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The Hoardiculturist – Christmas records

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

Do you have a guilty music pleasure? In other words, do you have a penchant for pop or rock music with highly questionable artistic integrity? For example, I know some people who can’t help playing an air guitar whenever they hear Jump by Van Halen or who turn up the radio when Toto’s soaring hit Africa is played by the DJ. Some even start welling up thinking of all the poor bunnies when Art Garfunkel launches ever so softly into Bright Eyes. Well I’m going to come clean and admit that I like Christmas music, no, make that love Christmas music.

When the world’s collective jaw fell open (you can read how Silvertreedaze almost crashed his car at the news, here) on 13th October this year, when Bob Dylan released his Christmas In The Heart LP, I was like a pig in muck. I really couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy so I could add it my burgeoning collection of Christmas CDs and vinyl records. As a Dylan fan I’m not going to pretend this is an important work, up there with Highway 61 Revisted, Blonde On Blonde or Blood On The Tracks. Quite the opposite, in fact. After the first listen I thought, and still think, it’s truly god-awful, but that’s exactly why I love it and exactly the point of most Christmas records. Apart from a few, most are as cheesy as a quatro staggioni pizza with a mozzarella stuffed crust, but in much the same way that I ignore my calorie intake over the festive period, I pay no attention to good taste and feast on a dish of insipid schmultz, pan fried maudlin and sautéd sentimentality, sprinkled with a good handful of grated cheese to taste.

So, what’s in my Christmas music collection? Well, I’ve got around 40 Christmas CDs and even have a dedicated shelf for them on my CD wall. My iPod is stuffed with Christmas songs, from the chart-topping Stay Another Day by East 17 to the obscure Christmas At The Zoo by The Flaming Lips (a track tucked away on 1995′s Clouds Taste Metallic. I’ve created a dedicated playlist for them all so I can listen to the stuff when I’m on the move. Elsewhere, I have a thick wedge of Christmas vinyl – this includes the excellent 1965 garage rock compilation Merry Christmas, featuring The Sonics, The Wailers and The Galaxies, and the not so excellent Geoff Love’s Christmas Album, picked up for 50p in a charity shop.

During the month of December I commandeer the CD player, ensuring that nothing else but festive tunes are heard in the house. Sadly not all guests appreciate my penchant for seasonal tunes. While preparing Christmas dinner last year, accompanied by Johnny Cash singing Blue Christmas, my father-in-law walked into the kitchen and suggested that the music was far from uplifting. In fact, he remarked, “It’s Christmas! Let’s all slit our wrists”. Bah! Humbug.

Still, such sneering will not put me off. Every year I seek out some new Christmas records to add to my collection. Apart from the Dylan album, I’ve downloaded The Ventures Christmas Album, a 1965 instrumental classic. There are some storming tracks on the album, including a blistering Jingle Bells Rock and Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer, which starts off with the guitar riff from the Beatles I Feel Fine, before launching into the instantly recognisable Xmas tune.

Have a great holiday and a trouble-free Christmas day. Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the odd family skirmish, but whenever the tension gets too much, reach for The Ramones 1989 LP Brain Drain, cue up Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) and let the sage words of Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Marky restore order to your home.

“Merry Christmas, I don’t want to fight tonight,
Merry Christmas, I don’t want to fight tonight,
Merry Christmas, I don’t want to fight tonight with you”.

My 10 favourite Christmas albums of all time
A Christmas Gift For You (Phil Spector compilation)
Christmas With The Rat Pack (compilation)
James Brown – Funky Christmas
Little Steven’s Underground Garage Presents – Christmas A Go Go (compilation)
Low – Christmas
Sufjan Stevens – Songs for Christmas (5 x CD boxset)
The Blind Boys Of Alabama – Go Tell It On The Mountain
The McGarrigle Christmas Hour – Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Verve Presents The Very Best Of Christmas Jazz (compilation)
Where Will You Be Christmas Day (24 recordings from 1917-1959)

Christmas crackers – my 20 favourite festive tracks
Blind Boys Of Alabama with Tom Waits – Go Tell It To The Mountain
Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run
E17 – Stay Another Day
Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas
Jackson 5 – Rockin’ Robin
John Cale – Child’s Christmas In Wales
John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Leroy Carr – Christmas In Jail (Ain’t That A Pain)
Low – Little Drummer Boy
Marvin Gaye – Purple Snowflakes
Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
Ramones – Merry Christmas
Rufus Wainwright – Spotlight On Christmas
Sparks – Thank God It’s Not Christmas
Sufjan Stevens – Get Behind Me, Santa!
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairy Tale Of New York
The Pretenders – 2000 Miles
The Ronettes – Frosty The Snowman
The Turtles – Santa And The Sidewalk Surfer

Episodes of The Hoardiculturist you may have missed
Beer Mats
Pez Dispensers
Name Badges

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