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Sunday, 26 December 2010

~Winter Wassailing~#15: 'Boxing Day' by Elvis Costello & The Attractions

A Selection Of Seasonal Songs In The ~Streetlamp~ Stylee!

And so....

If Christmas Eve was 1981, then Boxing day finds us in the glorious year of 1983.
Now 1983 was an important year for us here at the ~Streetlamp~ as it was the year in which we put away childish things. Indeed, Christmas 1983 I recall as the last Christmas that I would view with anything like the eyes of a child, most certainly because it was the last one that I could ever say that passed completely alcohol-free. It was all downhill from then.

For Christmas 1983, my main Christmas gift was what we used to call a 'Ghetto Blaster', i.e. a large, portable stereo radio-cassette player. With the money I got for Christmas that year I went into Stirling and purchased two new music cassettes, specifically for my new 'Ghetto Blaster'. I bought 'Queen's Greatest Hits'(stop laughing Griff!!) and 'Punch The Clock' by Elvis Costello & The Attractions.
'Punch The Clock' is a strange album in Elvis's oeuvre as it has almost become completely forgotten, and yet it was the NME's album of the year that year. That was why I bought it. God knows why I bought the Queen cassette!!
By 1983 most music had succumbed to that big brass sound that Dexy's Midnight Runners, Madness and to a lesser extent, The Teardrop Explodes had brought to the charts. And 'Punch The Clock' saw Elvis backed not only by The Attractions, but also The TKO Horns led by Big Jimmy Paterson whose trombone had led Dexy's brass section on the 'Searching For The Young Soul Rebels' album. Paterson's brass section add a real staccato punch to Elvis's songs which are already fairly energetic and heavenly melodic.
'Punch The Clock' doesn't seem to carry the same clout and kudos as, say, 'Imperial Bedroom', 'Almost Blue', 'Blood And Chocolate' or even 'Armed Forces', yet as I've pointed out, it was the NME's top album in a year that practically groaned under the weight of quality albums. Remember this is the album that contains not only Elvis's own brilliant version of the remarkable 'Shipbuilding'(see Griff's Blog), but also fantastic singles like 'Everyday I Write The Book' and 'Pills And Soap'.
If you are unacquainted with 'Punch The Clock' I can only but urge you to check it out, not just for the three tracks mentioned above, not just for the magnificent playing of the TKO Horns, but also for containing the only decent song about Boxing Day in the history of music!
The version below is taken from a performance on The Tube....this track was not broadcast however due to running over time.

Talking of Boxing Day(as in the 26th of December), a few years ago Griff and I were discussing what WE would put into Room 101 if ever we were on that particular TV show(or even found ourselves with the Orwellian nightmare of it's literary origins) and I happened to say that I would put Boxing Day into it. Why? Well, because as a child I pretty much gave myself up totally to the magic of Christmas and found Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so overwhelming that Boxing Day just seemed to be such a complete anti-climax. All those gifts now looked rather ordinary in the cold light of day. Having eaten so much chocolate the day before, that mountain of selection boxes and chocolate oranges just turned your stomach. And all those Christmas songs that had sounded so amazing in the run up to Christmas Eve, on Boxing Day just sounded complete bollocks. Furthermore, with our family, we tried to re-create the whole Christmas Day experience again on Boxing Day but this time down at my Gran's. Having to eat all the same food again, coupled with the fact that all the adults usually tended to fall asleep directly after dinner, and a hollow sense of going through the motions made Boxing Day the idiot cousin of the whole Christmas experience.
The only good thing about Boxing day is that it gave us one of my favourite Elvis Costello songs!

I can't quite recall what items Griff said he would put into Room 101 were, but I'm sure 'silly twats who can't go 24 hours without mentioning Marcel Proust' was pretty high on his list.

Quite right too!


No, Gordon, I think my Room 101 choice was Queen fans who refuse to come out of the closet about their secret shame. ;-)
Still laughing, here. You're going to wish you'd never told me this. This is a total 'Get Out of Jail Free' card for me the next time we have one of our famous extended musical arguments. Suddenly, my unaccountable purchase of Dire Strait's 'Romeo & Juliet' 7" is small beer (and it was already partly redeemed anyway by the Indigo Girl's cover version).


~Self Indulgent Addendum~: I hate to burst your bubble Griff, but I had Dire Straits 'Romeo & Juliet' AS WELL!!! How shameful for us! Maybe we should re-name the Blog ~The Streetlamp Doesn't Cast Mark Knopfler's Shadow Anymore~!!
And talking embarassing record purchases, did you know I have TWO singles by Modern Romance!! Now, one you can laugh off as a mistake or a prank, but TWO?!?! Do you think I should write a blog about them?

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