"It’s Christmas!" Noddy Holder once bellowed, like the battle cry for mums waiting to strip Woolworths dry.
But while the month of December is for many one long shopping binge, gorging on the fetid remains of the British high street, it leads to sonic misery for others.
Slade, Wizzard, Shakin’ Stevens – hang your head in shame and give that sizeable royalty check to the orphans.
Here to save your ears from tinsel saturation is part two of Clashmusic.com’s utterly essential festive soundtrack!
10. James Brown – 'Hey America!'
A passionate plea for peace, this funk anthem came as America was divided by race riots, drug warfare on the streets and the escalating war in Vietnam. "Hey America, it’s Christmas time," raps Brother James, a man so in love with having a funky good time during the festive season he dedicated THREE full-length albums to it.
9. The Fall – 'We Wish You Protein Christmas'
"Hey mister, eat yourself fitter!" The Fall once chanted, and what better time to do it than at Christmas? Mark E Smith might resemble Ebenezer Scrooge before the bells of midnight chimed, but this acerbic song is a latter day Fall classic. Christmas: bah, humbug-ah!
8. The Vandals – ‘Oi To The World!’
Hey! You! Merry! Christmas! American punks come over all peaceful on this ode to God, the original Straight Edge hardcore kid. The old bloke in the sky comes down to Earth on Christmas Day with a message of peace and harmony: “Oi to the punks! Oi to the skins! Oi to the world and everybody wins!” Amen brother!
7. Camera Obscura – ‘Little Donkey’
John Peel’s Christmas shows are the stuff of legend. Slinking quietly away from the dinner table to hear if Sleater-Kinney made the Festive Fifty, and marvelling at how this vastly experienced DJ would get round to eventually playing the group… at the wrong speed. Taken from a red wine-sodden session, this finds Scots indie heroes Camera Obscura clattering their way through the primary school sing-along favourite ‘Little Donkey’.
6. Low – ‘Just Like Christmas’
Merry Mormons Low contributed this song to indie Christmas staple, ‘It’s A Cool, Cool Christmas’. Snow falls, water freezes, but Low’s music wraps round you like a warm whiskey glow.
5. Sonny Boy Williamson – ‘Christmas Morning Blues’
So you didn’t get the present you wanted. Perhaps a cue for some reflection, maybe even a temper tantrum. But for Sonny Boy Williamson, Santa’s failure means his woman done up and left him. Those poor old bluesmen – even on Christmas morning they can’t catch a break.
4. Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Seven O’ Clock News’ / ‘Silent Night’
With American on edge due to assassinations and race riots, folk superstars Simon & Garfunkel placed an unsettling news report against their delicate rendering of ‘Silent Night’. Deeply moving, and a trick that Glasvegas would use to good effect on their recent festive offering ‘A Snowflake Fell And It Felt Like A Kiss’.
3. Otis Redding – ‘White Christmas’
“May all your Christmases be white,” indeed. Southern soul icon Otis Redding produced this version of the perennial favourite shortly before his tragic death in 1967. One of the finest vocalists of the 20th century takes on one of its most saccharine songs – and wins. A stunning tribute to the Stax legend.
2. James White – ‘Christmas With Satan’
In 1981 none-more-hip record label Ze stunned fans by releasing a Christmas album. Was uncool the new cool? Why care when it contained music of such calibre. The Waitresses took the commercial prize with their mega-hit ‘Christmas Wrapping’, but the album was packed with festive gems - such as this anthem by the fairy at the top of the Christmas tree, James White. No Wave never felt so seasonal.
1. The Pogues – ‘Fairytale Of New York’
As much as it may be a cliché to point it out, this is probably the best Christmas song ever recorded. In fact, it is so good it may well stand as one of the best songs released at any time of the year. The lyrics sketch out a passionate love-hate relationship, that culminates with the NYPD choir singing an old Irish song as the couple walk through the Big Apple. Sentimental hogwash, of course, but capable of making androids cry great big salty yuletide tears.