December 7: Dear Santa

So much drumming. I like this one, though, because it sounds ever so slightly like the best song from the second-best* Christmas film of all, Mud’s Lonely This Christmas. This, like last week’s Little Drummer Boy, is from Ringo’s 1999 album I Wanna Be Santa Claus – an album with which I fear we will all be better-acquainted by Christmas Eve.

*The second-best Christmas film of all is of course Bernard and the Genie, which is only slightly easier to find than the best Christmas film of all, Until The Lights Come Back, which you will only be able to watch by coming over to my house on Christmas Eve (or importing it at great expense from Hong Kong).

December 5: Christmas message 1964/I Feel Fine

I’m busking this whole affair, as you can no doubt tell, so my apologies for not having realised sooner that the solution to the Christmas message records not having much music on them is to make them share a spot with whatever Beatles song happened to be in the charts that Christmas. So here for your pleasure is the 1964 Christmas message (which is one of the better ones, in that it’s not (a) entirely baffling or (b) full of late-period rage), plus that year’s Christmas number one, I Feel Fine, which is enlivened here by the addition of jaunty Spanish subtitles. Feliz Adviento!

December 4: I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Not an actual Christmas song, this, but it was Christmas number one in the UK in 1963, so it definitely counts (and wait till you see some of the tenuous stuff I have lined up for you later in the month!). This live recording from The Ed Sullivan Show is more fun if you watch the video, since the audio is slightly shonky but the live aspect makes up for that, especially when the camera pans across to Ringo and the drums suddenly get louder, either because there was a mic attached to the camera or because he noticed they were focusing on him and started to bang harder. I hope it’s the latter.

December 3: Ding Dong Ding Dong

“Excellent audio”, says the description of this video, and it’s just as well because the picture quality is pretty dire. Nonetheless, you HAVE TO WATCH THIS VIDEO because it’s AMAZING. Apparently this is the first promo video George made for any of his solo singles, and he puts as much earnest effort into it as he did into everything else, with dazzling, and ocasionally dazzlingly peculiar, results. Released in 1974 this is technically a new year song rather than a Christmas song, but it sounds Christmassy, which is partly because it manages to sound both glam rock-esque and Wall Of Sound-esque, and those are both Christmassy sounds.

I’m not going to tell you what my favourite bit is because the minute you see it, you’ll* know.

I had to work really hard to stop myself from writing “yule know” there, although on further examination I discover I appear to have done it anyway.

December 2: Little Drummer Boy

Like me, you’ll be delighted to discover that of all the Beatles, the one who has recorded the largest number of Christmas songs is Ringo. Some of them are good, some of them are not, some of them are awesome, and then there’s this, which I think is actually the best version ever recorded – sorry, Bing and David – of the Little Drummer Boy, because it has SO MUCH DRUMMING. Like, imagine as much drumming as you can, and then double it, and that’s still not as much drumming as this song has. Make sure to listen all the way through, it would be a tragedy to miss the drum solos (yes, multiple), and the key changes (also multiple), and the bagpipes (just the one, although I suppose bagpipes by definition come in the plural).

December 1: The Beatles Christmas record, 1963

Let’s start at the very beginning, as D:Ream once said. The thing is, you have to like the Beatles A LOT to enjoy their Christmas EPs, released every year between 1963 and 1969, because they are only really interesting anthropologically, and only then if you are a Beatles fan, although it is always cheering to remember how funny they were, at least while they were still all friends, which in 1963 they were. There isn’t a great deal to recommend this musically, though, which is why every time I have to share what is essentially five minutes of rambling with you, I am going to balance it out with an alternative that is either less Christmassy or less Beatles-y, but never both and always good. Welcome to advent 2016, which has to recommend it that by the time it ends it will nearly be 2017, and as Julie Andrews once said, things can only get better.

And here’s your less festive alternative:



Advent 2016: The Festive Four

There very nearly wasn’t a gladallover musical advent calendar this year, because awful things kept happening (I am referring to world events more than celebrity deaths, mostly, though one or two of the latter knocked me for six a bit), and then last month I resolved that in the face of awful things it is essential to still have nice things, and in a rush of inspiration I decided on a theme that would be a fitting celebration of what I thought would be the tenth annual gladallover musical advent calendar, (but turns out to be the ninth, because I can’t count).

And then, just last week, I lost a friend unexpectedly (to me; he and his family knew he was ill, but he didn’t want it widely known), and then I thought I couldn’t possibly go ahead with frivolous Christmas nonsense, until a subsequent Facebook conversation between friends of his resulted in a long list of songs to play at the wake, music being one of the things we all had in common and late nights with Sweeney playing the guitar while the room sang along a memory we all shared. And if you knew Sweeney you will know that there’s only one theme that we can possibly go with in his honour, and it’s The Beatles, and so that’s what we will do, which is a challenge because there aren’t that many Christmas Beatles songs and of the ones that there are, some of them are rubbish, but we will employ some poetic license and see where it takes us, and if I run out of songs we can have some jokes instead. See you tomorrow.

sweeney 2.jpg

An experiment

Can you do me a favour? It’s for a thing. Below are two clips of middle-aged men dancing. One is less than two minutes long, the other is less than three minutes long, so in total I promise I don’t need more than six minutes of your time, unless you feel compelled to write a comment, in which case I will read it carefully and almost certainly reply. In the meantime, could you vote for whichever clip you like better? There is also a “neither” option in case you have an objection to middle-aged men dancing, for which I couldn’t blame you at all.

Option one:

Option two:

Now vote!

Carol for Christmas Day: O Come All Ye Faithful

Yes I know you can’t have an advent song on Christmas Day, but you can have a Christmas Day song, which is what this is, and you didn’t really think we were going to have a month of carols from King’s and not include O Come All Ye Faithful, did you?

What’s interesting about O Come All Ye Faithful is that nobody really knows who wrote it, or when. It’s just merged into the general consciousness over the years, which is what all the best carols do. And like all the best carols, this has an indeterminate number of verses depending on who is singing it and when, and very probably the best descant line of all (starting in this video at 02:20 and reaching its giddying climax at just after three minutes).

In Cambridge they all like to go home to their loved ones for Christmas so they have to sing this on Christmas Eve, but the internet has given us the luxury of listening to it whenever we like, and when we like to listen to it is today, because the last verse begins Yea Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning.

So have a happy morning, and see you back here in the new year.