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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A very musical Christmas indeed

Hello! It's been a while, how are you?

I'm in the middle of my Christmas week off and in between seeing lots of family, eating lots of turkey and watching lots of nonsense on telly, I've been extremely lucky and had a whole truckload of music stuff for Christmas from friends and family. So in the absence of any other stuff to pass on to you, I thought a run down of the musical delights that have greeted me this past week would make a good stopgap...

Based on the above photo, I should think a career as a window-dresser awaits me. So, starting at the top...

Yes that is a crate on wheels, but it's much more than that - it's a brilliant idea. My Wife has seen me struggling with records from the turntable to the shelves (a full ten paces!) and reckoned that what I could do with is a little trolley that's perfectly vinyl sized to convey my records from one location to another. Plus, it looks pretty nifty too. Awesome. Thanks petal.

Next, partially obscuring the trolley, I got not one but two cool vinyl clocks. The big one (from Mum) is a Kitchenware Records album, but I can't tell what exactly without disassembling it, but it has a snazzy arm-shaped minute hand. The little one is from my Mum and Dad in-law and is made from a Beatles Ticket To Ride single. Nice!

Dotted about are several brilliant records, all of which I wanted a lot. First up is Bonnie & Clyde by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigette Bardot (from my bro and sis in law, more of whom soon). Then there are two brilliant records courtesy of my mum and dad in-law again (Pa put in a lot of ebay hours to bag these I think). There's the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers complete with crotch zip - AMAZING! I've wanted this for so long but never quite got hold of it, so I dread to think how much it cost. I don't think the recent Stones vinyl reissues included Sticky Fingers but if they did I wonder if it would have had the original zip feature replicated too. And the next record is Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything? record, which is new to me but absolutely terrific. I only knew the track It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference and the whole album is as good as that.

In a nice bit of present synergy My Wife coupled the trolley with four records all from my wanted list, including Weezer's Pinkerton, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, Warren Zevon's Excitable Boy (principally for Werewolves Of London, but the whole album's clearly a classic, even after one listen) and finally The Knife's Silent Shout (which I'm listening to right now - sonic awesomeness of the highest order).

The final LP of the bunch is one from my dear friends Will & Jo, who originally introduced me to the Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf psych rock records of the late 60s. I've got two of them (and you can read about them here) and now thanks to them I have the third, Muddy Waters' After The Rain. Apparently it was one of Will's Dad's favourite records, which makes me wish even more that I'd had the pleasure of meeting him. A generous gift in every sense.

Sticking with vinyl, and skipping to the bottom of the photo you'll see a load of 7"s, and they're all from Drew & Amy, my brother and sister in-law. I've wanted a 7" bag for the longest time and was finally rewarded for my patience (or should that be laziness?) and given a perfect bag from D&A from Soul Jazz Records. In another well considered piece of present-giving synergy (and yes, I am using that word with tongue in cheek), the bag was not empty. And what did it have in it? Why, 7"s of course! Ace ones too. There was a beautiful picture disc from The Cars of their hit My Best Friend's Girl (complete with picture sleeve too), LCD Soundsystem's party-starting Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, CSS's equally fun Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above (which wasn't actually in the bag cos it's an 8"), Candi Staton's His Hands on Honest Jon's Records and a disc of two versions of Roadrunner, one side by The Modern Lovers and one by Jonathan Richman on his own. Oh, and of course, the final 7" was the stand out of them all - Berlin's Take My Breath Away. Quality.

Holy shit, did I really have all this for Christmas? I had no idea I'd been that good this year. Anyway, pressing on...

The CDs on the right of the photo aren't all mine, but have all come into the home this yule time, so I thought I'd include them. From top to bottom there's The Welcome Wagon (from Drew and Amy to My Wife, and produced by Sufjan Stevens), then two soundtracks of great recent movies, Where The Wild Things Are by Karen O and The Kids and Fantastic Mr Fox, both of which were actually from me to My Wife. The pink one is a great sounding French album by a guy called Jacques Dutronc who I've never heard of and the one with the cross is by Thomas Function, both of which were again from Drew & Amy. And the final four I bought in the sales for a fiver each, which seemed like a bargain - Scarlett Johansson's Anywhere I Lay My Head (the Tom Waits' covers), Alela Diane's last album, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan's Sunday At Devil Dirt and finally Amadou & Miriam's much-lauded Welcome To Mali.

Right in the middle of the vinyl you can see a DVD - Wilco's I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (about the making of the acclaimed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album and apparently one of the best rock films ever). Big thanks to some of our best buddies Soph & Max for that one. Next to The Cars' 7" are some very cool vinyl coasters (including a great one of Prince's 1999), and Mapa (as my mother and father in-law are known) are responsible for that one too - cheers!

And last but definitely not least, that leaves the books,. There's the brilliant Rock Family Trees book from my Dad (who reads this blog - Hi Pops!), which is a very welcome addition to my fledgling music library. Then there's the Book Of Longing by Leonard Cohen, a collection of his poetry over the years (did you know he was a published poet before he was a musician? I didn't) and that's from My Wife. The book with STP on it is about the Rolling Stones' tour of 1972 and is supposed to be a rollercoaster of a read (cheers Drew!), and the other two books (one's about Queen and the other is a collection of those 33 1/3 essays on the recording of notable albums - check your local bookstore if you don't know what I mean) and both of those were bought by me in the sales, for me Merry Christmas me! And the very final thing is a pair of supercool drumstick pencils (again, from D&A - too generous guys!), which should keep me occupied for a good few months before I break them drumming along to Metallica's One.

So there we go. That's a lot. I feel slightly guilty now and definitely don't feel like I deserve it all, but I can promise to look after it all and give them a happy home. Yes, even the Berlin 7". Right, now I'm off to see if the crate trolley will take my weight around the flat. Speak to you in the new year!

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