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Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Pah-Rumpa-Pum-Pum

Everyone has their own favourite bits of Christmas pop culture ephemra (hands up for A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, etc etc) but I’m particularly fond of the utterly surreal 1977 pairing of David Bowie and Bing Crosby on a version of “Little Drummer Boy” spruced up with a hastily-written counter-song they dubbed “Peace On Earth”.

The full story of the song is recounted by The Washington Post and you can both see and hear the song in question below – watching the video is essential to fully appreciating this particular crossing of wires, especially with the skit used to bring the two together. Does anyone know whose house it’s supposed to be? Someone real or fictional? I’ve listened repeatedly but can’t make out the names.

MP3: David Bowie & Bing Crosby – “Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth”
Video: David Bowie & Bing Crosby – “Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth” (YouTube)

Speaking of The Thin White Duke, I recently read Dave Thompson’s Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth Of David Bowie, a biography of Bowie notable for the fact that it documents not in 70s when Bowie was one of the biggest stars in Britain, but instead starts in 1987, after the conclusion of the Glass Spider tour when he was arguably burned out and at his creative nadir (and Thompson already covered the earlier stage of Bowie’s career in the book Moonage Daydream). Though the music from this period is far from his best work, getting a look at the mindset of Bowie as he restlessly sought to rediscover his muse is quite interesting. Thompson is a bit too fawning and fannish at points but manages to maintain sufficient critical distance for the most part. Bowie himself was not interviewed specifically for the book but he is quoted from interviews over the fifteen years covered and I think that actually gives greater insight into him – he is fervently excited about and believes strongly in everything he’s doing at the time, even if history would prove it to be a misstep.

One thing I took away from this book, if not a desire to hear Tin Machine again, is the realization that I’d always thought of Bowie as a pop artist – and any of his best-ofs certainly prove he’s brilliant at that – but the downside of that is that I tended to dismiss any of his records that didn’t have a hooky pop hit on it. So while I’m not diving right into it immediately, I will be re-examining his more “difficult” records (I’ve been slowly accumulating the 70s stuff on vinyl) as well as maybe trying out Reality or Heathen at some point.

But what’s Bowie doing these days besides playing man-about-town in NYC and anointing next-big-things like Arcade Fire and watching TV? Composing songs for Ricky Gervais on Extras.

Video: David Bowie on Extras

Check out the new video from Jarvis Cocker as well as an old chestnut from Pulp, which coincidentally features a Bowie sound-alike (if not a lookalike). That Jarv has one wicked sense of humour, yes he does.

Video: Jarvis Cocker – “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time” (Youtube)
Video: Pulp – “Bad Cover Version” (Youtube)

Boo-ums – Billboard reports that Paul Westerberg put a screwdriver through his hand (!) and won’t be playing guitar for up to a year. Get well soon, Paul.

Kaiser Chiefs are at the Kool Haus on April 18. Yes, they’re apparently still around.

Doves have posted a holiday greeting on their blog and will be returning to the studio in February to record their fourth album, hoping for a Summer/Fall release.

So Much Silence got a sexy extreme makeover for Christmas. This song is for him. And I probably should have posted it yesterday, but whatever.

MP3: Shearwater – “A Makeover”

By : Frank Yang at 9:33 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Kevin says:

    Awww, thanks. And I’m trying to figure out the hotlink solution. All this php and what not is making my head spin.

  2. Nik Dirga says:

    Man, that Bowie/Bing duet is one of the ten finest things in the history of music. I love that video, too. Crazy stuff. Bing looks like he’s thinking the entire time, "Who is this and how do I get him to leave?"

  3. DW. says:

    Dave Foley had a comedy Christmas special on the CBC about four years ago, following his efforts to, um, put together a great Christmas special. At one point he’s visited by The Ghost of Christmas Specials Past, who shows him the Cosby/Bowie duet — with Foley playing Bowie and Joe Flaherty playing Cosby. Funny stuff.

  4. Frank says:

    what I remember most about that Dave Foley Christmas special was how uniformly AWFUL it was. So very disappointed and more than a little disgusted.

  5. DW. says:

    I dunno, I saw it screened at an El Vez show (I think Foley was/is married to one of the Elvettes) and laughed a few times. Saw it again on TV afterward and still laughed a few times. Even Jann Arden was kind of funny, which I never would have guessed!

    And whoops, I of course meant Crosby not Cosby. Insert Jello Pudding Pop joke here.