Just what does Percy Thrower put on his Christmas Table ?

Well… he tells us at 3:54 on this lesser known gem from ‘Beyond The Wizards Sleeve’ (Nom de plume for Erol Alkan and Richard Norris). Search out their remix work, the Masterchef fan’s will be delighted by what they did for The Killers.

As for what Percy put’s on his Christmas table for decoration >>

  • Red Berries from Holly
  • The yellow flowers of the winter flowering Jasmine
  • The pink flowers of the vibernum
  • Yellow flowers of the winter flowring burberis

The things you learn from Christmas Songs eh ?

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Sparkly baubles, Bing, Spector, Tijuana brass AND Jonnhy Cash cut's you down

Latest playlists to arrive:

1) Emma Preston – Boom!

Billy Gibbons, Lemmy and Dave Grohl – Run Run Rudolph

The Vandals – Dance of the sugarplum fairies

Smashing Pumpkins – Christmastime

Bing and Bowie – Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth

The Vandals – Oi to the world

The Hives and Cyndi Lauper – A Christmas Duel

Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis

John Lennon – War is Over

Nat King Cole – the Christmas song

Bing Crosby – White Christmas

Another good one – it’s got ‘light and shade’ / ‘loud and quiet’ / ‘old and new’ / ‘classic & novel’ / ‘covers & original’. It’s hits the ‘Geographically appropriate’ requirement (Lennon) and it finishes with Bing, that’s a good finish – it evokes classic christmas. That could only be topped by one thing and that would be George Bailey.  The Hives and Cyndi Lauper is fun as is the opening supergroup. A serious contender.

2) Pippa & John HaywoodThe Haywoods Second Xmas Offering and Quirky Christmas

Right, there’s no getting away from it ….these two are special….

Starting with ‘Stoned Soul Christmas’ is a great choice, it starts with a party sound that seems to comes straight off the opening of the best album ever (Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’). Frankly I now want a Christmas cognac and a mince pie to go with this, actually it’s so good I’m going to put it on again. Does lose it a bit at the end though when you get an unshakeable recollection of the Donkey from Shrek, and sheeeeeet if Eddie Murphy’s at this party we can’t do Christmas without mentoning ‘Trading Places’ and a drunk bummed out Santa Dan Ackroyd.

One of those doesn’t arrive thankfully – ‘I hate December’ by Ivy does. This is previously unknown to me and it’s great – somehow sounds like the Sundays ‘Summertime’ but for the opposite season – which means I LOVE IT. Then Badly Drawn Boy rocks up, all ramshackle and too bloody talented for his own good, it’s also very lovely, good kettle drums a lesser used Xmas instrument. Reminds me that although it’s not an Xmas song – Badly Drawn Boy do the best cover of ‘Come On Eileen’ too. The Ramones arrive just at the right time to turn up the tempo and give the opportunity to pop on a leather jacket, but a leather jacket with sleigh bells on. It’s a proper length of song too – it doesn’t over stay it’s welcome (unlike some festive guests). The Vandals ‘My first Christmas as a woman’ follows the Ramones well – love is a many genderd thing you know, did I mention it’s a pink leather jacket, fetching eh – goes with my eyes, and the heels. Gary the green nosed reindeer is okay but it’s got a little too much of a novelty feel and vocal processing that’s supposed to be Eminem-esque which doesn’t seem to suit the chirpy guitar work, the raspy bass is a bit annoying too. Santa’s lost his Mojo see’s this get back on track though – it’s VERY Mumford and Sons. The Moshi Moshi ‘A gift for you’ album throws up ‘Just Like Christmas’ from Ingo Star Cruiser and it’s superb, a bit flaming lips when they remember to include a tune. Some Sufjan Steven’s then arrives, there’s a surfeit of treasures on this album for the Xmas-ophile and this is one of the best. Ending with Brenda Lee ‘I’m gonna lasso Santa Claus’ is a PERFECT ENDING – this is a masterclass in doing understated novelty ‘I’m gonna tug his beard’ – didn’t you just want to do that as a kid ?

Quirky Christmas makes you sit up – not least because it must stand alone in the Xmas song cannon for mentioning Shotgun shells with the first 10 seconds – Mojo Nixon takes the Kingsmen’s version of Louie Louie and adds sleigh bells, tequila and some growling, it’s the song you want if your going out to an Xmas party. It mention’s It’s A Wonderful life and that’s always a good thing… why hasn’t anyone included anything from that yet, the soundtracks available. Kay Starr sashy’s in, it’s all big band and glittery ball dresses – it’s GORGEOUS in every possible way (a small confession it’s buying the Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails albums about 10 years ago that started this whole Xmas song obsession, so this wins in spades). And then some Spector …. Darlene Love … sigh, great combination from Kay Starr into this. Dig That Crazy Santa Claus jumps the joint with a 50’s Rock and Roll / boogie-woogie style and it does it very well. Alan Jackson does what all good Country acts should do – makes you sad and then question how you can be sad and tap your toes at the same time, it’s a little bit more chirpy than John Denver’s take on the same song and the peddle steal is all slidey and twangy, the fiddles a bit annoying though. Country is saved by the arrival of JOHNNY CASH  (frankly I’m still happy he was used on the Channel 4 season trail for Homeland), it’s a spoken word piece with humming and harmonies. It get’s to the soul of Christmas way more than anything else has in this competition to date and it’s more emotionally manipulative than the John Lewis ad – a film unfolds in your head listening to it, properly arresting. The Fratellis is fuzzy, warm and vocals seem to have a Wizzardy haze to them, which is a very good thing. A terrific cover of the Waitresses ‘Christmas Wrapping’ shimmers and seems to speed up in an iridescent and fuzzy soup of cosy wordiness. Mojo Nixon then demonstrate’s that he got a Wah Wah pedal last Xmas. Ending with a Tijuana inspired ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ somehow sounds like the theme tune to a 70’s sitcom and instantly reminds you of 70’s Christmas Telly, genius, pure damn genius.

Frankly this duo of playlists set’s a new standard – John and Pippa are the one’s to beat.

Christmas playlist competition update

A handful of updates and new lists have arrived. Some first attempts and some inspired to submit supplementary entries.

First up is Paul Clough. Paul arrives with a unique and very funny take on Christmas playlists – a small note of caution as ‘suggested for matures readers’ / not safe for work applies. Some things you just can’t unsee and now I need to go squegee my eyes, my third eye and my immortal soul . Just how many people out there are creating quasi and not-so-quasi pornographic snow-person sculptures ??? Well, Paul’s entry confirms it’s probably a number larger than you are currently thinking of.

1) Paul Clough – Ropey Christmas Songs

Top marks for Half Man Half Biscuit and even erm Eric Idle. A serious side to Christmas sees John Denever bumming everyone out. I’m not sure the world’s ready for ‘Frosty The Pervert’  ???? (the 700,000 views beg to differ). Also, getting the feeling Paul doesn’t like Reindeer (he should listen to the Amateur Transplants ‘mucking around on Christmas eve’). Towards the end we are reminded that Christmas is a feast of plenty, there’s a bountiful amout of utter riddiculousness from Die Toten Hosen and their ‘sort of’ spirtual / comedy fathers Spinal Tap. It rounds this off rather well.

Basically – once you’ve seen Frosty The Pervert this years John Lewis ‘Snowman buy’s gloves for Snowlady’ ad is ruined, for eternity.

Paul said he was dissapointed that Einsturzende Neubauten didn’t do Christmas songs – in a bid to find him something I spent half an hour last night looking for ‘Blixa Bargeld Xmas’ the ‘Nick Cave Santa’ in the foolish bid to find evidence of at least one member of the band having donned a santa hat . That’s half an hour of my life I’m not getting back – I thought Cave would be a certainty and surely he’s clocked up enough mentions of Jesus and Angels to crow-bar in a reference, but no, no sleigh bells or choirs of Children – not that any sensible choir master would let Cave near a choir of childrem, not with that ‘tache’ he’s been sporting for a while now. If anyone knows different  ??

The Macc Lads – Jingle Bells (NSFW)
Half Man Half Biscuit – All I Want For Xmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit
Frosty the Pervert  (NSFW)
Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer
Joe Diffie – Leroy The Redneck Reindeer
Eric Idle – Fuck Christmas (NSFW)
John Denver – Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk On Christmas)
“Weird Al” Yankovic – Christmas At Ground Zero  (Pre 9/11!)
Die Toten Hosen – White Christmas  (Paul Clough’s favourite)
Spinal Tap – Christmas with the devil

2) Erm … me again ….

I was going to stretch my own rules and insist on including The Blue Nile ‘Tinseltown In The Rain’ as it’s got the word ‘Tinsel’ in the title. Looking for it, I find I need not bend my own rules, the whole album has just been re-released and it’s got a previously unavailable different version which has only bloody well got sleigh bells on it …. GET IN! There’s also the Brilliant Tim Minchin ‘White Wine In The Sun’, a Swedish Choir, Sonic Youth covering Plastic Bertrand (UK Chart over Xmas 1977) and a ropey Beatles cover band having a go at Wizzard. If the wasn’t enough – always the same, always differnt – TheFall (adopts John Peel accent ‘The MIGHTY Fall’) chip in with ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’.

And, another list – I’m finding a surfit of good comedy Christmas songs. The ‘Amateur Transplants’ appear to be working Doctors with a musical side-line, after listening to the copious swearing and requests for cash I suspect their bed-side manner needs work. Still, their’s is the funniest ‘version’ of Fairytale of New York I’ve found so far and I can say that as someone very fond of hearing it sung by computers.

First brave souls to enter Xmas playlist hell….

The first ten playlists are in:

1) Kenny Milliner –  Xmas 2012 competition >>

Will score pretty well, has variety, genre spanning, silliness – it’s a bold move to start with a novelty track, it’s got the Beach Boys even if they can’t decided which song they are playing. The Tracey Thorn track is very pleasant and previoulsy unknown to me. Cyndia Lauper adds a great party track and Lou Reed is throughly bloody miserable – just like a family Christmas.

Update: Kenny has requested the removal of Dominic the Donkey and for it to be replaced with this: White Christmas – “On The Theremin” 

He know’s me too well and that any inclusion of a Theremin is an instant points boost. The soviet abduction mystique of Lev Termain and the eerie ethereal sound of the worlds first electronic instument is a winner if you want a spooky Christmas. Of course Christmas is a great time for spooky and horror stories – from Scrooge to the M R James Ghost Stories that used to be on the BBC in the 70’s.

2) Mark Sims –  Christmas 2012 Banging Tunes >>

A strict adherent to the classics, I alway stipulate that Christmas has never properly started until you’ve seen a video of Andrew Ridgely in a chalet with a christmas pudding so starting with Last Christmas is a good move. Shakin Steven’s is a guilty pleasure but the flaw is the un-ironic inclusion of Cliff. There’s no cover’s or mad genre’s – but it’s a pure honest list. It ends with Frank Sinatra which is a nice touch, better that it’s the 78 rpm version too.

3) John Owensfirst cut

Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter
Shonen Knife “Space Christmas”
Santa Baby! – Eartha Kitt
Ella Fitzgerald – Sleigh Ride
Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby please come home)
John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Glasvegas – Silent Night
Otis Redding – White Christmas
RUN-DMC – Christmas In Hollis
Frank Kelly-Christmas Countdown (12 days to Christmas)

A solid list, multiple genre’s, cover versions, classics, sleigh bells, regional accents, a touch of novelty, some emotional depth, geographically appropriate choices, it get’s the ‘spector uplift’ and has exotic appeal from Shonen Knife. Probably the list to beat at the moment…..

4) Paul Smith –  Unexpected Christmas >>

Just to help gee you all along, here’s some more festive genius gems – Achtung Xmas is as close as I can find to a Kraftwerk Christmas Song, Iggy Pop is pretty much game for anything, there would be extra marks for including real muppets and a cover version in an 8bit style, but as I can’t win, this one’s just for fun.

5) Stewart NobleAll I want for Christmas is to never hear Mariah Carey again >>

This one’s a good one, a very good one – has a narrative arc and includes Punk, Pop, Comedy, references to paganism, extra marks for an ‘Irish Uplift’, good covers (better still that it’s a good cover of Slade) it’s even got a murder ballard – that’s what giving Socks get’s you. Starting with Tracey Thorn and a non cover is a nice starting point – it’s got sleigh bells and feels like a warm blanket in front of a fire. Moving on to a good cover of Slade is a fine move, following it with a murder ballard add’s the shade and depth required. Extra marks for geographic approriateness of Elvis Costello (and this means there’s an Elvis in the list). A further vintage nostaligc element arrives with Toim Lehrer and it’s all the better for it. International appeal and louche lounging from Rufus Wainwright doing a good job of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ that makes it a more intimate version than either Dean Martin or the Tom Jones and Cery’s Matthews version. Saint Etienne have embraced the Christmas song quite frequently and ‘I was born on Christmas day’ is a bouncy pop joy. Appearing to finish with comedy from Cartman isn’t what you might expect – rather like finding Frankie Goes To Hollywood played it straight with ‘Power Of Love’, this is similar, but shriller.  Out in front by a nose, with John Owens on his heels….

7) Alan Catherall  – Not just 11 – this list goes all the way to 12 (days of Christmas) >>

Jack Black and Sum 41 – Things I want

Amon Amarth – Viking Christmas
Jingle Bells – Austrian Death Machine
 Twisted Sister – Oh Come all ye Faithful
Corey Taylor – XM@$
Spinal Tap – Christmas with the Devil
Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi – God rest ye Merry Gentlemen
Rob Halford – Come all ye faithful
Reverend Horton Heat – Santa Claus is coming to town
Stiff little fingers – White Christmas
Bad Religion – Joy to the World

Review to follow – Neurofen first.

Note: there’s at least three people on the MSM team that want this to win, for themeatic consistency and a ‘more is more’ approach this is marshall-stack-mungous.

8) Laura GelderChristmas Songs I Like >>

Review to follow
In sending this Laura also noted that track 9 (Sufjan Stevens – Mr Frosty) has a great/disturbing video to go with it.

9) Paul SmithA Blizzard Of Treats >>

Another from me – drum and bass Christmas anyone, a bit of Frank S (no, not Sinatra) and a santa sack full of soul.

10) Johnny ParkerNow That’s What I Call Christmas (Hell) >>

Johnny’s theme is Christmas songs that he likes but versions that he hates.

Review To Follow

——–

I have some further rule’s & details you need to be aware of:

1) Downmarking will take place based on the artists propensity to wear terrible knitwear.

2) If tempted to use Jive Bunny, find the originals and insert those.

3) Synthetic brass will lose you points unless it’s in keeping with the rest of the song style (e.g. cheesy synth versions) – if brass is to be included it should sound like you have a full compliment of the Salvation Army at your disposal.

Missing toe and whine – it's Christmas playlist time

Once again I am running an annual Christmas playlist competition – this time I’m doing it on three fronts, within Sceneric, within my client and amongst friends. Basically – sequence 10 Christmas songs and I’ll collect all submissions and pick a winning list.

Most music artists realise there’s cash in Christmas – so there’s 10,000’s of songs to go find and explore. Did you realise Jimi Hendrix had a go? So did Sonic Youth, as did Whigfield and Half Man Half Biscuit. Some are repeat contributors – stand up St Etienne and the Killers.

The rules are always the same, always different (a bit like an album by te Fall really):

1) Produce a playlist of 10 songs (no more, no less) – you can use any online accessible music service (Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube – whatever and you can list songs across channels too, it is a multi-channel world after-all!) – *Spotify is easiest for me to listen to on my 5 hour long car journeys, so you get a bonus point for a list solely on Spotify*

2) All of the songs must be Christmas Songs – what defines a Christmas song I hear you ask…. well …. it has to have been previously released around Christmas AND/OR have been in the top 40 UK or US chart over Christmas (e.g. Always on my mind) AND/OR mention Christmas AND/OR mention christmas themes / activities (ice skating, sledging, drinking eggnog)  AND/OR feature a choir of children + sleigh bells . If you can make a case to me why it is a Christmas song, and convince me – you can have it.

3) Give it a title.

4) Send it to me in an email with links to the playlist or links to the 10 songs across whichever services you have opted to use.

5) You can send multiple lists of 10, if you think you can come up with different themes, approaches, ideas.

6) Closing date is Friday 14th – I will announce the winners before Christmas.

I have prepared this example list on Spotify to demonstrate the idea and give you a place to start.

Things to be aware of / guidance / advice:

1) My decision is final, oh so final.
2) Use of Mariah Carey can lose you points, unless you can sequence her in an amusing fashion, the same applies to Cliff Richard – nothing personal but there’s something with both that set my teeth on edge (which doesn’t happen with any Cliff Richard track until just after Wired for sound).
3) Cover versions are good …. double cover versions are especially good (e.g. West End Girls cover of ‘Always On My Mind’ – it’s a cover AND an Xmas hit for the Pet Shop Boys AND an Elvis song)
4) Bizzare / weird genres or versions are also good ….. reggae Christmas songs, different language versions, German metal covers, clever lyrical stories, singing computers, cat’s playing keyboards….
5) The guitar in Mike Oldfields ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ is self-indulgent and overblown – but in a good way
6) All participants agree to listen to the winners playlist on Christmas day.

7) The rules are broadly similar to those of Mornington Crescent – so you’ll already be familiar with my additional lateral rule about the proximity of your birthplace to that of Roy Wood.

I’ll try and blog / links to the submissions I get.

Happy hunting.