Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Christmas Part Two

Shanghai Aug 2012Before we go back to the Christmas playlist let’s recap the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame Class of Class of 2013. When the long list was revealed a few months back I predicted who would, and wouldn’t, be inducted this year. With the exception of Deep Purple I was pretty close to the mark picking my top five as Deep Purple, Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Donna Summer and Rush. All but the mighty Deep Purple were given the nod as well as the late guitarist Albert King and Heart. Congrats to all.

Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues

If there is a modern day Christmas classic this would be it. Shortly after the release of their 1985 classic “Rum, Sodomy & The Lash” The Pogues began work on “Fairytale Of New York”. Along with producer Elvis Costello, and featuring the vocals of bassist Cait O’Riordan (future pre-Diana Krall spouse of Elvis), the band roughed out the basic premise which can be heard on this early demo.

The band knew they were on to something but with the departure of O’Riordan they put the demo on the shelf. When working on their new album “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” new producer Steve Lillywhite (who was just added to the CMW 2013 line-up) suggested they give the song another chance and offered the vocal services of his wife Kirsty MacColl to fill the void left by O’Riordan. Recording her vocals at home, and separate from Pogues vocalist Shane MacGowan (who was coincidentally born on Christmas Day 1957), it soon became apparent that a little holiday magic was in the air. A video was quickly shot in New York and featured actor and fan Matt Dillon as a New York City cop. A new classic was born.

If you are not aware of The Pogues and are a fan of Mumford & Sons I highly recommend you check out their back catalog. You can think of them as Mumble & Sons.

Christmas – The Who

From the epic 1969 “rock opera” Tommy “Christmas” is not a traditional holiday song but still remains one of my favourites. It was one of five singles released from the double album set but was not a hit, that honour would go to “Pinball Wizard”. Much like Jesus Christ Superstar it is one of those albums that I always seem to listen to in its entirety. It’s kind of sad to think there is a whole generation of kids who will never know the joy of listening in that way.

I Believe In Father Christmas – Greg Lake

This is the only solo hit that the former member of King Crimson and Emerson Lake & Palmer ever had. Released in Lake wrote the music and the lyrics were provided by King Crimson co-founder Peter SInfield. Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite recorded a decent version of the song in 1985 but the original 1974 recording is still the classic version.

It’s Christmas – Segarini

Still a holiday fave as Bob sings about old wave and new wave and Phil Spector. Originally released as a vinyl single the song finally was released on CD when Bullseye added some bonus material to their re-issue of “Goodbye LA”.

Other perennial faves include “Merry Christmas Everybody” by Slade, “Christmas All Over The World” from The Carpetfrogs, Amos The Transparent’s take on “O Holy Night”, “Silver Bells” by The Yobs (who were in fact The Boys) and “Run Rudolph Run” by Keith Richards. I wouldn`t be surprised to hear Midge Ure perform his classic `Do They Know It`s Christmas when he plays Hugh`s Room next month.


Kim CookeI spent a few nights at The Horseshoe this week for a couple of great events. On Tuesday night hundreds of friends got together to celebrate Kim Cooke’s 60th birthday. Kim is one of the good guys in the biz and has been hard at it since 1971. Some of his highlights include being head of A&R for Warner Music Canada, being on the start-up team of Maple Music, running his independent label Pheromone Recordings (who were nominated for a Grammy Award for the video “Mr. Hurricane” by Beast) and his recently opened recording studio Revolution Recording (where Rush recorded their latest album). Kim and I go back to the late seventies together and when I became A&R Director of MC Records Canada he was always willing to help out with any questions I might have had as he was a very experienced A&R man. Currently Kim and I are neighbours and I often see him on Queen Street East and we always have time for a little industry catch.

Stuart JoliffeThere were attendees from every era of Kim’s career at the event and it was great to see JoAnn Kaeding from New York, old Quality Record pal Sheila Kaye, most of the seventies staff from WEA as well as his newer teams from Maple/Pheromone and Revolution.  Flying in from Halifax was Mike Campbell (owner of Halifax’s best live music room The Carleton) who attended with Delta Hotel’s Stuart Joliffe. Also spotted in the room was long time Cooke friend Ron Sexsmtih.

Many of the artists that Kim has worked with found the time to grab a guitar and honour the birthday boy with a tune. Sarah Harmer from Weeping Tile started the evening off and she was followed by Pilot Speed’s Todd Clarke who vowed the room with his stunning vocal performance. Joel Plaskett took the stage to read a note from The Odd’s Craig Northy and then Andy Maize of The Skydiggers performed. Plaskett returned to the stage to play “Harbour Boys” and then Murray Lightburn of The Dears closed the evening with a great acoustic version of “Lost In The Plot”.

It was a wonderful tribute to a Canadian music legend.

After a spirited lunch with former X Ray’s regular Chip James and Mike Campbell Wednesday turned in to a rock’n’roll marathon. Campbell and I dropped by the offices of SL Feldman’s and then grabbed a pint with agents Tom Kemp and Adam Shanfield. We ran into Salad’s drummer Darrin Pfeiffer and then set off for the annual DMD Holiday Egg-Nogger. Always a good time and it was nice to catch up with host Adrian Strong and party goers Kelowna Vincent, Mike Rice and Tracey McNamara. After a quick hit of bubblegum vodka (it reminded me of hockey card gum) it was off to The Rivoli to say hello to Steve Anthony, Tanya Humphrey-Anthony, Joel Plaskett and Steve Poltz. It was determined that Mr. Anthony is the only clear choice to host “The Amazing Race” Canada. It was then over to the legendary Horseshoe Tavern for the first of the Joel Plaskett Emergency five night stand at the club.

Plaskett, Poltz, Anthony

Pictured above: Joel Plaskett, Steve Anthony, Steve Poltz, Cam

I wrote earlier about all of the great Horseshoe 65th Birthday shows that the club is hosting this month and having The Emergency kick things off was a great start. Constantly touring Halifax native and current San Diego resident Steve Poltz was hand-picked to open the first two shows. For many in the crammed club it was their first exposure to the hilarious entertainer and, as always, he didn’t disappoint. Armed with his iPod, acoustic guitar and a battery of loops and effect pedals Poltz had the audience singing along from the get go and his between song banter had people in stitches. Best known as the former singer from The Rugburns Poltz rose to national prominence after co-writing Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me”. For a taste of Poltz’s sense of humour check out this video of his tune “A Brief History Of My Life” recorded in Mike Campbell’s garage, “The Tiki”

Plaskett, bassist Chris Pennell and drummer DAVE MARSH (say it like STEVE HOLTZ) then tore the roof off the Shoe with a great rock’n’roll  set featuring some of their greatest hits. The band are one of the finest this country has ever produced and when they are firing on all cylinders there isn`t a band that can touch them.  They are performing until Sunday at the club and they have just added an extra all ages early Sunday evening. If you are in the west end of Toronto Steve Poltz will be headlining at the Moonshine Café this Friday. Both bands should be on everybody`s lists.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

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DBAWIS_ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

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One Response to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Christmas Part Two”

  1. Love the Pogues song, and will definitely look into their other material! another great piece as always.

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