06 December, 2010

Advent Calendar in Song: O Come All You Grateful Deadheads

BBC 6 Music and Repurposed Music

I first heard this track a number of years ago Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone Christmas Show on BBC 6 Music. BBC 6 Music is a digital broadcast and internet only BBC station that was under threat this year when a review suggested closing it although its entire annual operating costs were less than the salaries of two of the beeb's top paid television presenters. Luckily the threat of closure led to a call to arms which more than doubled the listenership to over a 1.194 million, and we all received an early Christmas present when the decision was taken to keep the station running. The station has a format largely inherited from the ashes of BBC's GLR (Greater London Radio), which unlike most local radio stations featured a combination of classic rock and up and coming indie and cool interviews instead of inane chat with cranks and shut-ins, the beeb torched it in 2000.

The music format on 6 Music is mostly consistent, but it does also include some weekly speciality shows. Craig Charles (of Red Dwarf) hosts The Funk and Soul Show. Muso journo Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone bills itself as "From the weird to the obscure, via the neglected." and an episode could include roots German electronica, John Cage, Soft Machine, Buffy Sainte Marie or new sights on the advant garde horizon. Its not surprising that a Christmas ep included John Cale's take on A Child's Christmas in Wales, William Shatner's Xmas In the 909, Judee Sill's Jesus Was a Crossmaker, and a song from Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers. It also included this delirious reinvention of a yuletide tune.

Another thing about this track that I like is that it is repurposed music. You can find that in its simplest form in song parodies, the works of Allen Sherman or Weird Al Yankovic are obvious examples. On previous days of my musical advent tour, I've selected VerHannukah, and Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland, that side step parody to give a straightforward history in the former, and a barking mad tribute in the latter. Bob Rivers the rock DJ from the Pacific Northwest responsible for the above tribute to Garcia worship, also produced this gem in the mould of Black Sabbath:

I am Santa Claus -- Bob Rivers to the melody of Iron Man (complete with Ozzy cameo).

A reboot of Haydn to prehistory can be found in The Allosaurus Chorus by The Greenwood Choir. This is another one I heard from the WFMU Greasy Kid's Stuff show. Some bright spark posted the lyrics online, so sing along!
Allosaurus Chorus lyrics.

To hear it in full click on the Real Media link below:

Allosaurus Chorus on GKS Dec. 24 2005

If you don't have a Real Media player then you can hear this brief excerpt:
Allosaurus Chorus excerpt.

Another great track from that GKS Christmas celebration is Martin Mull's Santafly, which hijacks the blaxploitation soundtrack genre rather than a specific song. He reinterprets Santa's modus operandi ghetto style the way Arlo Guthrie made St. Nick radical for The Pause of Mr Claus.

Hear an excerpt here:
1 12 martin mull-santafly .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

To hear Santafly in full, click here.

Or hear in full on the Real Media link below:

Santafly by Martin Mull on GKS Dec. 24 2005

The ultimate repurpose of music to redefine Santa can be found in satirical a capella group The Bob's track, Santa's Got A Brand New Bag.

To hear the entire GKS episode that includes both Santafly and the Allosaurus Chorus. You'll find it on the Real Media link below:

Greasy Kids Stuff Archive 2005 Dec. 24: Greasy Christmas GKS Holiday Special


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