Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Ultimate Christmas

So, here we are at the end of another year, in the unenviable position of having to dust off those Christmas CDs for their annual outing. So what will be playing at chez Music Obsessive this year whilst the tree is decked and mince pies sizzle? Will it be that famous convicted murderer and his celebrated Christmas Album? Perhaps not.

Nor will it be any of the usual Christmas suspects by The Beach Boys, Maria Carey, The Carpenters, Andy Williams, Elvis et al but something quite different. In fact, despite its humble background this CD has become an established part of the Christmas ritual at our house along with the Christmas morning fizz and evening slump in front of the TV.

It arrived in our house some years ago as a freebie with the daily newspaper and unlike most of its stable mates did not end up in the bin but was rather unexpectedly, played quite a lot. Like most free CDs it can only be described as a right old hotchpotch of songs from artists old and new(ish) but somehow it has a Christmassy charm that has saved it from the fate of others. Perhaps because it does not comprise traditional carols, which are still played in our house, or recent chart pop songs it falls neatly into that area of Christmas nostalgia – the period from the 1940s to the 1960s.

So in amongst the obvious and slightly hackneyed contenders like Bing’s ‘White Christmas’, Perry Como’s ‘Silver Bells’ and Nat King Cole’s ‘Christmas Song’ there are some interestingly irreverent additions like Eartha Kitt’s sultry ‘Santa Baby’. Quite what my children think of this is unclear – clearly they’ve never seen Marilyn Monroe singing it. Another favourite is ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ sung with satin-like silkiness by Crystal Gayle.

The only hint of more contemporary fare is given by Dolly Parton’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ and Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Paper’, together with Tom Jones and Michael Ball who also get a look in, but overall there is not a hint of Wizzard or the Pogues which, of course, is a huge seasonal blessing. This disc does not pander to in-store browsing pop but harks back to an era when snow decorated every Christmas and families sang around old upright pianos and drank mulled wine whilst breathing in Dad’s pipe tobacco smoke.

It is rather heart-warming to note that these old chestnuts seem to signify Christmas rather than the usual Slade and Band Aid offerings even to my iPod-generation children. Frankly, I’d rather that they take away memories of these songs with them into adulthood than Shakin’ Stevens.

I'm off to take my usual seasonal break from the keyboard, so I'll see you all in the new year.  Merry Christmas!


Jayne said...

Merry Christmas to all chez Music Obsessive! This sounds a great Christmas album. I must admit a fondness (weakness?) for Slade and the others though. They were the songs that reverberated through my childhood, and years of hearing them echo from every shop as soon as summer ends hasn't yet deadened my nostalgic happiness for them. But I do have a Harry Seacombe classic album, and lots of the 'old chestnuts' to play as well - the magic of Christmas combines all these songs for me in one tinsel-strung parcel!

music obsessive said...

Jayne - sounds like you've got a whole heap of Christmas listening stuff to get through. I hope Christmas is going to be long enough! I'll still be watching TOTP on Christmas Day, as tradition demands, so the modern world will get a look in then.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year, when you're an author!

Jayne said...

Hee! Thank you. :)

YourZenMine said...

Hey, what's wrong with The Pogues? We're big fans of 'Fairytale Of New York'. Its certainly my favourite Christmas song (can't speak for Mine, though).

Hope you had a great Christmas day. Thanks for all your support over the year. We will definitely be back, but not back to doing something every day. The novelty has certainly worn off that idea.

All our best,

YourZ & Mine

music obsessive said...

Sorry, never did like the Pogues, but each to his own :)

Glad to hear that you will be continuing but I understand how the 'every day' format is beginning to pall. I used to post once every 4/5 days but now I struggle with once a week!

Look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve for the new year.

Adrian said...

May you have enjoyed the Ultimate Christmas - literally and figuratively! The Beatles' Christmas records are fun when I remember to play them...

Wishing you and yours, and everyone, the best of health and times ahead in 2011!! May there be much pie ahead!

cheers, Adrian

music obsessive said...

Hi Adrian! And a prosperous New Year to you, too. I trust that the tour was a success?

luminous muse said...

Gave a first listen to Nerina's EPs - some very good stuff there.

A late Merry Christmas and timely Happy New year!

music obsessive said...

Luminous - Yes, you're right, there is some great stuff hidden away on those EPs and much of it in 'quiet' mode so I can see them appealing to you.

Try for informal versions of 'This will be our year' and 'Geek love'. The piano playing is just wonderful and as to the penquin costume...

Happy New Year!

Adrian said...

yes, mo, the tour was a smash, thanks (and when it's a Winter tour - that means the snow didn't stop us!)

happy to be home, with plenty of pie over the holidays :)

Happy 2011!