woensdag 23 december 2020

Overview of 2020 Christmas 7" singles, part 4 - the usual suspects

Apart from the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, there are four more labels that every year release at least one Christmas 7" single. This post gives an overview of the 2020 releases of those labels: Nordpolen Musikklubb from Norway, Jump Up! Records from Chicago, IL, Kingfisher Bluez Records from Vancouver, BC, Canada and Gotta Groove Records from Cleveland, OH.

Loudon Wainwright III: Christmas Morning
(Nordpolen Musikklubb, Julepakke06, Norway, 2020, green vinyl, 33 rpm, small hole, 300 copies)

For the 7th year in a row, Norwegian label Nordpolen Musikklubb releases a Christmas 7”, and this time it’s a 7” with three songs, all by American folk singer and actor Loudon Wainwright III, whose debut album was released exactly 50 years ago. The songs all appeared on previous albums by Wainwright. The title song is taken from 1999’s ‘Social Studies’, an album of songsoriginally written for the National Public Radio, as comments on current topics. ‘Christmas Morning’ starts as an ordinary Christmas song, describing the scene on Christmas morning, with schools and offices closed, presents under the tree, Christmas dinner and skaters in the winter light, but then it tooks a more grim turn, with the homeless nobody wants to see, people dying of Aids and people gathering not far from Bethlehem in a warlike way, before closing the song hopefully: the fight against stupidity will continue in the new year, a new year that might bring cures, solutions and comprises. ‘And if we are careful, we might survive’. The song is 21 years old, but this last sentence could have been written today.
‘I’ll Be Killing You This Christmas’ is from 2014’s ‘Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet)’ and is a biting commentary on US gun laws, disguised as a relaxed folk song, using the melody of ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’. ‘This Year’, on the B-side of the single, is the oldest song, taken from 1989’s ‘Therapy’. How well the song resonates with 2020: ‘Last year was a fiasco / A real disaster / So full of sorrow”. Also this song is optimistic, and looks forward to a better new year: ‘This year will be a great year / I just can't wait, dear / Until tomorrow’. But let’s not be too negative about 2020 – like every year, it also brought good things, like this single! It is limited to 300 copies and comes, as usual, in a picture sleeve with beautiful seasonal artwork, on green vinyl.

Buy: here

Listen to
'Christmas Morning':

'I'll Be Killing You This Christmas':

'This Year':

Roger Rivas & The Brothers Of Reggae: Christmas Time Is Here b/w Linus & Lucy
(Jump Up Records / Rivas, JUMP7XMAS10, RIV-009, US, 2020, green or red vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)
Jump Up! Records released their first Christmas 7” in 2010, by the Spanish girl group inspired The Pepperpots, and since 2014, have been annually releasing Christmas 7”’s of ska and reggae bands. Roger Rivas already did two Christmas 7”’s for the label, 2015’s ‘Deck The Halls’ b/w ‘Jingle Bells’, and 2018’s ‘Joy To The World’ b/w ‘Winter Wonderland’. Just like that 7”, this 7” is a coproduction with Rivas own label and was recorded with The Brothers Of Reggae. Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack for the Charlie Brown Christmas special has become one of the most loved Christmas albums, and Rivas pays tribute to the album by covering the two best known songs: ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ and ‘Linus And Lucy’. Rivas does it in his wellknown laidback rocksteady style, and it works. In ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ a midtempo rocksteady beat lays the foundation while Rivas’ organ plays the melody of the song and, lets the jazz cat in himself lose for some short improvisations in the middle and towards the end of the song. On the B-side, ‘Linus & Lucy’ is faster paced, and again Rivas’ organ takes center stage. Another fine addition to the Roger Rivas Christmas song collection. The single comes on green or red vinyl.

Buy: here

Watch the video for ‘Christmas Time Is Here’:

Listen to ‘Linus & Lucy’:

Lollypop Lorry: Magic Moments b/w Skankin’ Around The Christmas Tree
(Jump Up! Records, JUMP7XMAS9, US, 2020, red or green vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

The second Christmas 7" released by Jump Up! Records this year is by Lollypop Lorry. Lorrypop Lorry is a ska/reggae band from Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in Russia, located on the Iset River in Western Siberia. Reggae from Siberia, it only shows how truly international the language of music is! Lollypop Lorry started in 2008, self releasing their first few records on burned Cdr’s in a true DIY-style and slowly building a fanbase, not only in their hometown, but all over the world. In 2018 the band made their proper album debut on Russian label Magnetic Loft Records with ‘Ural Station’, refering to the area the band is from. After a live album in 2019 and a dub album in 2020, it was about time for the first 7” release of the band. ‘Magic Moments’, the A-side, is a song that was written by the famous songwriting duo of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1957, as one of the first songs they wrote toghether. Perry Como recorded the original version of the song in December that year, as B-side to his single ‘Catch A Falling Star’. Although only intended as a B-side, the song was so popular that it hit number 4 in the US, and even went to number 1 in the UK when released as a single early 1958. The song was later recorded by, among others, Ronnie Hilton, Connie Francis, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Erasure, The Vindictives and Snuff.
Como’s version had a subtile back beat (and catchy whistling), so it was not such a weird choice of Lollypop Lorry to turn it into a ska song. ‘Magic Moments’ is not really a Christmas song, but it’s a song about lovers remembering all the fun things they have done together in the past – like ‘The way that we hugged to try to keep warm / While takin' a sleigh ride’. It was probably this line that made Lollypop Lorry decide to turn it into a Christmas song, by filming a very festive looking video to accompany the digital release of the song last year. And now Jump Up jumped in to release the song as a Christmas single. The flipside of the record, ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ is as Christmas as Christmas songs come. As could be expected, it is a skafied version of Brenda Lee’s classic ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, and has, staying true to the original, female vocals. The single comes on red on green vinyl (200 copies each), and includes a photo of the band taking at the set of the ‘Magic Moments’ video.

Buy: here

Video of Magic Moments:

Listen to ‘Skankin’ Round The Christmas Tree’:

Haley Blais / Fawns Of Love / Bookclub / Kylie V: Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Single 2020
(Kingfisher Bluez, Canada, 2020, EP, small hole)

Kingfisher Bluez Records is always one of the last to arrive at the Christmas scene with their annual Christmas 7” release – their ninth year in a row, so next year is a reason for celebration! But it is always well worth the wait. This year, Kingfisher Bluez even offers up four songs by four different artists, three from Vancouver, where the label is also based, and one from the USA. Kingfisher Bluez is a indie label, but they cover all parts of the indie sound. On this EP, folk, dreampop and synthpop are the main ingedrients. It opens with singer/songwriter Haley Blais who does a fragile sounding version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, accompanied by piano and subtile synths and guitar. The song is the longest of the four (just over 3 minutes), and also is accompanied by a very funny video. All other songs are about two minutes long. Fawns Of Love, the husband and wife duo of Jenny and Joseph Andreotti from Bakerfield, California, are the only non-Vancouver based act of the 7”. They have released a 7” on Kingfisher Bluez earlier this year, which I liked a lot, that featured the Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) version of their 2018 song ‘Someday’. Fawns Of Love do a dream/synthpop version of ‘Sally’s Song’ from The Nightbefore For Christmas, a highly original choice for a Christmas cover song.
The only original song on the single is by the Vancouver indie group Bookclub, who sing about ‘A Bookclub Christmas’, in a style that is not so different from the Fawns Of Love track, a combination of dreampop and synthpop, while the lyrics seem to touch a common theme at Christmas, missing someone you lost. The EP closes with the contribution by the youngest act on the compilation, Kylie V (self-described as nice soft nonbinary indie rock), who debuted in 2018 as a 14-year old. Last year, Kylie released a digital Christmas EP, ‘Baby’s First Christmas’, with four Christmas classics (but not the Connie Francis song the EP was named after), and here Kylie does the most classic of the Christmas classics, ‘Silent Night’. It’s just Kylie's voice and an acoustic guitar, and that is enough, as it is a beautiful and fresh sounding rendention of a song that already has been recorded thousands and thousand times. As always, the record is a benefit for 1-800-SUICIDE and Crisis Centre BC.

Buy: Bandcamp

Watch the video of Haley Blias’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’:

Listen to the complete EP:

Couples Skate Only / Pile Of Eggs / Fyodor Novotny: Happy Holidays From Gotta Groove Records
(Gotta Groove Records, 20-0964, US, 2020, randomly coloured vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Gotta Groove annual Christmas single, a Christmas present for the pressing plant’s customers, done by bands that feature members that work at Gotta Groove, so time for a celebration. And it is celebrated with a strong edition, with three completely different songs. We see the return of two acts that have been featured before on those compilations, and one act that debutes, although the band itself is the oldest featured on this year’s complilation. Couples Skate Only, the family band of the Thorntons, first appeared in 2013 with ‘First Christmas’, then returned for 2017’s wonderful ‘Absentees & Invites (The Solstice Show)’ and now opens the single with ‘'I Spent All My Money On Your Presents This Year', an 1980s inspired synthpop/new wave song (Devo comes to mind) that has vocals by the complete family (mom, pop and the daughters), and is all about buying Christmas presents. Despite all the different presents mentions in the Couples Skate Only song, Pile Of Eggs knows what we really want for Christmas: records! The noisecore band, already around in the early 1990s, have reformed to tell us what kind of records they want for Christmas: pop, jazz, blues, thrash metal, dubstep, but they don’t seem to be interested in Christmas records, as they don’t mention those. As for the music, a good candidate to break up a Christmas party that has been going on for too long. Fyodor Novotny closes the compilation, and they were featured on last years edition with ‘Dear Santa’, and now do another instrumental song that sounds like coming from the soundtrack of a Christmas-themed thriller, ‘Holidays’. There are two editions of the record: a regular edition on randomly coloured vinyl (550 made), and a test pressing on black vinyl, that is more limited (only 15 made) and more expensive.

Buy: Bandcamp


vrijdag 11 december 2020

Overview of 2020 Christmas 7" singles, part 3

This third overview of 2020 Christmas singles brings four new 2020 singles (by Harrie Jekkers, ABBA, Lionheart and Michael Holland) and two 2019 singles that arrived late (Piebald, that actually came out in January of 2020, and El Gato Roboto).

Harrie Jekkers: De Kerstezel
(De Drentse Platenkast, DPV014, The Netherlands, 2020, black vinyl, big hole, 45 rpm)
Harrie Jekkers is best known as the singer of 1980s Dutch pop group Klein Orkest, and as a stand-up comedian. Klein Orkest had their biggest hit in 1984, with a song inspired by the divided Berlin, ‘Over De Muur’ (‘Over The Wall’), that had as main message that on both sides had their strong points and had their weak points. In 1990, Jekkers wrote the song ‘De Kerstezel’ (‘The Christmas Donkey’) for Kinderen Voor Kinderen, an annual project in which children record an album with the profits going to charity, initially organized by the social-democratic broadcast station VARA. ‘De Kerstezel’ tells the story of a boy who is chosen to be the backside of the Christmas donkey in the school Christmas play, while the girl of his dreams, Marjolein, is chosen to be Maria. The other children bully him about it being the donkey’s bottom. But when the boy who is supposed to be the frontside of the donkey doesn’t turn up, Marjolein offers to be the frontside of the donkey, so all ends well. Jekkers himself sang the song two years after Kinderen Voor Kinderen recorded it as part of his show ‘Het Gelijk van de Koffietent’ (‘The Righ Of The Coffee Shop’), using the backing tape of Kinderen Voor Kinderen, and this version ended up on the soundtrack album of the show. Dutch label De Drenste Platenkast, that focus itself on Dutch folksongs/schlagers, now released that recording on a 7”, backed by a live solo version of ‘Over De Muur’. The version of Kinderen Voor Kinderen was also released on a promotional 7” for the album it appeared (Kinderen Voor Kinderen 11), a 7” that has become quite collectable. This single is limited to 300 copies.

Top Hitz


ABBA: Happy New Year
(Polar, 602435239811, Europe, 2020, blue vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)
For the third year in a row, ABBA’s label Polar re-releases ‘Happy New Year’, with ‘Felicidad’ on the B-side, this time on blue vinyl, packed in a sleeve with 2021 written all over it. This time it is an edition of 6000 records, 2000 more than in 2019, so the record should be a little bit longer available for not too extreme prices, although it is already sold out on the official ABBA’s website. I’m curious to see how long they will continue this tradition. There are still enough vinyl colours to choose from, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I also wonder if their fans will continue to buy the new edition every year. nyway, you can still get copies through Discogs:
Buy: Discogs


Piebald: Piebald Presents To You, A Musical Christmas Adventure
(Photo Finish Records, USA, 2020, silver or red vinyl, 33 rpm, small hole)
After not having recorded any new music for 12 years, Massachusetts' indie rock band Piebald returned to the front with a 3-song Christmas EP in 2019, with a delayed 7” version coming out early in January 2020. The band was planning to do a few shows over Christmas, and had the idea to learn some Christmas songs to play on those shows. But that idea went overboard and instead, they decided to write some Christmas originals. The four members took a weekend off in September to work on the project, to write and record the songs and come up with the artwork for the record. It resulted in two Christmas songs and a winter-themed song, and a funny sleeve, that showed the heads of the members of the band as hunting trophees above a chimney on the front, and revealed the making of the scene on the back.
The hit song of the record was, like it should, on the A-side. ‘(All I Want For Christmas Is To) Rage With My Friends’ starts out as a rock ballad, but explodes in the sing-along song it was intended to be. To-the-point-lyrics that to refer to some Christmas classics like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’, that you can sing while raging with your friends to the music. Santa makes a cameo, and, like the band writes in the sleeve notes: ‘if you can lock down Santa for a spot on your record, you’re doing something right’. Santa also turns up in ‘Do Good Stuff’, not so much as the merry-maker of the other side, but as the one who will judge you for what you’ve done. ‘Do Good Stuff. Get Good Stuff. Be A Good Soul. Or You Will Get Coal’. The angry sounding song has a mean sounding heavy riff, so the band haven’t totally forgotten their 1990s (post-)hardcore roots. The third song, ‘The Rebellion Of Winter’, is not really about Christmas or Santa, but about what helps guitarist/vocalist Aaron Stuart, who moved to New Jersey after having lived in Los Angeles for 17 years, getting through the New Jersey winters: “look winter in the eye, spit in it, get a big drill and go fishing rhough the ice!’. All songs come with lyrics and explanations, printed on the inner sleeve. The single was released on red (700 copies) and silver (300 copies) vinyl, and is, unfortunately, sold out.
Piebald started out as a hardcore punk band in Andover, Massachusetts in 1994 and developed a more technical posthardcore style in the following years, the band actively toured the underground hardcore punk scene in the second half of the 1990s. Later, Piebald moved to Somerville, a suburb of Boston, and started to incorporate piano, horns and vocal harmonies into their sound. The band released a total of six albums on Hydra Head, Big Wheel Recreation and Side One Dummy, before breaking up in 2008, did some reunion shows in 2010 and reformed in 2016.


El Gato Roboto: Merry, Merry Christmas
(Lamont Records, LAMONT-104, 2019, 45 rpm, big hole, black vinyl)
Chicago’s El Gato Roboto debuted early 2019 with their debut CD album ‘Heavy Petting’. The band describes itself as ‘garage rock, power pop, space rock from Chicago. Bowie meets Nico with songs about nostalgia, space and cats’. The band even went so far as to include hidden upper frequencies on the CD version of the album, ‘specially designed to get your cats movin’ and groovin’. So party music for pets is what El Gato Roboto is about! They followed up the album with the 7” ‘Soft Rock '71 (One Of The Ones)’ b/w ‘Attic Fire’, that came out in the Summer of 2019, and then closed the year in November with the Christmas 7” ‘Merry, Merry Christmas’ b/w ‘Let’s Make Up For Christmas’. The A-side, written by singer Jennifer Thornbury and guitarist/drummer/organist/percussionist Brian Demski – who, together with bassist Patrick Thornbury (The Wes Hollywood Show, Tenniscourts) are El Gato Roboto – , shows the garage rock / pop punk side of the band, a song about longing to see your lover coming home for Christmas. ‘Let’s Make Up For Christmas’ has more of a 1960s sound (the band themselves mention The Turtles as a reference), with loads of layered harmonies, handclaps and a mellotron. The song, a feelgood ‘hanging out with your lover at Christmas’-song, was written by Jennifer and John San Juan, who joined the band on guitars and mellotron on the recording. Drums on the song are played by Heath Chappell (drummer of Throw and Sons Of The Never Wrong). Although already released in 2019, the vinyl single is still available through the Bandcamp of the band. Worth checking out, one of my favorite Christmas singles of 2019!

Buy: Bandcamp


Lionheart: Mary Did You Know
(Metalville, MV0259-V, y, 2020, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)
Charity single by the British rock group Lionheart with proceeds going to the Little Havens Hospice in Raleigh, Essex. Little Havens Hospice cares for children and young people up to the age of 19 from Essex and the London surrounding boroughs who have been diagnosed with a complex or incurable condition. The single has a special 2020 Christmas version of the song ‘Mary Did You Know’, initially released digitally in 2018, and a solstice mix of the title track of the band’s 2020 studio album ‘The Reality Of Miracles’.
‘Mary Did You Know’ was first recorded in 1991 by Christian recording artist Michael English for his debut album. The lyrics of the song were written by Mark Lowry, already in 1984, and the music was written by Buddy Greene. Lowry had written the lyrics when he was working on a Christmas program, ‘The Living Christmas Tree’, at the request of the pastor of his church. While working on a monologue that would go in between the songs he started wondering whether Mary realized what the child that she gave birth to and held in her arms, would go on to accomplish. From that idea, the lyrics of the song were born, lyrics that mentioned several of the wonders attributed to Jesus: ‘walk on water’, ‘give sight to a blind man’ and ‘calm the storm with his hands’. Lyrics that asked Mary if she realized that she kissed the face of God when she kissed her baby. It took Lowry years to find the right music. Several composer tried, but Lowry was never satisfied with the results. When the Gaither Vocal Band (that both Lowry and English were members of) was touring with Greene, Lowry gave him the lyrics and asked him if he could come up with music for the song. Greene gave it a try, and a few days later he sang the melody, that he has written it 20 minutes, to Lowry. Lowry realized he finally had found the music that was perfectly suited to the lyrics.
Through the years, the song became a modern Christmas classic, with several versions reaching the charts, most notably that by CeeLo Green (#9 in the R&B Songs chart in 2013), Penatronix (#26 in the Hot 100, and also charting in several other countries) and Jordan Smith (#24 on the Hot 100 in 2015). The version of Lionheart is the first time that the song appeared on a 7”. Lionheart is around longer than the song itself, as the first incarnation of the band came together in 1980, when former members of Tygers Of Pan Tang, Iron Maiden, Liar, The Next Band and Def Leppard formed a new hard rock band. When the group finally released their debut album in 1984, the sound of the band had shifted from hardrock to album orientated rock. Due to a lack of succes, the band quit in 1986, only to return 30 years later with original members guitarist Dennis Straton (Iron Maiden), guitarist/keyboard-player Steve Mann (Liar, MSG, Eloy) and bass player Rocky Newton (The Next Band, Wildfire), joined by lead vocalist Lee Small (Shy, Phenomena) and drummer Clive Edwards (UFO, Wild Horses). Lionheart’s version of ‘Mary Did You Know’ sounds as a rock ballad with vocals done by a blue eyed soul singer, going from a quiet start to a classic guitar rock finale. Also ‘The Reality Of Miracles’ has a sort of Christmas feeling, because of the sleigh bells that turn up in the song. A good record for a good cause, so worth your money.

Buy: Digital and physical

Video ‘Mary Did You Know (Christmas 2020 Version)’

Video ‘The Reality Of Miracles (Solstice Version)’

Michael Holland: Those Christmas Lights / The Fatman Rocks
(Michael Holland self-released, USA, 2020, black vinyl, 33 rpm, small hole)
Michael Holland was a founding member of Chapel Hill, North Carolina indie rock group Jennyanykind in 1991. Jennyanykind released seven album in the years 1994-2003 on labels like Elektra, Yep Roc Records, MoRisen and No. 6 Records. The band also featured Michael Holland's brother Mark. The two brothers went solo when Jennyanykind broke up in the early 2000s and also recorded together as The Holland Brothers. This Christmas single is the first vinyl solo release of Michael Holland and it has two Holland originals. 'Those Christmas Lights' is a thriving keyboard-driven indie rock song about the Christmas lights being around you everywhere, when your outside in the city, when you arrive home, and when you're inside your home. They bringing back memories of Christmases past and add to feeling safe and warm in the company of the one you love. 'The Fatman Rocks' is musically completely different: it is a old fashioned reggae/ska song, that made me think of the Special's 'A Message To Rudy', probably because of the pace and the keyboards, about the Fat Man who we all love, Santa. It goes on for more than five minutes, with Holland rhyming about everything the Fat Man is doing on Christmas Eve. The record comes packed in a sleeve with a wintery scenery (with Holland and his wife pictured on the back). All proceeds are donated to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Holland hopes to raise 1000 dollar by selling the 100 copies pressed of this 7". Great cause and great record, so a good way to spend your Christmas money!

Buy: Euramerican Soul


vrijdag 4 december 2020

Overview of 2020 Christmas 7" singles, part 2

Here is the second overview of 2020 7" singles (plus one early 2019 release that we hadn't spoken about earlier). It seems 2020 will be another year with quite some cool Christmas 7"'s!

Khruangbin: Christmas Time Is Here
(Night Time Stories / LateNightTales / Dead Oceans, ALN75001X / DOC184, US / UK & Europe, 2020, 45 rpm, translucent red vinyl, small hole)

Two years ago, Khruangbin’s version of the Vince Guaraldi classic ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ was the best sold Christmas 7” of the year, with no other 7” coming close. Since then, the Houston, Texas psychedelic rock trio has only become more popular. The single also met with good reviews. So only two years after the original release, the single is being re-released by the three labels involved, Night Time Stories, LateNightTales and Dead Oceans. Again, there will be a separate release for the North American market and for the European market, so I expect this single might again hit the number one spot of most popular Christmas 7” of the year. We will see if there are other new releases that might challenge this position. The two songs on the single are the same as two years ago, two versions of ‘Christmas Time Is Here’, the original and the ‘Version Mary’ on the B-side, but there are also some differences. Two years ago the single came on green vinyl, now it comes on red vinyl. And the sleeve artwork is adapted to 2020 – with the band members standing six feet apart and wearing mouthmasks! So probably the most 2020 Christmas 7” sleeve you will find this year.

Buy: Khruangbin Bandcamp

The original 2018 video (without mouthmasks):

The video for the slighty more psychedelic Version Mary:

Amy Winehouse: 12X7 including I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
(Island / Republic, 0727248 / 3503389, UK & Europe / USA, 2020, box set with 12 7” singles on black vinyl, including one one-sided single with an etched back, small hole)

On November 20, a box set was released with 12 singles of Amy Winehouse, many of those for the first time as a 7”. That was already something to get excited about – for the first time classics like ‘Stronger Than Me’ and ‘Rehab’ on a 7”! But learning that the box set also contained a Christmas single… that was definitely a reason to get excited! With the two albums Amy Winehouse released during her life, 2003’s ‘Frank’ and especially 2006’s ‘Back To Black’ she became a star, even more so when she supplied vocals to ‘Valerie’, a song on her producer Mark Ronson’s solo album. She was able to give her vocals the same emotional impact as only the biggest female singers of the 20th century had been able to do (Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin). Unfortunately, with stardom also came addiction, turbulent relationships and general turmoil, which ended abruptly when Amy Winehouse sadly joined the club of 27 in 2011. Her life has been documented a few years ago in the film ‘Amy’, and her music will make her live on in the hearts of many.
Amy never recorded a Christmas album, although I wouldn’t have been surprised that she would have done so eventually, had she made it through all the hardships and survived. Amy also never did a studio recording of a Christmas song, but did sing a Christmas song on a live show at least once. At the end of 2004, the BBC Radio 2 broadcasted a show that was recorded live at the Union Chappel, in Islington, London, ‘The Gospel According To Christmas’. This was a specially recorded Christmas Day concert hosted by Jamelia (a English singer, songwriter and television presenter who also had been part of Band Aid 20 that year), that featured the London Community Gospel Choir and special guest singing Christmas carols and festive favourites. And one of those special guests was Amy Winehouse. She did a very soulful version of ‘I Saw Mommy Santa Claus’. Amy probably also thought it quite funny that she was doing this song, basically a children’s song, as at the end of the song, she giggles. It’s this version that now has found a home on the 12th single in the box, a one-side single with snowflakes etched on the B-side. Really great to now be a able to hear this classic performance on vinyl. This box, including the single, would make a great Christmas present for everybody who loves music and 7”’s! It is available in both Europe (on Island) and the US (on Republic).

Video including introduction by Jamelia (the single has only the song):

The Volcanics: Christmas Wassailing With The Volcanics
(Hi-Tide Recordings, HT-063, USA, 2020, 45 rpm, green vinyl)

The Volcanics are a surf band from San Gabriel Valley in South California, already around from 2001 on, who so far recorded for Double Crown and Hi-Tide, two labels specializing in surf music. On their 4-song EP ‘Christmas Wassailing With The Volcanics’, the trio take three Christmas traditionals and one a little bit more recent classic, drench the songs in reveber and rebuilt them into instrumental surf rock songs, much in the same way like The Ventures did 60 years before them, taking the freedom to put in small elements of other popular songs. Like in ‘Tidings Of Comfort And Joy’, an instrumental version of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’. The last song is a surf version of ‘Walking Through The Air’, the famous theme song from the animated film ‘The Snowman’. The first 100 copies came with a Christmas card signed by the band and a sticker. 500 copies were made, and if you order the record, you can also add a 7” adapter. That seems to be a new trend, as this is already the second Christmas 45 that, optionally, comes with an 7” adapter.

Buy and listen on Bandcamp:

Vince Guaraldi Trio: Christmas Time Is Here
(Craft Recordings, CR01963, USA, 2020, 45 rpm, translucent green vinyl, small hole)

It seems that with every new Christmas, Vince Guaraldi’s ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ is getting more popular. Two years ago, we had Khruangbin and Lucius covering the song and putting it out on a 7” single, last year Owel did so, and released it on a very limited lathe 7”, while the original was being re-released on a 3” single and this year Khruangbin’s single gets a re-release and the original is finally released on a 7” single, as part of Record Day Black Friday. According to the hype sticker on the plastic sleeve, it’s the first time ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ is released on a 7”, but that is only partly true. The song was never commercially released as a single, but Fantasy did release a promotional 7” of the song in 1965, the year the album was also released. That one is hard to find, so this 7” is more than welcome. It comes in a very sweet looking picture sleeve, with the Peanuts singing in the snow before a Christmas tree, with stars shining down on them. The B-side has a alternative vocal take, that’s only one-and-a-half minute long. 2500 copies are pressed, so it won’t be hard to track down this 7” or let your favorite local record shop order it for you.

Listen on Youtube:

And here is also the B-side:

Elvis Presley: I’ll Be Home For Christmas
(Memphis Mansion, MMEP003-1120, Denmark, 2020, red vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

None are so faithful as fans of Elvis. Some of Elvis’ fans in Denmark even have their own Elvis Museum, Memphis Mansion, in a town called Randers. It looks like a large country house. It’s maybe not Graceland, but it’s a kind of house I can imagine Elvis could have lived in, had he been born in Denmark instead of the USA. Memphis Mansion also have their own label, and that label has released a 4-song EP for Christmas, with four of Elvis’ better known Christmas songs. Now have the songs of Elvis’ classic 1957 Christmas album already been repackaged many times, but what makes this EP interesting, is that most of the versions on this EP are alternative versions. ‘White Christmas’ and ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ have a more jazzy arrangements and sounds as if taken from a radio broadcast. Also included are ‘Santa Claus Is Back In Town’ and ‘Blue Christmas’. There is no information on the EP about when the songs have been recorded, unfortunately. The label packaged the red vinyl EP in a festive looking glossy gatefold sleeve. Included is an insert with ‘Christmas elves’ pictured (taken from Elvis’ second, 1971, Christmas album), that you can cut out, and decorate your Christmas tree with. My copy came with a A3 poster and a hand signed card. 300 copies are pressed, that are sold out from the Memphis Mansion webshop, but some other Elvis’ online shops may still have copies.

Suspense Heroes Syndicate / Skarface : Christmas Fight Diary
(Laketown Records / Sunny Bastards, LTR-017, 2020, Germany, snowy ice/babyblue, red and white/black vinyl, 33 prm, small hole)

A split EP featuring two bands who take equal inspiration from ska and punk/oi, the somewhat weird but very original named Suspense Heroes Syndicate from Slovenia and Skarface from Paris, France, who are already around for almost 30 years. Although both bands play the same style, one could say that SHS puts ska in their punk and Skarface puts punk in their ska. The EP comes packed in a sleeve with cartoon artwork, featuring two rough looking guys dressed in Santa suits in a boxing ring, with a charming lady, the referee, who is also dressed in a Santa suit, in between, and both guys, now looking less rough but also less in shape, on the back, with the lady again in between, who declares both as winners. Now, that’s the spirit of Christmas! Also no need for us to choose a winner, as both bands do a fine job in doing skapunk version of Christmas classics. SHS goes for English (with a funny accent), and do a medley of the Ramones’ ‘Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want To Fight’ and Jose Feliciano’s ‘Feliz Navidad’ (for sure, the first time that these two songs are mixed, but it works) and a cover of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, while Skarface stay close to their roots with their versions of the two probably most popular French Christmas songs, ‘Petit Papa Noël’ and ‘La Fille De Père Noël’. 300 copies are pressed, 100 on black, 100 on ice/snow and 100 on babyblue/red/white vinyl.


Buy: Laketown Records

Cannibal Mosquitos: Merry Christmas
(Savage Cannibalism Records, SC03, France, 2019, black vinyl, 33 rpm, large hole)

This EP came already out early 2019, so in fact is alate arrival from Christmas 2018. Cannibal Mosquitos are a French trio, based in Romans Sur Isère, in the south east of France, whose slogan is ‘Let’s Surf! Let’s Twist!’. Indeed, the band take their inspiration from the early 1960s, when surf music and the twist were the big thing. Their sound is surf, but with a bit more rock & roll influences than many other surf bands, and yes, I think you can indeed dance the twist on the four songs on their Christmas EP. The song are, as usual with surf bands, instrumental, apart from some samples, that add to the Christmas atmosphere of the EP. Two originals (I think) on the A-side, and surf rock variations on ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ on the B-side, that add some additional music to those much covered songs. Despite the not so cheery cover art (a coffin with RIP Santa on it on the front and some quite weird photos on the back), the music itself is well suited for a Christmas party.

Buy: Bandcamp


Hudson Taylor: How I Know It’s Christmas
(Rubyworks, RWXEP386, Ireland, 2020, black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

In 2019, the most popular new Christmas song in Ireland was ‘How I Know It’s Christmas’, by the brothers Alfie and Harry Hudson-Taylor, better known as Hudson Taylor. It was only beaten by five well-known Christmas classics as far as radio plays went, and it was the most-Shazamed song in Ireland on Christmas Day. So label Rubyworks decided to re-release the single at the end of the year that proved the most succesful year for the two brothers so far, with their second full length album, ‘Loving Everywhere I Go’, hitting the number one spot in the Irish album charts. To the digital release, two new versions were added, a RTE Concert Orchestra version and a acoustic piano version, and the song was released on a 7". ‘How I Know It’s Christmas’ , written by Alfie Hudson-Taylor, starts out as a quiet piano ballad (bringing Coldplay to mind), but gets more and more festive, when more instruments and voices join in, and Alfie’s vocals sound more excited, as he sums up what makes it Christmas for him – basically, being with all his friends and family. This sounds like a song that will stay on the Irish Christmas radio playlists for a long time, and might crossover to other countries too. The 7”, that came with a Christmas card, signed by Alfie and Harry, is already sold out, so it seems, as it isn’t listed on the official webshop of the band anymore.


The close this overview - the three 2020 Snowflakes Christmas Singles (by Jetstream Pony, Silent Winter and The Detox Twins) are still available on the Snowflakes Big Cartel site here. Both Jetstream Pony and The Detox Twins are close to being sold out, so if you want to get a complete set, this is the moment to do so! And pick up some older releases, if you don't have those yet!

vrijdag 20 november 2020

Overview of 2020 Christmas 7" singles, part 1

Here is the first overview of Christmas 7" vinyl singles that so far have been released or announced in 2020!

We first start with the three Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club releases, that will officially be in the shops on December 4, 2020, but are already available for pre-order through the Big Cartel site of the label.

Jetstream Pony: Grief Of A (Frozen) Soldier / Hit The Snow
(Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, Snowflake 24, The Netherlands, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)
Jetstream Pony is a band from Brighton and Croydon in the southeast of England. The band features Beth Arzy (The Luxembourg Signal, Trembling Blue Stars, Aberdeen, Charlie Big Time, The Fireworks) on vocals, Shaun Charman (The Wedding Present, The Popguns, The Fireworks) on guitar and backing vocals, Kerry Boettcher (Turbocat) on bass and Hannes Müller (The BV's, Endlich Bluete), who makes his debut on drums here. So a lot of indie pop history is gathered in the band. Musically, Jetstream Pony takes its inspiration from the 1980s and early 1990s: postpunk, shoegaze and indie rock.
A-side 'Grief Of A (Frozen) Sailor' was written years ago on a winter's afternoon by guitarist Shaun Charman with his then eight year old daughter Nina, who originally sang the song. Jetstream Pony later played it at practices with lyrics tweaked by the band’s singer Beth Arzy, and now it finally finds a home on vinyl. Beth's vocals almost disappear in the storm of guitars in the chorus. On the B-side of their single they cover a track of the second album of San Francisco's The Aisler Set, 'Hit The Snow'. Jetstream Pony replace the keyboards of the original with guitars, adding a raw punky edge to the catchy indie pop winter song.
The single is still available for pre-order in many shops, but is sold out with the band and only available from Snowflakes by buying it as a set with the two other Snowflakes releases of this year.

Buy as part of the 2020 set: Big Cartel

You can listen to both songs on the Snowflakes Bandcamp.

Silent Winter: Holy Land Of Fire And Snow / We Wish You A Merry Christmas
(Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, Snowflake 25, The Netherlands, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)
Silent Winter is a power metal band from Volos, Greece, already around in the 1990s, and having returned to the metal front since a few years with an almost complete new line-up. There have been very few metal Christmas 45s (Stryper, Bad News, August Burns Red and Lacuna Coil come to mind'. Last year, Greek power metal band Silent Winter recorded 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' in full blown metal style, including high pitched yet melodic vocals and, of course, guitar solos. Given the more than 20.000 views of the video, it did indeed find an audience in the metal community. And now the song found its way to vinyl, as B-side to a Christmas metal 7". Songwriter and guitarist Kiriakos Balanos took up the challenge to write a new Christmas metal song, and came up with 'Holy Land Of Fire And Snow', the A-side of the single. It's five-and-half minute of fast paced power metal, that couples sleigh bells, an angel choir and church bells with heavy guitars, ultra fast solos and blast beats. The sometimes melodic and sometimes screaming vocals of Mike Livas tell the tale of this holy land of fire and snow, where Santa reigns, who doesn't seem to be as peaceful as we have been told, as he travels through the black and starry sky with his burning sleigh, causing panic and destruction along the way. As with all good metal - has to be played very loud to be fully enjoyed!

Buy: Big Cartel


Video 1:
Video 2:

The Detox Twins: I Don't Like Christmas (But I Love The Sound) / Merry Xmas Everybody (Slade Variation)
(Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, Snowflake 26, The Netherlands, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)
The Detox Twins is the duo of Berlin-based poet Devi Von Teufel and Mark Vorderhaus, who now resides in Yorkshire. Since 2014, The Detox Twins have released a range of mostly lathe cut 7"'s on Polytechnic Youth, that, as all releases on that label, sold out in no time. The Detox Twins don't particularly like Christmas, but still they have recorded a Christmas single. Why? Because they do love the sound of Christmas, as Devi assures us on the A-side. Mark backs up her words with a soundtrack of catchy early 80s inspired synthesizer wave and electro. On the B-side The Detox Twins turn the most famous British Christmas rock song ever, Slade's 'Merry X-Mas Everybody', into an electro pop song, with vocoder style vocals by Mark.

Buy: Big Cartel



Spizzenergi: Christmas In Denmark Street
(Holy Dotage Records, HOLD001, UK, red vinyl)
Spizzenergi is best know for their late 1979 single ‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’, a punk/new wave classic and the first single to top the UK Indie chart, that existed throught the 1980s. Apart for that, the band, with singer Spizz as only stabile factor throughout the years, is known for their many name changes. Starting out as Spizzoil, the band became Spizzenergi, then Athletico Spizz 80, The Spizzles, Spizzenergi 2, and, after Spizz went solo, SpizzOrwell and Spizz And The Astronauties before reforming and returning to their best known name, Spizzenergi. When the band was orginally around, Denmark Street was the street to be in London if you were a musician, with music shops, recording studios and nightclubs. It was also the street where The Sex Pistols lived for a while, and recorded their first demos, so it has an important role in the development of punk. To that Denmark Street, now almost completey gone, Spizzenergi pays tribute in their punk ballad ‘Christmas In Denmark Street’. The song is more about Denmark Street than about Christmas, but that doesn’t prevent the song from sounding very Christmas-y, with all the usual Christmas ingredients (bells, singalongs). It was mixed by another music veteran, producer Tony Visconti. Not Visconti’s first try on Christmas music, as he had produced his wife Mary Hopkins’ 1972 Christmas single ‘Mary Had A Baby’ – a personal favorite – and also Elaine Paige’s 1986 Christmas album ‘Christmas’.

Buy: Holy Dotage


Ghost Cave: Christmas Spirits
(Self-released, orange/green/winered/berryred/blue vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)
Ghost Cave is the electronic music project of the Atlanta, George based dj BC, with a sound that is influenced by hip-hop, ambient, punk, reggae and funky dance music. Early this year, Ghost Cave released a limited single 'Haunted', that, although already released in April, was perfectly suited for Halloween. On that 7", the hip-hop influences were very prominent, their Christmas single shows the more their ambient side of Ghost Cave. Instead of haunted, the two tracks on this single sound haunting. On side A, Ghost Cave is joined by violist and vocalist Ana Balka (who has been featured on records by Superchunk and The White Lights) for a beautiful and otherwordly and ethereal version of 'The Holly + The Ivy'. On the B-side, it's Scott Burland's theremin that steals the show on a melancholic and spooky sounding 'We Three Kings'. The single comes in five different colour variations (see above), beautifully packed in a block printed cover, designed and hand printed by Canada-based visual artist Jane Dupious, with two stickers, a button, a pin, a magnet and, for some extra money, a Ghost Cave 45 adapter. The record is not really cheap ($20), but it is a beautiful package, and some of the most spooky Christmas songs you will hear this year. And if you really think it’s too expensive, there is also the possibility to buy the record without the artwork, for only $ 5. Now that is cheap!

Buy: Bandcamp



Andy McCoy featuring Ville Valo: Xmas Song
(Ainoa!, AOP-16PR001, Finland, 45 rpm, black vinyl, small hole)
Andy McCoy’s Christmas single ‘Xmas Song’ was already released on September 26, as part of the second drop of Record Store Day, in Finland, where Andy McCoy is from. You don’t expect someone with that name to come from Finland. A name like Antti Hulkko is more what you would expect. So no surprise here that Antti Hulkko is Andy’s real name. In the late 1970s, McCoy was in the Finnish punk bands Briard and Pelle Miloona OY, but when he joined rock band Hanoi Rocks as lead guitarist and main songwriter in 1979, he was one his way to rockstardom. Hanoi Rock moved to England in the 1980s, and built a very succesful international career, becoming the first Finnish band to chart in the UK, one of the most succesful Finnish bands ever and a big influence of the glam metal scene of the 1980s. Hanoi Rocks broke up in 1985, after which McCoy continued with The Cherry Bombz, with former members of Hanoi Rocks, The Clash and Toto Cuelo and later also played for some time with Iggy Pop. From 2001 to 2009 Hanoi Rock reformed, and after that, McCoy continued his solo career. In 2016 he recorded a Christmas single, ‘Xmas Song’, that featured additional vocals by Ville Valo, singer of another international very succesful Finnish band, gothic rock band H.I.M. The song was only released on a CD-single, that sold out quickly. And now, 4 years later, it is re-released, for the first time on vinyl – that also sold out quickly. ‘Xmas Song’, on the B-side in a edited radio version, is a wall-of-sound like Christmas pop rock song, that sounds quite 1980s, with saxophone and, of course, lots of guitar, with McCoy and Valo singing about Santa, peace on earth and wishing it could be Christmas everyday (to quite another famous Christmas rock song).

Buy: sold out, but try Discogs


zondag 29 december 2019

2019 Christmas 7" Singles - The Hit Parade

This year, I was lacking the time to write regular entries for this blog, and to do a weekly Christmas singles chart, like I did last year. We are still in the 12 Days of Christmas, so I decided to use the fourth and fifth day of Christmas to write something about all the 2019 singles. I used Discogs to check the popularity of each of the singles, by adding up the number of copies owned and wanted by people on Discogs. So here we have the Top 50 of Christmas 7" vinyl 2019 - plus some records still bubbling under. Shouts out to Christmas Underground, Christmas-A-Go-Go and Stubby's House Of Christmas for helping me find many of the 45s listed here.

Number 1 - 400 points
WHAM! | Last Christmas / Everything She Wants
(Epic / Sony Music, 19075978847, Europe, 45 rpm, white vinyl, small hole)
35th Anniversary Edition of Wham!’s classic 1984 Christmas single. What else should I say about it? Everybody knows this song and the video. Still as popular as ever before.

Number 2 - 201 points
THE MONKEES | Christmas Party Plus!: Unwrap You At Christmas (Radio Mix) / Unwrap You At Christmas (Demo) / Riu Riu (TV Version) / Christmas Is My Time Of Year (1976 Mix)
(Rhino, R7 599979, USA, 45 rpm, red and green vinyl, big hole)
In 2018 the first-ever Christmas album of The Monkees was released: ‘Christmas Party’. The album had a mixture of Christmas classics (like ‘The Christmas Song’ and ‘Angels We Heard On High’), classic Christmas rock songs (like Roy Wood’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’) and some new songs, like opener ‘Unwrap You At Christmas’, written by XTC’s Andy Partridge, and ‘What Would Santa Do’, written by Weezer’s River Cuomo. The album also featured lead vocals by all four Monkees members, even by the already deceased Davy Jones (on 'Mele Kalikimaka' and 'Silver Bells') and by the terminally ill Peter Tork (on 'Angels We Have Heard On High'). Tork’s song had originally appeared on the 2003 Christmas album ‘A Beachwork Christmas’ that he had recorded with Tom Paxton, Pamala Stanley and James Lee Stanley. The record was produced by Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, while also Fountain Of Wayne drummer Brian Young was featured on many songs. Letters To Cleo guitarist Michael Eisenstein played guitar on most of the tracks. So in a way, the record was a meeting of American classic sixties pop and nineties alternative rock. The record sold well, and this made label Rhino decide to release a double 7” single, ‘Christmas Party Plus’, for Record Store Day Black Friday 2019.
Packed in a gatefold sleeve reusing some of the artwork of the album – with the four Monkees hanging as Christmas balls in a Christmas tree, and being featured as superhero action figures, the single had two tracks of the album: a new radio mix of opening track ‘Unwrap You At Christmas’ and album closer ‘Riu Chiu (TV Version)’, the only song of the album that was not really a Christmas song. The single added a demo version of ‘Unwrap You At Christmas’ by its songwriter Andy Partridge, featuring his daughter Holly (also singer and guitarist of The Shebeats), and the Christmas single Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork had released in 1976, ‘Christmas Is My Time Of Year’ in its original 1976 mix – but this time, the track, that featured three of the four Monkees, was not credited to Dolenz, Jones and Tork but to The Monkees. Andy Partridge knows how to write a catchy Christmas tune, as he has proven with the Three Wise Men's 'Thanks For Christmas' and XTC's 'Always Winter Never Christmas', and ‘Unwrap You At Christmas’ is as catchy as Christmas songs get, with, once again, Phil Spector’s Christmas wall of sound having been the main inspiration for the music. Mickey Dolenz, who handles the lead vocals, sings about how much he is looking forward to the return of his love for Christmas (he even saved up all his kisses this year for her), packed up as a Christmas present and how he will unpack this most welcome present under the Christmas tree. The record has one red and one green 7” and was released in a limited edition of 5000 copies.

Number 3 - 183 points
CHEAP TRICK / CHEAP TRICK FEATURING ROY WOOD | Gimme Some Truth / I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (Live)
(BMG, 538545791, US, 45 rpm, red vinyl)

Powerpop/rock band Cheap Trick started out in 1974 and has never stopped playing or releasing records – so have been celebrating their 45th birthday in 2019. They are one of those bands responsible for a classic live album, in their case ‘At Budokan’, with singles ‘I Want You To Want Me’ and ‘Surrender’ reaching the upper echelons of the charts at the end of the 1970s. The band is still playing with four founding members in the present day line-up, including lead vocalist Robin Zander and guitarist Rick Nielsen. On December 17, 2018, Cheap Trick played in Birmingham, England and on stage they were joined by glam rock legend Roy Wood, best known for his Christmas classic ‘I Wish It Was Christmas Every Day’. And that was the song they played, with Wood handling vocals and guitar. This recording is now released as B-side of Cheap Trick’s new single, ‘Gimme Some Truth’, a cover of a John Lennon song. That song takes a very critical stance towards politics – the song may be written in another era, but, given the lyrics, it could have been written today, as it totally reflects the political state of the world at the moment. The single was released as part of RSD Black Friday, with a total of 1500 copies pressed.

Number 4 - 182 points
ACID WATCH | Black Christmas Evil: Black Christmas / Christmas Evil
(Witch House Records, WHR-001, USA, 2019, red or black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

Acid Watch's 'Black Christmas Evil' was already released digitally in December 2018, and got a vinyl release for Record Store Day's 2019 Black Friday celebration. Acid Witch is a four-piece doom metal / sludge metal band from Detroit, Michigan. Not many doom metal bands do Christmas records, as many of those bands take themselves very seriously. Acid Witch, consisting of band members Slasher Dave, Shaggy Shagrat, 'Magic' Mike Tuff and Phil Warren Comics doesn't seem to take itselves too seriously, judging from the names of the members, so is the right band to add some Christmas songs to the doom metal discography. The record has two songs, 'Black Christmas' and 'Christmas Evil', both influenced by Christmas-themed horror movies. 'Black Christmas' by the 1974 movie with the same name, also known as 'Silent Night, Evil Night'. 'Christmas Evil', subtitled 'You Better Watch Out' by the 1980 movie 'Christmas Evil', also known as 'You Better Watch Out, Terror In Toyland'. The songs were mainly recorded by Slasher Dave and Shaggy Shagrat, with Magic Mike Tuff adding some acoustic guitar. The band also released a (digital) single earlier in 2019, 'It's Halloween Night (The Witches' Jack-O-Lantern)' for a holiday that is more in line with the usual themes of their records. Limited to 750 copies of red vinyl for RSD Black Friday. Later repressed on black vinyl (250 copies) and sold through the band’s website.

Number 5 - 152 points
ABBA | Happy New Year / Felicidad
(Polar, 602577121586, Europe, clear vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

For the second year on a row, Abba’s label Polar re-releases ‘Happy New Year’, with ‘Felicidad’ on the B-side, this time on clear vinyl, packed in a sleeve with 2020 written all over it. This time it is an edition of 4000 records, 1000 more than in 2018, so the record should be a little bit longer available for not too extreme prices.

Number 6 - 139 points
KELLY FINNIGAN | Heartbreak For Xmas / Merry Christmas To You
(Colemine, CLMN-188, USA, green vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

Kelly Finnigan released his first solo album earlier in 2019, 'The Tales People Tell', on Colemine Records, an album full of classic soul, although it also has some more modern hiphop and R&B influences. Finnigan is also the keyboardist and frontman of the Californian psychedelic soul formation Monophonics. Coleman Records is one of those labels that continues to put out 45s, still the best format to release soul on, and to close off a very successful year for Finnigan, he releases his fourth 2019 45 for the label, 'Heartbreak For Xmas'. Pressed on translucent green vinyl, and with another Christmas song on the B-side, 'Merry Christmas To You'. Both songs are originals, written by Finnigan himself, the B-side together with Terry Cole, not only a member of the Jive Turkey's, but also the man behind Colemine Records. 'Heartbreak For Xmas' has the classic Motown sound, while B-side 'Merry Christmas To You' happens to be the first song recorded in the new Colemine studio and features guitarist Rudy De Anda.

Number 7 - 126 points
JD MCPHERSON | Holly, Carol, Candy & Joy / Red Bow (For A Blue Girl)
(New West Records, NW4145, US, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

JD McPherson’s album ‘Socks’ was one of the musical highlights of the 2018 Christmas season, and his label New West probably also thought so, as they released one of the songs of the album as a single for Record Store Day Black Friday 2019. JD McPherson realized that some of the general subjects associated with Christmas were also girl names: Holly, Carol, Candy and Joy – so in the song with that title, he sings about these four aspects of Christmas as if it were girls – and what a lucky boy is he who is to spend the Christmas season with those ladies: Holly (who makes the season jolly), Candy (sweeter than a sip of brandy), Carol (with all of the songs up on her lips) and Joy (who is overflowing with a hip of Christmas cheer). The midtempo song is pure 21st century doowop. For the B-side, JD McPherson recorded a song not yet on the album, ‘Red Bows (For A Blue Girl)’, a raunchy doowop rocker about cheering up a sad girl at Christmastime by giving her a present wrapped in a red bow. A total of 1500 copies were pressed, all on snow swirl vinyl, a sort of mixture between white and clear vinyl. And the B-side:

Number 8 - 98 points
MARIAH CAREY | All I Want For Christmas Is You / Sugar Plum Fairy Introlude / Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (Anniversay Mix)
(Sony Music Entertainment / Columbia / Epic / Legacy, 19075950097, UK / US, black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

It was 25 years ago this year that the last of the classic Christmas hits was released (or so they say): Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. And this year, the song finally reached the first position on the Billboard singles list. The celebrate the 25th year of existence the song has been for the first time officially released on a 45 in the US. The 7” single features the original version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on Side A and Mariah’s festive rendition of the 'Sugar Plum Fairy' and 'Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town' on Side B. The 7” includes a very special interior pop-up gatefold Christmas scene, which looks beautiful.

Number 9 - 93 points
NIGHT OWLS FEATURING DURAND JONES | This Christmas / This Christmas (Instrumental)
(F Spot Records, FSPT-1014, USA, black vinyl, 45 prm, big hole)

Last year, Roger Rivas released a Christmas 45 with his Brothers of Reggae for Jump Up! Records, and Rivas doesn't seem to get enough of the holidays, as this year he is again involved in a Christmas 45. As one-quarter of the Los Angeles group Night Owls, Rivas and his organ and piano are featured on a 2019 remake reggae-style of Donny Hathaway's soul Christmas classic 'This Christmas'. Apart from Rivas, Night Owls features drummer Blake Colie (The Lions, The Decoders), bassist Dave Wilder (The Lions, Connie Price & The Keystones) and guitarist Dan Ubick (The Lions, Connie Price & The Keystones), who also produced the single. The four are joined on the A-side by Durand Jones, lead singer of the very succesful soulformation Durand Jones & The Indications, whose vocals inject the reggae track with enough soul to make it shine side by side with Donny Hatheway's original. The B-side has an instrumental version of the song.

Number 10 - 66 points
(Warner Records, 604580, USA, black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)
Follow up to the band's first Christmas 45, 'Marshmallow World', that was released for Record Store Day Black Friday 2016. In 2016, The Regrettes were an up-and-coming quartet of teenagers. Three year's later, frontwoman Lydia Night is not a teenager anymore, and is in a relationship with Dylan Minnette of the band Wallows, and the two decided to add a song of their own to the Christmas canon: 'Holiday-ish'. The song isn't called 'holiday-ish' for nothing, because it looks at the Christmas holiday from a moment in time when it isn't still Christmas at all: the moment you write a holiday song. When 'the snow won't fall' and 'the fire is still hot' and when you are still wondering if you should pick up when 'the family calls'. But despite rain and sun, the two conclude that after all, this still makes it the 'most holiday-ish holiday' they have got. ‘Holiday-ish’ takes the band a bit away from their garage rock / riot grrrl inspired early sound, with piano, strings, glockenspiel and almost electronic soundring drums giving the song a modern pop sound. The rather slacky way in which the song is sung finish it all off, this 'Holiday-ish' song. The B-side has a demo version, according to the liner notes, 'recorded as a voice memo in the couples home'. The record came on black vinyl in an edition of 2000 copies.

Number 11 - 54 points
SATAN’S PILGRIMS | Happy Holidays with Satan's Pilgrims: Feliz Navidad / Greensleeves
(Hidden Volume, HV0053, USA, black or white vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

Satan’s Pilgrim’s is a surf / instrumental rock & roll band from Portland, Oregon, and after being around for almost 28 years, the band finally decided to record some holiday tunes, and to release those on a 7”. The two tracks were already recorded in December 2017 at the No-Count Studio in Seattle with Evan Foster (The Boss Martians and The Sonics) pushing the buttons. The band’s take on ‘Feliz Navidad’ is probably inspired by the first Ventures album, as, just as all the songs on that album, they mixed it with a popular non-Christmas song. In this case, ‘96 Tears’, the 1966 hit of ? (Question Mark) & The Mysterians. Contrary to The Ventures, Satan’s Pilgrims don’t use the guitar, but the organ as the main instrument in this song, making it sound more like a Joe Meek produced song than a song by The Ventures. Mixing up ‘Feliz Navidad’ and ‘96 Tears’ works really well! The B-side is a more traditional surf guitar version of standard ‘Greensleeves’, originally not a Christmas song, but when the music was used for Christmas song ‘What Child Is This?’, also the original song became associated with the Christmas season. The front cover depicts claymation style figures, created by Elena Fox of Ace Of Cakes, who look like coming straight from a Halloween party, on guitars (I count four) and drums – without doubt the five band members Bob, Dave, John, Scott and Ted Pilgrim, while upfront Satan himself is playing the organ, in a wintery scene with snow and white Christmas trees. And as if all this is not enough, the single also came with a do-it-yourself Christmas ornament of, you guessed it, Satan. Half of the 300 copies are on ‘winter swirl’ vinyl (white with blue), the other half is on traditional black vinyl.

Number 12 - 47 points
Z BERG / Z BERG FEATURING RYAN ROSS | I Fall For The Same Face Every Time / I Go To Sleep / The Bad List
(Metropolitan Indian / Enjoy The Ride Records, MI-09 / ETR092, US, half red/half cream or corpse blue with blood splatter vinyl, 33 rpm, small hole)

'The Bad List’ by former The Like-member Elizabeth Berg, now performing and recording as Z Berg, was first released on a cassette tape for Christmas 2018. In 2019, Berg released a double-sided 7” to celebrate her Prom Evening on June 1st, 2019, on half red/half cream vinyl, with 'I Fall For The Same Face Every Time' and 'I Go To Sleep' on one side and 'The Bad List' on the other side. ‘The Bad List’ is a duet with former Panic At The Disco!-frontman Ryan Ross (Berg’s lover), about the things Berg and Ross did when they were younger. It led to not getting any present for Christmas, as they were included on ‘the bad list’. The song is a piano ballad. ‘I Fall For The Same Face Every Time’ is a beautiful song, but has no connection to Christmas. 'I Go To Sleep' is a cover of The Pretenders' song. The copies of the single that were left over from the Prom night were gone within an hour online. There was also a second version of the single, sold by the label Enjoy The Ride Records, that is on corpse blue with blood splatter vinyl. Although the single was released for a cheerful event, nor the songs nor the artwork is very cheerful – with on the one side Berg posing with Ross looking like a corpse, while on the B-side, the roles are reversed. Both versions were limited to 250 copies.

Number 13 - 46 points
SAMANTA FISH | Run Run Rudolph / Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
(Rounder, 1166100825, USA, green swirl on white or red swirl on white vinyl, 45 rpm, large hole)

Samantha Fish grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and started playing music at a young age, first drums, but at 15, she switched to guitar. Fish debuted at 20 with a live-album, signed to Ruf Records and released several albums in the 2010s. In 2019 she released her first album on Rounder Records, 'Kill Or Be Kind', and for this label, she also now makes her 45 debut, with a double sided Christmas 45. Fish did not make things easy for herself, choosing 'Run Run Rudolph' and 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' to cover, two Christmas songs made legendary by Chuck Berry and Darlene Love respectively. Fish did the only right thing to do when you choose to cover songs that in their original version have become Christmas standards. Instead of trying to imitate the originals, she tried to make both songs her own. Fish turns 'Run Run Rudolph' into a soul-injected country and bluesrocker, while in 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)', she stays closer to the original, but her southern sounding vocals are so different from Love's, that the songs stays far enough from the original that comparing the two versions is not neccessary. And, what makes these versions even stronger is that the energy Fish has shines through very cleary on the record. And the B-side:

Number 14 - 29 points
TWIZTID | A Very Twiztid Christmas: Is Santa Dead? / My Ornaments (Young Wicked Remix)
(Majik Ninja Entertainment, MNE 115, US, red and green splatter on clear vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

Two years after their previous Christmas 45, also released for Record Store Day Black Friday, Twiztid returns with a second Christmas 45, again released for Record Store Day Black Friday. The A-side has a brand new song, 'Is Santa Dead?', and it seems the horror hiphoppers answer this question with a loud and clear 'Yes'. The B-side has a song already released on a promotional CD in 2015, 'My Ornaments', in a new remix. The record comes limited to 1500 numbered copies on clear vinyl with red and green splatters.

Number 15 - 26 points
US AND THEM | When The Stars Are Brightly Shining / Winter
(Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, Snowflake 21, The Netherlands, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

Christmas is a time to spend with family and to feel a bit nostalgic, and exactly these two aspects of Christmas come together on the single the Swedish acid folk duo Us And Them recorded for the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club. In 'When The Stars Are Brightly Shining', the fragile vocals of singer Britt Rönnholm recapture the get-together with friends and family on Christmas Eve, the return to the place where you have spend your youth and the memories it all brings back. Multi-instrumentalist Anders Håkanson uses a wide range of instruments to built an atmospheric soundtrack to Britt's meanderings. Their version of Tori Amos' 1992 single 'Winter' is much in the same vein. In the song, Tori remembers the winters of her childhood and the bond she built up with her father during her youth. Us And Them replace the intensity of the original with the same nostalgic mood that can be found on the A-side, making the songs on this single sound as the family they are. Us And Them are the Swedish duo of multi-instrumentalist Anders Håkanson and singer Britt Rönnholm (who also happen to be a married to each other), that came together in 2006 when Anders, who had been playing in bands since being a kid, realized that he wanted to do something different. Influenced by British folk, baroque pop and the softer side of psychedelica, he started recording songs with Britt on vocals, and this developed into Us And Them. Since the start of the group, Us And Them have released singles EP's and albums on labels like Fruits De Mer and Mega Dodo. Most records feature a mixture of covers and originals, all in the distinct dreamy, fragile and otherwordly Us And Them style, an update of the sound of psychedelic acid folk for the 21st Century.
The video:

The songs:

Number 16 - 26 points
POWERSOLO / THE COURETTES | Glædelig Jul Allesammen / Christmas (I Can’t Hardly Wait)
(Crunchy Frog, FROG 167-7, Denmark, black vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

In 2013, Danish label Mastermind records released three lathe cut Christmas 45s, all limited to 24 copies. All three singles featured one Christmas song by a Danish band: Glow Kit (punk), Powersolo (garage rock) and The Tremolo Beer Gut (surf). Six years later, two of these bands turn up on a split 7” of another Danish label, Crunchy Frog Records. No lathe cut this time, but two songs pressed on good old black vinyl. Powersolo takes up one side of the single, the Brazilian-Danish garage rock duo The Courettes, take up the other side. And The Tremolo Beer Gut helps out both bands, as they are featured on both the A- and the B-side. Powersolo’s 2013 single was in Danish, and so is their 2019 Christmas song, ‘Glædelig Jul Allesammen’. The chorus is sung, the rest of the lyrics sound like a series of christmas wishes and are spoken, while the musical accompanied is driving midtempo garage rock. The Courettes, the female-male duo of Flávia Couri (guitar and vocals) and Martin Couri (drums), mix garage rock with the Phil Spector girl group sound in their song about being impatient for Christmas to arrive. Not only the title of that song, ‘Christmas (I Can’t Hardly Wait)’, a nod towards ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’, but also the label and cover art work of the single are inspired by Phil Spector’s label Philly Records and his legendary Christmas album.

Number 17 - 25 points
DENIZ TEK AND THE GODOYS | Getting Somewhere / Truck For Christmas
(Wild Honey Records, WH-055, Italy, red vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

In 2016, the Italian garage rock label Wild Honey gave away a free Christmas 7” to everyone who ordered one of their records during the Christmas season. That particular 7” was a split between Miss Chain & The Broken Heels and Shantih Shantih, with the last coming up with the great indie Christmas song ‘Christmas Day’ (while the first’s track ‘Flow’, despite not being Christmas-related, still being a great track). Three years later, Wild Honey Records decided to do the same thing, this time giving the ‘Getting Somewhere’ b/w ’Truck For Christmas’ by Deniz Tek and the Godoys away for free to people who order any Wild Honey record. The record is limited to 300 copies, all on red vinyl. Deniz is best known as a founding member of Australian punk band Radio Birdman, while the two other members, Art and Steve Godoy, are, according to the label ‘world famous skateboarders and notorious punk rockers’, who have toured with Deniz for decades. ‘Getting Somewhere’ is a previously unreleased ‘hard driving rock tune’, to quote the label again. Interesting for us is B-side ‘Truck For Christmas’, ‘a seasonally joyful instrumental track’ from the band’s lastest album, ‘Fast Freight’, in Ventures style, more rock & roll than surf. It’s a catchy tune, although not easily recognizable as a seasonal one, due to the lack of sleigh bells or any other sound effects who give instrumental tracks a Christmas twist. But joyful it definitely is!

Number 18 - 24 points
SOLEIL: Twinkle Heart / Multiplies
(Victor, VIKL-30012, Japan, black vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

Phil Spector influenced energetic and jolly sounding J-pop song by this trio fronted by a 16-year old Japanese girl that also gave the group its name. ‘Twinkle Heart’ has all ingredients of a classic Christmas pop song, despite that the lyrics barely seem to mention Christmas. Although Soleil is playing all the instruments in the video, in reality she is just playing the glockenspiel and the marimba in the recording - although these instruments are of course important to give the single its Christmas feel. Not only the music has a clear 1960s influence, also the format it was released on – a mono 45! This is the last recording Soleil will do in a while, as Soleil has to go back to school… The single comes with a Christmas message card, and you can fold open the sleeve of the single, and then you have a nice poster of Soleil posing with a guitar. Soleil is not only a singer, but also a band, formed in 2017 (when Soleil the singer was just 14), and consisting of Soleil, producer Sally Kubota and guitarist Yasuhiro Nakamori. Kubato played in loads of bands from the mid-1980s on, among others The Phantomgift, Pillow Talk 4, Sally Soul Stew and Les 5-4-3-2-1. Nakamori played in Rotten Hats and also Sally Soul Stew. The men know their classics, as is proven by the ska-influenced instrumental 'Multiplies' on the B-side, a cover of a Yellow Magic Orchestra track based on Elmer Bernstein's 'The Magnificent Seven'.

Number 19 - 23 points
YOUP VAN 'T HEK / ANDRÉ VAN DUIN | Flappie / Zalig (Kerstfeest)
(De Drentse Platenkast / CNR, DPV007, The Netherlands, red vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

Youp van 't Hek's dramatic tale of the rabbit that did not survive Christmas Day, and the unexpected twist that things took the day after Christmas, is one of the most popular Christmas songs in Holland. It was originally released on 45 in a live version in 1981 and then again in a studio version (with synthesizer replacing the piano of the original) in 1985. In 2006, Van 't Hek, one of Holland's most succesful stand-up comedians, re-recorded the song again, this time with the string quartet Matangi, for the 2006 album 'Louterliedjes'. This version is now for the first time released on a 45 by CNR Music and collector's label De Drentse Platenkast. On the B-side there is a Christmas song by Dutch comedian André van Duin, taken from his 1994 album 'Bij Van Duin', an album that also had three medleys of classic American Christmas songs translated into Dutch. In 'Zalig' ('Blessed'), Van Duin, sporting a southern accent (the south being the area in The Netherlands that traditionally mainly has been catholic), sings about having a 'blessed' Christmas, impersonating a catholic priest from Limburg, the most southern province of Holland. Van Duin wrote the song with Jan Rietman, once piano player in Dutch rock & roll band Long Tall Ernie & The Shakers. The singles came on translucent red vinyl in a pressing of 300 copies.
The A-side:

The B-side:

Number 20 - 21 points
STEVE PERRY | Silver Bells: Silver Bells (Edit) / Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Remix) / Silver Bells
(Fantasy, fan00611, US, red or green vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

Steve Perry is best known as the lead singer of Journey, a band he fronted from 1977 to 1987 and from 1995 to 1998, although he was also succesful as a solo artist. For his 2019 Christmas 45, Perry recorded two Christmas classics from the 1940s, lead song 'Silver Bells' and 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. 'Silver Bells' appears two times on the single: in its full five minute version on the B-side, and an edited version of 3-and-half-minute, meant for radio play, the first track on the A-side. This version is followed by 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', that clocks below 2 minutes, and is a 'remix', at least, that is what the sleeve says it is. Perry is aided by Suburban Legend's Dallas Kruse on keyboards, and, on 'Silver Bells', by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, who had a long career, after starting in the late 1970s playing with Frank Zappa. Both 'Silver Bells' and 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' have been turned into soft rock ballads by Perry, who also recorded, produced and mixed the songs himself.

Number 21 - 19 points
TORSSON | Mellandagsrea: Nyårsdagen / Det Blir En Lång Jul I År (2019 Remix)
(Adore Music, ADM072, Sweden, green or red vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

A seasonal 7" by Torsson, with 'Nyårsdagen' (New Year's Day) a nostalgic sounding rock song that, due to the promiment use of a steel guitar, has a bit of a americana / country feel. The B-side has the 2019 remix of Christmas song 'Det Blir En Lång Jul I År' (It Will Be A Long Christmas This Year), a fast paced boogie rock song that ends with sleigh bells and the melody of 'Jingle Bells'. Torsson are already on the scene for a long time, as they formed in 1976 and have been recording and playing ever since.
The A-side:

The B-side:

Number 22 - 16 points
SUPERBRAVO | La Nuit / Chanson Pour Les Enfants l’Hiver
(Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, Snowflake 22, The Netherlands, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

Christmas Eve is when the magic happens. In the night, Santa gets into his sleigh and he delivers all the presents, that are eagerly awaited by children all over the world. Paris trio Superbravo add to the magic of that night with their playful Christmas song ‘La Nuit’ (The Night), the A-side of their single recorded for the 2019 of the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club. The magic of Santa who, happy and singing, goes about his job, who will never let those waiting for him, down, as, and that is the less magic side of it, selling has to be done. The song itself sounds like magic, as a fairytale come to life, with strange little creatures making weird sounds, angels harmonizing ‘Noel Noel’ and dreamy vocals – as dreamy as only French female vocals can sound. The song on the B-side is another fairytale, ‘Chanson Pour Les Enfants l'Hiver’ ('Song For The Children Of The Winter') a poem published by Jacques Prévert in 1946, a few years later set to the music of composer Joseph Korma by the French vocals quartet Les Frères Jacques. In a way, it is the French ‘Frosty The Snowman’, about a not too smart snowman who sees a house with a fire inside, and wants to warm himself inside. Superbravo add some mystery to the story, as if it has been recorded in a parallel world where this snowman actually existed.
Paris-based Superbravo consists of the trio of Armelle Pioline (former singer of French rock band Holden), Julie Garnier (of art rock / post-punk duo Lalafactory) and Michel Peteau (former guitarist of legendary French psychedelic progrock bands Cheval Fou and Nyl), with vocals shared by Armelle and Julie, while all contribute a wide range of instruments to the music of the group. Superbravo started out in 2016, has released one albums (2017's 'L'Angle Vivant' on the Zamora Label) and several singles and EP's, most recently, earlier this year, a 7" single on FRACA !!!. In January 2020, the group will release its second album, also on FRACA !!!. Described as ‘minimalist in tone while maximalist’ in ideas’, Superbravo takes it inspirations from the glory days of the French chanson, the yéyé sound of the 1960s, 1970s psychedelica, minimalist synthpop of the 1980s and the toytronica of the 2000s, mixing it all up to come to something truly unique – both challenging musically as intellectually, as is illustrated by their last album ‘L’Angle Vivant’, a reflection on the ecological distasters waiting for us, as a result of the way we are treating our planet.
The video of the B-side:

The two tracks:

Number 23 - 16 points
LIVINGMORE | Christmas With Livingmore: Show Me Light And Love / Winter Wonderland
(Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, Snowflake 23, The Netherlands, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)
Los Angeles rock band Livingmore’s Christmas single is one in a tradition of American Christmas 45’s that started in 1949, 70 years ago, when the first Christmas 45’s were released. ‘Show Me Light and Love’, the A-side of their single released as part of the 7th edition of the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, was written by lead guitarist Spencer Livingstone and singer Alex Moore. According to Alex, the lyrics were inspired by ‘my grandmother and all the ladies out there taking care of Christmas’, who are keeping that part of the Christmas tradition alive. The song is a catchy rocker, carried by Alex’s crystal clear vocals and great guitar work by Spencer, and, of course, sleigh bells. For the flipside, the group recorded an acoustic version of one of the greatest American seasonal songs of all time, ‘Winter Wonderland’. Livingmore, with Alex and Spencer sharing the vocals, adds another great version to the many versions that exist of this song that was written 85 years ago by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith.
Livingmore was formed in Los Angeles by singer/songwriter's Spencer Livingston and Alex Moore, after they met through mutual friends in 2014. Alex and Spencer, who are responsible for all the songs of the band, were then joined by drummer Mike Schadel and, since 2017, bassist Rodrigo Moreno. In 2017, Livingmore had an indie hit with their single ‘Really Mean It’, and in 2018 released it on a 7” for the bands appearance on South By Southwest. The band released their debut album ‘Ok To Land’ on Nomad Eel Records last year and followed it up with 3-song 7” ‘It’s All Happening’ in December 2018. With influences as diverse as Garbage, The Kinks, Belle And Sebastian and Roy Orbison, Livingmore have been described as a mixture between Blondie and The Everly Brothers.

Number 24 - 16 points
WYLDLIFE | Another NY Christmas (Piss The Season) / Peppermint Schnapps
(Wicked Cool Record Co., 68990, US, white with green and red splatter vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

According to their biography, New York punk rockers Wyldlife are four duded raised by alcoholic wolves. "Fast rhythms and sweet melodies. Loud mouths. Leather jackets". A-side 'Another New York Christmas', subtitled 'Piss The Season' has been recorded before by the band, but has now been given a new version. Musically a mixture between powerpop and midtempo punk rock, the song is about having to spend Christmas on your own. Even being in New York and the sleigh bells in the song will not be enough to cheer you up. 'Peppermint Schnapps' is much in the same style as the A-side, but sounds a little bit more hopeful, the hope that Santa will bring something that will end the loneliness. The front cover, depicting a Santa Claus peeing from a snowy roottop, is the most punkrock part of this 45. The only really jolly part of the record is the white with green and red spatter vinyl, but if it will be enough for a jolly Christmas in New York?

Number 25 - 14 points
REMINGTON SUPER 60: Christmas : Christmas Song For Melanie / A Winter Song / Here Comes Christmas / Another Christmas Song
(Nordpolen Musikklubb, Julepakke06, Norway, black vinyl, 33 rpm, small hole)

This great EP has already been reviewed earlier in this blog.

Number 26 - 14 points
GEORGE FAULKNER | Murry Christmas!: Happy, Happy Holiday / Te-e-e-e-ex-as
(Bolt Records, Bolt 019, US, black vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

This great single has already been reviewed earlier in this blog.

Number 27 - 13 points
THE SOUL CHANCE | Christmas Sweet / Sweet Dub
(Obeah, OR-07, USA, red vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

Although having soul in their name, Bakerfield, California quartet The Soul Chance is as much a reggae group as a soul group. Maybe it is best to describe them as a soulful reggae group. After four 45s in 2018 with Nico Collins (one on Colemine, one on Fnr and two on Obeah), the group released their self-titled debut album earlier in 2019, and now have released a red vinyl Christmas 45 on Obeah, the label that also released their album. 'Christmas Sweet' celebrates Christmas in a rocksteady-influenced uptempo reggae song with vocals that sound very much part of the music - which makes the lyrics somewhat difficult to understand. But that they are having a good time, is very clear. The party goes on on the B-side, that has 'Sweet Dub', as could be expected, a dub version of the A-side. 500 copies were pressed, with the first 100 coming with a special holiday card of the group.

Number 28 - 12 points
BRANDTSON | Christmas In Ohio
(Steadfast Records, SFR019, US, green or red flexi disc, small hole)

'Christmas in Ohio' by Cleveland, Ohio's Brandtson was originally released as part of the Santa Cause 2 compilation. The track was recorded sometime in 2006 somewhere in Colorado, while the band was waiting for their tour bus to be repaired. It was remastered in 2018 and made available on the Brandtson Bandcamp. One year later, it is now also pressed on 125 red and 125 green flexis by the band's label Steadfast Records.

Number 29 - 12 points
THE’S | Nutrocker / Chopped Onion Boogie
(The’s, 5678-000, Japan, black vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

The Japanese garage rock trio The 5 6 7 8's formed in 1986 and is still playing. In 2003, they released a cover of 'Rock And Roll Santa' on Norton Records and now, for their 2019/2020 USA/Japanese tour, they again released a Christmas-themed 45. The A-side has 'Nutrocker', an instrumental garage rock version of 'Nutrocker', which itself is a rock adaption of part of Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker Suite', by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. At the moment, you can only pick up the single on one of the shows of the band, but hopefully, after the tour ends, they will also sell the leftover copies online.

Number 30 - 9 points
YOU, ME, AND EVERYONE WE KNOW | A Mutty Christmas: Christmas All Over Again / Merry Christmas Baby / We’ve Got Digging Out To Do
(You, Me, And Everyone We Know, US, lathe cut, white vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

A Christmas/Holiday EP self-released online in 2014, with covers of the songs 'Christmas All Over Again', orginally recorded by Tom Petty and 'Merry Christmas Baby', originally recorded by Charles Brown. 'We’ve Got Digging Out To Do' is the only original on the record. 30 copies were made of a white lathe cut 7" record. 100% of proceeds benefit the Humane League of Lancaster.

Number 31 - 9 points
UNSKILLED LAB / KALTBRUCHING ACIDEATH / THE ROXY / SOLVENT COBALT | Message De Noel: The First Noel / Tree Of Wisdom / Santa Claus Is Coming To Town / Frozen Wind
(Asylum Party, AP-006, Japan, 33 rpm)

Four Japanese punk and post-punk bands team up on this Christmas EP: Unskilled Lab, Kaltbruching Acideath, The Roxy and Solvent Cobalt.
The Roxy doing a live version of a barely recognizable 'Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town':

Number 32 - 9 points
THE UPPERTONES | Shake Hands With Santa Claus / Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
(Jump Up! Records, JUMP7XMAS8, USA, red or white vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

The Uppertones is the project of Luigi De Gaspari, a Milan-born and Torino-based Italian jazz and ska trombone player also known as Mr. T-Bone or Gigi T Bone. De Gaspari led several ska bands in Italy, like Mr. T-Bone & His Jamaican Liberation Orchestra and Mr. T-Bone & The Young Lions. He also played with Giuliano Palma & The Bluebeaters and the New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble. The Uppertones are a trio (trombone/vocals, piano and drums) who take their musical inspiration from the early days of Jamaican rhythm and blues and folk. The Uppertones debuted in 2015 with 'Closer To The Bone' on Italian label Brainlab Groove, and released their second album ‘Up! Up! Up!’ themselves two years later, later re-released on cassette by Chicago label Jump Up! Records. And it is for that same label that the group has recorded a two song Christmas 45. Both songs are covers, but A-side 'Shake Hands With Santa Claus' is not a song that is often covered at Christmas. The Louis Prima song, originally released in 1951, is in fact not a Christmas song at all. Prima was only pointing out how much he is spoiling his girlfriend - he gives her everything she wants, just like Santa Claus will do! But due to the song having been included on several Christmas compilations, it is now considered a genuine Christmas song. The Uppertones add a rocksteady piano rhyhtm to the song, but other than that, their version does not stray too far from the Louis Prima original. It does include a short trombone solo by De Gaspari. For the B-side, The Uppertones turned to another old Jamaican music style: mento. Mento was especially popular in Jamaica in the 1940s and 1950s, and pre-dated rocksteady and ska. Musically not too distinct from the calypso music style of Trinidad and Tobago, mento typically uses mainly acoustic instrumentents. The Uppertones do a swinging mento version of 'Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer'. The 7" is limited to 300 copies, 150 on red and 150 on white vinyl.

Number 33 - 9 points
JIMMY JONES AND HIS VERSATILES / THE INDIVIDALS : Christmas Is A Drag (Without You Baby) / Holiday For Drums
(Soulfly Records, TR-275, Germany, black vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

'Christmas Is A Drag' by Jimmy Jones And His Versatiles was originally released as B-side of 'My Christmas Prayer', an organ-driven soul ballad, released on the small Dallas, Texas-based Night-label in 1964. It was first unearthed from obscurity by inclusion in the second volume of the 'Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party'-series on German re-issue label Tramp, that was released in 2013. Now German label Soulfly Records (in fact, just Tramp using a different name), brings the song back on its original format, a black vinyl 45, but this time as the A-side. 'Christmas With A Drag' starts with a drum break and continues as a boogaloo-type funk track, with proto-rap vocals by Jones, who blends together missing his girlfriend and the 'Twas The Night Before Christmas'-poem. The track on the B-side, the instrumental 'Holiday For Drums', is uncredited on the label, but is by The Individuals, and was included on the third, 2015, volume of the 'Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party'-series.

Number 34 - 9 points
INOKASIRA RANGERS | Last Christmas / Wonderful Christmastime
(Park Tone Records, PARK1025, Japan, black vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

The Japanese rocksteady and reggae formation Inokasira Rangers has been releasing instrumental rocksteady and reggae songs since 2013, of which many have been pressed on 45 since the 7" format became very popular again in Japan in the mid-2010s. Just as their main inspirations did in Jamaica in the 1960s, Inokasira Rangers do rocksteady versions of well-known hits - like 'Happy' (Pharrell Williams), 'Rock Your Body' (Justin Timberlake), 'Born Slippy' (Underworld), 'Creep' (Radiohead), 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' (Nirvana) and earlier in 2019, 'Autobahn' (Kraftwerk). And now two modern Christmas classics get the Inokasira Rangers treatment: 'Last Christmas' (Wham!) and 'Wonderful Christmastime' (Paul McCartney), both recorded in shining mono, with a hammond organ playing the main melody, sleigh bells to add to the Christmas atmosphere and a rocksteady rhythm to lead you onto the dancefloor. Maybe it should not work, but it does, and it gives both songs the freshness the originals are missing due to having been played way too many times.

Number 35 - 9 points
THE EMPTY HEARTS | It’s Christmastime / Joyful Noise
(The Empty Hearts / Wicked Cool Records Co., 45V-1007, USA, red or black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

The Empty Hearts were founded in 2014 by four veterans of rock music: Andy Babiuk (bassist of The Chesterfield Kings), Clem Burke (drummer of Blondie), Elliot Easton (guitarist of The Cars) and Wall Palmar (guitarist and singer of The Romantics). Steve Van Zandt suggested the name and Ramones-producer Ed Stasium produced the first album of the band - that was recorded in five days in Babiuk's Fab Gear Studios in Rochester, NY, with the band joined by Ian McLagan (pianist of Small Faces and later Faces) on piano, organ and electric piano. For inspiration, The Empty Hearts looked to 1960s American garage rock and the 1960 British invasion. Although McLagan was involved with the band from the beginning, he never became a full member and sadly died in December 2014, shortly after the band's first album was released, as result of a stroke. The Empty Hearts carried on and went back into the studio in 2016 to record two Christmas songs, that were released as a digital only Christmas single for the Christmas season of 2016: ‘It’s Christmastime’ and ‘Joyful Noise’. In 2019, The Empty Hearts signed to Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool label, released their first 45, ‘Coat Tailer’ and started working on their second album.
Thanks to Van Zandt’s efforts, the 2016 Christmas single also received a well-deserved physical released when it was pressed on red and on black vinyl and on CD. Getting the single pressed on vinyl was not the only involvement with The Empty Heart’s single, as Van Zandt was also co-composer of the singles A-side, ‘It’s Christmastime’. As author and producer of Darlene Love’s 1992 comeback hit as Queen of Christmas pop, ‘All Alone On Christmas’, Van Zandt knew how to write a good Christmas song and give it a classic (Phil Spector-influenced) sound. And also ‘It’s Christmastime’ has all the ingredients of a classic Christmas pop song, helped by festive backup vocals featuring sisters Vicki and Debbi Peterson of The Bangles and the kids of Easton and Babiuk, and wall-of-sound like production by Stasium, who also joines in the fun on keyboards and additional percussion. B-side ‘Joyful Noise’ brings the Strangeloves ‘I Want Candy’ to mind, although it is not candy what the band members want, as becomes clear at the end of the song, that features harmonica playing by Palmar and a ‘Jingle Bells’ guitar intermezzo.

Number 36 - 8 points
ZITSQUATCH / FYODOR NOVOTNY / CDX / ZITSQUATCH | Happy Holidays For Gotta Groove Records: Falalalala / Dear Santa / Blizzard / Jingle Bell
(Gotta Groove Records, 2019, US, random colored vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

The annual Gotta Groove Christmas record (for the 9th time in a row) has the second appearance on this series by CDX, an experimental project by Tim Thornton (thriving force behind this holiday tradition at the Gotta Groove record pressing plant), featuring vocals by Zebra Zebra (his daughter Laura, already six years old now, who was also featured on the 2017 Happy Holidays edition). Zebra Zebra reads the poem 'Blizzard' by William Carlos Williams, with CDX making electronic noises in the background. Fyodor Novotny is the other electronic act on the single, with the poppy sounding instrumental synthesizer miniature 'Dear Santa'. The record, one-sided with an etched B-side, opens and closes with Zitsquatch, with two short burst of Christmas-themed grindtronica, 'Falalalala' and 'Jingle Bell'.

Number 37 - 7 points
FIELD MUSIC | Home For Christmas
(Memphis Industries, UK, lathe cut, 45 rpm)

Limited Run of 5 Copies only. Lathe Cut single sided single. Holographic Cover. Label reads - Field Music Home for Christmas P & C 2019 Memphis Industries. Released for the London Winter Independent Record Market. That's all the information I can find about this record.

Number 38 - 6 points
SPACEFACE | Christmas Party – Nice & Naughty: Christmas Party (Nice & Naughty)
(PIAPTK Records, US, lathe cut picture disc, 33 rpm, small hole)

In 2018, Memphis, Tennessee psychedelic rock band Spaceface released a 5 song Christmas EP, 'Holidazed', with a sleepy 'naughty' girl on the front cover, who clearly drank too much eggnog. Now the first track of that EP and the picture turn up again as part of a physical release: a single-sided lathe cut 7", limited to 68 copies. The 7" is translucent, with a green snowflake and the band's name spraypainted on the record. 'Christmas Party (Nice & Naughty)' features Australia-born but Los Angeles-based musician Andy Clockwise and SWIMM, originally from Florida, but now also based in Los Angeles. 'Christmas Party' starts with a Led Zeppelin-like guitar riff, before the poppy chorus let the song take a complete different turn, while the lead vocals, that sound as if they are being played slower than they have been recorded, take the song into psychedelic realm. And yes, it also has sleigh bells. The rest of the song blends the four ingredients - led zeppelin riff, poppy chorus, psychdelic vocals and sleigh bells - together.

Number 39 - 6 points
Light In The Attic, LITA 45-041, US, flexi disc, 33 rpm, small hole)

December 2019 promo item for spending $75 in LITA's mail order store, with a mostly instrumental funky variation on the famous New Years Eve song by this Seattle, WA, funk and soul group from the (probably) 1970s.

Number 40 - 6 points
CATS IN SPACE: My Kind Of Christmas / September Rain
(Harmony Factory, HFV704, United Kingdom, orange vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

Classic rock band Cats In Space was founded in 2015 by guitarist Greg Hart and drummer Steevi Bacon, and features alumni of The Sweet, Statetrooper, Wildfire, Red Bazar, Robin Trower, T’Pau, Ian Gillan and 10cc. Since 2015, Cats In Space has released four albums (including one live album) and played with many of the big names in (classic) rock. ‘My Kind Of Christmas’ was written by Hart and Bacon with fellow member Mick Wilson, and is the first record to feature new vocalist Mark Pascall (formerly of Empire Of Fools). It is released on a orange 7 and as part of a red and green double 7” pack, housed in a very festive looking sleeve with cats dressed in space suits having a Christmas dinner, and as title track of a 8-song CD. ‘My Kind Of Christmas’ is a 1970 inspired classic rock Christmas song that has it all: loud guitars, strong vocals, Christmas chimes and bells and children singing along. The lyrics describe how great Christmas is and how every day should be a kind of Christmas: ‘Don’t wait until December / Don’t wait till the snow to fall / Every day should be a kind of Christmas’.

Number 41 - 5 points
CLIFF RICHARD | Saviour’s Day / Mistletoe And Wine
(Parlophone, 019095372507, Europe, picture disc, 45 rpm, small hole)

In 1988 Cliff Richard had a UK Christmas number one with ‘Mistletoe And Wine’ and two years later, he did it again – this time he topped the UK Singles Charts at Christmastime with ‘Saviour’s Day’. ‘Mistletoe And Wine’ was the more secular song, while ‘Saviour’s Day’ focused more on the religious side of Christmas. Now, 30 years later, the two songs are combined on one picture disc single, packed in a gatefold Christmas card styled sleeve, as a present for the many fans of Cliff.
The A-side:

The B-side:

Number 42 - 5 points
ALPENOBERKRAINER | Hirten Polka / Jingle Bells
(Mooifeessie.nl, VMMF 005, Netherlands, green vinyl, 45 rpm, big hole)

The Slovanian Alpski-Kvintet debuted in 1966 and is still playing in 2019. The group, that plays polka-inspired folk music from the Alp-region in middle Europe, became very popular in countries like Austria and Germany as the Alpenoberkrainer. In the early 1980s, the group recorded a Christmas album, 'Alpenweihnacht', and one of the songs of that album is re-released in 2019 by Dutch label Mooifeessie.nl on a 45, as B-side to another oldie, 'Hirten Polka'. The single is credited to Alpenoberkrainer mit Ivanka und Janko - Ivanka and Janko being the singers of the group, both featured on the original Christmas album, but not on the instrumental 'Jingle Bells', that came in an arrangement by trumpetist and bandleader Ivan Prešeren. Expect some uptempo accordion driven polka action.

Number 43 - 5 points
THE TWANG-O-MATICS | Hark Now!: Nå Tennes Tusen Julelys / Så Går Vu Rundt Om En Enebærbusk / Deck The Halls / Tempo's Christmas Rush
(Hack Shack Records, HSR007, Norway, green vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

The Norwegian surfrock trio The Twang-O-Matics released a Christmas EP last year and decided to release another one in 2019. Last year’s EP had four speeded-up covers of Christmas classics, three international and one Norwegian. This new EP has only one international Christmas carol featured: ‘Deck The Halls’, as opener on side B. The song is followed by an original: ‘Tempo’s Christmas Rush’, a mixture of superfast surf guitar and sounds of cars crashing. Side A has what probably are two Norwegian Christmas songs – at least, both titles are in Norwegian, although the first of the two songs, ‘'Nå Tennes Tusen Julelys' is full of English Christmas-related samples. Both songs are double bass driven speedy surf rock & roll songs, delivered with plenty of energy.

Number 44 - 4 points
TRISTEN | Deck The Halls: Frosty The Snowman / Winter Is Blue / Blue Christmas
(Tristen, USA, Opaque Red, small hole)

In 2011 Tristen released a 3-track 7", 'Deck The Halls', that featured two songs on side A, 'Frosty The Snowman' and 'Winter Is Blue' and one song on side B, 'Blue Christmas'. The single did well and is long sold out. Now Tristen has decided to re-release the single, in a limited run of 50 copies, in a new sleeve (that is also sold out now). The original came in a blue sleeve with a picture of Tristen playing guitar. The new version comes handpacked in a sleeve with a drawing of a portable radio-tape recorder, sealed off with an embossed sticker and three extra digital tracks, on opaque red vinyl. Tristen's full name is Tristen Gaspadarek, and she is based in Nashville, Tennesee. Tristen debuted with a self-released album in 2007, and has since then released three full lenght albums and several EP’s and singles – including two winter themed digital singles, 2016’s 'In A Winter Blues' and 2017's 'Crying On Christmas Day'.

Number 45 - 4 points
HOBOKEN DIVISION | Cookies & Milk / Miss Celie’s Blues
(Les Disques De La Face Cachée, France)

In 2015 the digital compilation 'Pop A Noël' was released in France, with a range of (French) alternative pop and rock acts doing Christmas songs. One of the bands that contributed a song was the delta blues / garage rock band Hoboken Division, with their song 'Cookies & Milk'. This song now turns up on a new 45 by the Nancy trio. If we must believe 'Cookies & Milk', Santa is rather fed up with his work. And cookies and milk will not pull him through all the hard work, so much is very clear from this rather dark sounding garage blues song, sung with a heavy French accent by singer Marie Rieffly. The 45 comes in a silkscreened cover and is limited to 300 copies.

Number 46 - 4 points
ELECTRIC GUITARS | All I Want For Christmas Is An Electric Guitar / All I Want For Christmas Is An Electric Guitar - Acoustic
(Target / Mighty Music, PMZ326EP, Denmark, red vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

Electric Guitars is the brainchild of two Danish guitar players, Mika Vandborg and Soren Andersen, whose lives revolve around guitars and playing them. Before recording their first album in 2014, the two were already sharing the stage for some time. Joined by Peter Kjøbsted on bass and Morten Hellborn, Electric Guitars turned into a band made up of four musicians who worked with a wide range of artists or bands as session musicians over the years – both Danish and international. Guess what these guys want for Christmas? Exactly, that what they already have plenty of. Electric Guitars go for a classic rock sound, and so does their Christmas single - 'All I Want For Christmas Is An Electric Guitar' is a Christmas song dressed up as a rock ballad, with enough strong guitar playing and powerful singing to keep it interesting. And, as could be expected, both the video and the song features a lot of guitar soloing. The video stars a young boy who has the same dream as the two frontmen of Electric Guitars: to get an electric guitar for Christmas - and yes, he does get it in the end, a real Stratocaster, so now he can indeed be the rock-and-roll-star he wants to be! The B-side of the single has a acoustic version of the song. Now, isn’t that blasphemy? The record is pressed on red vinyl, and comes in a sleeve with a Christmas tree in the shape of an... electric guitar.

Number 47 - 4 points
CATS IN SPACE | My Kind Of Christmas / My Kind Of Christmas (Karaoke Mix) / If I Were You / Hollywood
(Harmony Factory, HFV702/03, UK, red and green vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

Double 7" version with three different tracks compared to the single 7" version.

Number 48 - 4 points
CARIÑO | X Navidad
(Sonido Muchacho, SM071, Spain, white flexi, small hole)

Madrid female pop trio Cariño recorded the song 'X Navidad' for Christmas, and the Spanish label Sonido Muchacho pressed it on a flexidisc, that, unfortunately, came out early January 2020, so too late for Christmas 2019. 'X Navidad' is a charming indiepop/synthpop song, about wanting someone (the one she is singing the song to) in the Christmas tree - as she can't take that someone out of her mind, someone who is little, only eats fruit and coconuts. And Santa can't refuse her, as she has been bad and in the end, they can die together with, as it turns out, they have both been bad. It's good that the lyrics are in Spanish, because now you can still fantasize it is a cute little song about girls getting stuffed animals, like in the video. Although the Christmas tree that is burned in the end of the video, with balls and all, makes you wonder…

Number 49 - 3 points
OWEL | Christmas Time Is Here
(Intheclouds Records, US, lathe cut, green vinyl)

Intheclouds Records is a small label, that also cuts lathe records for other labels and acts. 2019 was a very succesful year for Intheclouds, and to celebrate this, Intheclouds owner Dan Marter asked Woodbridge, New Jersey alternative rock band Owel (who debuted on Intheclouds, and are now signed to Equal Vision Records) to record his favorite Christmas song, Vince Guaraldi's 'Christmas Time Is Here'. And so the band did, with voice, piano and an ethereal orchestration in the leading roles. Free to download, and also available to buy on a elf shit (green, I would say) vinyl lathe cut record here (as long as it lasts).

Number 50 - 2 points
FLAGSHIP ROMANCE | A Very Flagshippy Christmas!: Small Town Christmas / Sally The Snowflakes
(Flagship Romance, FR-004, USA, white with red swirl vinyl, 33 rpm, small hole)

Flagship Romance is the married duo of Shawn Fisher and Jordyn Jackson, who are based in a small town in New Mexico, with the remarkable name Truth or Consequences. Until 1950, the town was called Hot Springs (named after the hot mineral springs in the area), but in 1950 the residents voted to change the name to Truth or Consequences, the name of a radio program hosted by Ralph Edwards. The radio program existed for ten years that year, and to celebrate this, Edwards had come up with the idea to find a town that was willing to change its name to the name of his radio program. And so it happened. A story that could have been the subject of a song of Flagship Romance, as life’s mysteries and wonders are subjects that return often in the duo’s lyrics. Fisher and Jackson are two, but at the same time one, as their harmonies naturally blend together. Their lives revolve around making music together, and 8 out of 12 months Flagship Romance is on the road, to bring their alternative folk to the intimate setting of house concerts, but also to concert venues, clubs and festivals. Truely DIY, the duo finances their records through succesful crowdfunding campaigns. And so they did with their 2019 Christmas 45, the first 7” single for Flagship Romance.
The single was recorded at Sonic Ranch, Tornillo, TX by Lee Miles Buchanan and features two songs: “Small Town Christmas” and “Sally The Snowflake”. “Sally The Snowflake” is a remastered version of the lead track of the duo’s 2016 Christmas EP, that was only released digitally. The song has lead vocals by Fisher and tells the story of a sad snowflake. Sally notices that all her friends around her “look like diamonds” while she just “feels like ice”. She is sure down below no one will be waiting for her. But, as the song points out, she can still be so many things – “Maybe she’ll land on the window of Saks or Tiffany’s / Or be the extra rock in somebody’s whiskey”. But it doesn’t help to cheer her up. Still, the song has a happy end, as Sally landed gently on a young girl's wedding gown. And as it was the first snow of the season, everybody was happy and “called her beautiful and lucky / such a sight to see”: "she couldn't help but smile and melted happily". “Small Town Christmas” is a new Christmas song and has lead vocals by Jackson and harmonies by Fisher. It is a gentle sounding folkrock song, featuring Eliza James on violin, with lyrics that applaud the virtues of celebrating Christmas in a small town. A small town like the many small towns Flagship Romance must have been passing through when they travel throughout the States to perform: “no shopping malls / No traffic at all / it’s a small town Christmas / it’s got the big sky / the best apple pie for miles and miles”. “Those big city lights” may be “pretty and nice, but don't feel the same / As the stars up above”. The 7” is pressed on beautiful candy cane colored vinyl and packed in a very festive looking cover.
The A-side:

The B-side:

Number 50 - 2 points
CLUB SOFA / CARLA J. EASTON & EUGENE KELLY | Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Single 2019: This Hanukkah / Christmas Eve Alone
(Kingfisher Bluez, Canada, 2019, black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

This year, the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas village is expanded with an antiques store, and the record that can be found in it has, just like last year, two songs. On the A-side, Vancouver’s Club Sofa does a delicate indie Hannukah song, simply titled ‘This Hanukkah’. Club Sofa are Payton, Jess, Dominique and Jasmine, just some girls hanging out, as they put it themselves. ‘This Hanukkah’ is a love song, love for the eight day Jewish celebration of the light, and love for the one(s) you celebrate it with. The songs comes with a cute video that shows how the band is celebrating Hannukah. Gregory Bent plays trumpet and trombone on the song, to give it even more of a celebratory feel. On the flipside The Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly teams up with felllow Scot Carla J. Easton, who played in tons of indie bands, like The Martial Arts, Futuristic Retro Champions and TeenCanteen. Their duet ‘Christmas Eve Alone’ originally appeared on the 2017 CD compilation ‘From Olive Us To Olive You’, and is now for the first time pressed on vinyl. Easton sings how she doesn't like to celebrate Christmas all alone, as that is not how Christmas should be spend. Kelly promises her that he will be home for Christmas. And in the end, we hear, that he kept his promise. The single, pressed in a run of 600 copies, was handed out for free on the annual Kingfisher Bluez Christmas party, a benefit for 1-800-Suicide and Crisis Centre in British Columbia.
The single:

The video of Club Sofa:

Bubbling Under - 2 points
SIMONE BORGHI | Christmas Day / I Will Burn
(Winitalia, SCRT001, Italy, 45 rpm)

Pop rock Christmas single by Acona, Italy guitarist and singer Simone Borghi. Borghi is joined on 'Christmas Day' by the youth choir La Città dei Suoni di Zona Musica and on the (non-Christmas) B-side by singer Remo Zito and guitarist Paolo Fiorini. Delayed Christmas 2018 single.

Bubbling Under - 1 point
BLACKBALL BANDITS | A Very Blackball Christmas: Yuletide Ride / I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
(Blackball Bandits, US, Lathe cut, 33 rpm, small hole)

The Blackball Bandits are surf band from Orange County, Southern California, who are inspired by 'the old West, the 60's surf culture and Sci-Fi movies'. They debuted in 2018 on Double Crown Records with the album 'The Lost Mission' and followed it up with the Halloween themed 'Tales From The Shadows' CDEP on the same label. And as Christmas follows Halloween, a Halloween release should be followed by a Christmas release, and so it happened. The Blackball Bandits recorded two Christmas-themed instrumentals, original 'Yuletide Ride' and a cover of 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus', and released it themselves on a transperant lathe cut 7", as 'A Very Blackball Christmas'. The front cover has a picture of Santa wondering where his sleigh has gone - flying through the air it seems, and on the back we can read what happened: four musicians who happened to be in the band Blackball Bandits took the sleigh and reindeers for their Yuletide Ride. Still, Santa is very forgiving, and recommendeds us to listen to the record. And he is right, as both songs are certainly worth giving a listen. 'Yuletide Ride' is an uplifting sounding surf swinger, complete with sleigh bells, while B-side 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' starts as a slow surf groover, but seriously speeds up later in the song. And, most important with a lathe cut records, the sound quality is very good. Limited to 50 copies.

Bubbling Under - 1 point
(Paulesdon, UK, black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

One of the absolute Christmas rock classics is of course Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody' and it is exactly to that record that this record pays tribute. And, moreover, it features Don Powell, the drummer on that classic, on drums. Powell still plays his drums like he did in his Slade-days, the drumstyle that gave many of glamrock's hits their energetic and uplifting feel. Powell is joined here by bassist Les Glover and freelance writer, poet and perfromer Paul Cookson, and together they are The Occassional Flames. A name that reflects the sense of humor of the three veterans, who don't seem to take things too seriously. In the song, they sum all that Christmas brings, but conclude that there is only one thing that will make Christmas really Christmas: and that is putting on Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody'.

Bubbling Under - 1 point
THE IN-FUZZED: Motor City Baby / Xmas Night
(Wattsville, WV0706, France, black vinyl, 45 rpm, small hole)

The In-Fuzzed is a lofi garage band from Perpignan, in France, near the Spanish border. In November, the band released a two track 45, with the 2 minute 12 long fuzz rocker 'Motor City Baby' on the A-side, and a Christmas-themed song on the B-side, 'Xmas Night', although the love story that the song is about ad that takes place in Christmas night is the only connection the songs seems to have with Christmas.

Bubbling Under - 1 point
STARS ON FIRE | Please Come Home For Christmas / Hurricane Hermione
(Old Bat Habits Label, Greece)

Stars On Fire is a shoegaze / dreampop band from Seoul, South Korea, who follow up their Summer-themed 'Songs For The Summer' EP with a Christmas 45, 'Please Come Home For Christmas'. A mixture of distorted guitars, barely noticable vocals and a trumpet, 'Please Come Home For Christmas' is a lofi attack on the Christmas season. As, apart from the title, you wouldn't guess this was a Christmas song - although the trumpet does indeed make it sound somewhat festive. B-side 'Hurricane Hermione' is mixes jangle pop and shoegaze, and is more straightforward sounding lofi indiepop. Both songs were written in Los Angeles and Seoul, together with ex-Ampersand bandmate Marc Horton and recorded at the Maid’s Quarters in Seoul. Released on Greek label Old Bad Habits.

Bubbling Under - 1 point
THE JOYFUL NOISE | Holiday Party, Vol. 3: Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)
(Joyful Noise Recordings, JNR323, US, snowflake shaped lathe, 33 rpm, small hole)
In 2018 and 2019 Indianapolis, Indiana-based label Joyful Noise Recordings released a series of ten so-called snowflathes, handcut white lathe records in the shape of a snowflake. Each snowflathe, limited to 100 copies, had one song, recorded by several Joyful Noise-affliated artists, who also were playing on eachother's songs. This year, Joyful Noise decided to release only one snowflathe by The Joyful Noise, a group made up of people who have been involved with or have recorded for the label. They chose to cover an absolute alternative Christmas classic, 'Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)', originally recorded in 1987 by the Ramones. The lofi version of The Joyful Noise has lots of handclaps, guitar and keyboards and sounds as if the group had lots of fun recording the song. As happened with all previous snowflathes, also this one sold out in no time. In line with the Christmas spirit, the record is a benefit with 100% of net proceeds going to the Immigrant Welcome Center.

Bubbling Under - Not yet on Discogs
PETER HOLSAPPLE COMBO | Christmas Must Be Tonight / Felt Like Summer (But It Looked Like Christmas)
(Omnivore Recordings, USA)

'Christmas Must Be Tonight' of the Peter Holsapple Combo should have been released for Record Store Day Black Friday, but it seems the pressing plant hasn't made the deadline, because it was nowhere to be found on Black Friday. And still isn't. Last news is that it finally will be out on January 10. Peter Holsapple joined the late 1970s powerpop band the dB's in 1978 and played with the band until they broke up in 1988. After that, Holsapple was touring with R.E.M. for four years, then with Hootie And the Blowfish, before joining the Continental Drifters. In the Peter Holsapple Combo Holsapple is joined by bass player Glenn Jones and Will Rigby, also of the dB's and a member of Steve Earle's band for many years. 'Christmas Must Be Tonight' was written by Robbie Robertson and was originally recorded by The Band for their 1977 album 'Islands'. The B-side has a Christmas original, that Holsapple wrote while on tour with Hootie And The Blowfish this Summer. The single will be limited to 700 copies.

Bubbling Under
NANOWAR OF STEEL | Valhalleluja / Sottosegretari Alla Presidenza Della Republica Del True Metal
(Napalm Records, NPR 935, Germany, black vinyl, small hole)

Despite the slightly like Santa looking bearded guy on the front cover (he does have a Santa hat), this 7" is not really a Christmas single, although also the video does have several references to Christmas, and the digital version of this single was released just before Christmas. The vinyl is not yet out, it should be out at the end of January. But the video of this song by Italian parody metal band Nanowar (rechristened to Nanowar Of Steel for this release) is so hilarious (and like I said, it does have Christmas references), that I am going to share it with you anyway. If you think metal bands don't have a sense of humor, this video will most definitely show you are wrong!

That was all - all the Christmas 7"'s 2019 has brought us (so far), in order of popularity - although some of the singles were only just released, so might climb up in this list. Maybe I will update it in a few weeks, if I feel like it and can find the time. For now, thanks for reading - I hope you enjoyed checking out the music. And let's hope 2020 will bring us lots of great music - be it Christmas-related or not!