2011 – Seasonal Music – Emmy The Great/ Tim Wheeler “This is Christmas.” And Kate Bush “50 Words For Snow.”

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Emmy The Great And Tim Wheeler – This is Christmas.

 

Love them or loathe them there’s no escaping the much-maligned festive album at this time of year.  It can be an incredibly lucrative market but alas, it also produces its fair share of bloated, fetid turkeys too. This year however alongside your Justin Beibers, your Michale Bubbles and your Jersey Boys perhaps the brightest, shiniest bauble on the musical Christmas Tree arrives courtesy of  Emmy The Great and Tim (him from Ash) Wheeler. Their seasonal album “This is Christmas” written when they were both snowed in during the festive season last year, demonstrates that it is possible to produce a credible Christmas album and have great fun doing so.  Replete with shimmering melodies, sleigh bells, strings and a reindeer called Jesus they perfectly capture the spirit of the season mixing surreal wit with traditional Christmas schmaltz.

Although it is indeed the season to be jolly there are also nods to the “Blue Christmas” style take on the genre. “Mrs Christmas” for example re-imagines Santa’s spouse planning to leave him, tired of being left alone every Christmas Eve while her husband  makes other people’s dreams come true “you promised me paradise, but here I am alone in the snow and ice”  whilst “Christmas Moon” is a song one could envisage Ronnie Spector performing. Throw in a dash of Ramones meet the Beach Boys on “Christmas Day ( I Wish I Was Surfing,”)  a zombie plague on Christmas Eve ( “Zombie Christmas“) and a messianic reindeer and you really do have the makings of a perennial classic. On this evidence let’s hope they get snowed in every year.

9/10

Kate Bush – 50 Words For  Snow.

Not so much a Christmas album more a seasonal soundscape which heralds the return of one of the UK’s most enduring and infuriatingly enigmatic artists, Kate Bush.  “50 Words For Snow” is her tenth studio album and it may not immediately smack you between the eyeballs, instead it rewards perseverance revealing its subtle beauty on repeated listens. “Misty”  the albums stand out track is bizarre in excelcis  relating the tale of a woman who takes a snowman to her boudoir only to awake the following morning in soaking bed sheets to  find only “Dead leaves, bits of twisted branches and frozen garden, crushed and stolen grasses from slumbering lawn” ( no jokes about his snowballs please.)  Perruquier’s friend Sir  Elton John, a performer who so often sings in the style of a man on the verge of giving himself a hernia pops up on “Snowed In At Wheeler Street” and just about manages to restrain himself, whilst Stephen Fry, sounding as  rich and fruity as a Plumb Duff joins Kate on the peculiar title track in which  he regales us with 50 ludicrous words for snow ( such as “Mountain Sob,” “Faloop’njoompoola” and of course “Zhivagodamarbletash”) . It’s incredibly daft and at times sounds more Mighty Boosh then The Mighty Bush, yet conversely, it becomes strangely bewitching as Kate breathily urges Fry on to scale new heights of verbose absurdity.

Kate herself may never again reach the artistic peak  of her opus “The Hounds Of Love”, it was, as Kate is now, of its time, but in a world populated by anodyne fifteen minutes of fame seekers  one cannot feel anything other than joy and gratitude that such a unique and intriguing artist is still able to produce textured, atmospheric works of subtle, shimmering beauty.

8/10

Andy Von Pip

ANDY VON PIP - Founder, editor, writer, reviewer, photographer and all-round good guy at the VPME.com. House photographer for The Academy Music Group, Zuma Press, Event Magazine and Rex Features worldwide. You can check out his photography at Andy Von Pip Photography Has been new music tipster on BBC6 Music, Amazing Radio, and DJ on Strangeways Radio (USA.) Can currently be heard on IWFM Radio. His radio work has been described as sounding like Ian McCulloch on ketamine fused with Ringo Starr. New music tipster on Amazing Radio, moderator for BBC 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson's Fresh on the Net, former member of "BBC's Sound Of" panel. Written and photographic work has appeared in The Quietus, Music Week, Record Of The Day, The Guardian, GIITV, The Sabotage Times, Bido Lito, The Skinny, Louder Than War. Media partner and curator for Liverpool Sound City.

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