Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Friday, December 15, 2006

Xmas play list

I've been off work this afternoon, which is rather nice. And off next Monday too. Yaaaay! The following week is my final one at work, and (doing a bit of maths) I will only be there for 3 and a half days. Double yaaaaay!! Then my hubbie and I are off to York for the Xmas period, to stay with my Mummy and see my brothers, which will be a nice getaway / break. Triple yaaaaay!!!

Okay, that's enough yaaying. To celebrate the festive season we're having some mates round to our place this coming Sunday afternoon for Xmas drinkies and food. Yum! It's so nice to get together with pals and be all festive and merry.

Anyhow, to provide some appropriate aural accompaniment, I have put together my very own Xmas compilation CD which will be on repeated play during the party (thus driving everyone totally mad). I must confess I nicked the idea from Boz who has come up with his own rather groovy collection of Xmas / Winter-related toons. In fact some of his selections were my own suggestions (gee thanks Boz! gulp!) Here is my own playlist, anyway:

1. The Box of Delights theme (anyone remember this kiddie's tv show from the 1980s? Good choice, Boz!) Classic orchestral piece, based on the "The First Noel".

2. Rocking Around The Xmas Tree - Brenda Lee. Very do-wop and groovy! Long before Mel Smith and Kim Wilde took the p*ss out of it.

3. Merry Xmas Darling - The Carpenters. As heart-warming as a plate of hot mince pies and more gooey than brandy sauce. Karen Carpenter can sing it like no-one else. Was probably top of Radio 2's playlist in the 1970s.

4. It May Be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It's Spring) - Love Unlimited. Lovely. A girl-band in the disco/motown tradition.

5. Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie. Great 80s synths, less than great singing and bizarre lyrics. Nevertheless an uplifting classic. Great yom pom pom brass section.

6. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders. What's happened to them? From the days when they were top of the pops.

7. A Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. The vocal combination of Shane McGowan and (the much missed) Kirsty M. works brilliantly. Wistful and rousing at the same time, in the great Gaelic tradition. Shane and Kirsty's cussing one another is great: "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last!"

8. A Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney. Mmm. Perhaps this one wasn't such a great idea. But the cheeser in me can't help but laugh at the hilariously dated wobbly synths and generally ropey production - "The choir of children sing their song! Ding dong! Ding dong!" Ahem.

9. The Coventry Carol - Alison Moyet. Great earthy vocal from Ms Moyet, she knows how to deliver a ballad.

10. Winter Wonderland - Eurythmics. Annie Lennox on top form with very 1980s production. Quite funky and danceable actually.

11. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid. How could I not include this? Features just about every successful pop star from the mid-1980s. Rather clunky production but still a good song, and of course, it's meant to make us think about those less fortunate than ourselves.

12. White Christmas - Diana Ross and The Supremes. A Motown gem. From the stories I've heard about Ms Ross I doubt this self-obsessed diva was very good at spreading the old Christmas cheer. Nevertheless a nice slushy rendition of the old favourite.

13. The Power of Love - Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Holly Johnson has an odd voice. A great power ballad though with nice orchestral backing.

14. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses. An underground classic - the one everyone probably recognises but can't put a name to. Girl band from the US with a punk/guitar-based sound. Witty and incisive lyrics about being single at Christmas time ... perhaps.

15. Comptine d'un autre ete - Yann Tierson. I haven't the foggiest what the title means (it's French). An emotive piano interlude from the movie "Amelie". Nicked from Boz's playlist (good choice!) Makes me feel all teary for some reason.

16. Winter Melody - Donna Summer. Classic track from Ms Summer's "Four Seasons of Love" album (comparing each season of the year to the different stages of a love affair - camp! But effective!) Winter Melody is the stage by which the lover has cleared off and left you on your own - Winter = feeling cold, alone and barren etc. Okay, perhaps not the most cheerful choice for an Xmas collection ... but great soul/disco.

17. I Believe In Father Christmas - Greg Lake. My Mum used to love this. Set to a classic tune which I don't know the name of (Mum, can you help?)

18. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey. Mainly chosen cos my hubbie is a major fan of Ms Carey. I concede she is an amazing vocalist but do not hold her in such high idolatory as he does (sorry, Gu). Nevertheless a nice sentiment to the song and again one you can dance to.

19. Last Christmas - Wham. Aaaaah. Remember the video with George Michael and co on their skiing holiday and Georgie boy camping it up with the tinsel? I wonder if he snuck OUTSIDE to the
gents loos at any point? (They obviously cut that bit out).

20. Mary's Boy Child / Oh My Lord - Boney M. A suitably camp ending to the collection. Nice religious lyrics all about the birth / significance of Christ, set to a disco beat. Awwww. I can just picture them on Top of the Pops in their fur coats with fake snow floating down from the studio lights ...

Which just leaves me to ask the all-important question - What are YOUR favourite Christmas tunes? Which ones will YOU be listening to this festive season? I'm dying to know! Post your comments to me right NOW!!



  • At 4:41 am , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    I remember “The Box of Delights”, with Pat Troughton and Toby (Die Another Day) Stephens’ Dad, Robert. The theme tune is the third movement of Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s “Carol Symphony” and the specific recording is by the Pro Arte Orchestra conducted by Barry Rose on HMV classics. Not sure of its availability but there is another version by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gavin Sutherland on Naxos. The movement merges your 9th choice, “Coventry Carol”, into “First Nowell”. Incidental music for “Box” was by Roger (“Caves of Androzani”/“Revelation of the Daleks”) Limb.

    I love your 5th and 7th choices. It isn’t Christmas unless I hear “Stop the Cavalry”! It’s different this holiday as I’ve already heard it, earlier in the year, on the BBC4 compilation of clips of artists who recorded on Stiff records. “Cavalry” is one of my favourite anti-war songs, so understated. Kirsty MacColl sang backing vocals for Jona Lewie on his “You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties”, another equally dry and sardonic song! You’re right about her being much missed. She knew how to write a pop song, brilliant tunes with witty and cutting lyrics to complement.

    I notice you’ve left out (avoided?) the usual suspects, Slade and Wizard, but what about John Lennon’s “War is Over (So, this is Christmas)”? I used to have a copy on green vinyl with a picture cover! Rare before the days of punk!! And then there’s the much-overlooked “December will be Magic Again” by the brilliant Kate Bush. So much better than Mariah Carey! Ms Carey’s the last thing I’d want for Christmas apart from Robbie Williams!! And now I’ll go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like, what about Billie Piper’s cover of “Last Christmas”?!! Aaaargh!!!

  • At 11:08 am , Blogger AnnieB said...

    Hallo! This is your mother speaking. The Greg Lake classical inspiration was from Prokofiev's "Lieutenant Kije Suite". Another really corny one I'm rather fond of is "Keeping the Dream Alive" by Freiheit. It's not even particularly Christmassy lyric-wise, but seems to get played a lot at this time of year. Maybe it was a hit at Christmas.

  • At 12:12 pm , Blogger Rosella said...

    I love old Christmas songs such as O Holy Night Silent Night all the fun ones too all Christmas songs,

  • At 3:36 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Wow!! Thank you for your responses, everyone!

    Time Warden - helpful and informative as always. Thanks for the info regarding the origins of the Box of Delights theme. And yes, Roger Limb's music for "Box" did bear some similarities to his Dr Who stuff (although going off on a slight tangent, my favourite ever Dr Who incidental music composer is Paddy Kingsland - so excited about Logopolis and Castrovalva coming out on DVD so I can listen to his isolated scores!)

    Glad you like some of my choices! And I never knew Kirsty sung backing vocals on that Jona Lewie song. Must have been where she cut her teeth as vocalist. Indeed, she was a great singer / songwriter. Her last album "Tropical Brainstorm" had some great tracks on it.

    Actually, going back to Jona Lewie, after years of absence he re-surfaced on a specially recorded Xmas track called "I'm Going Home" with David Essex on lead vocal! (Jona played keyboards rather than sing). The song was recorded as part of a Channel 4 show "Bring Back ... The Christmas Number One" and it's a fun track in the tradition of other Christmas pop songs, however sadly it wasn't remotely a hit.

    You're absolutely right, I wanted to avoid Slade and Wizard as they have been overplayed something chronic. I did in fact want to include the John and Yoko track but didn't have room on the CD! And damn it - I forgot about the Kate Bush track - it is a classic and I'm a big fan of her's. However I'm sure my husband would strongly dispute that one, and opt for Mariah instead being the dedicated fan that he is! And as I said, I had to include a Ms Carey track to make him happy ... otherwise I'd be threatened with immediate divorce.

    Mum - thank you for the info re: Greg Lake, I knew you would remember! And yes, I do remember the rather camp Freiheit. That track was very Beatles-ELO sounding, wasn't it? Might have to see if I can download that one. And well done getting a blog (even if you haven't written anything on it yet, ha ha).

    In fact with all these other Xmas songs being talked about I may well have to put together another CD!

    Rosella - Glad to hear you like all Christmas songs ... although that's a lot! Many are good, although there are some horrid ones that are best avoided (hence not on my compilation!)

  • At 5:19 pm , Blogger matty said...

    Good choices all! OK -- don't make fun of me as I am going to tell you the truth. My fave Christmas song (and Christmas CD for that matter) is "Hey Santa" by The Wilson Sisters! ...remember dear, sweet Carni pre-thin days?!?!? I do love that song and LP! ...it is so corny and happy! I just love it. I drive B crazy with it.

    I hope you two have a great time in York!

    I only have 4 more days of employment till no more money coming in! Exciting stuff!

  • At 11:18 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Matty! You don't have to ashamed, cos truth be told, I'd never heard of that song! However, being naturally curious I immediately downloaded it after reading your comment. Quite a sweet track I think! Perhaps a little on the twee side but then a lot of Xmas songs are. And am I right in saying it's the same Wilsons that comprised Wilson Phillips? Okay my turn to confess now, I actually liked some of their stuff! Ahem!) Especially "You're In Love" - a lovely but quite sad song. Yeah a lot of their songs were pure schmaltz but then I can be a schmaltzy kind of guy sometimes ...

    Thank you, we will indeed enjoy York! And I hope you have an equally fabulous yuletide in San Francisco!! I bet they know how to celebrate it in style there, don't they?

    And I'm sure a new job is just round the corner. Any thing in the pipeline?

  • At 11:41 pm , Blogger Boz said...

    Brilliant stuff! I am truly feeling festive. :-)


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