Thursday, March 15, 2007

Next Century Modern Illegal Christmas Compilation 2005

Here is one of the most fascinating comps I picked up last year during the 2006 downloading season.

Two years ago, a fellow by the name of Jesper worked at the Swedish design company Next Century Modern. To celebrate the 2005 Christmas season, he put together this comp and posted it on the NCM website.

It didn't last long. The powers that be removed it from the site, giving this comp the dreaded "illegal" status.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Jean Snow sat behind his computer and noticed. The owner / writer of a website that chronicles "design and pop culture in Tokyo", he quickly posted a web entry about the comp.

Later that same day, on the other side of the world again... back in Sweden, the home country from where the comp originated, sat Carl Johan. This clever guy read Jean Snow's web entry and either downloaded the comp from NCM or found it on a mirror site later on.

In November, 2006 Carl began his own blog (Var kommer du ifrån, planeten miffo eller?), remembered the fantastic comp from the year previous, and was shocked that it was nowhere to be found on the World Wide Web. The following month, he reposted the entire comp, the original artwork, and a handy playlist.

Several days later, Jean Snow in Tokyo discovered Johan's blog and subsequent reposting. Snow quickly placed a new web entry pointing everyone to the new blog announcing that the "illegal" comp was available yet again. It was here where I learned about all of what you just read.

As I was tracing my steps back through elaborate puzzle, I discovered to my great joy that the comp is INDEED alive and well and available at Carl's blog.

I would have sent the standard set of questions that I have been asking everyone whose comp is being reviewed here but A.) in this case, who and where do I send it to (Jesper? Jean Snow? Carl Johan?) B.) even if I did know, I didn't send any out this week.

Using Carl's tracklist, I was able to go through the comp and add segues and audio clips cues where indicated. Here comes the music...


(Click on image to enlarge)

0:00:00 – 0:00:18 – "Don't forget, Christmas is coming... oh, that reminds me. Let's do a Christmas record."

0:00:19 – 0:02:34 – Ella Fitzgerald. Enough said. From her "Wishes You A Swingin' Christmas" CD.

0:02:35 – 0:05:51 – One of the attempts by the music industry has tried to capitalize on the mash-up / re-mix phenomenon. Some hits, some misses. This one is a definite strike three.

0:05:52 – 0:07:34 – Clever mash that creates a duet with Madonna's "Santa Baby" and Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" = "Santa / Buy me a Mercedes Benz..."! Find this on the first "Santastic! Holiday Boots 4 Your Stocking".

0:07:35 – 0:08:14 – Japanese version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". Peculiar for a Christmas comp, but it's actually a cool touch.

0:08:15 – 0:10:31 – Now I know that this comp is WAYYYY different. Spock tells us about how the universe perceives the Earth... very illogical.

0:10:32 – 0:12:51 – "The Bare Necessities" sung in by a Spanish jazz combo? Whoaaa...

0:12:52 – 0:17:15 – GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS! A reggae version of "Ave Maria" with Caribbean accents and sung in Spanish? Oh, this is incredible! Found a 12" version of "What A Wonderful World" that has "Ave Maria" - anyone have a copy?

0:17:16 – 0:20:33 – Gorgeous, gorgeous song! This song was on an 1992 Japanese comp entitled "TRATTORIA COURSE VOL.1/THE EXOTIC CHRISTMAS" that also came with a VHS tape! What a lineup of songs!

0:20:34 – 0:24:12 – Not a real Christmas song but the wonderful melody and voice of Jens Lekman made me listen.

0:24:13 – 0:26:12 – Poppy, snappy tune that asks the question "What shall we buy Ringo for Christmas?" Truth be told, I've always sent Ringo a fruitcake.

0:26:13 – 0:27:00 – One of the best mashes I've ever heard - used this on my annual 2006 comp... but Jesper edited it in favor of...

0:27:01 – 0:30:39 – This track off the "Merry Mixmas" CD (see the 0:02:35 – 0:05:51 link above) is one of the better mixes. However, it's not as good as the POJ Masta mash above...

0:30:40 – 0:30:53 – "Raspberry jam to go with ham... yummy yum yum!"

0:30:54 – 0:32:05 – A phenomenal Christmas acapella round about Christmas dinner! Find this on the "Exotic Christmas" CD as well (see the 0:17:16 – 0:20:33 link above).

0:32:06 – 0:34:54 – GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS! A Japanese singer singing "Winter Wonderland" in Portuguese and English and done in bossa nova style? I'm absolutely drunk on this sound! And she's got an entire album out like this? Where do I lineup to buy it?

0:34:55 – 0:38:36 – My main complaint about the "Merry Mixmas" CD (see the 0:02:35 – 0:05:51 link above) is it never goes past the layers of beat and other accents. The structure of the song remains the same and in some cases, is used as accents themselves - like in this song.

0:38:37 – 0:38:42 – "Due to the shortage of time, I'll get right down to work..."

0:38:43 – 0:41:44 – OH WOWWW... The great sound of Barry White's Love Unlimited gives us a great winter song about love (of course). Not Christmas... but I grew up on this sound, so leave me be!

0:41:45 – 0:41:58 – Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques, Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous? Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines! Din, dan, don. Din, dan, don.

0:41:59 – 0:43:52 – If you like Ray Anthony and this song (my hand's raised), try to find his "Dream Dancing Christmas" CD - you won't be disappointed!

0:43:53 – 0:43:58 – Soon to be the sound heard around the house come summertime!

0:43:59 – 0:46:23 – Featuring Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, and Nancy Wilson all singing the "Toys For Tots" march. You can find Nat's full individual version of this song on "Cole, Christmas, & Kids" and Peggy's full individual version on "Christmas Carousel". I'm still looking for the Nancy Wilson version...

0:46:24 – 0:50:27 – "Merry Mixmas" again (see the 0:02:35 – 0:05:51 link above). One of the best mixes on the album - thanks in large part to Lou Rawls.

0:50:28 – 0:56:24 – A very esoteric remix of a Japanese song. There's a CD single with nine tracks that has this remix on it... might be fun listening!

0:56:25 – 0:58:48 – I prefer this version over the Andrews Sisters overheard version. Petty Booka has a pretty fun version too!

0:58:49 – 1:02:59 – What if Biggie Smalls was in the recording studio the night Wham! recorded "Last Christmas"? This mash gives you the answer... see the 0:05:52 – 0:07:34 link above.

1:03:00 – 1:03:08 – I'll be hearing this soon too... I'm designing the sound and stage managing for an upcoming play with the local theater group again!

1:03:09 – 1:06:33 – This mix off the "Merry Mixmas" CD (see the 0:02:35 – 0:05:51 link above) is unique - where else are you going to hear Mahalia Jackson in a contemporary setting?

1:06:34 – 1:06:36 – This sound can make me climb a wall... and my two oldest kids love watching me go nuts!

1:06:37 – 1:09:03 – The great Stan Kenton pastiche. Fabulous stuff!

1:09:04 – 1:10:07 – Hello darkness, my old friend...

1:10:08 – 1:12:00 – Does ANYONE have a clue on the artist / title of this one???

To Jesper, the man who actually sat down and melded all of this music together - illegal or not - this is an amazing assortment of Christmas and non-Christmas music! Even the non-Christmas Christmas music was exceptional and fun to listen to (Jens Lekman, Love Unlimited).

If this was the 2005 comp, are there others? If so, please don't hold out on us! I thank you for this comp and pray there will be others to come in the very near future... how's tomorrow?

To Jean Snow, the man who alerted the world to the presence of this "illegal" comp - thanks for discovering it and sharing it with the world. This comp could have been a footnote if it wasn't for your cunning eye and keen ear for great music... I'm guessing keeping tabs on the world of design and pop culture in Tokyo helps! Thank ya, thank ya, thank ya!

To Carl Johan, the man who reposted this for all to share... you are doing God's work. Hope this rambling of mine brings you lots of traffic but a whole new field of people to read your blog. Thanks for saving this mighty comp as well... without your reposting, we'd be listening to nothing at the moment. Danke schoen!

UP NEXT: Santa's Boots (BigOWorldwide)



stubbysfears said...

I've searched everywhere for the Cubismo Grafico "Ave Maria" since I first heard this wonderful comp, but it seems to have only been issued in Japan and hasn't turned up on eBay, either. I'm sure it will reach the states sooner or later (I vote sooner).

Lisa Ono has TWO full CDs of Christmas music, which are available at Amazon and Music Stack. I bought them both (after I first heard this wonderful comp) and they're both wonderful. The second one is actually fairly cheap even. The first is at least slightly superior and carries an import price tag. But they're worth the price, whatever it is.

No idea on the French bonus track.

And thank you, Captain, for connecting those songs to Trottoria/Exotic Christmas, because I failed to make the connection. It's part of my collection but I hadn't listened to it in years.

Anyone who hasn't already done so should run, not walk, to download the unique NCM vision of Christmas while you can.

CaptainOT said...

Stubby - Happy to have helped you link the music together for you.

I assumed this comp was offline and even thought briefly about reposting it - it's that good.

All that became moot when I found out Carl still had it up! Bravo!