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Bah! Humbug
"The Alternative Christmas Album" - G2 Greentrax Recordings G2CD7007

Subtitled "A humorous alternative to other Christmas Albums!" this particular piece of Claus-trophobia should be welcomed by big bairns the world over who no longer get excited by the traditional trappings of the festering season.

From the opening track with its Christmas bells which ape brass monkeys in a cold spell, right through to the penultimate offering, you'll find new and relatively new songs such as Eric Bogle's "Santa Bloody Claus", Tom Clelland's "The Present" and Loudon Wainwright III's "Christmas Morning", which was written in December 1991 just prior to Operation Desert Storm and is, alas, as relevant now.

There's Bill Barclay's classic "Twelve Days of Christmas" plus two contributions from Cyril Tawney with forty years between them and it's good to hear again Tom Lehrer's "A Christmas Carol" from 1954 and one in similar vein from the Enoch Kent of 1962. Better make sure, however, that there's no one from the SSPCA about while you listen to Robin Laing's version of John Rudkin's song "The Man That Slits the Turkey's Throats at Christmas".

And the cracker? It has to be The McCalmans' 1981 vinyl single release of "God Bless the Birthday Boy". As Ian McCalman puts it so well "We were young and even more stupid than we are now!"

Then, as if to say that they didn't really mean it, the last track features a straight version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" from the massed choirs of Drinkers Drouth, Sangsters and The McCalmans. It's a big slice of fun as well as food for thought, but I'm beginning to wonder if maybe that Scrooge fella was right?

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.