Christmas Playlist

Nothing gets me in the festive spirit like a few classic Christmas songs, or indeed, a bit of seasonal strangeness – as in this playlist.  A bit of alcohol helps too, mind.

I’ve already covered my Top Ten Christmas songs, and this playlist isn’t just run down of all the usual Crimbo staples.  This list is more complicated, idiosyncratic, and pointless than that.

Within my music collection are several Christmas songs, of varying fame, often collected together on themed compilations.

This list pulls together the songs that aren’t on those compilations, as well as some of the standards that do, but for one reason or another have found themselves bundled in with this bunch of misfits.

For example, there are several tunes that are always part of any respectable Christmas collection, but can also be found bunged onto Greatest Hits albums.  Songs like the wonderful Slade song “Merry Xmas Everybody”: it’s on all the comps, but I selected my copy from the Slade Best Of to group together with similar songs.  Shaky, The Pogues and John Lennon are other examples of this type.

Then there are the album Crimbo album tracks that are hidden away on band’s regular studio albums, such as the Ramones track (see also: AC/DC, Joan Jett).  They’re not going to crop up on a Now Christmas comp, so I added them here.

Plus, there are various songs from singles (the Darkness track) and a few of dubious seasonal pedigree…

Here’s my Christmas Odds and Sods playlist.  Enjoy!

  1. Slade – “Merry Xmas Everybody”
  2. Shakin’ Stevens – “Merry Christmas Everyone”
  3. The Pogues (with Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York”
  4. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
  5. Queen – “Thank God it’s Christmas”
  6. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”
  7. AC/DC – “Mistress for Christmas”
  8. The Beatles – “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
  9. The Darkness – “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)
  10. Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews – “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
  11. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Little Drummer Boy”
  12. Boney M – “Mary’s Boy Child”
  13. Christopher Lee – “Silent Night”
  14. Bad News – “Cashing in on Christmas”
  15. Roy Orbison – “Pretty Paper”
  16. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – “There’s No Light on the Christmas Tree Mama They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight”
  17. The Damned – “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause”
  18. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – “Home for the Holidays”
  19. Monster Magnet – “Dead Christmas”
  20. UK Subs – “Hey Santa”
  21. Black Stone Cherry – “Santa Claus is Back in Town”
  22. Christopher Lee – “Little Drummer Boy”
  23. Queen – “A Winter’s Tale”

Merry Christmas all!

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #13

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 29th September 2017

It’s Vinyl Night!  Once again, Halcyon Dreams hosted the Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head in Mold, North Wales.  An evening of beer, good company and – of course – spinning tunes!

You know the drill by now, so I’ll fast forward straight to my set.

There was a theme this time, which I stumbled on whilst playing these records over the previous months.  I decided to play songs that weren’t performed in the English language, which produced a few interesting ideas.  Here are the ones that made the cut:

Anhrefn – Molly Melys/Rhedeg I Paris

As I was in Mold, how could I not kick things off with something Welsh?  Anhrefn were a superb Welsh language punk band that I saw several times back in the early 90s.  I had a cassette of their album “Dragon’s Revenge” from those days, and successfully tracked down a vinyl copy not long ago.  This is actually two tracks – sorry, a bit sneaky: “Molly Melys” is a traditional folk song evoking Celtic tradition.  It’s a short, mellow introduction before it suddenly erupts into “Rhedeg I Paris”, a fast paced, energetic, melodic rocker in the vein of the Clash.  Fantastic!

Cypress Hill – Loco En El Coco

This is, of course, the Cypress Hill track “Insane in the Brain” but performed with Spanish lyrics.  Taken from “Los Grandes Exitos en Espanol” – their Greatest Hits in Spanish – and for some reason these versions just sound even funkier in Spanish.  I love the whole album for that reason.  Check it out, I recommend it.

Faith No More – Evidence (Italian Version)

This isn’t the “funk metal” Faith No More you may know.  Rather, this is a kind of smooth jazz-funk hybrid from the album “King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime”, here performed in Italian.  Apparently singer Mike Patton is multi lingual and there are versions of this track in several other languages too.  It’s a great song, showing FNM stretching out and writing something across musical boundaries: and it really works. 

Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi

And finally, I went with this French language pop punk/faux punk/new wave confection.  It’s a fun little treat that bounces along with a life of it’s own.  Loads of fun to end the set.

That was it, set over.  All songs in different languages.  I could have chosen a few others (I have a record by Kvelertak in Norwegian) but I figured that would do.

A great night again – thanks all!  Who knows if there’ll be a theme next time.  I’m just looking forward to another Vinyl Night!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

My Top 10 Christmas Songs

I’ve chickened out of writing this list for a long time.  That’s because there are so many great Christmas songs, that it’s a real struggle to narrow it down to just 10.  There are a few songs that simply have to be on the list, but I cringe thinking about those that didn’t make the it.

But I’ve been really ruthless, and narrowed it down to ten classic Christmas tunes that I love:

10. The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”

A great, funky little pop number that always gets me dancing in the aisles doing my Christmas shopping.  I know nothing about this group other than this song, but this is sheer class.

9. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”

The Ramones hark back to their 70’s glam rock influences with this festive banger.  It’s great to have a really influential, cool band in the top 10 (much better than Wham! for example).

8. Showaddywaddy – “Hey Mr Christmas”

This Showaddywaddy song is criminally unknown these days.  It really is a classic bit of 70’s stomping/clapping/singalong fun.  Do yourself a favour and rediscover this gem now!

7. Dean Martin – “”I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”

There are loads of awesome Christmas tunes from the master, Dean Martin (Baby It’s Cold Outside, Let It Snow!…, etc).  But this track is my top pick from Deano, if only for the wonderfully uplifting instrumental introduction.  You can argue if this tune is actually a Christmas song or not, but it’s on the indispensable “Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails” album, so I’m claiming it.

6. Wizzard –  “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”

Another glam rock 70’s nugget.  Absolutely essential.  It seems like I’ve heard this song all my life – I probably have – and it never gets boring.  Christmas magic!

5. The Crystals – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

Timeless stuff from the wonderful “A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector” album.  You’ve heard this song on film soundtracks, everywhere – it instantly conjures up a vivid feeling of Christmas nostalgia.  Superb.

4. Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Another track from the Phil Spector record (if you don’t own it, get it.  You need it).  The fantastic intro and Wall of Sound production are just perfect.  Sends a Christmassy shiver down your spine every time.

3. The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York”

Nowadays it’s as traditional as Christmas pud.  “Fairytale of New York” has grown on me massively over the years – it’s now an essential part of the festivities.

2. Shakin’ Stevens – “Merry Christmas Everyone”

Instantly recognisable, the Welsh Elvis rocks out a total seasonal masterpiece.  Newsflash: Shaky is, was, and always will be COOL.  This song is crucial for any Crimbo fun.

So what’s number one in my festive all time top ten?  It can only be…

1. Slade – “Merry Christmas Everybody”

Forget the Coca Cola truck, the official start of the Christmas (not “holiday”) season is when you first hear Noddy bellow “It’s Chriiisstmaaaaasss!”  In the 1970’s, Christmas was great.  This is the sound of every family get together from then and ever since.  Unbeatable.

There you go – my Top 10 Christmas songs.  I may need to re-visit this next year, maybe do a top 20 – just to cover off a few of the great songs that didn’t make this list.

Though there’s no way that East fucking 17 will ever get in here.

Merry Christmas to all my readers! 

Another Random Skateboard Playlist

Repetitive, moi?

I love lists.  These random playlists serve no purpose other than to remind me of music that’s buried away in my iTunes, waiting to be rediscovered.  One song leads to another; one band creates a ripple effect leading to another needing to be heard again.

I was out on the longboard this time, on a beautiful sunny afternoon.  I didn’t have long, however, before other commitments would tear me away.  Here are a few songs chosen at random by my iPod as the skate soundtrack that day.

  1. King Crimson – “Happy With What You Have to be Happy With”
  2. Senseless Things – “Watching the Pictures Go”
  3. Neck – “The Star of the County Down”
  4. Soul Asylum – “String of Pearls”
  5. Johnny Dowd – “True Love”
  6. Sonic Youth – “Creme Brulee”
  7. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Christine”
  8. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Peek-a-Boo”
  9. Nuclear Assault – “Live, Suffer, Die”
  10. Rolling Stones – “19th Nervous Breakdown”
  11. Shirley Bassey – “Reach for the Stars”
  12. Jimmy Eat World – “Cautioners”

Well, two different Siouxsie and the Banshees tracks, from different albums, one after the other.  Most strange.  Great songs, though.

I remember really enjoying the Stones track; the Shirley Bassey number was a bit out of the blue.  But then, random is what this game’s all about.

Till next time, groovers!