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It's Christmas time...
on 11 December 2002
I first heard Just Like Christmas on Marc&Lard's Radio 1 show in the late 1990's- this lead me to this divine e.p. (and albums like Secret Name, which features such mindblowing songs as Two Step & Immune). This is the album to play after Phil Spector's collection, Jesus Christ by Big Star, Last Dance by The Cure & Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (feel I've forgotten an American Music Club song...)- a reminder that Xmas can be a heartbreaking time: how it never measures up to the memory of those that have passed, how it is set in the darkest winter, how the seasonal affects, how people come together over the barcode rather than out of common decency,how archaic notions such as faith appear somewhat absurd in a world where people are going to be turned to mincemeat in the New Year over oil , how many people commit suicide etc (god, I'm sounding like Ingmar Bergman after listening to the Joy Division boxset). Well, this is the ideal music for all that (and more...)
Low compose half this release- the gorgeous Just Like Christmas (Sunday Morning meets the Carpenters in heaven); Long Way Around the Sea (as sparse as Starfire); Alan stays on vocals for If You Were Born Today with its heartfelt "Joy to the world" & the final track One Special Gift (a sense of foreboding when this one ends). The remaining songs are well known Xmas songs- the version of Little Drummer Boy recalls My Bloody Valentine's Glider, while the cover of Elvis's Blue Christmas is as great as Cowboy Junkies Blue Moon Revisted (on the classic Trinity Sessions album). Silent Night recalls the sparse acoustics of Nick Drake and Robert Wyatt, Mimi & Alan's voices coming together (recall The Smiths's Asleep- an ode to suicide ends with this tune also). The final track is Taking Down the Tree, which evokes the happysad emotions of Xmas and the sense that the seasons move on regardless: "seems before it's over it's begun".
Low's Christmas is an album that HAS to be owned at this price and one of those releases you will be guaranteed to come back to at least once a year. Divine stuff...