Is it just me, or did Cocteau Twins always have a bit of a wintery vibe about them? In any case, in 1993 they put this pair of cover versions out as a very limited edition. Limited because they didn’t want to accidentally have a big hit with it and for this to be the single that everybody would know them for, forevermore. Probably wise.
I mentioned in a comment over at A History Of Dubious Taste that back in 2012, I choreographed a christmas charity aerobic marathon type thing, where alongside the obvious numbers from the likes of Shakin’ Stevens, Slade, Ronettes, Wizzard and The Darkness (plus Frank Sinatra‘s version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” as a breather halfway through), I indulged in a few personal favourites. And I thought I would share some with you…
A fun version of a song that all the old-time crooners did back in the day, but which seems to have been forgotten by everyone… except Kate, who taught herself to play xylophone specially. Worth the effort.
The Weddoes’ revved-up revision of Lord Reg‘s perennial classic. I cheated on the choreography to this one and just re-used the routine I already had for “Na Na Na Na Naa” by Kaiser Chiefs.
Bonkers, and basically impossible to dance to, but fun to try… and even more fun to make other people try.
When the producers of Home Alone 2 couldn’t secure the rights to use Darlene Love’s recording of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, they commissioned a new song instead. It got into the lower end of the top 40 and afterwards was never played again. It’s a corker. Well, OK, it’s a pretty blatant rip-off of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”… but it’s still a corker.
When I was putting the dance-a-thing together, I chopped and changed the playlist quite a lot, but for the closing number… well, how could it possibly be anything else? It really is THE Christmas Song.
In 1993, Sub Pop, then probably the coolest record label on the planet, sent their mailing list a Christmas card with a CD inside. I’m guessing that had this CD contained material by one of Sub Pop’s alt-rock signings, most obviously Nirvana, but Sebadoh or Afghan Whigs would do at a pinch, this CD would probably change hands nowadays for a lot more money than it actually does. As it is, less than ten dollars will secure you a copy, probably with the card itself attached too. It seems lounge revivalists Combustible Edison just aren’t that collectible…
Anyway, here are the two tracks featured on that CD. Well, they were given away for free in the first place, after all. Apparently, “Christmas Time Is Here” is a seasonal standard in the USA, but I’d never heard of it, and until I looked into the story of Combustible Edison last year, I’d assumed it was an original song. How wrong I was… Wikipedia lists a whole heap of other versions, noticeably all by North Americans. We just don’t have that song in the UK. I think the Charlie Brown christmas special which introduced it in 1965, may have been shown here at nine in the morning once in 1991.
Anyway, “Christmas Time Is Here” is the less interesting of the two tracks. Much better is their inventive arrangement of “Sleigh Ride”. We in the UK do know “Sleigh Ride”, mainly through the Ronettes version, but Combustible Edison’s version is a pleasing contrast to Phil Spector‘s wall of sound. A surprisingly minimal arrangement (no strings or brass in this version) and seemingly delivered with a determination not to maintain the same combination of instruments for more than eight bars in a row, it fairly breezes along and even survives the uncharacteristic cheesiness of the brief vocal interjections (“Giddy up!”). Delightful.
I’m hoping for Olivia Colman.
Anyway, blah. This is the “Jamscraper” mix of “Mmm… Skyscraper I Love You” by Underworld, with the snappily-titled “Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (After Sky Id6 1551 2)” (basically, a demo version of the coda from the standard single/LP mix) edited onto the end for 14 minutes of… stuff.
Did you know it’s Scams Awareness Month? If you’re not aware of that, then it probably means they need a Scams Awareness Month Awareness Month to raise awareness of it.
Anyway, I have wasted a hell of a lot of my life campaigning against scams, and I think this is an appropriate opportunity to make you all aware that it’s contemptibly futile. According to the Scams Awareness Month literature, only 5% of scams are reported. I don’t know where they got that figure from. In any case, the fact is that ActionFraud and Trading Standards are already hopelessly swamped just by that 5%. The proportion of victims they can actually help is as close to zero as makes no difference. What’s more, Trading Standards’ first duty isn’t even to the victims – Trading Standards’ first duty is to advise the scammers, in other words their primary statutory role to help con artists get away with it. That’s not what they call it, obviously – officially it’s “advising traders of their legal obligations” or some such innocent-sounding boilerplate, but what it means is pointing out the loopholes that enable them to target and defraud victims and have the law turn a blind eye. Be aware of this: in the rare cases that Trading Standards actually push for, and maybe secure a prosecution, that is not a victory for Trading Standards. That is a fallback when they have failed in their primary function. Some Trading Standards Officers refuse to tell you this, some are in denial about it. Some (Cornwall TS springs to mind) are actually open and proud of their work in ensuring con artists flourish, and why wouldn’t they be? It’s what they get paid for, after all.
Over the last six years, I have reported scams, false advertising, high pressure selling, targeting of vulnerable groups, all sorts of things, to various Trading Standards departments and other authorities across the UK and Ireland. Here’s how much the victims have got back, in total:
And here’s how many of the scammers, rogue traders, con artists and miscellaneous charlatans have profited from what they’ve done:
All of them.
One hundred percent. There is one pending case, but realistically there’s no hope of that ending in a situation for the scammers that I wouldn’t gladly exchange for my own.
So, here’s my awareness-raising message for Scams Awareness Month: scams are a brilliant way of making money, their victims don’t matter, if you object to them, you’re scum, and if you don’t do them, you’re a moron. I have wasted my life caring about people and not being a conman. I should have spent the last six years conning people. I should be doing that right now, and I’m not, which makes me a worthless piece of shit. Well, either that or Cornwall Trading Standards, and in fact all other Trading Standards departments, are in the wrong, but they actually get paid from the public purse to enable scams, so I think it’s safe to assume that it’s me.
2000’s The Beach was Danny Boyle‘s fourth movie as director and he had certainly got a reputation as a man with an ear for a good, varied soundtrack. Though strangely, after The Beach, his soundtracks were largely single-composer with perhaps the odd curveball thrown in, and he didn’t really return to the eclecticism of Trainspotting, A L ife Less Ordinary and The Beach until this year’s T2: Trainspotting.
Unlike its predecessors, there’s not a lot of guitars on The Beach – it’s really heavy on the electronics. Boyle regulars Leftfield and Underworld are present, both with excellent new tracks subsequently deemed worthy of inclusion on their respective Best Ofs, and there are also return appearances from New Order (with the album’s most “rock” song), Faithless, and Blur. In the “quick, get someone to cover the tracks we couldn’t licence” corner, we get Asian Dub Foundation doing The Upsetters‘ ska standard “Return Of Django” (not as exciting as you might hope) while John Cale and Brian Eno‘s “Spinning Away” is covered by Sugar Ray, which seems like an odd choice, though they take it dead straight and make a decent go of it.
The big hit, of course, was All Saints’ “Pure Shores”, a number one smash which critics were quick to point out bore a considerable resemblance to the sort of thing producer William Orbit had recently been doing with Madonna. Dario G‘s “Voices” (a two-year-old album track) and Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti‘s “Beached” were also released as singles, to less success.
Anyway, here’s a whole heap of downloadables for you. In all cases, the password is salad – all lower case. First, of course, the soundtrack album itself:
Various Artists – The Beach Soundtrack
01 Snakeblood – Leftfield
02 Pure Shores – All Saints
03 Porcelain – Moby
04 Voices – Dario G
05 8 Ball – Underworld
06 Spinning Away (Souledout Mix) – Sugar Ray
07 Return Of Django – Asian Dub Foundation
08 On Your Own (Crouch End Broadway Mix) – Blur (remix by William Orbit)
09 Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix Edit) – Mory Kante
10 Woozy – Faithless
11 Richard, It’s Business As Usual – Barry Adamson
12 Brutal – New Order
13 Lonely Souls – UNKLE featuring Richard Ashcroft
14 Beached – Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti
Angelo Badalamenti’s score didn’t get issued until a few months after the film, which seems a strange way of going about things…
Angelo Badalamenti – The Beach (Motion Picture Score)
01 Bizarre City (with Barry Adamson)
02 The Beach Theme (Swim To Island)
03 Vision Of Fantasy
04 Mournful Myth
06 Killing Fields
07 Blue Sex
08 The Beach Theme (Mythical Waters)
10 Daffy’s Done
11 Mystery Of Christo
12 Pure Victims
13 Pursuit Of A Shark
14 Waterfall Cascade
Link: Original Score
There were three singles from the soundtrack album (well, four if you include “Porcelain” but that was released later on and not tied in to the film), and here they are, with all the tracks combined.
“Pure Shores” was the breakout hit, and probably more popular than the movie was! Karl “K-Gee” Gordon gives it a hip hop flava on the 2 Da Beach U Don’t Stop Mix and Tom Middleton goes all cosmic on the, yup, Cosmos Mix.
All Saints – Pure Shores
01 Pure Shores (album version)
02 If You Don’t Know What I Know
03 Pure Shores (2 Da Beach U Don’t Stop Mix)
04 Pure Shores (Cosmos Remix)
05 Pure Shores (The Beach Life Mix)
06 Pure Shores (Instrumental)
Link: Pure Shores
The second single was “Beached”, usually described as a “collaboration” between Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti, though I’m not sure they actually got together as such. The single has shorter and longer versions (apparently an instrumental mix exists too, which I think I would prefer because that narration is properly irritating, but I’ve never seen it anywhere) plus an unrelated Orbital original. I rather think they should have put Angie’s original theme on it, particularly considering that the original score album wasn’t yet released at this point.
And last and probably least (though with the most mixes), Dario G’s “Voices”, with the voice of Vanessa Quinones.
Dario G featuring Vanessa Quinones – Voices
01 Voices (radio edit)
02 Voices (Sash! radio edit)
03 Voices (film acoustic version)
04 Voices (Sash! X-Tended mix)
05 Voices (Taste Xperience)
06 Voices (Jimpy & Wolff mix)
07 Voices (Kriana mix)
And because I forgot to include it in the bundle…
Here’s some janglepop from The Pooh Sticks. I don’t know a lot about them, except that Amelia Fletcher helped out on the odd occasion. She’s not involved in this one, though.
First released 1992, but the single I’m sharing here is the reissue from 1993.