Well, I normally have a '1 vote per three songs' rule but I could make it three votes. It depends on how easy it is to change. I'll get back to you. And by the way, well done on last month's song: A worthy winner.
What stands out here is the mix of styles, with the superb chorus a big highlight. Mike’s been trying out some new rhythms lately and this is another impressive example of his songwriting versatility. It’s up there with Scream and Howl as a major success from recent months.
There are elements of Latin music, eastern percussion, calypso and a bit of jazz/funk. There’s a nice lyric about the sandmen/snowmen, and the song has a fresh lyrical slant on Christmas.
There are very good harmonies on the chorus, where Karl’s drumming also shines. (Maybe Karl has had a hand in Mike’s shift towards his new direction).
Tasteful and effective electric guitars make up the intro, and I like the way Mike’s doubled with the second guitar on this bit. The electric piano/organ sound works well and the brass enhances things with another layer whenever it appears.
Fine, fine writing - makes me want to book a flight to somewhere warm.
Stephen Clarke - Getting in the Spirit of Christmas
This is a heady, swinging, boogie song where Stephen uses a dash of style to compare a traditional English Christmas with a naughty beach holiday necking the booze and eyeing up women. Both are good ways of spending the festive period, he concludes, as he morphs from Bing Crosby’s sentimental aunt into Charlie Sheen ‘on the beach doing unseasonal things, out of reach doing unreasonable things’.
I like the contrast between the lines about being ‘out of my tree while Donna Summer sings’ and the folks back home who are ‘decorating trees while Noddy Holder sings’. Like T&J, Stephen knows how to deliver the laughs. The music skips along beautifully and the guitars combine really nicely on the middle eight as the second guitar comes in to follow the melody line. He’s left his production headaches behind him, with the bass and drums placed perfectly in the mix.
He’s shown that a song can sound very full if you get the combination of bass and guitar right. He’s a sort of cross between George Formby, Billy Connolly and Rich Hall. Funny, tuneful and terrific.
(By the way, the graphics for All I Want for Christmas is Some English Food are great fun).
Rob Warner - I Love Christmas and I Love You
Rob’s very good at these warm-hearted songs that leave us with a spring in our step. There’s no baggage here in the production, just crystal clear sounds that complement each other beautifully and enhance the great singing. A simple line like ‘I love the snow and I love the fire’ would sound ordinary from some singers but Rob injects a meaning and an indefinable quality that brings a buoyancy and freshness. The high singing and melody on ‘fire’ work superbly.
A trait of Rob’s is that he produces unpredictable and interesting chord changes, especially on his verses, and the same is true here. His melodies don’t always go where you expect, and that is a big plus point.
The organ works really well and Rob’s enthusiasm for Christmas is touching. He does these uplifting tunes with great panache.
Tim, Julie and Kate – Boxing Day Football
Marvellous work - so much to enjoy here. I like the chord sequence on the verse with what sounds like a slightly unusually placed minor chord.
I was laughing out loud quite often in between the wonderfully varied array of oohs and aahs, anticipating the next funny line. There are many of them, although I’m glad you resisted the temptation to rhyme Stoke with joke. There’s a loaded first line: ‘It’s Christmas Day and I’m travelling to Stoke.’ I remember my wicked stepfather Patrick associating Stoke with grimness in his Christmas song last year – perhaps it’s time for one of us to redress the balance with a hymn to Royal Doulton hand-painted pottery or Trentham Gardens.
The singing and harmonies are really good - more evidence that Tim’s vocal chords are becoming increasingly golden by the month. I especially like the low voices right near the end.
It’s evocative too - I can almost smell the mud and the tubes of Deep Heat in the bit about the dressing room. Light and shade are provided by the excellent backing vocals and the restraint of the fine drum work. You’ve got the instruments - especially the guitar – sounding crystal clear and really rather brilliant – the mix is very good.
Have you tried to put on an accent here? It sounds a bit yokel. Which team could you be warming the bench for? Surely not a big one given that they have bought hardly any fans. Perhaps Harwich Rovers on an FA Cup run?
I understand your reticence in travelling to Stoke for football – I’ve had a season ticket there for many years. As you say, the experience is not always cherished by opposing fans or teams, but it’s a golden era for us locals. Finally, we have a successful team playing exciting football.
Your song is superb.
Tim and Glyn - Christmas is Gone
This is joyful punk, with aggressive instruments and some delirious melodies to boot. Great slurred guitars on 0.10, light touch keyboard and some spearing sounds from the guitars.
There’s a fine chorus and a very classy section from 1.10 – 1.40 with the combination of the tail end of the chorus, then an inspired come down followed by a surge of guitars and the return of Glyn’s singing.
T and G’s skills in arranging a song are very evident here - there’s a great combination of bits, and the keyboard solo works excellently. I need you to tell me how you record your drums - is it a person or a machine? I really like the guitar chord sequence on the verse.
The best aspects of your songwriting style have crystallised here to create something special. This one’s up there with your all-time greats.
Phil Sanderson - Everything is Fine
Beautiful sounding guitars from Phil - with a lovely, dreamy strum of the chords that are all his own. There’s an ethereal attractiveness to the background guitar too, which I would have guessed was a mandolin if I hadn’t read his song notes. I like Phil’s big productions, but he’s shown here – as in other memorable songs such as What Does Your Heart Tell You Now – that he’s deft when it comes to a gentle ballad. The production is top quality - nice singing, great acoustic sounds.
I do have a slight criticism. Sorry, Phil - the repeated and pivotal line of ‘there’s new hope on the horizon and everything is fine/bringing peace at Christmas time’ needs to have a bright or major chord feel because of its imagery of renewal and optimism, but your instrumentation conveys a melancholy mood on those sections. Maybe I’ve misinterpreted it and you are sounding a note of caution.
The lovely instrumental sequence from 1.26 to 1.38, repeated elsewhere, is really something and I liked the very last bit where a brighter mood emerges. Mostly brilliant.
Tim, Julie & Kate Great lyrics, music and arrangement. Highly entertaining and perfectly chosen opposition in Stoke (though the Duffin’s may have something to say about that!)
I was highly tickled by the observations and it really summed up how I’d feel about having to get up early on Boxing Day and travel to the Midlands only to play out a nil-nil draw and have my match featured last on MOTD!
The arrangement of voices was really clever and Tim’s ‘Essex-boy’ vocal delivery was perfectly weighted.
How I wish I had a twelve month old song of this calibre that could ‘sneak into the box’ and possibly win the game at the death.
Mike G When the drums started, it really reminded me of a Robbie Robertson from 20 odd years ago. I really liked the way the melody weaved and loved the chord progression and REALLY loved the chorus.
This is the best tune I’ve heard from Mike in a while (though I must get round to recording a vocal for the song you wrote a few months back which was excellent also.)
This has a perfect build, great sound and fantastic delivery. I understand now why Christian requested three votes for Christmas. Surely these two will both get votes from everyone.
Stephen C Whereas others perhaps ‘tinker’ with their sounds and don’t really know what or who they are musically (I would put myself at the top of that list) Stephen, month after month, delivers high quality songs with brilliant lyrics with - it has to be said - ‘lo-fi’ charm and panache.
This is yet another Stephen C classic. His lyrical prowess is well known and established but his melodic sense should not be underestimated or overlooked. I continually find myself humming his tunes days later without knowing from whence they came.
I loved the way the song (particularly the lyrics) developed, particularly the way that the ‘Getting in the spirit of Christmas’ hook still worked with the innocence of small children and the debauched holiday-maker. I could see this sneaking under the radar and being a big hit on Tiswas (that’s one of the highest compliments I could pay!)
Well, there go my three votes, surely!
Christian D Christian having said it should have been a disco number, it kind of starts off as though it is.
This is the first one that at least makes an effort to make itself ‘Christmasy’ in places in its musical interpretation rather than just relying on the use of the word ‘Christmas’ to prove its festive credentials.
I had difficulty in making out the lyrics initially and had to really concentrate (it was as though the vocal had somehow become ‘phased’.)
Once I’d managed to overcome my ears’ problems with the production glitch, I loved the story of the disgruntled employee not wanting to blow up houses but merely singe some eyebrows.
I really liked the music. Christian does this type of ’Squeeze’ style number (kick-arse melody and great story) fantastically well. However, he (like the rest of us) is already up against it with the songs from Tim, Mike and Stephen.
Tim & Glyn Once again, there appears to be little or no nod to a festive feel.
I really love the chorus both musically and lyrically (the sentiment of the lyric really resonated.) And the catchiness of the melody grew and grew.
An absolutely fabulous arrangement. Very simple and yet there’s quite a lot going on. I think something’s changed over the past few months. Glyn’s vocal is much further forward and clear in the mix, the drum programming is great and any ‘muddiness’ seems to have been power-washed away revealing a shiny and new T&G!!
I really liked the organ/keyboard sound in the break. Perfectly chosen. I would have marked you down for failing to tick the festive box but I’d argue that this is the most festive song amongst all the ones I’ve heard so far (apart from mine. You can’t get more festive than a waltz with sleigh bells!)
Well done, you two. And Merry Christmas.
Phil S Nice vocals from the off - very breathy and believable (in fact it’s quite Jarvis Cocker in places. As opposed to me being a bit Joe Cocker!)
This is the most Christmasy song on the list. I really enjoyed this for it’s under-stated power. Phil did really well to hold back and avoid the temptation to slather it with distorted guitars and synths. I can imagine him taking his acoustic down to Harwich beach on a clear, cold evening and playing this as countless fans stand in front of him with sparked lighters
Really nice work and easily as good as his earlier winning entries (symphony month and Eurovision month) but this time, sadly for Phil, he’s up against some fantastically good songs. Don't be down-hearted if you don’t win. This was very good indeed.
An unexpectedly good crop of Christmas song, partly because few of them sound like Christmas songs so I didn’t puke from ‘saccharine sentimentality overload’ (a medical term). Indeed, it seems we often seem to rally against the constraints of the task (and long may it continue)
Firstly, to clear up some of Christian’s queries about ‘Boxing Day Football:’ when Kate came up with the idea, she was working for the Newcastle United Foundation. They regularly joked in the office they were ALWAYS on MOTD last. I had no idea the Duffins originated from Stoke but, I don't think anyone would describe it as as a glamours place. Also, I wasn’t putting on an accent, I just sound a bit like a farmer unless I put on my telephone voice. I fear my bumpkin accent has held me back from career success and high office.
Voting is tough and I'm still not sure who to vote for (or not to vote for). 3 votes should have made it easier. It has't.
Happy Christmas to you all.
Mike Gosling - Sun, Sea and Santa I love the intro. There’s something very pleasing in the guitar sounds Mike gets. When it gets going there is more percussion than I think it needs, particularly the metronomic quavers (perhaps I’ve just heard the garageband metronome too much and it’s made me sensitive). ‘Snowmen made of sand’ is a great line. The change from ‘sending you our love’ into the glorious chorus is great. I enjoyed the guitar soloing in the background over the double chorus at the end. It’s pretty fabulous.
Stephen Clarke - Getting in the Spirit of Christmas The backing does a very good job or carrying the great ideas in the lyrics (that’s no criticism, Jake Thackray had a splendid career doing exactly that). It all rests on the quality of the lyrical ideas which, as usual, are very interesting and easily sustain anyone’s interest. I also like it when a casual listener probably wouldn't know what the song was really about. It’s a good boppy song that bounces along with a good hook.
Rob Warner - I Love Christmas (and I Love You) I love the schmalz in this, it’s the sort of sentiment that was in many of the songs we heard at home (although I find it a bit ironic that you’re singing about how you love snow and fires but your going to Florida this Christmas). I like the way the chords make the melody wind a slightly unexpected trajectory. It really nice to hear you reach those high notes. Seamless key change (far too slick for eurovision). Choosing a song that is believable for the voice is important but, I wonder what it would sound like if you put your voice over a more whimsical song. It would be interesting to hear how it works.
Christian Duffin - Christmas Explosion I love the idea of the story. Are you sure this shouldn’t be a short film idea rather than a song? It would make a brilliant half hour animation. Have a word with Aardman, I’m sure they’d see the value of it. There are some brilliant ooo-aaah backing vocals in the chorus. I like the referencing of the bells in the middle section to gently emphasise that it’s a Christmas song. The guitar is also great. The drummer from the custardettes is back but on a pretty tight leash. I still think he should replace is trademark snare drum.
Tim and Glynn - Christmas Will Be Gone What a great song this is, and great chromatic riff that sets it all off. I have never wondered what it would sound like if The Stranglers collaborated with Enya, and now I don’t have to. There’s even a stranglers style keyboard solo. The drums are the best I’ve heard on a T&G song. This is much more rocky backing that we usually hear Glynn sing over, and it sounds pretty fab. I love some of the chords in the outro.
Phil Sanderson - Everything is Fine This is a proper Christmas song. A lovely simple melody with a lovely Christmas sentiment. I could imagine it being sung by a choir, or a class at school, or Robbie Williams when he get bored of singing Angels. It's the sort of song that will never have a definitive version. There is more going on in the backing that is initially apparent and it all adds to the calm, peaceful atmosphere. It’s the sort of song that will make you stop trying to untangle the fairly lights so you can listen and reflect.
As there are 3 votes this time I'll confer with Mike and let him cast the votes.
Boxing day Football - Tim & Julie Bizarre lyrics for a Christmas song, but what else should I expect from Tim and Julie? A good choice of vocal delivery for this type of song and, as I've now grown to expect, well put together. Probably only just a Christmas song though!
Sun, Sea And Santa - Mike Gosling Nothing to add except to say how enjoyable it was to play and record.
Getting In The Spirit Of Christmas - Stephen Clarke This song has a happy, seasonal feel to it with a great sing-along chorus and an excellent lead guitar part from about 1.32. A shuffling snare drum part and obligatory sleigh bells and/or tambourine would have completed this excellent backing track. I like the "Carol's someone you kiss not something you sing" lyric. Very catchy. Well done.
I Love Christmas - Rob Warner What a sentimental chap you are, Rob! I admire the way you wear your lyrical heart on your sleeve, even at the possible risk of negative cheese-like comments. As you say, a lot of the Christmas song ingredients have been included here, including those sleigh bells - Arrrrgggghhhh!
Christmas Explosion - Christian Duffin Upbeat, appropriate lyrically, well constructed, and bang on-style with some good sound choices. Exactly what we've come to expect from Christian. The vocal delivery sounds a bit melancholic to my ears though - perhaps that is intentional? Do you think Santa might bring you a better snare drum sound to replace the one that Eddie has left for you?
Christmas will Be Gone - Tim & Glyn Wow! This is really very good indeed. Bristling with musical and vocal hooks, great sounds and an interesting and intriguing structure and arrangement. The drums really are top drawer. I like the slightly sinister undercurrent which gets swept away by the soaring chorus which itself deserves the repetition it gets at the end. I guess it could be criticised for not having a obvious Christmas sound, but that would be harsh, as the lyrics convey the message more than adequately. Fantastic!
Everything Is Fine - Phil Sanderson A really promising start to this song, with nice instrumentation reminding me slightly of Greg Lake. Perhaps it's because of this mindset that I expected, and hoped, that the song would build and build to a powerful and emotional finale, especially as the last line sung is "the joy of Christmas time" - it didn't sound that joyfully sung!
Some interesting songs in this Christmas selection box - as we try and approach the Christmas song task with fresh ideas.
Tim / Julie / Kate - Boxing Day Football I like the concept of the lyric. Boxing Day football does indeed seem a Christmas staple (but back in fifties it was Christmas Day for the footie - not sure that would have gone down well with all the family!). The lyrics are very witty and clever and are the star of the show here. The "glory" backing vocals are fab and the musical accompaniment in general does a great job of supporting the vocals. By the way, the Harwich and Parkeston footie team is nicknamed the "Shrimpers" and back in 1953 they made it to the Amateur Cup final and played (and lost) in front of 100,000 people at Wembley. Those were the days for supporting football in Harwich!
Stephen - Getting in the Spirit of Christmas I was a little surprised at the lyrics to the first verse/chorus, but the real Stephen emerged with a witty, subversive lyric about enjoying an adult Christmas. The "unseasonal"/"unreasonable" couplet is very good especially as the guitar line supports the vocal nicely here. A good hook and a good lyrical idea.
Rob - I Love Christmas Much to admire (as usual) in the vocal department. "I love the snow, I love the fire" is delivered superbly and the chorus in general works well. Nice organ and bass supporting the song and some great "love the snow" backing vocals towards the end. The McCartney-esque "wooh" at the end is great! The whole song came across as a genuine celebration of Christmas and being with loved ones.
Christian - Christmas Explosion A really good concept for the lyric - a fresh idea and the first time to my knowledge that "silver fulminates" have made an appearance in a pop song lyric - well done! I really like the melody for the verse - it twists and turns in typical Christian-style and is very satisfying. The Squeeze-like backing works well for Christian's songs - not sure whether a disco version would work, but would have been an interesting listen. Favourite bit of the tune is "this and every year" - a very good catchy hook. Nice one.
Tim/Glyn - Christmas Will Be Gone I love the sound of the guitars and keyboards. Especially the tremolo guitar - sounds great. When Glyn first sings I thought it was Blondie! - didn't know Glyn could do that. The intro / verses work better than the chorus for me, but the whole song moves along very convincing not least because of the authentic sounding drums - are they programmed? - if so, hats off to you! I really like the organ in the instrumental - nice sound for the solo. Liked it.
Phil - Everything is Fine I like the gentle sound of the acoustic guitars which reminded me of Greg Lake's Christmas song. Unlike Greg's effort, Phil decided against employing the Royal Philharmonic and countless choirs and delivered instead a lovely heartfelt song. I really like the guitar that sounds like a mandolin and the gentle way all the acoustic sounds wash over the listener. In particular I like the "which cannot be denied" vocal. Well done.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - looking forward to the SWC next year (and maybe we could meet up some time?)
Boxing Day Football - The Warners Sorry Christian, but it's impossible not to laugh when you hear the word "Stoke" (in this song, I mean). Some great lines about warming up being pointless (and impossible at the Britannia), and being the last game on MOTD. And I love the way the humour is carried through the whole song, even into the angelic harmonies - which are really well sung as well as being funny, especially that manically pronounced "glory". It's a subtle backing track with neat drumming that supports the vocals but gives them all the space they need to tell the story. Highly enjoyable.
Sun Sea & Santa - Mike G Great title that perfectly matches the theme, and almost gives it a second chorus. Very nice guitar right from the start, and really well recorded percussion - wish I knew how you did that. It's true, at first it feels odd having a sunny Christmas song, but the chorus is so strong you totally get into it. Really memorable hook, with (as usual) such a professional production job.
I Love Christmas - Rob W Ah at last something as traditional as Christmas pudding. Great chord progressions, a sort of jazzy-sounding John Lennon, who had the knack of producing melodies that sound simple and classic, but over unexpected chords. I admire the sincerity here, both in the words and the singing - it's a hard trick to pull off (and something that ironists like myself find very difficult). Hitting those high notes really adds to the warm feel of the song. A great one for waltzing round the Christmas tree.
Christmas Explosion - Christian D Yes you could have called it Xmas Xplosion. But it is disco in a way, with a beat in the verse that reminds me of Saturday Night Fever. I really like the guitar sound right from the start, and the way the slightly distorted rhythm guitar powers through the chorus. That's a great chord progression in the verse, developing rather than repeating itself, and a great hook line in the chorus. It's very clever the way the story unfolds, and I especially like the "house"/ "eyebrows" rhyme in the bridge. Excellent use of instrumentation and harmonies to add dynamics, though in a way you hardly notice them because you're enjoying the story and the singalongability of the chorus. Some great guitar chord playing here, I listened again just to re-hear that.
Christmas Will Be Gone - Tim & Glyn The intro comes as a shock - it's scary, as if you've invited Alice Cooper for mince pies. Great arrangement, I especially like the Chili Peppers-like bass in the verses, and that repeat of the intro with bass chords. Excellent melody line, with the voice given a lot of space to deliver some great verses. Excellent instrumental sections between the verses, and generally quite a daring job, because you've taken the risk of swamping everything in guitar, but pulled it off. Powerful stuff, which is a surprising thing to say about a Christmas song.
Everything Is Fine - Phil S This reminds me of the Greg Lake song, with that same surprise that a prog rocker can produce a truly warm, traditional Christmas song. I really like those acoustic guitars strumming along, giving this a strong Christmas feel, as if it's being played around a camp fire on a silent night. It's got an incantatory quality, which fits the theme perfectly - again, something you can sing or hum as you crunch through the snow. Very atmospheric.
Post by philsanderson on Dec 20, 2015 20:47:04 GMT
Warner United Great lyrics and good delivery throughout. I especially liked the backing vocals. ( Which monastery did the excellent monks come from!?) Could have been nice to hear the entire team crooning away in the background, but on subsequent listenings I began to recollect how dreadful the quality of most official football team songs have been in the past and how wise Tim was to exclude them from the recording studio. ( I was sort of ‘excluded’ from backing vocals on a recording session with my main band many moons ago. I recorded my vocal in good faith, only to find out that my dulcet tones had been wiped / replaced, so my efforts never got heard. Still haven’t got over this incident after 31 years, and I never will) I think the premiership wages would compensate players for not being at home, but not if you were a lower league player.
Stephen Can’t get a rather sordid picture out of my mind now... unreasonable behaviour on a beach with Stephen as main protagonist. Worrying, but hugely entertaining! Family life in Little Oakley dictates precious little opening for unreasonable behaviour at Christmas Time, but I live in hope... So catchy was the main line, that I was singing along even on first listening! Lovely egaging feel to the whole song, perhaps it could do with another verse or so to flesh out ( I use the term suggestively ) details of unseemly goings on. I suppose a Christmas video this year might be more difficult to interpret ‘decently’, but I hope we get another fine one!
Rob Such is the warmth exuded by Rob during this song, that I wonder if he feels tempted to extend the Christmas period in Colchester to run from January 1st through to December 31st. It’s enviable, as I have yet to fully embrace the festive season after all these years. Christmas was at best ‘muted’ at home as I grew up. What’s the secret?? ( this year’s big ‘secret’ is that inanimate objects have joined forces against the Sanderson household. Both our cars have decided they need new 2 (yes, 2, so that means 4 altogether) tyres as a present, and both cars went out of their way to express their desires miles from home on consecutive weekends. Not to be outdone the heating decided that the bathroom floor needed cleaning asap, so it deliberately broke one of its pipes to release water at high density and velocity. Thanks. I could go on, there’s more, but back to the song... After a few seconds I thought we were being transported to a gospel church ( all in that one organ chord!)Excellent vocals as ever, would maybe have liked a little more ‘lift’ in one section of the song, maybe in backing or the guitar solo to have been a bit more radical ( I liked the big band thing last year, although it might sound less good in a ¾ song?.) Liked the surprising chord towards end of verse a lot. Thinking about it now as I edit my review for umpteenth time I could imagine a gospel type choir joining in towards the end.
Mike Super percussion arrangement and playing, really best appreciated on headphones. Really liked the verses to this, with confident delivery and great timing, too. I liked the chorus, too, but was a little less keen compared to the verse. I wouldn’t take it personally, I’m going through a phase of preferring verses to all songs. ( by anybody...) I think this stems from my frequent inability to nail the chorus when I write. I’ve been trying to remedy this in the past few months in songs I’m producing outside of the SWC. It’s hard not to feel like you’re far away on an idyllic beach during this, enjoying the three S.s ( Sun, Sea and Santa... also hard not to think how the final S could be replaced with another word and then how the song could be a mash up with Stephen Clarke and unreasonable seasonal behaviour. Great production again. One day I’d like to hear / read / see how you do it- please!
Christian Autobiographical? I can still vividly remember pulling a cracker at my mums in about 1990 and ending up with a considerable burn at the bottom of my thumb as the resultant ‘explosion’ was obviously far greater than expected. I’ve finally found someone to blame! I loved the keyboard sounds in the background, especially the deep one which seems to hover almost menacingly in each ear. The downward ‘oboe’ notes are really nice as is the ending. This song is a real grower for me. Love the second half as it seems to gain momentum. Can you pin down where you get your brilliant lyric ideas / themes from? I'm in complete awe.
Tim and Glynn Love the intro and verse and the variety of sounds in each section. Especially taken by the power and energy throughout the song. Although less keen on chorus at first, it has got firmly stuck in head. Superfluous comments re drum sound / vocal needed, but also like to note the great bass – post punk style and use of guitar effects. Another hugely successful song- the latest in a long line. Listening again I really admire how the vocal and drum parts go so well together ‘timingwise’ in one of the choruses ( middle one?) I can remember with envy indoor fireworks being used in other people’s homes when I was a lad, but not ours – far too frivolous for my parents I fear.
The acoustic guitar is really well recorded and with good bass sound, there’s a good pallet for the very clear vocals. The separation of all the parts is an object lesson in production. But the real features are the great lyrics and the wonderful backing vocals that really add to the overall dry, comic effect. I love the line “I won’t get a game” in the backing vocals in particular. It sounds like it was fun to record.
This is really effective songwriting – a relatively simple arrangement and structure, effective drums well delivered, funny vocals. One particular pleasing element is the unaffected pronunciation. Hooray for Essex accents!
Mike Gosling: Sun Sea and Santa
Wonderful sounds. That’s the first thing that strikes you. Lovely guitar, bass and drum sounds. The feel of the song is so appropriate to the subject and there are some really deft touches on the keyboards throughout and I love the solo guitar in the repeated chorus.
Overall the production is great and it would be really interesting to know more about your set-up. Everything sits so well together – this is a lovely concept, delivered with real warmth.
Stephen Clarke: Getting in the Spirit of Christmas
This just sounds so natural – you make it sound easy. Another very clever concept, beautifully delivered. There are just so many great lines (my particular favourite is “Carol’s someone you kiss, not something you sing”) but they don’t sound contrived and the playing is so much more than just a vehicle to deliver the lyrics.
Particular highlights include the guitar line mimicking the vocal line in “on the beach” and the pause on “watching a girl gyrate in my lap”. Stephen is just so good at producing clever, original songs that reward repeat listens as you pick up how well the backing vocals fit, the odd doubling up of the vocal line and simple but effective guitar parts. This is terrific.
Rob Warner: I Love Christmas (and I love you)
This is by some margin the most conventionally Christmassy song of the month. Christmas appears to give Rob such an overwhelming set of expectations that you begin to worry what happens to him for the other 364 days! This is really nicely put together. Well sung (as always) with some unpredictable chord changes, fantastic backing vocals and really good quality recording.
I particularly liked the middle 8 with its ‘minor’ feel and the guitar solo is an unexpected pleasure. I can’t help feeling that the song would have benefitted from a change of pace from the drum track to sort of bowl along a bit more towards the end but this is still a very finely recorded song. It’s catchy and yet definitely not ‘obvious’ in its construction or performance. It’s probably the only song here that could go straight into the middle of the Christmas compilation album and sound perfectly in place.
Christian Duffin: Christmas Explosion
This is such a great concept for a Christmas song. I remember hearing about someone who was upset with his employer and wrote f*** off through a whole batch of Blackpool rock – perhaps they continued on to work in a cracker factory. As usual with Christian’s recordings there’s lovely guitar work, carefully placed keyboard sounds and above all seriously good lead and backing vocal lines. It’s easy to take for granted the quality of your backing vocals in particular.
This is another catchy song with crisply written lyrics that set out the concept without sounding forced or contrived. This is such a gift that you have. It would be easy for this to be little more than a novelty song but it certainly isn’t that and it maintains your consistently brilliant output. Seriously clever lyrics, beautifully wrought melody and very skilful playing. This is great.
Phil Sanderson – Everything is Fine
This is sooo gentle – we’re not really used to this from Phil. The wait for the chord change going into ‘everything is fine’ and ‘Christmas time’ is really effective – we know there’s going to be but when? I read some other comments that compared it to Greg Lake, which I hadn’t heard but definitely do now. For me, I really liked that you didn’t really go for a huge build-up and I loved the atmosphere you created. At the end, I didn’t particularly want another verse and yet I immediately listened to it 3 more times – I think you got it just right.
Even with relatively sparse instrumentation (by Phil’s standards) this has a depth in the layering of the guitars. How did you do the high voice in the background? It works really well – a sort of tantalising glimpse rather than full-on backing vocals and the mandolin-style playing towards the end works really nicely. Well done Phil.
Writing my congratulations to Tim & Glyn from a very Christmassy (though not in terms of the weather - 30ºC!!) Florida in the US of A. Well deserved plaudits from all and one of your best recordings. This little ditty gives you two number ones for 2015. Congratulations and keep up the good work. Much Love Rob