Christmas Posts 2019 part 3

I’m not religious – but I do enjoy a fair amount of what might be termed religious music. As well as choral works, singing Christmas carols is kinda fun, just as much musically part of Christmas to me as much of the music I have posted here over the last few weeks.  And my absolute favourite Christmas carol of all is ‘Silent Night.’

There’s an article over on Wiki about how the song was first written and performed in Austria on Christmas Eve 1818, by a priest, Father Joseph Mohr, and Franz Xaver Gruber. Mohr had first written the words in 1816, which makes it just over 200 years old. (I idly wonder how much of the music I have featured on the blog over the last thirteen years will be listened to in 200 years’ time.) Written in German, the original version is Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. According to Wiki, during the famous Christmas Day Truce in 1914, it was sung by both British and German troops simultaneously as it was one carol both sides knew.

It has been performed by many, many artists over the years. Sinead O’Connor, above,  recorded a version for the 1991 TV film The Ghosts Of Oxford Street.

The carol has reportedly been translated into over forty languages, and that includes Gaelic. Enya originally recorded a version in Gaelic in the late 1980s:

The quintessential Christmas record of the last twenty years is Low’s Christmas album (though a close second for me is Tracey Thorn’s Tinsel And Lights). It could almost have been written with them in mind…

Sufjan Stevens’ version is as ethereal as Low’s but more trippy:

Can recorded a version in the 1970s:

A few weeks ago, in London’s Rough Trade store, Mrs. 17 Seconds and I picked up a vinyl re-issue of The Temptations’ Christmas Card. A new video has premiered for it, and while I could clearly post a different version of the track every day for a year, I’ll leave you to enjoy these:

Album Review – Can: The Singles (Mute)

Album Review: Can


Can -‘The Lost Tapes’ (Mute)

Quite often, compilations of ‘lost’ music or demos can present an all too obvious and uncomfortable truth: that the music contained within is simply not good enough to have made it onto regular albums and is simply released for completists. It is, therefore, very much a relief to be able to say that these three CDs of material very much deserve to see the light of day, and have some utter gems contained within. They were recorded between 1968 and 1977 and were compiled by Can keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and Mute head honcho Daniel Miller.

It’s not that there aren’t a few tracks that the world might not have missed. ‘Evening All Day’ and ‘Buble Rap’ (yes, ‘Buble’) have some wonderfully atmospheric parts while at other times descend into self-indulgent tosh. ‘Blind Mirror Surf’ is particularly trying.

But there are so many wonderful songs on here. The opening ‘Millionspeil’ with its flutes and jazzy feel. Excellent live version of ‘Spoon’ and ‘Mushroom.’ The insanely named ‘Dead Pigeon Suite’ is beautiful for six and a half minutes and then suddenly gets even funkier than ‘I Want More’ and goes like a Germanic James Brown. Other highlights include ‘Oscura Primavera’ ‘Your Friendly Neighborhood’ and ‘Midnight Sky.’

Inevitably, it may not be the best place to start for those new to Can (may I suggest Future Days or Tago Mago?, but it is a fascinating document that definitely reveals so much of what this fantastic band produced.


The Lost Tapes is out now on Mute.

Christmas 2011 Posts #8


Whatever your views on religion, chances are if you grew up in the UK, at some point you went to a Christmas Carol Concert.

And much as I would no more wish to hear tuneless singing of these perennial favourites than many of you will, Christmas Eve’s essential soundtrack has got to include Carols from King’s College, Cambridge to hear them done well.

So, for today’s post, a selection of half a dozen songs you might hear at a Christmas concert done in the bands’ own inimitable styles. There may be many more of these out there, though I drew the line at posting Cliff Richard’s version of ‘O Little Town Of Bethlehem’ or Bros doing ‘Silent Night.’ There’s post-modernism and then there’s being stupid.

Can -‘Silent Night.’ mp3

Belle and Sebastian -‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel.’ mp3

Bare Naked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan -‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’ mp3

Blondie -‘We Three Kings.’ mp3

Fall -‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.’ mp3 {Mark E. Smith above)

Camera Obscura -‘Little Donkey.’ mp3

Christmas posts part 21


For today, some slightly more avant-garde/off-beat type offerings for you.

As an antidote to anodyne Christmas offerings, I wandered into town with the Cure’s Faith on my headphones. Which was perfect, until the batteries ran out. Life without an iPod (waiting to have it fixed AGAIN) can be very frustrating.

Sonic Youth -‘Santa Doesn’t Cop Out On Dope.’ mp3

William S. Burroughs & Kurt Cobain ‘Quiet Waters.’ mp3

Basement 5 -‘Last White Christmas.’ mp3

Daniel Johnston -‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.’ mp3

Can -‘Silent Night.’ mp3

memo to self: DO NOT go into town on the last saturday before Christmas…