I become fascinated by the changes in the music industry that this little advent calendar has highlighted for me. Once upon a time, a band might perform in local pubs. get gigs with bigger audiences and, if they were fortunate, get spotted by a promoter or have a demo tape pulled out the lucky dip and get a record contract. it would be the record company that would be the route to a wider audience. Now however, artists can reach a global audience with nothing much more than a decent mic set-up and an Internet connection. It seems to me that YouTube has been more of a disruptor than Napster or iTunes ever were. Yesterday’s act and todays are YouTube famous. Not that I realised that last year when I found this version on Apple Music. In this cover he is partnered by Kate MacGill, on vocals and keyboard. Kate is another YouTube star. Indeed possibly more of a star than Ortopilot, given she has a wikipedia page and he does not.
Since I started this series two new cover versions were released, neither of which had I planned to include of course. Jon Bon Jovi I included because its review. This one I include because… well, it was released less than an hour ago at the time of writing. I guess it came up on my feed, because I have been calling up a lot of versions of the song. So this is brand new (a day old maybe when you get to hear it). And its pretty good – the visuals clash somewhat with the sound, but the voices and arrangement are not bad. The f-word is fluffed.
I had never heard of Puddles Pity Party before, but I understand from wikipedia that he is a performer called Mike Geier.
What about the two versions that got kicked out for this and JBJ? YO won’t miss them.
Time for another Shane. This one with the Popes, the band he formed post-Pogues “my band, so they can’t tell me what to do” . And in Kirsty’s place his mother, Theresa.
Just to be clear, that’s his actual mother, not the the nun.
But I am going to take this opportunity to talk about a film fans of this song and Shane must see. The Friday before last for Sue’s birthday, I took her to see Crock of Gold: A few rounds with Shane MacGowan at the cinema. It’s really good fun, with a mix of interviews, achieve, Ken Burns style photos and animation. The “interviews” are snatches from the archive and three recorded conversations with Shane and his old mates Johnny Depp, Bobby Gillespie, and Gerry Adams. Does it reveal truths? Well I am sure I learned a few things, but its an exercise in myth making too, I would not rely upon any of the narrators.
But the myth it makes is one I can live with.
Yesterday’s post (earlier today) was enjoyed by some listeners, so I am hoping to build on that with this one. There’s a distinct west country twang in evidence here as it some from cider-drinking combine harvester owners The Wurzels.
Released nine years ago on a Christmas album called … ahem The Wurzels Christmas Album. Its not bad. There’s a little originality in the arrangement. Controversial lyrics remain, so its not one you will hear on BBC Radio 1. There’s not much more that I can say about it.
Whoops I forgot to post yesterday’s cover. And it’s not dreadful either. I thought after recent travesties I could at least give you a cover by an Irish band. Here are the Whistlin Donkeys
This one seems half a beat slower than the original. I am not sure why? And I am not even sure that “half a beat slower is a thing” maybe I should not betray my dreadful knowledge of music and shut up. (Did you know I have a PhD in Music? Yeah, its crazy.)
They have made a video, which is better that Pogue’s video for Streams if Whisky but franking not all that much, in which two of the band members have a mild argument about timekeeping in a pub, which sort of undercuts the emotional power of the song.
Anyhow, that’s yesterdays section. Today’s will be along in a while. (My posts are like combine harvesters, you wait all day they two turn up at once.)
As I have previously mentioned there is a class of Fairytale covers that I call “Johnny No-Mates”, wherein the duet is sung solo, most often by a bloke. Christy Moore does a good job of it, and we we have endured, Jon Bon Jovi does a really really terrible job of it. Somewhere in the middle comes this version from the Norfolk actor Mateo Oxley.
When I say actor, you might think, “has he been in anything I have actually seen?” He has! We was in the comedy spoof The Windors, with me old drinking buddy* Hugh Skinner and Harry Enfield, among others. Indeed they named the whole episode ofter his role, Eduardo.
This bland, saccharine version adds nothing to the canon, and avoids the whole controversial lyrics issue by just not singing the entire verse! Still its better than Jon Bon Jovi.
*I was sitting next to him in the BFI bar but actually too starstruck (to too drunk) to say anything to him.
After the debacle of yesterday’s Jon Bon Jovi effort, I give you instead the version that was scheduled for yesterday. It really was a last minute change – I was searching for this one, when the Classic Rock headline came up. Sorry.
Creeper are an English rock band, local lads and lasses from Southampton. So I guess this is a sort of heavy metal version. The guitars at least are a little metal, but the rest of the arrangement is actually quite sensitive. I really like the last few bars. any how, this one goes in the not-bad pile.
Thirteen – unlucky for you all. And a late entry to my plans as this is a version from 2020. I am truly sorry to inflict it upon you, but it is my duty to do so. If only so that I can quote from the splendid article that brought it to my attention. These words are not mine, but those of the splenetic Paul Brannigan of Classic rock magazine.. Lets start with the headline:
Listen to Jon Bon Jovi ruin Christmas with the worst version of The Pogues’ Fairytale Of New York ever recorded
Short and to the point huh? The standfirst is even better”:
If you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, listen to Jon Bon Jovi sh*t all over The Pogues’ beloved Fairytale Of New York
And it goes on!
Just when we thought 2020 had turned a corner, a new horror has surfaced, in the form of Jon Bon Jovi covering The Pogues’ Fairytale Of New York… We’re not going to be too unkind here, ’tis the season of goodwill to all men and all that, but we have three immediate questions: 1) why is JBJ arguing with himself? 2) What’s going on with his accent at 1 minute 28 seconds? and 3) Lyric change aside, WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING BETWEEN 2:16 and 2:30?
I have nothing more to add.
We are halfway though our advent calendar of versions of Fairytale of New York. We started with an early Pogues version, before the song had come together, and with the female part of duet sung by erstwhile Pogue, Cait O’Riordan. I am not going to torment you with any of the further versions of the song in development, but neither am I ready to give you what you want – the one with Kirsty McColl.
Kirsty’s untimely demise ripped my heart out. It seemed, it was, so unfair. (It was a horrible story which I am not going to share here.) She had, not many months before, released a great album, Tropical Brainstorm, which I loved. I felt she was at a career high. And of course there was this seminal song, which of course brought a tear to my eye the Christmas after she died, and occasionally still.
It is said that Fairytale had restarted a career that had been stalled by terrible stage-fright after her early success (with songs like New England and There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop, Swears he’s Elvis). The story goes that the success of Fairytale forced her to tour with the Pogues, but at the same time keep her appearance on stage to a minimum. That hard work, steadily built enough confidence to take command of the stage solo once again, and create four more albums. Arguably the song made her, just as much as she made the song.
Her death left a hole in the Pogues line-up of course. They has split, but their occasional reunions where mostly around Christmas when of course it was expected that they should perform Fairytale live. It must have felt that Kirsty was irreplaceable. For this half way point I was faced with the dreadful prospect of sharing the terrible version that they had recorded with Katie Melua. Dreamful not because of her, or only partly, but mostly because of Shane’s performance. Which ain’t great.
Thankfully, another singer has more recently stepped up to the mic. And its somehow fitting that its Dr Ella Finer, daughter of the song’s co-composer Jem. In this recording, form a 30th anniversary reunion performance in Paris, Shane is not at his worse either.
In the Venn diagram of Fairytale covers includes a set I call “Billy no-mates”. This is where a performer is reduced to singing the famous duet solo. The excellent Christy Moore rendition is in the Billy no-mates set, but also, thankfully in the Good set.
This one is also in the Billy no-mates set. It’s by the improbably named “Maverick Sabre”. It’s in the Slut/Faggot set too. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if its also in the Good set. But this is a BBC Radio 1 session, so somebody must think so.