Christmas, eh? What’s it all about? A time of togetherness, family, the giving and exchanging of Yuletide gifts; a time to be thankful for what we have; a time to gather our loved ones close to us and sing Christian rhyme to celebrate the birth of our redeemer?
Nah, fuck that! We’re going to get pissed and d-e-s-t-r-o-y, before getting into a fist fight in a chip shop and being sick around the back of the pub. Welcome to The Yobs Christmas Album, a true low light of 1980. You like punk? You like swearing? You like Christmas? You want to own a version of ’12 days of Christmas’ that begins ‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me / A vibrator with a battery’*? You’ve come to the right place, son. Just please, check your decorum, your early 21st century sensitivity to sexism at the door and make sure you’re not carrying any sense of subtlety about your person, it won’t be required here.
The Yobs were the spoof band set up by the-beloved-by-me-but-hardly-household-names punk group The Boys**, to enable them to belt out daft obscenity-drenched childishness instead of peddling wry, infectious punk songs about boredom and romance; I prefer them in their former mode, but it’s Christmas! This Christmas Album is a mix of bits I find funny, some straight up good tunes, a couple of oddities and a few tracks that were just so far off-beam for 2015 that I had to skip them.
The good? Their pretty straight cover of ‘Silver Bells’, Jim Reeves never sounded so good, likewise their own (?) ‘Another Christmas’ and, my fave, ‘The Ballad Of The Warrington’ – an amusing spoof of all those American country songs, where some poor sod dies and you’re given a meaningful voiceover – this one’s about walking to the pub in the snow, of course. There are more sound effects than in the whole of Pink Floyd’s discography and you have to love the American accent he puts on for the speaky bit. I’ve put the lyrics below so we can all enjoy a global Christmas sing-song together.
Well there’s a blizzard blowin’ hard
And from the Alfred we’ve been barred
And John’s so pissed that he can’t hardly stand.
Listen to that drunken git
‘Cause now he’s being sick
But it’s only a hundred yards to The Warrington!
Yes, it’s only a hundred yards to The Warrington!
You can bet we’re on Tom’s mind
‘Cause it’s nearly closing time.
And pretty soon last orders will be called.
Christ, my balls feel like they’re froze
And there’s numbness in my toes
And it’s only eighty yards to The Warrington!
Yes it’s only eighty yards to The Warrington!
The winds howling hard it seems
And now he’s shit his jeans
I think I’ll have to carry him if I can
John just think about that beer!
It’s only over there!
And it’s only fifty yards to The Warrington!
Yes it’s only fifty yards to The Warrington!
John, get up you drunken git
Don’t just lie there in that fucking shit
I know we’re pissed but we can make it if we try.
Alright, I guess it’s best if we
Stop a fucking while and rest
But it’s only twenty yards to The Warrington!
Yes, it’s only twenty yards to The Warrington!
Late that night the storm was gone
And I found them there alone
He could’ve made it, but he wouldn’t leave old John.
I found them froze in the street
Jack’s boot down John’s teeth.
They were only ten more yards from my house, that is The Warrington!
Yes, they were only ten more yards from The Warrington!
Which really is as complex as this album gets – basically this is for us folks who got a bit intellectually confused by Sex Pistols ‘Frigging In The Rigging’.
Now the bizarre. ‘Doggy’, a 30-second acapella snatch of ‘How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?’, for no adequately explained reason; a synth version of ‘Jingle Bells’ done in a flat Germanic Kraftwerk-style; a couple of racially insensitive excursions into reggae. Should any of those be your bag, then feel free to dig in, I shan’t judge you^.
The bad. Hmm. I like swearing, I really do. I’ve been an enthusiast, ever since I realised it was a thing – at 7 years old, much to my parents’ secret amusement, but outright horror, I once told a pushy aunt who was trying to make me perform ‘a little Welsh song’ in front of the whole family, to ‘piss right off’. True story^^.
Now, there’s too much of it and of the wrong sort in here. I mentioned ’12 Days of Christmas’ earlier, it starts off amusing but ends up just a bit gross and a touch misogynistic too, ditto ‘C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S’, look away now Rosemary Clooney I’m afraid this time ‘C’ is definitely not ‘for the Christ child’. It’s precisely the sort of thing that my mates and I would have found hilarious aged 13, however as I have recently attained the mental age of almost 18, I have outgrown it and can’t help my other sensibilities kicking in. Double ditto, the version of ‘Silent Night’ sung in German, with a Hitler speech dubbed into the background; Germans = Nazis, get it? the difference is I would have found that bit as offensive at 13 as I do now.
But let’s not part ways after concentrating on the (very) iffy bits of Christmas Album, just like the Phil Spector, Elvis and Bing Crosby Christmas albums it captures a certain aspect of the festive season for us on wax and will preserve it for us to cherish for ever; sick in aspic, can’t beat it.
PS – Note that the LP was, very topically, produced by Daft Fader!
*and deteriorates rapidly from there.
**Authors of one of the most perfect punk pop singles ever, ‘The First Time’.
^you freaking weirdo.
^^it really is. My mother told me, many many, years later that she’d been very proud of me. The phrase came from a mate of my dad’s who was a bit less careful about swearing in front of children than my own folk were.