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Album Review

Given Billy Childish's profligate recording habits, it's a bit surprising that it took him until 2007 to get around to making a holiday album, though the fact that sentimentality and the milk of human kindness don't loom large in his world-view might have accounted for the delay. At any rate, Childish and his new combo the Musicians of the British Empire — Nurse Julie on bass and Wolf Howard on drums — attack a program of seasonal selections both old and new on Christmas 1979, which may be the most gloriously grimy Christmas album of recent memory. Childish and his Musicians detour a few garage-friendly classics into yuletide melodies, as "Comanche" becomes "Link Wray's Christmas," the Who's "A Quick One While He's Away" gets a holiday rewrite, and the Sonics' "Have Love Will Travel" mutates into "Santa Claus." Elsewhere, Childish refuses to let the holiday season spoil his often sour mood, as commercialism is attacked on "Knick Knack Paddywhack (Chuck It in the Bin)," seasonal poverty takes center stage in "A Poundland Christmas," and the title tunes finds Billy recalling his dad kicking in the TV and collapsing into a coma after extending a special greeting to the family — "Merry f*cking Christmas to you all." For all his traditional cynicism, Childish sounds like he's having a grand old time on this album, laying out lots of noisy guitar and putting more than the usual wink-and-nudge into his vocals, and the duets between Billy and Nurse Julie are inspired. No drunken brawl passing as a Christmas party should be without this album, and garage punks wanting to embrace the spirit of the season will find this works just fine with or without eggnog.


Born: 1958 in Chatham, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Few performers in rock history have been as ferociously prolific as Billy Childish. In fact, a complete discography of his work as a solo performer and with his various bands would take up quite a lot of space. A singer, songwriter, artist, poet, critic, fanzine editor, and guitarist who suffers from severe dyslexia, he's a punk-inspired Renaissance man. However, most have never heard of him, or heard one of the over 50 recordings he's made either solo or with one of his many bands (Pop Rivets, the...
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Christmas 1979 - Single, Billy Childish
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