16 December 2009

The Deceptive Christmas Singles 1995

Label: Deceptive
Year of Release: 1995

Limited edition Christmas singles put out by indie labels seem to be a guaranteed annual occurrence, and - for all their rush-recorded flaws - are actually a charming addition to the season. In a world where people get themselves in a stew about the Christmas Number One, it's a pleasure to witness labels putting out music in a limited format without even feeling a tinge of panic about whether the vinyl will even trouble the number one spot on the seasonal independent charts or not. Cynics with Scrooge tendencies may point towards the collector's market for why these discs make excellent gifts, but the reality is most of them haven't really increased in value that much (with the exception of The White Stripes "Candy Cane Children" effort, which I own, but never bought expecting it to end up being such a collectible).

Deceptive - a now-defunct label partly run by BBC radio DJ Steve Lamacq, for those of you who need reminding - launched several of the things at once in 1995 like festive frisbees into the little record shops everywhere. All of them were essentially frivolous and very enjoyable additions the catalogues of the bands in question, including cheeky cover versions and off-the-cuff oddness.

Snuff - Xmas

Snuff - Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads

Snuff were naturally no strangers to bizarro cover versions in the first place, having previously treated us to their artistic interpretation of the Shake n Vac advert tune, but their minimalist approach to the theme from "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads" takes the despairing original and puts a punkish spike up its bottom. Whereas the version by Highly Likely was quite mournful, almost in a post-Richey Manic Street Preachers way (no, really), Snuff manage to create a tearing tune, and even crowbar a reference to Chucklevision towards the end.

Collapsed Lung - Xmas

Collapsed Lung - Connection

Hip Hop inspired Harlow boys Collapsed Lung, on the other hand, opted to take on their labelmates Elastica by releasing a version of "Connection". Perhaps one of the less successful releases of the bundle, "Connection" is interesting enough, but it's a questionable fit stylistically. At not one point do you wonder why Elastica didn't explore this musical territory in a bit more depth.

Earl Brutus - Xmas

Earl Brutus - Single Seater Xmas

And where would we be without the Brutus? Single Seater Xmas was the only 'true' Christmas single of the lot, but was a tremendously strange effort even by the band's usual standards. Consisting of jingling bells, Formula One racing noises, Art of Noisey sampled vocals, and some outright peculiar bass guitar noises, it's possibly the oddest single they ever released, but none the less interesting for that. It also managed to peak at number one in the Christmas Chart Show indie chart that year, doubtless causing a lot of casual viewers to wonder what on earth was going on as a still picture of the band gently shimmered left and right across the screen for ten seconds.

Spare Snare also released "Wired For Sound" as the fourth limited edition single that year, but I don't have a copy - if anyone does, and they'd be kind enough to do the honours, please let me know.


Michael said...


I do have the Spare Snare single, but have no idea when I'd have time to rip it before Christmas.

I used to love the Snuff version of the Likely Lads theme!

23 Daves said...

Thanks Michael - I appreciate you probably won't have time, so don't worry! I was hoping somebody might have an mp3 copy already rather than have to rip it from source.

Chris said...

I remember the Earl Brutus song, it was rather strange. Still have it on vinyl from all those years ago!

Would be interested to hear the Spare Snare one, and Snuff doing likely lads was a belter!