It’s been some time since I last updated this blog. I’d apologize, but you probably weren’t even expecting anything. And since I really only consider this a bit of a twitter spill-over, I’ve not really been expecting much more from it either. Having said that, 3 months, is quite a big gap even in an occasional blog and is probably due to the perma-cold/flu I’ve had for the last 8 weeks or so.  In fact I’ve pretty much only found the time to write this post due to being at home with some horrible form of amoebic dysentery. Which is nice.

It's Christmas Innit

It’s Christmas Innit

Anyway – With Christmas very nearly upon us – It’s on the 25th of December in case you needed reminding – I thought I’d put together a little festival playlist to put you in the spirit, as they say. We can now officially get in the spirit since it is (very nearly at least) December. Like many, the creep of Christmas into November and seemingly October and September too pisses me off. There are many reasons it gets my goat, but one of them is that the Christmas songs I loved so much as a child are overplayed on TV adverts and on shop floors, leaving them almost entirely feelingless and in some cases, frankly annoying.

So here is a little playlist of fresh (he said realising one is possible 100 years old) tunes which are largely unsullied by commercialisation, Christmas-creep and the hard sell. Thanks to those on twitter who responded to my call to arms and suggested tunes, I hope I have given you all credit in the liner notes below. I extended my basic rule of no Department Store favourites and extended it to excellent, but infrequently heard, cover versions of Christmas standards, which ruled out such great renditions such as Slow Club’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Macy Gray’s excellent Winter Wonderland and much of any Ella Fitzgerald Christmas album.

Without further ado – Click to listen to DrBillyo’s Alternative Christmas Playlist 

Liner Notes:

1. The Fall – Hark The Herald Angel Sing (Peel Session).

Immediately I break my “no standards” rule – but this is almost unrecognisable, and it’s The Fall and they’re worth breaking the rule for.  Thanks to @lewispaul64 for the suggestion.

2. RUN-DMC – Christmas In Hollis

Hip Hop and Christmas songs are not comfortable bed fellows. But RUN-DMC manage to include the almost obligatory Christmas Bells with ease. Suggested by @LisaJameson

3. The BellRays – Santa’s Got A Big Old Bag

With elements of Funk and Garage Rock, this is probably just the BellRays jamming to be honest, but they make it seem so effortlessly cool. From A BellRays Christmas, a favourite festive EP of mine for a few years now.

4. Louis Armstrong – ‘Zat You Santa Claus

Like Ella Fitzgerald, although there are numerous albums of Christmas songs by Louis Armstrong, they are largely all standards, this little big band number is largely overlooked by those who choose the corporate Christmas tunes.

5. Ella Fitzgerald – Good Morning Blues

Ella belts out a jazzy number which has scared off the department stores, good – we can have this one to ourselves.

6. Mahalia Jackson – No Room At The Inn

A magic Gospel voice, knocks Mariah Bloody Carey into a cocked hat. Tip off from @john_the_monkey via his musical advent calendar last year.

7. Chuck Berry – Merry Christmas Baby

A Bluesy number from Chuck Berry, this has long been an overlooked classic in my opinion. It’s what Christmas eve, mulled wine and open fires were made for.

8. Titus Turner – Christmas Morning

I must confess to knowing little about Titus Turner, but heard this on Bob Dylan’s Christmas Theme Time Radio Hour.

9. Lead Belly – Christmas Is A Comin’

Christmas as told in the Delta Blues.  Another introduced to me by Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour

10. Loretta Lynn – To Heck With Old Santa Claus

Think you can do Christmas without Country? You are so wrong. You gotta have some country.

11. Eels – Christmas Is Going To The Dogs

Sounds a little down on Christmas? Or is it just a different perspective?

12. Fountains of Wayne – I Want An Alien For Christmas

Who doesn’t? You heard him Santa! Get on it! Spotters badge to @coldbrain

13. Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler – (Don’t Call Me) Mrs Christmas

Ever give a thought to Mrs Claus while her Husband is off around the world? The standout track from Emmy & Tim’s festive collaboration last year. Tip off from @SteveEustice

14. David Ford – Have Yourself A Bitter Little Christmas

A lovely little ditty, with some pretty dark lyrics. Bit too good to leave off though, despite largely trying to avoid negative Christmas songs. Another spotters badge to @SteveEustice

15. Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop

Perhaps the subject of David Ford’s song should have taken a leaf from the Scottish Indie Rockers, It’s Christmas, can’t we all just get along? Thanks to @fadeupyoursmile for the excellent tip.

16. Low – Just Like Christmas

Back to something more upbeat and positive. This is the track which comes closest to entering the Department store playlists, indeed it’s fast on its way to becoming one of the Christmas standards, but for now it’s ours.

17. Stevie Wonder – What Christmas Means To Me

Wrapping this compilation up with two songs which pretty much sum up Christmas to me. First Stevie Wonder explains what Christmas means to him.

18. Tim Minchin – White Wine In The Sun

Followed by a Song which entirely sums up my relationship with Christmas… Except the sunshine, natch. Stupid Aussie!

Merry Christmas