Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Singles Scene #10

Back to the Basement: Christmas music has been around since there has been Christmas. Many songs composed by Bach in the 1600's, for instance, make up our annual Christmas soundtrack. Canada itself has developed it's own Christmas songs. Before there was the celebrity Christmas album, before Diana Krall or Sarah Mclaughlin could release an album of all Christmas music (or Twisted Sister even) and still be seen to have a credible career, there was the Christmas song. The Beatles did it, as did Elvis. Bruce Springsteen made it cool, and George Throrogood showed us just how much Christmas could Rock and Roll.

Canadian Acts have always been in the game; I have spent many years looking for Murray McClaughlin's Let The Good Guys Win. Featuring the Payola$ Bob Rock and Tom Cochrane, it is among my favourite Christmas songs (along with the Pogues' Fairytale of New York and Otis Redding's Merry Christmas Baby). Marvellously sung, with the three stars sharing the vocals, this Celtic influenced guitar and mandolin piece is magical, if not actually a Christmas song:

Ring the Old Year Out
Ring the New Year in
Bring s all Good Luck
Let the Good Guys Win
I used to go to Encore Records in Brampton, and for years they had a copy of Johnny Bower singing Honky The Christmas Goose on the wall. It was a steeply priced at $25, and I eyed it for years but could never dust off the wallet and grab it. Of all the records through the years, it is the only one I ever regret not getting: $25.00 is probably cheap by today's standards and it would be great to pull out Honky for the family on Christmas Eve, to go with my Bob Rivers Twisted Tunes CD. Besides, as I have never heard the song, it would be a special treat to own at this stage.

Corey Hart of course did Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but possibly the less said about that the better (although it was once explained to me that as Corey played the underdog, Rudolph was a most appropriate song for him, as Rudolph himself was the penultimate underdog).

Going Through my 45's, I actually have very few Christmas singles. The Eagles, Springsteen's Santa Claus in Coming to Town of course , but little in the way of Canadian. Except... Bryan Adams Christmas Time.

My copy, which was bought when it was a hit, is green with a red label. Kids today can't concieve how records that where almost always black, could occasionally be made alternate colour, which was considered exotic. Instead of stamping artwork on the CD, we had a small label with actual information on it. But these occasional coloured vinyl records where always a treat, and still are. My kids, who are firmly of the CD/DVD era, respond with a '"cool" when they see a coloured vinyl record. Bryan Adams, Christmas Time is one of the coolest.

The songs not bad either, A good old sing along, you can imagine the bic lighters during a concert. A reasonably simple accompaniment behind solid Christmas lyrics, this song is in the great tradition of Christmas songs. However, the song feels dated and could use a re-do, someone to modern up the sound, and if they could, cut the tripe-laden PC (circa 1985) 2nd verse.

The B side has much less of redeeming value. Reggae Christmas stands up less well. Not that it was a good song then, but now... The late seventies and eighties Reggae was stylish, The Police made a career out of playing rocked up reggae. Bryan Adams, however, made a career not playing reggae, and it shows.

No comments: