Photo by Rogan Macdonald

Christmas, don’t you just hate it? The traditional English family celebration of pretending to like all the crap presents, putting up with relatives that you only see once a year (there’s a reason for that) and getting wasted on weird drinks that would normally make you an object of pity in the pub with your mates.

And that’s another thing; pubs at Christmas. They’re full of people who go out once a year and have no idea how to behave. There aren’t many worse experiences than having your night trashed by the systems analysts from work out on their Christmas do. Hearing geeks talk loudly and drunkenly about computer games gets irritating really quickly (about 13 seconds is my current record) and that’s before they start on the flaming Sambucas. The licensed trade loves Christmas because people will drink anything; it’s a great way to shift all that stuff at the back of the spirit cupboard that seemed like a great idea at the summer trade fair.

And that’s before we get to the music. I like a good Christmas tune as much as the next person but the problem is that we don’t have enough of them and most of the good ones are over 20 years old now. So you either get constant rotation of the good ones or lots of filler on the radio, in shops and as call centre hold music. By the way, if you want something totally sacrilegious at Christmas how about Ronan Keating’s cover of “Fairytale of New York”?

And if you’re looking for interesting new music at this time of year, forget it. You’ve got more chance of finding an unpretentious and intelligible perfume ad. New music doesn’t sell at this time of year because media companies are working far too hard promoting nobodies from TV talent shows (or the supposedly clever responses from artists trying to keep the nobodies away from the Christmas No. 1 slot) and repackaging old material in the form of “new” compilations. A word in the ear of the guys behind the Cage Against the Machine project; you’re only drawing attention to the X Factor megastar wannabes. Ignore them, they’re not worth it.

Then we’ve got the 2 great concepts that the marketing people love at Christmas, the boxed set and the remaster and, even better, a combination of the two. With the boxed set, you get the unique opportunity to pay a second time for albums by your favourite artist with the added bonus of a slipcase and the albums you didn’t buy when they came out because you didn’t like them. The remaster is an even better marketing scam; your favourite album has been thrown through a bit of software to digitise it and make it sound more like the stuff that’s around at the moment and a few additional tracks are thrown in to sweeten the deal. Call me old-fashioned, but over £30 for 3CDs including live tracks and the stuff that wasn’t good enough to get on “Performance & Cocktails” in the first place doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.

2011 here I come.

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