Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Listening Club - 18th December 2016

Greetings folks,

Hope all is fine and good with you all. A positive mood prevails here in Amsterdam, but that's because we're off on holiday soon, and very much looking forward to getting away from the grey and grim for a while. Speaking of which, looks like due to calendar issues we're going to postpone the #festivevortex until the 8th January, and the right honerable @JimMcCauley will be helming that, so you've got plenty of time to get your favourites of 2016 lined up. Also, although we didn't actually discuss it, I'm presuming that we're going to be closed for business for the next two Sundays (Xmas Day and New Year's Day), so whoever gets the frisbaton tonight will have until 15th Jan to get their pick sorted...

Last week @xpollen8 jumped bravely into the fray with his debut pick of Carrie Newcomer's "Visions And Dreams" which split opinions fairly down the middle, I think, as befitting the duality of the album title. Many thanks to him for the pick and for sailing the frisb across to @mrhig who's here with a typically seasonal intro...

"You passed me the frisbaton in the lead up to Christmas. You absolute fools.

I’m a sucker for a good Christmas album. Or even a crap Christmas album, if it has enough novelty value. I own two Barry Manilow Christmas albums. Last week I picked up a Mariachi Christmas album on vinyl for a pound in a local record shop (it’s great, but it’s not this week’s pick).

It’s getting to the point where allowing myself to listen to Christmas albums from the first of December onwards each year is not early enough to be able to fit in all our Christmas albums. Next year I might start at Thanksgiving like the Americans seem to (actually a lot of Americans I know start on Christmas festivities once Halloween is over).

You’ve got to listen to Christmas music when putting up the tree and decorations (the Charlie Brown Christmas album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio for me) and when wrapping last-minute presents on Christmas Eve (Low’s Christmas album and Slow Club’s “Christmas Thanks For Nothing” for this… but the latter is too short for Listening Club and the former too obvious/well-known).

There are great recent holiday records by (amongst others) Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Nick Lowe, and Tracey Thorn (with a loose definition of “recent”… look, they can only be listened to at Christmas time so time works differently with holiday records). I’m also a big fan of more inclusive festive fare that throws in a few Hannukah-related ditties and perhaps nods to some other countries/faiths and their celebrations. After all I’m no Christian myself (atheist co-opting a ubiquitous British holiday for my own purposes here).

But this week’s pick is one of the earliest Christmas albums I own (in terms of my own personal chronology in acquiring them, not year of release necessarily) and a perennial favourite. It should be instantly recognisable to those that know the band or artist, and I’m more than aware it won’t be to everyone’s tastes. I’d ask that you give it a chance but this is Listening Club, and the first rule of Listening Club is to give everything a chance. Turn and face the strange, as it were (no, AFAIK Bowie never did a Christmas record). I think there’s some very fun and novel approaches to classics here, and quite a bit of variation.

Drinking suggestion: eggnog, mulled wine, hot buttered rum or a nice glass of port. 

Turn the (normal) lights down low. Turn on all the Christmas lights and decorations. Set the tree to “epilepsy” setting and imagine you’re in Los Angeles, by way of Winnipeg…"

Right. Direct download is here, and the spoiler-laden HearThis stream is below:

See you at 8pm GMT!

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