Here it is:
Two parts of approximately 36 minutes each.
Two parts of approximately 36 minutes each.
Things open with a sample from The Wire (an HBO TV series), and there are several more throughout the mix. The fifth and final series was broadcast in 2008.
The Elvis loop is employed as is S.O.P., this time with some delay and stereo-phasing effects.
There is then an excerpt from a 1967 Christmas record by the lyrical geniuses that brought you Why Don't We Do It In The Road? and Octopus's Garden. More on this record can be found at beatlesbible.com.
John Baker was a BBC Radiophonic Workshop musician with a background in jazz, his track Commercial Christmas features a cash register playing O, Come All Ye Faithful, and I would hazard a guess that it was done by splicing bits of tape together. In 2008 Trunk Records released a 2CD compilation The John Baker Tapes, although this track isn't on it.
Little is known about folk violinist Blind Alfred Reed. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live is one of his most famous songs, dating from 1929, and appears on the compilation Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music Volume 4 (Folkways), and also the unimaginatively named Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, which title gets top marks for accuracy though. An early protest song, Blind Alfred Reed was clearly no fan of preachers, doctors, police or shopping.
A quick sample, then Christmas Time in Harlem - Louis Armstrong & The All Stars (1955)
The first of the Sounds of Space appears here: Earth - Proton Whistlers, in order to link the end of Satchmo with Q-Burns Abstract Message Remix of Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers' Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. This track and the two remixes later in the mix are all taken from Merry Mixmas.
Second Sound of Space - storms on Saturn, very much the party planet of the bunch. Merry Christmas, Baby - Otis Redding. Another extract from The Beatles Christmas Record 1967 (official version).
Dean Martin does a marvellous To His Coy Mistress turn to an unnamed beauty - plying her with drink and cigarettes and visions of her untimely demise as a consequence of venturing out into the weather rather than letting him... you know - Baby, It's Cold Outside - remixed by Mark Rae and Rhys Adams as an ARP production.
The 'Music from 2008' section opens with Adam Buxton's alternative Quantum of Solace themetune, which has some lovely gags I won't spoil here. The Raconteurs The Switch & The Spur links to that (from Consolers of the Lonely on XL Recordings), and there is always something very festive about trumpets, even if they have a mariachi feel to them.
Such bravado must be followed by a cautionary tale, and so after a quick sample from The Wire when they were doing their unsubtle drugs-war-as-metaphor-for-Iraq thing, Bonnie Prince Billy & Harem Scarem & Alex Neilsen do the traditional Irish ballad Molly Bawn. This was recorded in 2006 but only saw release this year, and is reviewed by yrstrly here.
Micah P. Hinson & The Red Empire Orchestra released an album of the same name on Full Time Hobby. I included the track When We Embraced as it has some amusing statements about attitudes towards the future.
A Jovian Chorus, by Jupiter!
I saw Tom Waits again this year, but instead of foisting another of his tunes on you, here instead is Scarlett Johannson covering Fanning Street, with backing vocals from one D. Bowie. This spans the two mp3s.
Razor Sadness & The Crumbling Beauties - Last Snowstorm of the Year. In the post-production I ended up stripping it back quite a lot, so believe it or not this is the minimalist version. More info here.
Half Man Half Biscuit - Petty Sessions from CSI:Ambleside. Really only on for the Dial-A-Pizza joke.
Music from the opening credits to Season Four of The Wire, another Tom Waits cover, as it happens, but I preferred Season Four's opening music to Five's, and marking the (kind-of) end of the 2008 bit.
'Uncle' Dave Macon - Wreck Of The Tennessee Gravy Train. Another selection from the Harry Smith compilation. "Uncle Dave Macon (October 7, 1870 - March 22, 1952)—also known as "The Dixie Dewdrop"— was an American banjo player, singer, songwriter, and comedian known for his chin whiskers, plug hat, gold teeth, and gates-ajar collar." (Wikipedia)
Nancy Wilson - The Christmas Waltz (awayTEAM Remix). I like the fact that they've kept in the lyrics about "this song of mine/in three-quarter time" whilst turning it into a four-four house frug.
Now, if an idea is worth doing once, it's worth doing twice. More proton whistlers bridge Nancy to Eels - Christmas is Going to the Dogs - not the only Christmas song to be sung by Mr. E, and collected on the festive-sounding Useless Trinkets compilation.
Spiritualized - Sweet Talk, a partial return to form, the last two Spiritualized albums being stinkers. Songs in A&E is a good album, although Jason Pierce's voice is still too high in the mix, as a general rule.
I'm astonished I haven't used Ray Charles' version of Little Drummer Boy before. One of the most ridiculous of all modern Christmas tunes, a made-up story bolted on to the traditional Nativity scene (the accuracy or otherwise of which will not be commented on here), fleshed out with all manner of weirdness ("The ox and lamb kept time" anyone?). And then Ray sexes up the coda, layering all sorts of meaning onto the simple playing of a drum.
There then follows a lengthy and self-indulgent section of David Foster Wallace reading from this book. I've been a member of the wallace-l for several years, and DFW wrote some of the best essays, short stories and novels I have ever read. He died this year aged 46.
To lift the tone, or perhaps lower it, Frank Sidebottom - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, then a final extract from The Beatles' Christmas Record 1967.
No artwork this year as I'm not making any CDs. If you want to make your own I'd suggest a combination of Harry Smith looking like Santa, the diagram of Proton Whistlers with some of the words changed to be more festive, and various puns on characters from The Wire, e.g. Stringer Bell, Stringer Bell, Stringer all the way.
Previous year's mixes available:
2006 & 2005 (on the same page)