zondag 18 december 2016

More 2016 Christmas singles

At the end of the overview of 2016 Christmas singles, I wondered if more Christmas singles would appear to the sky. And I am happy to let you know, that indeed, there did! With this new singles, the number of Christmas (vinyl) singles that is released in 2016 is even higher than in 2015. And that while each year, less and less 7" singles are being released... unfortunately.

Laurice: Kingfisher Bluez Christmas Single 2016 (Kingfisher Bluez, Canada)
In the previous blog, I noticed that Kingfisher Bluez and Too Pure were sadly absent from this year's list of Christmas 7" vinyl. It turned out that I was too early with my conclusion, at least, as far as Kingfisher Bluez concerns. December 16, Tim released a new single in his series of Christmas singles, that, just like the previous five years, comes in a sleeve depicting a building in wintery surroundings. If you put all those sleeves together, you can built your own Christmas town! The single is one-sided, and features a song from Laurice's 2016 album 'Balladeer'. To be honest, I had never heard of Laurice, and I thought he was a newcomer to the music scene. How wrong I was! This guy, originally from Wales, was already working as a vocalist in the late 1960s and recorded the pre-punk underground hit 'When Christine Comes Around'/ 'I'm Gonna Smash Your Face' (how more punk can a song title get than that?) as Grudge. In the mid-1970s, he moved to the other side of the ocean, where he built a career as a singer of dance and smooth jazz songs. He even was Canada's number 1 dance vocalist for two years in a row! The song that made it to the Kingfisher Bluez 2016 Christmas single is 'Christmas Valentine' - so a Christmas song that will stay relevant for another 6 weeks after Christmas! Laurice sings how he found his Valentine at Christmas time, 'a few week short of Cupid's day', over some jazzy piano playing and a midtempo beat. The album that the song originally appeared on was not called 'Balladeer' for nothing, as the song indeed sounds like a ballad. Another nice addition to the Kingfisher Bluez Christmas club. All profits of the single benefit 1-800-SUICIDE and Crisis Centre BC, so that's another reason to go over to the Kingfisher Bluez Bandcamp site and order the single!
You can also listen to the song on Bandcamp.

Tan LeRacoon: Just Another Christmas Wish (Tan U Sound, Germany)
Laurice was not exactly a newcomer to music, and the same is true for Tan LeRacoon. Tan LeRacoon is in fact the well known Hamburgian ex-bar owner Tanju Boerue, who already in 1986 had co-written a song with Nikki Sudden for Sudden's album with Johnny Fean and Simon Carmody, 'The Last Bandits In The World'. In the mid-2000s, Boerue had worked as the producer of the first solo album of ex-Slits vocalist Ari-Up (under the name Tan U Sound). In April 2016 Boerue released a double-album with his band Tan LeRacoon, that features members of Golden Kanine, Gant Creon and Gisbert zu Knyphausen's band. Opening song is the brilliantly titled 'I Want To Be A Beach Boy, But Not Mike Love'. And now he has released a Christmas single, with 'Just Another Christmas With' on side A, and two non-Christmas songs on the B-side (a different mix of a song of the album and a dark sounding instrumental). According to his Bandcamp, Tan takes writing Christmas songs very serious: "To him the writing of such is an art in itself, paying tribute to classic compositions of the first 60 years of last century but still being relevant to today's time, and at the time bearing no irony, which is employed so often by modern day artists on their seasonal outings. And yes, he is also serious about these naive, yet conscious lyrics.". 'Just Another Christmas Wish' is a reworking of a song originally written and recorded for a Christmas compilation. The song starts with some strange 'wobbling' sounds, that makes me think of the music of NDW group Der Plan. This is followed by what sounds like a triangle and Tan's voice: he says that all he really wants for Christmas is nothing of this world - as he wants peace, all around. The song is only 2 minutes long, and gets louder and louder - not only by adding more instruments, most notably a distorted guitar, but also because Tan's voice is also louder and louder. At the end, everything quiets down, and the song ends as it started: quiet and peaceful. It comes in a sleeve that has a snowdome, 'Our Lady Of The Red Star', on the front. You can buy the 7" and the Bandcamp of Tan LeRacoon. That's also where you can listen to all three songs.

Gotta Groove Xmas 7" 2016 (Gotta Groove, USA)
Besides Kingfisher Bluez, Nordpolen Musikklubb, Jump Up Records and the Snowflakes Christmas Club, there is another label that has released at least one Christmas single the last few years. Or maybe label is not the right word, because Gotta Groove is in fact a pressing plant, that is sending out a Christmas single as a Christmas present to all its customers. Gotta Groove is located in Cleveland, Ohio. The plant started this tradition in 2011, so this is the 6th edition of their festive single. The single always features music made by bands that include one or more Gotta Groove employees. The music goes in all directions - there are always some very weird, abstract and experimental sounding 'songs' on the compilation, but most of the time also at least one 'ordinary' sounding Christmas song is included. This year's edition is no exception. It has a total of five songs, of which I would categorize three as 'weird' - those by Fascist Insect, Hep*Z and Tiger Village. The last band could also be a garage rock and with a name like that, but their 'Xmas Skips' is exactly what the title promises. It's good that I first heard it on Bandcamp, otherwise I would have been frustated to have been send a record with a pressing error. The two bands that come up with fairly ordinary songs are Public Squares and Ohio City Singers. Public Squares is a garage rock band. Their song is called 'All I Want For Xmas', has an in your face sound and is definitely a song I will play more than once. Also because I can totally relate to the message of their song: 'All I want is a record for christmas this year'. Yes, absolutely! My favorite of the bunch is by Ohio City Singers. It's typical a song that has you already wiggling your head and tapping your feet the first time you hear it. It has both country and 70s rock influences, but it is uptempo, a typical feel good song. All in all, the 2016 edition of Gotta Groove's Christmas compilation (that comes on green vinyl, by the way) is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, of all the editions so far. One of the employees (or former employees, that is not totally clear) of Gotta Groove, another Tim, is so nice to put the songs on Bandcamp and sell some of the remaining copies for a very cheap price - so that also collectors like myself can acquire a copy. You can order a copy and listen to the songs here. And thanks for the great blog Christmas-A-Go-Go for bringing this record to my attention!

K-Maxx: Christmas Ain't The Same (self-released, USA)
I had linked my blog entry about the 2016 Christmas singles on the Snowflakes Facebook page, and Star Creature, the label that put out the Le'Trell 'Silva Bells' single pointed out that San Franciso soul singer K-Maxx had also just put out a Christmas single. Of course, I immediately started searching for this single. It turned out K-Maxx had self-released a song that he had already put on his Bandcamp for Christmas 2011, 'Christmas Ain't The Same', on vinyl - with on the B-side an instrumental version of the song. K-Maxx is a modern soul singer, although his sound is clearly influenced by the early 1980s (at least on the Christmas single), using mostly electronic instruments to create the funky and soulful music that is backing up his vocals. It's a typical 'I miss you at Christmas time'-song. The perfect song to listen to with your loved one by the fireside, or better, to dance to with him/her. K-Maxx had also recorded a video for the song in 2012, that you watch on Youtube. Unfortunately, the vinyl was only pressed in an edition of 2010 copies, that is already sold out.

Spirit Animal: Come To Christmas (Wind-Up, USA)
The next Christmas single is also funky, also from the US, and also (sort of) self-released by the band. But that is where the comparison ends. The band Spirit Animal is from Brooklyn, New York, and use funk the way a band like Rage Against The Machine did - to add some groove to their guitar-driven and explosive music. Their song 'Come To Christmas' was already a live favorite for some years, and now the band has recorded a studio version and released it as a single. Despite the title, and the sleeve, that both have a clear relation to Christmas, the song itself doesn't really seem to be about Christmas. It's more like Christmas is used metaphorical. It's exactly like in the video the band filmed for the song: you see a band playing on the beach, by a swimming pool, in the sun - totally nothing to do with Christmas. But there is also a guy in a Santa-suit, who attacks the singer several times - and in the end a Christmas tree and fake snow. And there we have the connection with Christmas. Anyway, I think it's a great song, and as the number of Christmas singles with loud guitars can be counted on one hand this year, I am happy that there are at least some Christmas-related singles that you can play very loud, and that will definitely annoy your neigbors!
You can watch the video on Youtube.
And order the single through the webstore of the band.

Lovebomber II: Xmass Hospital (self-released, The Netherlands)
And hurrah, there is another Christmas single that sports loud guitars, and it's another one from The Netherlands. It has been a good year for Dutch Christmas singles! This single, that is called 'Xmass Hospital', is by a garage punk band called Lovebombers II. The song was also included on their self-titled debut album, which, according to the band's Bandcamp, is their first album in their 25 years of existence. They took their time. 'Xmass Hospital' is probably the loudest Christmas vinyl single of the year, with loads of loud guitars, and the singer goes totally out of his head, screaming 'It's Christmastime' and later also 'Jesus Christ'. So at least one band that hasn't forgotten what Christmas is really about! The B-side 'Damagnie' (which is Dutch, well, sort of, and translates as 'Thasnotallowd' or something in that vein) is a live hit for the band, and I can understand why. Great and funny song. So if your neighbors are quite tolerant and didn't start complaining after your played 'Come To Christmas' on maximum volume, just follow it up with 'Xmass Hospital', and I am pretty sure that is where their tolerance ends (and then it becomes clear why the song has 'hospital' in its title). You can listen to the song on the band's Bandcamp and order it by contacting them on their Facebook page.

Elvis Presley: The Signature Collection 10: Noël (VPI, France)
The last 7" vinyl single of this blog entry is another reissue. It is the last EP in a series of ten Elvis Presley EP's, called 'The Signature Collection', released on the label VPI in France. Each of the ten EP's have a theme: Rock & Roll (volume 1), Classique (2), Films (3), Live (4), Ballades (5), Blues (6), Gospel (7), Sun (8), Country (9) and Noël (10). The Christmas EP has four of Elvis' most known Christmas songs: the swinging 'Santa Bring My Baby Back' and the classic 'Blue Christmas' on side A and the raunchy rocker 'Santa Claus Is Back In Town' and the ballad 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' on side B. The single is pressed on green vinyl, and comes in a colourful sleeve with liner notes (in French) on the back, plus with a CD that has the four songs and four alternative versions of the songs. Only 500 copies are pressed, and as there are probably more than 500 Elvis Presley collectors in the world, I guess you have to hurry if you want to get a copy. At least some websites of Elvis fans are selling the EP's, so also the Christmas EP.

That's it for now. There are also some lathe cut Christmas 7"'s, but I have chosen to not include those, because, well, it's not vinyl, and also because there are only very few copies of these records (around 25) made.

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