Monday, December 18, 2006

The Greatest Christmas Album Ever...Ever...Ever!

It's that time of year when everyone and their uncle weighs in to the "greatest Christmas songs ever" debate; in the Grauniad, John Harris had a bash, and in the blogosphere, PodBop has been posting 5 songs a day (yikes) for some time now... and so, launching itself into an already over-crowded arena, and by no popular demand whatsoever, IrkThePurists presents its own top Christmas choons.

Only a fool would try and compile one of these lists without at least one song from Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You. Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is first track on the vinyl copy of the album I own, so it's only fitting it should kick off proceedings here (on the CD reissue, it's been relegated to the 11th track--why??).

Clarence Carter's Backdoor Santa deserves a place for its innuendo-laden title alone--I always find it's good to put it on after the fifth glass of Warnink's advocaat--but we'll try and overlook Jet's recent cover version.

Run DMC's Christmas In Hollis is related to the above, and appeared on a one-off compilation called Christmas Rap put out by their record company, Profile. The album also featured a notable contribution from Brit-rap also-ran, Derek B, whom I once interviewed. Re: the lyrics; I know what collard greens are, but can any US readers tell me what "the hawk is out" means? I've been wondering for nearly 20 years.

Cocteau Twins' Frosty The Snowman. 'Nuff said.

St. Etienne's I Was Born On Christmas Day is evocative of coming back to see parents and finding that the town you left some years before has changed ("Did you know they pulled the Town Hall down? I don't think you'd recognise this town,"), and that you've changed too. Not bad for a throwaway bit of proto-Britpop.

Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses is from Ze's Christmas Album of 1981, the greatest Christmas album ever, hands down (it's closely followed by the Les Disques Du Crepuscule compilation Ghosts of Christmas Past). If a bunch of snarky New York hipsters can get over themselves and indulge in Yuletide cheer, then there's no excuse for the rest of us to mope about at the end of December. Cristina's Things Fall Apart or James White's Christmas With Satan (also on the album) are great songs, but it's a little too easy to include lots of bah-humbug tracks when compiling these things. Half Man Half Biscuit, as usual, said it eloquently and succinctly in It's Cliched to be Cynical At Christmas.

Mogwai's Christmas Song is one of the few of theirs that stays quiet all the way through, rather than doing the quiet/loud/quiet thing they're so good at. Christmas is always tinged with a little melancholy, and I think Mogwai capture that pretty well. The Raveonettes' confusingly similarly-titled Christmas Song is here to preserve the indie mood, but give the party a bit of a Swedish lift. I think a few fingers of Ikea own-brand Glogg would be appropriate here.

Finally, Vince Guaraldi Trio's Skating will instantly transport you back to your first viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Only the hardest of hearts will fail to sniffle slightly.

And so, gentle readers, that's yer lot. Have a cool yule. In a daring break with mp3 blog traditions, I'll post some "Best of 2006" tracks here sometime over the next week, hangovers permitting. Cheers!

Download Darlene Love's
Christmas (Baby Please...)

Download Clarence Carter's Backdoor Santa

Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC

Download Frosty The Snowman by Cocteau Twins

Download I Was Born On Christmas Day by St Etienne and Tim Burgess

Download Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses

Download It's Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas by HMHB

Download Mogwai Christmas Song

Download Christmas Song by The Raveonettes

Download Vince Guaraldi Trio's Skating (n.b. all the above tracks deleted Feb 2007--sorry!)


Anonymous said...

The hawk is out means there's a cold wind.

irkthepurists said...

You are a gent/lady, sir/madam. Many thanks!