Home For Christmas - Chris Rea

I got to know Chris Rea on a previous Mix Club CD, from Alan, and it's nice to hear him again. This is a sweet song I can imagine getting lots and lots of radio play around the holidays.

Gaudete - Steeleye Span

This is gorgeous! I'd never heard it before, nor much of Steeleye Span. I'm very fond of acapella singing and multi-voiced harmonies. Definitely one of my favorites, and I'm sure I'd like more of their music, especially if they do more of this sort of thing.

In Dulci Jubilo - Mike Oldfield

This one got off to a nice start, a simple instrumental arrangement of the Christmas carol, but by the time the electric guitar came in, I felt like I'd heard enough of that melody.

Ring Out, Solstice Bells - Jethro Tull

One for the pagans! This one definitely lifts the spirits, or reminds me to lift a glass of spirits, something like that.

Snowflakes - Pizzicato 5

I'm not sure if Pizzicato 5 is ironic or post-ironic, but I love them. This song is two brief minutes of fey charm.

Child of Snow (Poppoya) - Miu Sakamoto

I really like this one - the singer has an absolutely lovely voice. Very clean sound.

Finlandia (Op. 26) - John Sibelius

It goes like this: You're walking in a blizzard in the mountains in some very cold northern place - say, Finland - and you're all alone except for maybe an elf and/or dwarf companion, but definitely no wizard who could throw a fire ball and warm things up for you. And it's so f*ing cold and the wind is blowing so hard that you can only take a single step, and then you have to stop and store up energy for the next step. And that's how you go through the beginning of the music, one slow step at a time in this hostile, frozen world. And then after awhile the wind and snow start to let up. You're still going slow and you still have icicles in your nose and eyelashes, but it's getting a bit easier and you start to consider the possibility of survival. A bird flies overhead - life! Then down below you, you see the distant valley with smoke rising from chimneys, and now you have something to live for, because where there's smoke there is probably a cup of hot chocolate or maybe tea, somewhere. You make your way down into the valley, quickening your pace as the sun emerges from behind gray clouds. As you approach the town, you hear music, happy music, coming from the town square. You keep walking until you get there, and what you find is a party - a big party with dancing around a giant bonfire, and big mugs of warm, spiked cider. You dance with a stranger, and suddenly all the strangers want to dance with you. You're light on your feet despite your fatigue, and lighter still when they lift you onto their shoulders and bear you to the stage where the band is playing. On the stage is a throne, and the people are crowning you king! Because you are the most awesome person they've ever seen! And now you're king of the whole town! Wow, that kind of sobers you up for a minute, so you take some time to contemplate the long journey you've made and where it's landed you. You remember the cold for a little while, but soon the coronation music recalls you to the present where you are king, you are awesome, and you are warm.

Middle of Winter - John Otway

I think this is my favorite of the mix - definitely the one that stays in my head the most and that I keep coming back to. He seems to have the perfect voice for the endearing and pathetic character of the song who stands freezing outside his ex-girlfriend's house. I could definitely listen to more of Mr. Otway.

Overall, an A+ mix that cheered my holiday, with several new favorites - especially Gaudete and the last. Thanks!

2 comments:

neil h said...

Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade

Slade were originally a hard rock band from Birmingham, but they really hit their stride in the glam era of the 70s. This is probably my favourite Christmas song - it's cheesy and over the top, but it takes me back to all of the tinsel and cheer of my childhood - as Noddy Holder says 'It's CHRISTMAS!!!'


I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Roy Wood

Another 70s era song, but with a more 60s feel. Upbeat and fun, the saxophone line really moves it along, like three girl backup dancers. I'd never heard this one before either, and it's a fun one.

Roy Wood is another 70s rocker, but he has the advantage of a humungous beard which makes him the perfect Santa in the video for this song.


Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty Macoll

This one I have heard quite a few times before, as a friend of mine is a big Pogues fan. It's a sad story - bringing "maggot" and "faggot" together in rhyme as they were always meant to be - but uplifting in the end. It's a nice change of pace from the standard holiday tune and a good addition to the mix. And I really like Kirsty MacColl's voice.

A dark and slightly maudlin song that is the perfect antidote to Christmas schmaltz. It manages to be both depressing and uplifting at the same time.


Santa's Laughter - The Attery Squash

This one was written by an online friend of mine, and they've done a great little video to go along with it ... :-)

Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses

The Waitresses! Quintessential early eighties sound - somehow I missed or forgot about this Christmas story-song. I really like their sound - a favorite!

I like this one mainly for the clever telling of the story with a suitably happy ending.

Donde Esta Santa Claus - Augie Rios

This one is so bad it's good - like Cheesy Poofs, for instance.

Yes, it is a bit cheesy, but fun all the same.

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Mel and Kim

Cutest version of this song I've ever heard. I also enjoyed the youtube clip, with more comedy.

I think this was a version for Comic Relief one year, with Mel Smith and Kim Wilde singing.

Hazy Shade of Winter - Bangles

The Bangles did a nice job with this classic. I think they brightened up the original with all their energy. Not one of my favorite songs, but I did enjoy hearing this version.

I always thought the original version was a bit insipid in a sixties, hippy sort of way, and I much prefer the harder edge to this version.

Girl In a Time Machine - The Fast Ood Rockers

I didn't care for this one the first time I heard it, but it really grew on me with a few repetitions. I found a youtube video that clarified the Christmas connection - there seems to be a big story behind the song. Unfortunately, I've never seen a Dr. Who episode - maybe if I had, I would like it even more!

It's probably a bit obscure as a Christmas song, but a special episode of Doctor Who on Christmas Day is a bit of a tradition nowadays. Last year's special featured Kylie Minogue, hence this mash up. The new version of Doctor Who is well worth checking out - I'm sure it's on BBC America or on DVD.

Christmas - The Who

This one just doesn't sound like a holiday song to me, despite all the repetitions of the word Christmas. The lyrics are interesting and seem to question the Christian salvation dogma, so that's cool. But unfortunately I've never had more than fairly lukewarm enthusiasm for The Who.

This song is from the rock opera Tommy, about a 'deaf, dumb and blind kid'. It is definitely anti-religious in sentiment, but perhaps it doesn't really work out of context.

Driving Home For Christmas - Chris Rea

I got to know Chris Rea on a previous Mix Club CD, from Alan, and it's nice to hear him again. This is a sweet song I can imagine getting lots and lots of radio play around the holidays.

I always like this one for the genuine warmth of the feeling of heading home to see your loved ones.

Gaudete - Steeleye Span

This is gorgeous! I'd never heard it before, nor much of Steeleye Span. I'm very fond of acapella singing and multi-voiced harmonies. Definitely one of my favorites, and I'm sure I'd like more of their music, especially if they do more of this sort of thing.

It's a traditional piece of music, and Steeleye Span came a folk tradition originally. Their other music is more in a folk-rock vein, which is not really my thing, but I do like this song.

In Dulci Jubilo - Mike Oldfield

This one got off to a nice start, a simple instrumental arrangement of the Christmas carol, but by the time the electric guitar came in, I felt like I'd heard enough of that melody.

Mike Oldfield does have a tendency to get carried away with the number of instruments that he can play, but this is nothing compared to Tubular Bells et al.

Ring Out, Solstice Bells - Jethro Tull

One for the pagans! This one definitely lifts the spirits, or reminds me to lift a glass of spirits, something like that.

Another throwback to the 70s but another goodie, I think.

Snowflakes - Pizzicato 5

I'm not sure if Pizzicato 5 is ironic or post-ironic, but I love them. This song is two brief minutes of fey charm.

I don't think the Japanese really do irony, at least not in the sense that we would understand. It is perfectly acceptable to sing perfectly formed songs like this for no other reason than it is cute.

Child of Snow (Poppoya) - Miu Sakamoto

I really like this one - the singer has an absolutely lovely voice. Very clean sound.

I really like this one too - simply perfect.

Finlandia (Op. 26) - John Sibelius

It goes like this: You're walking in a blizzard in the mountains in some very cold northern place - say, Finland - and you're all alone except for maybe an elf and/or dwarf companion, but definitely no wizard who could throw a fire ball and warm things up for you. And it's so f*ing cold and the wind is blowing so hard that you can only take a single step, and then you have to stop and store up energy for the next step. And that's how you go through the beginning of the music, one slow step at a time in this hostile, frozen world. And then after awhile the wind and snow start to let up. You're still going slow and you still have icicles in your nose and eyelashes, but it's getting a bit easier and you start to consider the possibility of survival. A bird flies overhead - life! Then down below you, you see the distant valley with smoke rising from chimneys, and now you have something to live for, because where there's smoke there is probably a cup of hot chocolate or maybe tea, somewhere. You make your way down into the valley, quickening your pace as the sun emerges from behind gray clouds. As you approach the town, you hear music, happy music, coming from the town square. You keep walking until you get there, and what you find is a party - a big party with dancing around a giant bonfire, and big mugs of warm, spiked cider. You dance with a stranger, and suddenly all the strangers want to dance with you. You're light on your feet despite your fatigue, and lighter still when they lift you onto their shoulders and bear you to the stage where the band is playing. On the stage is a throne, and the people are crowning you king! Because you are the most awesome person they've ever seen! And now you're king of the whole town! Wow, that kind of sobers you up for a minute, so you take some time to contemplate the long journey you've made and where it's landed you. You remember the cold for a little while, but soon the coronation music recalls you to the present where you are king, you are awesome, and you are warm.

I couldn't put it any better!

Middle of Winter - John Otway

I think this is my favorite of the mix - definitely the one that stays in my head the most and that I keep coming back to. He seems to have the perfect voice for the endearing and pathetic character of the song who stands freezing outside his ex-girlfriend's house. I could definitely listen to more of Mr. Otway.

John Otway definitely does specialize in whistful songs about being dumped by various girlfriends over the years.

Overall, an A+ mix that cheered my holiday, with several new favorites - especially Gaudete and the last. Thanks!

Glad you enjoyed it! I really must get on with reviewing the 30+ tracks that Nichole has just sent me ... :-)

Nancy said...

I liked the Attery Squash video.