Album, Single and EP Reviews



  A Christmas Wassail by Various Artists

A Christmas Wassail cover art

Artist: Various Artists
Title: A Christmas Wassail
Catalogue Number: Sonic Oyster SOR15
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2007

Bluesbunny does like to parade his vast knowledge - to quote an old Anglo-Saxon saying "neither sober nor modest be" - so we will therefore tell you now that a wassail is a hot, spiced, alcoholic  drink usually associated with winter festivals in Northern Europe. Awaking from our slumbers and finding ourselves without such refreshment, we substituted last night's curry and a bottle of Calvados and put the CD in the player.

This 14 track release is a collection of unreleased, Christmas themed songs from some of the main players in Glasgow's avant underground scene (ah, that avant underground scene …). That sounds like it will fit right into our rather eclectic view on things musical and after all, it is Christmas. Let the track by track assassination begin. Andrew Payne & Richard Youngs start things off with "Corner of the Season". It's a very promising start as well in Olde English, almost pagan kind of way with vague overtones of a football chant. Bluesbunny feels festive straight away. Then Alastair Crosbie gives us a sweet acoustic version of "Frosty the Snowman". Snowflakes fall as we look outside the metaphorical window. Following that is another relatively straight take on "Three Ships" from Andrew Paine. It lasts but a moment and then echoes (and we mean big echoes) off into the distance. God knows what Tight Meat were doing with "Auriel's Return". Bluesbunny was unable to find a picture of this outfit but if they were wearing suits then this could be classed as avant garde jazz. Since we are in a generous mood, we will call it a deconstruction rather than a performance. Next please.

Richard Youngs then goes all lo-fi with "March of the Reindeer". Andrew Paine takes "March of the Reindeer" and turns it into a quality piece of musical malevolence. Following a similarly courageous path, Heather Leigh Murray rips "Jingle Bell Rock" into small pieces of noise. Serving up the Christmas grunge is Richard Youngs' version of "The Holly and the Ivy". Quite hypnotic. Alastair Crosbie returns us to conventionality with an affecting version of "While Shepherds Watched". Sorley Youngs' "Christmas Energy" is just plain weird and would make a welcome addition to the soundtrack of any eighties movie that contained androids whether it was released at Christmas or not. "A Gloucester Wassail" from Richard Youngs was well … Marc Almond takes an echo machine, a drum and beats the crap out of English folk music. "Silent Night" gets turned into an Italian horror movie soundtrack by Andrew Paine. Sanity returns with "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Alastair Crosbie. Rounding things off is Richard Youngs with an arrogant even strident yet dignified "There is a Path".

Something conventional, something unusual and something strange. It's all here and it certainly makes a change from your normal festive compilation. If we had to pick a favourite - and we do! - then it would be a toss up between Andrew Paine's malevolent "March of the Reindeer" and Heather Leigh Murray's splatterfest "Jingle Bell Rock". Yo ho ho!
Review Date: December 16 2007