Now That's What I Call Xmas - Various

Let's start at the bottom of the pile. There is, for sure, some utter rubbish on this latest version of the annual 'Now Xmas' album. Each and every stinker here will have turned your port sour on more than one ocasion before. Stand up Chris de Burgh ('A Spaceman Came Travelling'), Elton John ('Step Into Christmas'), Cliff Richard ('Saviour's Day' and 'Mistletoe and Wine', a quite evil trick on the part of the compilers), Greg Lake ('I Believe in Father Christmas') and the incorrigible Michael Ball who shares his version of Chris de Burgh's 'Driving Home for Christmas'. Thanks, Mike. Doubtless after a few Snowballs even this worst kind of 'Christmassy' syrup might warm nostalgic cockles but come on ...

Moving on from the unlistenable section there's what you might call Guilty Pleasures. Without the 'Pleasures' bit. In there you can question your own good taste as you tap along to Mike Oldfield's 'In Dulce Jubilo', Wizzard's 'I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday', Jona Lewie's 'Stop the Cavalry' and the mighty Slade, whose 'Merry Christmas Everybody' really does act as the great leveller on Christmas party dancefloors - no matter how sober or lithe you are, dance to it and you look an absolute knob.

Oddities abound. Abba's 'Happy New Year' closes side three with the lines "Seems to me now/
That the dreams we had before/Are all dead, nothing more/Than confetti on the floor". Well I don't know about you but that's got me in the festive spirit. Elsewhere, Vanessa Williams strangles 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' - listen, you can just hear Bing Crosby turning in his grave. The Puppini Sisters do something daft to 'Jingle Bells' and Stacie Orrico has the almost admirable gall to have a go at 'O Come, All Ye Faithful'. Silly cow.

But fear not, because there is joy and beauty interspersed. Kirsty MacColl cements her deserved place in people's hearts when she lights up The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'. Brenda Lee ('Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree'), Bing Crosby ('White Christmas') and Dean Martin ('Let it Snow !') provide unquestionable class. Best of all, Nat 'King' Cole sings 'The Christmas Song'. If the opening swirl of strings doesn't melt your heart, then check it's still beating. Often voted the best Christmas song of all time, it's three minutes of heavenly, truly festive joy. All the plasticky crud in the world can't detract from musical genius.

Oh, balls to that. I've just noticed that the old tennis-loving pillock has actually been granted not two but three tracks on this little lot. Side two, where you will find most of the quality, is where Sir Cliff gets his mind-boggling hat-trick and is soured by the presence of his quite horrible 'Little Town'. Someone, somewhere is quite definitely having a laugh. I'm knocking a point off just that for that alone. 60 songs, no room for Saint Etienne's 'I Was Born on Christmas Day' or a blast of seasonal gold from Phil Spector's 'A Christmas Gift For You'. But space aplenty for three tracks by old orange-faced horse-teeth. At least we're spared his 'Milennium Prayer', so there is some good in the world, I suppose. Thank heaven for small mercies.



out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 03:52:39

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