Tag Archives: Theatre Royal

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: The Full Story

A-Z

You can blame a chap called Philip Kane for this. Back on 1 December, he posted on Facebook the social media version of the old chain letter thing that went as follows:

“So the idea is to fill facebook with music, breaking the monotony of nasty, divisive headlines and images on our news feeds.

If you ‘like’ this post, you will be assigned a letter for a musician, band, artist, song, track or dj to post to your time line with this text”.

I liked it. He came back to me with the letter R. I came up with Rodrigo y Gabriela & C.U.B.A.’s ‘Santa Domingo’ – as you do – and before you know it I’d committed myself to the idea of stealing the whole concept and coming up with some music of Medway origin (or, if you will, MOMO) for each letter of the alphabet.

26 blogs later and I can finally move on with my life.

It has actually been fun – not least because there’s been the opportunity to focus on individual songs in a way you might not otherwise. Being an alphabetical list, there’s been less need to focus on continuity and history.

One day we’ve had a song by Balance Lost (a current band), the next we’ve had a song that’s had two outings: once in the early 1990s and then just a couple of years ago. Then, the day after that, we’ve had a song from 2010 which expresses its boredom with Medway bands from the 1980s.

It’s meant there’s been a wide variety of styles and sounds which all goes to show what an amazing melting pot of ideas this small collection of towns in the north of Kent is.

If you missed any of the blogs, not to worry: here they all are listed for your convenience – in alphabetical order, obviously.

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and the Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

N – Hand of Stabs – ‘The Night Had No Terror For Us’

O – The Daggermen – ‘One More Letter’

P – The Prisoners – ‘Pop Star Party’

Q – Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire – ‘A Quick One – Pete Townsend’s Christmas’

R – The Ambience – ‘Rome’

S – Balance Lost – ‘Shield Against the World’

T – The Kravin’ “A”s/Suzi Chunk – ‘Tripwire’

U – The Love Family – ‘Up in the Air’

V – The Flowing – ‘The Voyage’

W – Lupen Crook – ‘World’s End’

X – CTMF – ‘X-Craft on Tirpitz’

Y – Bear vs. Manero – ‘YRANYRBYM’

Z – KILL RPNZL – ‘Zombie Midwife Afterbirth Squad’

Find out more about many of these bands and artists – and many, many more, in my book: Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.

A Medway Christmas Alphabet – the story so far

A-M
Tradition dictates that the lead up to Christmas comes with some form of countdown – or, strictly speaking, a countup – often involving chocolate.

Here at Reviewage Heights we don’t have any chocolate on offer (as I’ve eaten it all myself), but I can point you towards a song for every letter of the alphabet – with two to come of Christmas Day.

As we’ve reached the half way point – and you might have missed some on the way – here’s the songs that have featured from A to M.

These songs are in no way meant to represent a “best of” – although I would maintain they’re all pretty darned good. But hopefully they do give a broad overview of the wide range of music Medway has had to offer over the last few decades.

So, here we go:

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: I is for ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (I Don’t Want Socks)’

‘Tis the festive season of advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas. To mark the occasion, what better way than to have a completely non-festive A-Z of Medway songs.

Theatre Royal - I Believe in Father Christmas
There’s probably an apology due.

Despite the talk of a Medway Christmas Alphabet in these latest posts, there has, in fact, been precious little in the way of anything festive about these blog entries. The closest thing we’ve had so far has been Brigadier Ambrose’s ‘Decembered’.

But despite it being (a). excellent (b). named after the month in which Christmas falls (c). in possession of a beautiful bunch of jingling bells, there are songs with a much more Christmassy vibe to them out there.

Theatre Royal’s ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (I Don’t Want Socks)’, for example.

The song, a charity single in aid of Crisis, the homelessness charity, proved a reunion of sorts, with Daniel Lawrence, now of Kids Unique, joining forces with his old bandmates from The Long Weekend to help write and perform it in 2013.

Just as Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without certain things toys broken as soon as they’re unwrapped, drunken aunts falling asleep during the Queen’s speech and no-one eating their sprouts, so a Christmas song wouldn’t be a Christmas song without jingly bells and descending scales, a chorus of over enthusiastic backing singers and a catchy old earworm of a tune.

And that’s exactly what we have here.

It’s an unashamedly nostalgic affair – not just with the nod to the sound of Phil Spector and the summoning of memories about Father Christmases and Rudolphs, but also in its reference more recent traditions.

Amid all the talk of mistletoe and sherry, there are allusions to post-work Christmas party hangovers, assessing whether presents are DVDs or books and having to “stand in Woolworths at the back of a queue”. Rather poignantly a voice interrupts Ollie Burgess’s singing to grumble “not any longer”).

This is Christmas pop at its best. It is knowingly, but unrepentantly, ever so slightly cheese (“The Christmas single is a grand, yet much maligned tradition and one that we have this year welcomed with open arms and festive jumpers,” the band told The Guardian upon the song’s release).

And that, at Christmas, can never really be a bad thing.

Buy the song on Theatre Royal’s Bandcamp page.

Find out more about Theatre Royal, The Long Weekend, Kids Unique and plenty of other Medway bands and artists in my book, Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.