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Various Artists: Ghosts of Christmas Past [Digipak]

Track List

>Jesus Sweetly Sleeps - Section 25
>Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - Miranda Dali
>Jesus From the Block - The Wake
>We Met Bernard Sumner at a Christmas Party Last Night - Marsheaux
>Winter Circle - Ultramarine
>Lamina Christus - Isolation Ward
>Jingle Bell Rock - Thick Pigeon
>Hot Club of Christ - Aztec Camera
>Scottish Christmas - Paul Haig
>Rocking Carol - B Music
>Weihnachtsrap - Tuxedomoon
>Festivo - Virna Lindt
>Jingle Hell - Blaine L. Reininger
>Silent Blight - Blaine L. Reininger
>Xmas Blooz - Blaine L. Reininger
>Snowflakes - The Durutti Column
>Theme for This Special Evening - Monks In the Snow
>Breakfast at Christmas - Hillcrest Club
>Christiana - Paul Haig
>Tokyo Twilight - The Names
>One Christmas for Your Thoughts - The Durutti Column
>Possessed by the Stars - White Birds
>Praying for a Cheaper Christmas - Swinging Buildings
>Ode to Joy - B Music
>Noëlle à Hawai - Antena
>Benoît's Christmas - Pale Fountains
>Santa Baby - The French Impressionists
>Peep Show International - Simon Topping
>Silhouettes - Thick Pigeon
>Snow Falls and the Village Is Overflowing With Children - Deux Filles
>Message de Noël - Mikado
>Twelve Days of Christmas - Winston Tong
>Write Your Letter - The Arcadians
>Cream or Christians - Michael Nyman
>Honolulu 25 dicembre 1990 - Magazzini Criminali

Album Notes

Released in a variety of formats (and with differing track listings) over several years, in its presumably final CD form on LTM Records the Crepescule label's Ghosts of Christmas Past compilation acts as one of the most distinct holiday albums in an overcrowded field, eschewing the overtly traditional for the wry and the off-kilter, while at the same time still being a Christmas collection straight-up. With its original track listing augmented by various cuts from later editions and related singles, the 2007 edition kicks off with a sprightly instrumental medley of standards from the earliest incarnation of Aztec Camera -- entitled "Hot Club of Christ," should there be questions about the exact reverence at play through much of the disc -- and from there covers everything from the joyful to the melancholic, a good portrait of the time. As a simultaneous label showcase and holiday-themed effort, the contrasts can often be amusing in context -- the Names' glowering "Tokyo Twilight," for instance -- while the Durutti Column's "One Christmas for Your Thoughts" and the Pale Fountains' "Benoit's Christmas" (the latter referring to the Crepescule label owner) take a gentler ride. Tuxedomoon's own pulverization of standards with "Weinachtrap" rivals Aztec Camera's for playful inventiveness -- flat horn parts play "Jingle Bells" while falsetto backing vocals sing "O Tannenbaum," among other things -- while Michael Nyman's wonderfully strange keyboard fanfare "Cream or Christians" is the antithesis of, say, Mannheim Steamroller. Best song title (if one of the flat-out murkiest and most classically post-punk-as-such sounding numbers): "Praying for a Cheaper Christmas" by the Swinging Buildings. And who could disagree with the sentiment? ~ Ned Raggett


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