Christmas Posts 2019 part 9

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, of all the Christmas albums released since Low (now 20 years old!) my favourite is Tracey Thorn’s Tinsel and Lights. There’s a mixture of covers and new songs, from one of the greatest women to come out of the post-punk era.

This is the album’s opening track, one of the new songs, the video for which was filmed in Lille, France.

Even better is the album’s title track which tells the story of a New York Christmas:

This year I finally got a vinyl copy, you should, too!

Christmas Posts 2019 part 8

There’s no shortage of musical things I would have loved to have done, and seeing Siouxsie and the Banshees live would have been great.

Today’s track ‘Ill Est Ne the Divin Enfant’ (translated into English from the French, literally ‘He Is Born, the Divine Child’) was covered by the band on the b-side of their 1982 single ‘Melt!’ This is a performance on a French TV show with 17 Seconds’ all-time hero Robert Smith of the Cure as part of the group:

In 2011, Tom Tom Club covered the song, too. This is a different reading but just as lovely…

Annie Lennox also covered the song on her Christmas album, A Christmas Cornucopia:

Back in 1991, the Chieftains covered it with vocals from Kate and Anna McGarrigle on the album The Bells Of Dublin:

If you’re interested in reading more about the carol go here to a page on Wiki

Christmas Posts 2019 part 7

Belle and Sebastian first recorded ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ for the 2000 XFM (now Radio X) compilation It’s A Cool, Cool Christmas. They later recorded it for a Christmas session for John Peel in 2002.

And a few other B&S Christmas goodies, too…

I must admit that I had rather forgotten about this until I first put this post together last year, but it is rather sweet. Their 2007 single:

Finally another track from the Peel session:

The entire 16 (sic) Peel session can be found here

Christmas Posts 2019 part 6

As we draw to the end of this decade, it is clear that Kate Bush has been a bit more visible than in the previous two decades, with the release of the Director’s Cut album, the 50 Words For Snow winter album and the live performances that led to the Before The Dawn live album. Perhaps, like the Blue Nile, she is never going to be the most regular of releasers, but we should be grateful for what we have.

This was a 1980 single, first premiered on her 1979 Christmas Special:

In 1993, this was the b-side to her then current single ‘Moments Of Pleasure’:

and if you haven’t heard 50 Words For Snow, get on it!

Christmas Posts 2019 part 5

Yes, you may well hang your head in shame, sir!

OK, so we were supposed to get a new Cure album this year.

Unless they do a My Bloody Valentine in the next two weeks, I think we are going to have to assume that isn’t going to happen.

Back in 1987, on the Kissing tour, The Cure finished their gig with a take on Slade’s perennial Christmas fave ‘Merry Xmas Everybody.’ I don’t believe this was ever commercially released but for fun, here it is.

A few years later, The Mission recorded a version under the name the Metal Gurus, which was commercially released, so for more fun, here you go!

Christmas Posts 2019 part 4

A rather difficult ten days. But having last posted about Elizabeth Fraser, I guess I have to continue with more of the Central Belt Nightingale.

The Cocteau Twins’ 1993 single ‘Snow’ contained these two tracks. Availability has been…varied over the years since its release. They can currently be found on Treasure Hding: The Fontana Years which you can even buy the tracks individually for, at 99p each on iTunes. If you haven’t snapped these up yet, get on and do so!

Shortly following will be my tracks and albums of the year, and maybe even the decade…

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:

Christmas Posts 2019 part 2

There is the theory of six degrees of separation, which suggests that is how far we may be separated from another human being. There is also the theory that around Edinburgh it’s about two degrees of separation. When Frightened Rabbit’s frontman Scott Hutchison took his own life last year, there were many people that I knew who did know him, and the impact on the music scene here in Scotland was felt very deeply. In his memory his family set up the Tiny Changes charity, which you can find about here.

‘It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop’ was first released in 2007, and then again the following year. There are several versions floating around on the net, so give these two a listen, and remember the work of a great musician.

…and the ‘choir’ version, very evocative.

Christmas Posts 2019 part 1

This is a repeat of a post I did last year. Having picked up a copy of his fabulous 1978 Avocet album (on vinyl, obvs) this afternoon, it seemed only fitting to repost this. In the coming weeks I will post albums and tracks of the year. I know some people are posting albums and tracks of the decade, I’m still trying to puzzle those out. Not because I haven’t heard lots of amazing stuff over the past decade, but because I’m overwhelmed by it all…

Bert Jansch is one of many folk artists that I’ve discovered over the past decade or so, along with Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Sandy Denny – and of course, Richard Thompson. His version of Christina Rosetti’s poem ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ is gorgeous. It can be found on his 1974 album LA Turnaround.

It was originally set to music written by Gustav Holst; and the setting by Harold Darke a few years later in 1911 was judged the best carol in 2008. The Darke setting below is performed by King’s College, Cambridge. Funnily enough, while I’m not religious, there is still something incredibly Christmassy to these ears about hearing the Christmas Eve services – and as much a part of Christmas to me as offerings from the Pogues, Slade and Frightened Rabbit. Similarly, I do like the sound of a Salvation Army band playing carols, it’s part of the ambience I associate with Christmas.