Friday, November 16, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past...

I like Christmas, when it actually arrives, but with the six weeks leading up to it I have various problems. I'm clearly getting old as it seems a case of wishing six weeks of one's life away; for kids that's probably fine but for the rest of us doesn't that merely seem a waste of time?
On the music front it is, rather than 'Christmas Cheer', more a case of 'Christmas Fear' - a deadly serious industry battle for the mysterious kudos associated (at least in the UK) with "The Christmas # 1" (single) and the hearts and minds of those who buy CDs (or whatever) only at this time and for, mostly younger, family members of whose musical tastes they understandably have little or no comprehension. I don't actually entirely understand my own, so attempting to second-guess such things on behalf of others hardly seems a credible undertaking.

On 'reality TV' there is a parade of wannabes and their gang-masters in behest of the major labels. Deadly twins both and equally Dickensian in their tortuous ventures towards assuaging their vices - for the former the holy grail of 'celebrity', for the latter 'bankability' - and between them there is precious little to discern. A few achieve it, fewer still go on to make a career of it and the odd one goes further still. To be honest that applies to both sides pretty equally, except that some are more equal than others. Those already on the industry side tend to start out better off and with the lion's share of the decision-making power. It has ever been thus...

The compilation "Now That's What I Call Christmas" will be playing, yet again, in every shop and this year the most successful 'Christmas #1" artists ever' (1996,7 &8) - a.k.a. The Spice Girls - are back in the reckoning but it could be worse, I suppose, as
there is inevitably a new release by Sir Cliff Richard.
There will also be numerous other compilations, some released by the behemoths of decades past and they are not always without real merit, particularly as an introduction to those artists for anyone not already familiar with their work. One trend in 2007 (that I totally failed to see coming) was the rising popularity of certain bands from the 1970s: amongst the prominent are, perhaps least surprisingly giving their high-profile 2007 reunion concert appearance, Pink Floyd but also Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy. I certainly don't need any compilations of the latter two bands as I have almost all of it already.

That includes some possibly unusual items. Before Thin Lizzy moved to the Vertigo label for the their fourth album, 'Nightlife' (1974), they were signed to Decca Recordings. In those days promotional copies for review by radio DJs were specially pressed 7" vinyl , often in the format of a 45 rpm EP.
This one was produced for the release of Thin Lizzy's album 'Vagabonds Of The Western World', their last album released by Decca, in 1973.

The A-side consists of ' Vagabonds Of The Western World' and 'The Rocker', which was to be a career-long live favourite, and the B-side has 'Gonna Creep Up On You' and 'Little Girl In Bloom'.
That is enough nostalgia for now but it does prompt me to say that this a good time to delve into all that you had neglected before, whether that is this year or even decades ago.
Just in case you had forgotten, and I had until just this evening, reacquaint yourself with Thin Lizzy's first album released on Vertigo in the UK (on Mercury/Phonogram in the US), which was 'Nightlife' (1974). It is readily, and cheaply, available on CD and it sounds as good now as it always has. If you can be bothered to track down an original vinyl copy, and that is what I'm listening to right now (actually an original Mercury one from the USA), then all I can say is good for you!
This another temporary image and I'll try to add a better one later this weekend.
That's better - 17th November.

This is the 1974 US version of Nightlife as released on Mercury.
[Click on it for a larger image as is now a common feature here.]

'Live and Dangerous' (1978) still remains one of the best live albums I've got. There are indeed many who would say that it is one of the best live albums ever - see numerous reviews on-line - and I have to say that I'm pretty much down with that. It is also serves as a fine compilation of their best output from Nightlife up until that point!
Here is a more difficult challenge - but it is purely as a matter of fun - and that is to try and divine what kinds of music and maybe even (if I/you/we were feeling brave) those artists that will be big in 2008!

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