Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas Cavalcade Part Two

It should come as no surprise that the festive season has been providing song-poets with a bottomless barrel of maudlin sentiment for decades. Along with US Presidents, Elvis and life-threatening diseases or injuries Christmas is easily one of the most popular subjects for budding lyricists. As another Christmas approached your average song-shark would have been rubbing his calloused hands with so much glee it’s a wonder they didn’t catch fire.

The first three tracks in today’s slice of festive hokum come from the MSR release 1978 Christmas Album. I’m not a huge fan of latter-day MSR, that omnipresent washy synthesiser is a real turn off for me (as it is for fellow song-poem collector and blogger Bob Purse), but if you look past that you’ll discover some real stinkers, such as those presented for your enjoyment today.

Most of this album is just mediocre, the songs wouldn’t sound out of place playing in a lift or as muzak in a supermarket, but the first track, Merry Christmas From Tonga, the Friendly Island, which comes from the splendidly-named Sione Lavemai Finau (an author who provided the ‘lyrics’ to three tracks on this particular compilation) is an exception. 1978 was a particularly creative (and probably expensive) year for Sione, as he also managed to get a song placed on another MSR release, the Special 1978 Gospel Album.

Next up is the distinctly un-cheerful Christmas Cheer, with words by song-poet Joan Tomaini. I believe Joan is being thoroughly altruistic in asking her listeners to think of those less fortunate than themselves during the Christmas period, but the line ‘does anyone ever think of those whose life compares to a dead rose’ has me in stitches.

The final cut from this particular album, Christmas Events (with words by Joseph Pullum) is shameless, stealing snatches of music and lyrics from Christmas standards luckily no longer protected by copyright. It’s a jolly romp though, and wouldn’t be out of place on a 70s BBC Christmas special. Like Sione, Joseph also decided to take another crack at the Christmas charts courtesy of MSR – he has two songs on this collection and a third, Christmas Time, appears on their album A Gift of Christmas Spirit for 1980.

Last, but by no means least, I’ve included a track from another song-poem album, My Gift To You on the Royal Master label released, I’m guessing (as there’s no date mentioned anywhere) at around the same time. Sung by Linda Lane, with lyrics by Florine Fisher, Christmas is Coming is pretty standard stuff but has some wonderfully stupid words. I particularly like how mundane this particular family’s wants were – a shawl, a pair of house shoes, some gloves, a scarf, a doll, a train set and a pipe. Come on people, it’s Christmas! What about a PS3, a flat-screen TV or an iPad?

There are worse Christmas-themed song-poems out there: check out the excellent compilation Daddy, Is Santa Really Six foot Four for some real howlers, but the four I've chosen for you today have not - to the best of my knowledge - been shared on the interwebs before. So, as ever, enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. What is it about Christmas mega- and uber-kitsch that makes us such slavish suckers for this crap? A bad Christmas song is like no other mediocrity. It has a defiant half-life unlike that of any other kind of mediocrity. Yet others are strangely, mercifully immune to the charms of this music. I both envy and pity them. How, I ask myself, can they possibly go through a Christmas season without experiencing this awful, awesome music. Your blog has been a particularly generous mother lode of just about the worst Christmas music ever written. I want to thank you for the diligence with which you collect and share this music. As a fellow Christmas kitsch obsessive, you have made me feel like I have my sickness under control. But, of course, I know that is a lie--and that I'll be back later today and early tomorrow to see what else you have found for me to savor. Oh my God, I've just written a Christmas prose song-poem of my own. I'll call it "Torn Stocking Stuffer." Now if I can only find a word other than "heist" to rhyme with "Christ." Only kid-ding!


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