Whether you love or hate Christmas songs there is no escaping them when you’re in the supermarket, corner shop, café or just walking passed someone’s reindeer covered house. Every year, the first time you hear Slade, Jona Lewie, Wizard or Greg Lake there might be a slight thrill; the hint that Christmas is around the corner (a corner now reached somewhere between the middle of October and the start of November when perfume and after-shave adverts threaten to wash us away). To anyone who works in retail at Christmas I salute you. As a veteran of nearly 10 years on Oxford Street I know how the endless repetition of Christmas songs, combined with an excess of faux-Christmas cheer, can test the patience of any Saint (including Saint Nick).
So, in a bid to cleanse the palette of those Christmas tunes that are tattooed to our DNA, I present some of the alternative playlists I have found over the years. They all keep the Christmas vibe going but offer a slightly more leftfield take on the usual fare. And if you know of any other weird and wonderful mixes/playlists please Tweet me @paulfcook so I can keep the list growing.
Slicing Up Eyeballs takes its name from the Pixies track ‘Debaser’ and is a blog site which includes music. They have two Christmas mixes, one from 2013 which is an enormous 40-song, 2-hour playlist that includes The Pogues, X, Al Jourgensen, Cocteau Twins, Erasure, Throwing Muses, Kate Bush, Iggy Pop and The Specials. There is also the, even more enormous, 72 track 3h 50m Christmas Megamix which includes XTC, Bad Manners, REM, Siouxse & The Banshees and Sonic Youth.
At the soul end of the spectrum is the Christmas mix from record producer Drixxxé. It may be a lean 45 minutes, but it packs an ultra- funky punch and includes The Ronettes, Jackson 5, Otis Redding, Clarence Carter (with the cheeky ‘Back Door Santa’), Electric Jungle (‘Funky Christmas), Run DMC and James Brown.
If you’re craving some grit in your cranberry sauce, then you’ll find a series of surf, garage and oddities on a compilation put together by Lux Interior of The Cramps who used to make his own holiday tapes. Far Out Magazine were nice enough to re-create one of Lux’s tapes as a Spotify playlist. You’ll find The Surfaris, The Marquees, John Lee Hooker and The Ventures rubbing along with Debbie Dabney’s ‘I Want to Spend Christmas with Elvis’, Gayla Peevey’s ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas’ and Ella Fitzgerald with the Ink Spots and ‘Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney’.
And finally, as kitsch as a porcelain figurine of a small, rosy-cheeked child with a kitten, the last selection is from Shawn Lee, the US born, London based multi-instrumentalist who has released 14 albums under the Ping Pong Orchestra moniker including this 12-track slice of mashed-up easy listening funk from 2007. Below is Shawn’s version of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’.
So whether you are pulling your crackers to the strains of XTC or using Washboard Pete’s ‘Christmas Blues’ to cover the gaseous fallout from too many sprouts I hope you enjoy these mixes and have as good a Christmas as you can given the circumstances and I hope to see you all in 2021 when the Turkey (or Tofu) wishbone wish has come true and we can all start going to gigs again.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.