Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree...

...but not the "Hannah Montana" version. Oh no. If christmas wishes came true, then this pop-pap fount of perfectly-betoothed, saccharine-and-aspartame-laden wholesomeness will suddenly be found to have disappeared into a hitherto-unknown crevasse directly under the main studio set. Along with the entire cast, (and all known DVD copies), of "High School Musical", naturally. Otherwise it would be a bit of a waste of a perfectly good christmas wish crevasse. And that would be a terrible thing. I mean, just think of the carbon footprint that generating the energy required for the sudden, violent upheaval and fissure in the surface of the earth's crust would involve...

But leaving pleasing fantasies aside for a while, I know that I promised the third, and final - for the moment, anyway - instalment of my highly-biased and horrendously-jaded American music-shop-travelogues. That should, all things being equally unequal as they are at this moment, appear next week. Today, however, I've succumbed to the cliched lure of the (almost inevitable) christmas song list. Well, it'll take less time both for me to type, and you to scan through in a futile search for a decent gag, so it's a win-win situation, right?

So, for the sake of posteriority, (yes, that was deliberate - a heavy-handed linguistic conglomeration of 'posterity' and 'buttocks'. I did say the gag search would be futile, now didn't I? ), here's my personal, all-time "Christmas Rock"* Top 5:

5. Greg Lake - "I Believe In Father Christmas"
Forget all the standing-on-a-posh-rug silliness with ELP, forget the fact that the song only ever, as the Val Doonican album put it, "Rocks - but gently", this is the guy who came up with the main "Daa-da-da-da-da-DAAAH" riff for King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", and taught Robert Fripp (according to that unique guitar genius himself) the ancient (and desperately elusive - for me, anyway, over the years! ) art of chatting-up women. Plus it's got a dash of Prokofiev in it - oh, and certain, irony-free, dogmatic types have issues with the lyrics. Brilliant.

4. Jethro Tull - "Another Christmas Song"
Sentimental nostalgia would have had me picking the more obvious "Ring Out, Solstice Bells" from the "Songs From The Wood" album, (which is still an all-too-brief interlude of joy to hear when it crops up on shopping centres' christmas compilation 'muzak'), but I prefer this ("handclap"-free, thankfully, unlike "ROSB") bit of seasonal philosophising from the oft-maligned-by-'purists' (always be wary of the 'purists'! ) "Rock Island", instead. Still, if you don't agree, they've done a whole bleedin' album of christmas songs, so there's bound to be something there to please everyone (well, almost - some folk are just impossible when it comes to christmas ).

3. Slade - "Merry Xmas Everybody!!"
Slade rocked. In spite of the public image generated by multiple "Top Of The Pops" appearances, and much "hit parade" success, when Slade played live they were a damn fine rock band (or so I reckon thanks to the wonders of modern technology - I'm not quite old enough to have witnessed their 1970s rock awesomeness first-hand ). And as for anyone who doesn't get a small physical thrill when Noddy Holder screams (melodically) "It's Chriiiiiiiist-muss!!", well, you're dead inside, that's all I can say...

2. The Darkness - "Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)"
Fashion, trendiness and "cool" be damned! This shameless slice of christmas-themed rock has great twin-lead-guitar harmony twiddly bits, autobiographically poignant (and really quite clever) lyrics - with splendidly juvenile double entendres, a children's choir - and that's before we even begin to consider the excellent accompanying video - what more could anyone possibly want from a christmas rock song?? Perhaps only...

1. Spinal Tap - "Christmas With The Devil"
From the "Break Like The Wind" album, this is the perfect marriage of a portentous neo-classical keyboard intro, hilariously over-the-top cod-satanic lyrics, ("The elves are dressed in leather, and the angels are in chains"), and a seriously big ol' heavy rock guitar riff. Inevitably, there have been some poor, sadly afflicted, groups and individuals (such as NBC, would you believe? ) who have failed utterly to perceive that the Tap are, ummm, a 'spoof' metal band, and that their songs happen to be hilariously-accurate parodies of existing tracks and styles, but for a naughty heretical skeptic like meself, that's pretty much just the icing on the cake. Knowing that someone is proclaiming their "outrage" and demanding their right to be "offended" by something they've entirely missed the point of is always good for a giggle.

And there you have it. That's my list - what's yours?

Merry Solstice / Saturnalia / Yule / Noel / Christmas / Hanukkah / Extremely Belated Eid / indeterminate festival of freezing-yer-arse-off-&-having-the-sniffles of your own choosing!

*using this tendentious categorisation has the wonderful benefit of allowing me to clear my mind utterly of all bland festively-themed pop drivel (e.g. George Michael's "Last Christmas", whichever one of Simon Cowell's air-brushed gimps won "X-factor-Idol" almost-singing something or other, the annual musical nightmare release by Cliff Richard, etc,etc) at a single stroke.

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