17 Seconds Christmas Posts: part 6


A few years back, Kate Bush released a Christmas album, 50 Words For Snow which was truly up there with the best of her work (read my review here). It wasn’t, however, the first time she’d released any Christmas music.

Back in 1980, when she was still putting out music pretty regularly, she had a Christmas hit single with the enchanting ‘December Will Be Magic Again.’ Which as it’s December tomorrow, I thought was appropriate.


Now, yet again this is a track that it seems is very hard to buy (note to record companies: you know how people went and bought lots of copies of the Adele album, which you couldn’t stream? Well, does it ever occur to you that maybe people might actually buy music if they could buy the stuff they would like to?), and as far as I can tell there was never a proper video either, but there is this footage from her 1979 TV special of her performing the song:

Meanwhile, this 1993 Christmas song by Ms. Bush ‘Home For Christmas’ does crop up on various Christmas compilations, and you can buy this song on iTunes (amongst other places). This is a fan-made video which is rather good. The song was the 12″ b-side to the ‘Moments Of Pleasure’ single.

17 Seconds Christmas Posts 2015: part 5


So far, the Christmas songs I have posted on the blog are still available to go and buy. Today’s offerings from the Cocteau Twins seem to be long out of print, for reasons I’m not sure of, both physically and digitally (I had to write that last year, and sadly, nothing has changed. I have checked on Amazon and iTunes again – still nothing, at least in the UK.

In 1993 the band released a single called Snow which featured two Christmas classics done in their own, unique style. It comprised ‘Frosty The Snowman’ and ‘Walking In A Winter Wonderland.’

So enjoy these, hopefully one day they will be available to buy again…perhaps on a re-issue of Four Calendar Cafe, which was the most recent album the Cocteau Twins had put out, a few months previously. And if the band would like to re-issue Milk and Kisses, their final album, on vinyl, that would be nice, too…

17 Seconds Christmas Posts 2015: part 4


The definition of a ‘sleeper’ hit would be one that over a long period of time becomes a big success, despite having relatively little promotion or not having a successful beginning. And if there’s a Christmas sleeper hit, then that title has got to go to ‘Christmas Wrapping‘ by the Waitresses.

The Waitresses (read more about them on Wiki and a more in-depth article via Consequence of Sound), hailed from Akron, Ohio and were part of the American new-wave scene of the early 1980s. ‘Christmas Wrapping’ was their only hit in the UK, reaching no.45 in 1982 (see here for proof, if you’re so inclined), and yet over the years has become hugely popular and recognised, appearing on numerous compilations. I first heard it in the late 1990s, when it was still relatively unknown (at first I thought with the almost wrapping it was Blondie. Close but no cigar – the only link to CBGBs is that Television drummer Billy Ficca was the Waitresses’ drummer). The Spice Girls covered it as a b-side (you can seek it out, I’m sure) and the latest version is Kylie Minogue covering it with Iggy Pop for for her Christmas album, Kylie Christmas.

Here, for NME, the band’s Chris Butler talks about the song:

And as a bonus, here’s the Kylie and Iggy version:

17 Seconds Christmas Posts 2015: part 3


OK, so today for something a little more traditional.

Siouxsie and the Banshees covered the French Christmas carol for a b-side (or double A, if you prefer) for the 1982 single ‘Melt!’ This track can be found on the Downside Up 4CD compilation of their b-sides (which is definitely worth it), which can be found on iTunes.

This is a French TV performance from around late 1982, from when Robert Smith was in the band…

There’s an intersting Wiki entry on the song here.

…and as a bonus, from 2011, here is Tom Tom Club covering the song (I heard this for the first time this evening). This can be found on Amazon mp3

17 Seconds Christmas Posts 2015: part 2


What, another rather ‘anti-Christmas’ song, already?

Well, yes, sorta. The fact is that an email arrived in my warzone of an inbox of Wednesday evening, for a new single from Sparks. So ahead of its release on December 4, on Lil’ Beethoven records, how could I not share it with you?

As you would expect from the Sparks, wonderful high vocals, impressive synths and – and that Mael humour (but of course!). And a musical twist, but in the middle…

And as a bonus, from 1974′s Kimono My House album ‘Thank God It’s Not Christmas’

Presenting…Johnny Sly

Johnny Sly Wall

Manchester seven piece Johnny Sly are a fairly unusual proposition, on paper at least – and that’s before you hear a note of their music.

Described by Manchester Acoustic as being ‘like if Radiohead had a baby with The Beach Boys’ they have a pretty unusual line up of five sets of vocals, trumpet, bass, keys, drums, guitars and harp. That’s harp as in Joanna Newsom not what the Americans call a harmonica.

The band are J?onny Heath (Guitar, Vocals), Jack Davies (Trumpet, Vocals), Aeve Ribbons (Keyboard, Vocals), Rosalie Warner (Harp, Vocals), Oli Fenton (Drums), the alternating bass players Matt Dunnett and Philip K. Marzouk and John Ainsworth (Guitar, Vocals). Shortly to unveil their new EP for when no words are right, due on December 12, the band have unveiled the first single from the EP ‘Love Itself.’ It genuinely manages to mix in a variety of sounds, no surprise considering that Jonny lists Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush and Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange amongst his influences.

More of their music can be heard over at their soundcloud page.

17 Seconds Christmas posts 2015: part 1

Housewives on Prozac

Yup, it’s that time of year again, and with a mere calendar month to go until the day itself, I give you Housewives On Prozac with ‘I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall.’

Housewives On Prozac are Martha Joy Rose, Kyleann Burtt, Donna Kelly, Jane Getter, and Susan Graham. Led by Joy Rose (check out her website here, she’s led a very impressive life) this track ‘I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall’ is one of my favourite Christmas (or should that be ‘anti-’ Christmas?) songs. And the perfect way to start this series of posts.

The track is available to download from iTunes. Go and buy it

Getting ready for 2016 part 3: David Bowie


January 8 will be David Bowie’s 69th birthday, and will also see the release of his 25th solo album *, pronounced Blackstar. The video for the title track, which is now available to download, can be seen below.

The album was produced by Tony Visconti, who has also produced a number of Bowie’s previous albums, including The Man Who Sold The World, Young Americans, The Berlin trilogy and 2013′s comeback album, The Next Day.

According to Wikipedia, the tracklisting is as follows:

1. Blackstar
2. ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore
3. Lazarus
4. Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)
5. Girl Loves Me
6. Dollar Days
7. I Can’t Give Everything Away

‘Blackstar’ is the title music for the TV series The Last Panthers. Versions of ‘Sue…’ and ‘…Whore’ were released as a single last year to coincide with the Nothing Has Changed compilation, which collected fifty years of Bowie’s recordings.

More can be read in this article over at Rolling Stone

Presenting…Our Girl

Our Girl

Brighton trio Our Girl will shortly release their debut single proper ‘Sleeper’, on December 11. The band are drummer Lauren Wilson, bassist Josh Tyler and are fronted by singer and guitarist Soph Nathan. The latter is clearly a busy person, as her other band is The Big Moon.

Our Girl take the pre-Britpop sound of shoegaze and American alternative bands like Belly, Veruca Salt and the Breeders and bring it right up to the present. Whilst last year’s earliest offering ‘Our girl’ (yes, a self-titled offering still impresses – and you can hear it here, ‘Sleeper’ sees the band take a massive leap forward. It’s dark and dreamy at the same time, music to lose and find yourself in. On the evidence of this track alone, they are a band who have much to offer. If a debut single should serve as a manifesto, then Our Girl clearly have fulfilled that, and produced a song that makes you sit up and listen, and want to play again and again. The track was produced by Andy Savours, who has also worked with like minded acts My Bloody Valentine and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.

You can also stream the single and its b-side ‘Level’ via Spotify. The 7″ of the single is released on Cannibal Hymns on November 11.

Gig Review – James Morrison

James Morrison

Edinburgh Queen’s Hall, November 16

James Morrison comes on stage to a packed Queen’s Hall to the sounds of Toots and the Maytals’ ‘Pressure Drop.’ And funnily enough, it gives a sign of what actually musically fires him…

See, I’d had James Morrison down as yet another singer-songwriter in the James Blunt mould, yet another who’d come along in the wake of Coldplay, and music for people who commit the cardinal sin of buying their music at motorway service stations, which is obviously far worse than murder. But listening to his latest album, Higher Than Here, it seemed like I might have been a bit harsh.

It’s actually vintage soul which informs his work. And while his stage patter may seem to be largely talking about how much he loves his daughter (come on, mate, that’s what facebook’s for), when he’s singing he may reflect his record collection, the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.

Live he comes across a bit less polished on record, and much better for it. Perhaps the best example of this is ‘Broken Strings.’ On record, a duet with Nelly Furtado, it’s pleasant enough radio fare. But stripped down to just voice, guitar and piano, it suddenly comes to life and with the audience joining in, surprisingly effective. ‘Wonderful World’ is perhaps still a bit twee but new album opener ‘Demons’ is amongst the best he’s done.

A few days ago, I got an email about this gig I thought I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. And I’m glad I did. Here’s hoping that he makes a soul record, gritty, gutsy and with the feel of his live act.

The houselights come up and we traipse out to the sounds of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move On Up.’ It starts to make sense, now…