City of Christmas Ghosts
The new Christmas single by Goldblade with Poly Styrene
On Damaged Goods
Release Date December 15, 2008
A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!
Rather than dredge the halls for spectral follies of Christmas singles past, I’d much rather focus on ‘City of Christmas Ghosts’, a festive reworking of Manchester punk band Goldblade’s City of Ghosts, from their recent album Mutiny, featuring X-Ray Spex’s eponymous, seemingly, forever synonymous with punk singer, Poly Styrene. I had the pleasure of watching and reviewing both X-Ray Spex with Styrene and the feisty, fired up Goldblade at London’s Roundhouse in September.
Goldblade’s good-natured, hard rocking front man cum rock commentator and journalist John Robb (Punk Rock: An Oral History ed. Oliver Craske and The Nineties, What the F—k Was That All About?), teams up with Poly Styrene for a Christmas track with a decidedly bittersweet tinge to its lyrics and intent, with Styrene wailing in intermittently, adding her own anti-commercialist phrases ‘plastic snow falling on a neon reality’ and ‘polyurethane high tech baubles’ reminiscent of her earlier, Germ Free Adolescence days, and her singing is just as fine and distinctive as it was then, if not more so.
Robb’s husky, full bodied singing style surges against Goldblade’s own packed out version of the Wall of Sound, albeit, more spectral than Spector, his Pop, as in Iggy, influences audible and the song’s break almost seems to be a tribute to the Ramones, given its speed and repetitive ‘Heys!’. However, when Goldblade’s potent mix is combined with Styrene’s ever youthful sounding warble, the song becomes more infectious than reason might suggest and twice as cheery, despite the Auld Lang Syne underpinnings of its lyrics.
In the warmly low-tech video accompanying the single, Robb and Styrene can be seen wandering along the moonlit streets of Brighton together, peering into a Dickensian looking shop window and pausing in front of The Grand hotel along the promenade remembering lost friends. The fact that both performers seem to be in fine health after all these years, and Styrene looks and sounds particularly chuffed to be unleashing her trademark wail in context (albeit yuletide) for the first time since the days of X-Ray Spex in conjunction with friend and musical colleague Robb, really seems to take you back, if you were ever really ‘there’ in the first place, that is. If you weren’t, it’s still a sentimental journey, resulting in an alternative Christmas single with a pleasingly un-saccharin edge.
Watch the video on http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=GL50k6gLWWo
Damaged Goods, PO BOX 45854, LONDON E11 1YX
Review of X-Ray Spex at the Roundhouse – September 6, 2008
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