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Christmas Records, Day 23: It's a Cool, Cool Christmas

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Richard Banks Richard Banks | 10:29 UK time, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

It's a Cool, Cool ChristmasThis collection of festive indie gems has soundtracked Christmas chez moi ever since my brother-in-law lent it to me nearly ten years ago. It's a hard disc to track down now and, since many of its 21 tracks are exclusive to this complilation, secondhand copies fetch a premium. Come to think of it, I should probably give it him back.

Released on Jeepster Records in 2000 and backed by XFM, all of the proceeds from sales of It's a Cool, Cool Christmas went to The Big Issue. It's an assortment of originals and reworkings of Christmas classics recorded by an all-star line up including Jeepster's own Belle and Sebastian, plus Calexico, Teenage Fanclub, Eels, The Dandy Warhols, Snow Patrol, The Flaming Lips, Saint Etienne, Low and Grandaddy.

The latter get the album underway with Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland, a stroke of comedy genius with lyrics like "In the meadow, we can build a snowman and pretend that he is Alan Parsons. He'll say 'Have you listened to my new band?" underpinned by Grandaddy's trademark electro arpeggios.

Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas by Eels also stands out for its upbeat approach, E announcing the arrival of the middle eight with the immortal line, "Baby Jesus: born to rock".

For me, though, the best thing about this great comp is that it's not all sleigh bells and soporific harmonies. If you'd rather rock around the tree than snooze in an armchair on the big day, look no further than Big Boss Man's hammond-led groove, Christmas Boogaloo or the ska funk surrealism of Christmas In Waikiki by prog rockers, Morgan ("Merry Christmas, surfers of Waikiki, Merry Christmas...")

But there's plenty for traditionalists to enjoy, too, with covers of O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Belle and Sebastian), In The Bleak Midwinter (6 Music's own Lauren Laverne) and the Welsh hymn, Hwiangerdd Mair (Gorky's Zygotic Mynci). And since no good Christmas compilation is complete without a little Low, the lead track from their classic EP (which we appraised on day 6 of this series of posts) also features. Cool, indeed.

Here's The Dandy Warhols with their video for track 2 from It's a Cool, Cool Christmas. For some reason it features a man dancing only in his pants and a santa hat. Festive! You have been warned...


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I got this CD when it came out, not only as I am a strong supporter of the Big Issue but also because I get involved with Crisis @ Christmas. Anyhow this is a belter of a CD and as this Blog says it is a nice counterpoint to the usual sleighbells and festive schmaltz that does the rounds @ Christmas time. I love the Eels anyhow but love the Low track, spiritual guidance and the El Vez number too. It gets plenty of playing around Christmas and has proven popular due to its slightly unconventional content.


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