Thursday, 25 December 2014

Top 5 Christmas number ones

It's been far too long since I last wrote a proper top 5 on here. I've traditionally published a Christmas special but was running out of topics until this popped into my head late one night. The Christmas number one single has been a sought after accolade for some time although, as I've discovered in researching* this, hasn't often been the bearer of great music. There are just about enough decent songs - in-between the recent dross of X-Factor winners, "novelty" releases by the likes of Mr Blobby and the umpteenth re-release of "Do They Know It's F-cking Christmas" - to cobble together a reasonable top five. Though, as you'll see, my definition of "reasonable" might be open to debate.

*Reading Wikipedia

1. Slade "Merry Xmas Everybody" (1973) - It turns out there aren't many Christmas number ones that actually reference Christmas, certainly not many I'd consider putting in one of my top fives. This Slade track may seem a bit old hat now but, as Christmas number ones go, it's as good as it gets and scores extra points for being a decent tune AND being about the actual event.

2. The Human League "Don't You Want Me" (1981) - As I'm sure I've mentioned before, although I grew up in the eighties I wasn't a fan of the chart music of the day. This song was unavoidable at the time and, if I'm honest, I probably hated it but recently I seem to have developed something of a nostalgic feeling for the best songs of the era and it turns out this is an absolute corker.

3. Pink Floyd "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)" (1979) - Was this really a Christmas number one? According to Wikipedia it was so who am I to argue? This was, oddly, partially responsible for me getting into Punk. It seems strange that so soon after the punk revolution a band so synonymous with the old guard were still claiming chart success, though, if truth be told, lyrically the Floyd were as reactionary as any of the punk vanguard.

4. Rolf Harris Two Little Boys (1969) - Can I get away with this still? I realise that as a man he clearly got away with some heinous acts and is now rightly being punished for them. Can I separate the man's art from his personal life? To be honest I don't know but this single was a landmark moment in my youth. I had this and Jake The Peg on 7" and they were possibly the very first pieces of vinyl I owned. I remember thinking this song was a bit lame when I was six but it ingrained itself into my consciousness over the years hence and, prior to the court case, had become something of a nostalgic gem.

Whatever the rights & wrongs of art vs person I feel a little uncomfortable posting a video of the song so here's my standby replacement "Killing In The Name" by the popular beat combo Rage Against The Machine who claimed the number one slot in 2008.

5. Girls Aloud "Sound of the Underground" (2002) - And having slated X-Factor and the like at the start of this piece let's go full circle and give a tip of the hat to the modern day hit factory that does occasionally find a gem amongst the conveyor belt of pig swill.

Happy Christmas to you all, thanks for sticking with me and very best wishes for the New Year.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Chop's Gig Reports - November/December

The year has ended rapidly and I've failed miserably to get any more top fives completed but I couldn't let the year go without linking to the last two gigs of the year. If all goes to plan I'll try and put up a Christmas themed top five on Christmas Day and then do my end of year lists fashionably late in January to kick off 2015 in style.

Barrence Whitfield & The Savages at The Jazz Cafe on Saturday 22nd November 2014 - My first live experience with Barrence Whitfield and The Savages was a thrilling night of Soul infused, hard Rocking, pre-decimal Rhythm & Blues. A band I guarantee you'd have a good time watching and one that will be high on my list of bands to catch live whenever I can.

dEUS at The Scala on Wednesday 10th December 2014 - dEUS have been around since 1994 and were the first Belgian Indie band to sign to a major international label. I first discovered them through their third album, and major label debut, The Ideal Crash. It was an impulse buy, partly motivated by a very short review I read but mainly due to the cover. Despite the proverb I’m generally of the opinion that judging books by their covers is a fairly successful way of finding good stuff to read. I’m less likely to follow that approach with music but every now and again I’m drawn to an album entirely thanks to the artwork. The Ideal Crash is the ultimate example of this, I’m not sure why (maybe I just really like Orange) but it didn’t really matter what that review said, I knew I wanted this album. In the days before Spotify that meant stumping up hard earned cash too, no opportunity to try before you buy.

[** Warning: This is more a schematic of the venue than a gig review.]