WHO Poll
Q: 2023/24 Hopes & aspirations for this season
a. As Champions of Europe there's no reason we shouldn't be pushing for a top 7 spot & a run in the Cups
24%
  
b. Last season was a trophy winning one and there's only one way to go after that, I expect a dull mid table bore fest of a season
17%
  
c. Buy some f***ing players or we're in a battle to stay up & that's as good as it gets
20%
  
d. Moyes out
37%
  
e. New season you say, woohoo time to get the new kit and wear it it to the pub for all the big games, the wags down there call me Mr West Ham
3%
  



Billy Blagg 1:36 Mon Nov 28
Billy Blagg's 16th Annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs
I was in the town cen.. Sorry! CITY centre last night and someone recognised me.

"Hey Blagg, you're a fan of this football malarkey ain't ya? I expect you'll have no time for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs this year?".

I said nothing, just reached into my greatcoat and removed a book from the voluminous folds. For there is a book - of course there is! - and it contains all those Christmas songs that haven't made the cut previously. I chose a page at random and showed it to my new friend and I saw his eyes glisten as he glimpsed some of the names within. "The book...the book" he mumbled, stumbling off into the night.

https://www.billyblaggsannualadventcalendarofchristmassongs.co.uk/

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Swiss. 3:45 Mon Dec 26
Re: Billy Blagg's 16th Annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs
Check this out this advant garde Belgian jazz singer

Melanie DeBiasio - No Deal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5QS7twJlrU

Billy Blagg 3:26 Mon Dec 26
Boxing Day Supplemental
Boxing Day Blues - Courtney Barnett

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Bvs-lM4F7E

Thanks to everyone who has visited, left comments or mailed. Perhaps we may do this again next year? Who knows?

All the best for 2023!

jimmy iron 5:00 Sun Dec 25
Re: Merry Christmas WHOers
Nice one Billy, Happy Christmas mate.. and to all!

Mex Martillo 3:52 Sun Dec 25
Re: Merry Christmas WHOers
Mex Martillo 3:29 Sun Dec 25
Re: What if anything are you listening to now?
Billy Blagg's 16th Annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs Playlist on Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5qlJGWQcfLDaJCRl7OwVQq?si=LG-1iLnWT5agFCPH9PKD6A

Billy Blagg 12:43 Sun Dec 25
Merry Christmas WHOers
Thanks as ever for the support everybody. It really is appreciated. Don't forget if you don't want to visit the Annual blog ( :( )and click on links and watch videos then all 16 years - Gulp! - are available on Spotify (bar a few unavailable). Have a great Christmas and enjoy the away win on Boxing Day!

Mex Martillo 3:28 Sun Dec 25
Re: Day 25 - Silent Night - Rotary Collection
Merry Christmas Billy
I’ll give a few of these a spin when I get up later
Truely impressive, doesn’t harm anyone brings us a big of joy, no reasons needed!
Have a great day.
Thank you Billy

Billy Blagg 2:40 Sun Dec 25
Day 25 - Silent Night - Rotary Collection
There's never a year goes by here on the Calendar when someone doesn't ask a) Where do you find this stuff? or b) Why the hell do you do it?

The answer to the first one is I spend an obscene amount of time looking - more than is reasonable for any supposedly sane person - and the answer to the second is I genuinely don't know, although I fear there is something very wrong with me... but then... but then... I come across something like the Rotary Connection's 'Peace' album and it all suddenly makes sense.

This album came out in 1968. 1968! Over a half-century this has been out there to enjoy yet I discovered it just two weeks before the end of 2022. After unearthing it I've since found out that it figures in several august lists as one of the Greatest Christmas albums ever made. I'd probably not argue.

The whole album is superb and, in many ways, 'Silent Night' isn't really indicative of the rest of the collection but Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, I needed a Carol and this seemed an ideally bonkers way to go out for what has been another chaotic year.

The track starts slowly with a '60s sounding orchestral piece that put me in mind of a Moody Blues concept album, drops into a swirling Temptations psychedelic soul vocal segment, then goes into a section that reminds me of the Ray Conniff Singers that my Dad used to play (there's one for the teenagers!) and then morphs into what sounds to me like Trip-Hop (just 25 years early there) with an - understandably given the date - 5th Dimension feel before a Hendrix-style guitarist drops in to rip the whole thing apart.

And to top it all if you're wondering about the astonishing five-octave range of the female singer that's a young Minnie Ripperton making her first recordings.

My only concern is that this is just too 'outta sight, man' and people may pass on the rest of the album but if you saw and loved (and how could you not?) the 'Summer of Soul' film from 2021, then the rest of the album is certainly worth checking out.

I'll be back on Boxing Day for a one-off treat but otherwise Merry Christmas and, hey, 'Peace Man' Yea?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FpGic6wmRY

Billy Blagg 12:11 Sat Dec 24
Day 25
Don't forget there are 25 windows on the Blagg Calendar!

Coffee 12:09 Sat Dec 24
Re: Day 24 - The Light Of Christmas Day - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Another first class Blagg Advent Calendar.

Thank you, Billy, for all the effort and intent.

Wish you a very happy Christmas.

Haz 11:32 Sat Dec 24
Re: Day 24 - The Light Of Christmas Day - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Merry Christmas Billy, and al the best for 2023 mate. Already looking forward to the next Advent Calendar!

Billy Blagg 3:11 Sat Dec 24
Day 24 - The Light Of Christmas Day - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
I saw Robert Plant and Alison Krauss in Hyde Park this summer; one of my highlights of the year. This comes from a film I've neither seen nor feel the need to search out - although I'm happy for you to let me know if you think I've missed out. All I know is Robert gets to look more like Azlan every year - bless him - and long may he do so when he and Alison can cut through the pabulum and produce something as beautiful and shimmering as this. Just sublime.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezPvxtNNr6M

strong dreams 2:30 Fri Dec 23
Re: Billy Blagg's 16th Annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs
One from 1970. It’s probably already in the book - but if not,
Winter song - Lindesfarne.

A truly beautifully sad song.

Billy Blagg 3:06 Fri Dec 23
Day 23 - We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night - Marsheaux
The perfect kiss / In a lonely place / The price of love / Truth and regret

Dreams never end

Wonderful!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc-jicKAUUk

Billy Blagg 3:39 Thu Dec 22
Day 22 - Christmas Train - Carey Bell
A toe-tapper for sure but, to be honest, more because I rode the Mail Rail Christmas train today

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC1ovZ6s8RI

only1billybonds 9:50 Wed Dec 21
Re: Day 21 - The Loneliest Time of Year - The Wedding Present
Great choice today Billy. I remember the Wedding Present being NME darlings fir a while back in the late 80's, Gedge has always been a very honest songwriter.

Billy Blagg 2:21 Wed Dec 21
Day 21 - The Loneliest Time of Year - The Wedding Present
1987: What a year eh? I met Lady Blagg, bought my first Wedding Present album and saw the band live for the first time. And if you think it's an odd thing to mention the two events in the same sentence, it's because I owe front man David Gedge a debt for something he wrote in 1989 that ensured the two events continued as they did, and they will always be inextricably linked in my mind.

The Wedding Present and I are still locked in a continuing love story and I've seen the band at least once a year since '87 - usually more - and have most of whatever they've produced on vinyl, CD or download. I'm rarely disappointed.

This time last year the band announced a project called '24 Songs' effectively an A and B side - ask yer Granny! - for every month of the year and it was obvious if December's was seasonal it was going to find its way onto this year's calendar.

So here it is. It's a Christmas song, of course, but because David Gedge wrote it, it's about heartbreak, desire, infidelity, frustration and hurt. It starts with waves crashing, a slow build and a gorgeous piano refrain as we learn she's leaving and Gedge suggesting it be better if she stayed what with the snow falling and everything, but we all know full well she'll be gone by Christmas Eve. Then at 3' 30" the trademark guitars kick in and we're back in familiar lost love and desolation territory.

It's beautiful and haunting but still, if nothing else, we'll always have 1987.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmVGO3LZxkg

Billy Blagg 4:21 Tue Dec 20
Day 20 - Alone On Christmas Day - Phoenix (with Bill Murray)
A curio this. A French pop rock band from Versailles appear on a 2015 Netflix special 'A Very Murray Christmas' with Bill Murray - yea, THAT Bill Murray! - and record a version of an unreleased Beach Boys song with Murray providing (frankly strange) backing vocals.

Coincidentally, when I looked up Phoenix - a band I'd never previously come across - I found their 2022 'Alpha Zulu' album was listed in The Guardian as one of the top 50 albums of the year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H59rOpBTGAk

ironsofcanada 4:21 Mon Dec 19
Re: Day 19 - It's Christmas - The Bonairs
Cheers Billy

I like that Bonairs piece and The Magnetic Fields (that song - not so much.)

Billy Blagg 2:25 Mon Dec 19
Day 19 - It's Christmas - The Bonairs
Some festive doo-wop from 1954 guaranteed to get you in the mood and if the sax break at 1' 30" doesn't get you out to the kitchen and peeling sprouts then there's no hope for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxucVbwU_OY

Billy Blagg 1:30 Sun Dec 18
Day 18 - Christmas Eve / Sarajevo - Trans Siberian Express
It's Sunday and that means a Calendar Carol and though it may not look like it from the title this is a double, combining as it does 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman' with 'Carol of the Bells' - the latter composed in 1914 by Ukrainian Mykola Leontovych, the melody taken from a folk chant known as 'Shchedryk'.

The Sarajevo part of the title comes from a romanticised version of the real-life story of Vedran Smailovic. In this story a cello player returns home during the Bosnian war after playing around the world with an orchestra, only to find his city in ruins. At the time the Serbs were shelling the city regularly but, rather than go to the bomb shelter, the musician took his cello and sat night after night on a pile of rubble playing Beethoven and Mozart. Some years later, the man was traced by a reporter who asked him why he did what he did and the musician said that it was his way of proving, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that the spirit of humanity was still alive in his city.

The Ukrainian link and the composition date make it impossible not to think on 2022's biggest story and what's happening in another part of Europe at the moment.

I'm wondering if the members of the rock band Savatage - for whom the Rock/Orchestral Trans-Siberian fusion is a side-project - are considering renaming their ensemble?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHioIlbnS_A

Billy Blagg 12:55 Sat Dec 17
Day 17 - Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree - The Magnetic Fields
According to Spotify Wrapped, my most played track of 2022 was The Magnetic Fields 'All My Little Words' so a Fields Christmas song was bound to find its way on here sometime. With a German chorus and lines like 'If they don't like you, screw them / Don't leave your fortune to them' this is one of Stephin Merritt's more tongue-in-cheek- songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEDyGaqx4PA

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