Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Is Coming — The Payola$ (1983)

Businesses are failing. Hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs every month; at the same time, hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being diverted to banks that won't divulge how the money will be spent. Christmas Is Coming is definitely a holiday song for these recessionary, economically bizarro times, even though it was recorded 25 years ago by one of my all-time favourite Canadian bands, The Payola$.

The song comes from the Vancouver band's third and finest album, Hammer on a Drum (pictured left). I recently brought out my vinyl copy and listened to it for the first time in years. I was blown away all over again. Hammer on a Drum reminded me a Mick Jones quote when he was reminiscing about The Clash: "The whole thing was fantastic," Jones said. "Who wouldn't write great tunes with such great lyrics?"

Indeed, the Payola$ songwriting tandem of singer Paul Hyde and guitarist Bob Rock (the future uber-producer of the heavy metal stars) had a real Strummer-Jones thing happening on this album and its predecessor, No Stranger To Danger, both of which were masterfully produced by David Bowie's former right-hand man, the late, great Mick Ronson. (Ronson's pal Ian Hunter even drops by to help out on some of Hammer's harmony vocals.)

Since the Payola$ continue to languish in relative obscurity, their four studio albums having never been released on CD, I will post a couple other outstanding Hammer tracks that didn't make the cut on the group's two, woefully inadequate compilations.

Wild West finds lyricist Hyde in full flow as he describes a certain cross-section of right-wing America to a punchy, rock-reggae backing. His final verse takes my breath away; the writing is so lively, vivid and concise: "I lived my life in the happy hour/ The .44 magnum feeling of power/ Warms my bloated, vulgar frame/ Makes the dancers fear my name/ Go-go dancers with greasy curls/ Spread their legs around the world/ Come on, baby, shoot!/ It's the Wild West."

Meanwhile, Perhaps Some Day is a sing-along, nuclear disarmament anthem but its themes of unity, hope and coming together for the common good continue to resonate in the age of Obama.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas to all.

Christmas is Coming (link expired)

Wild West (link expired)

Perhaps Some Day (link expired)

Buy Payola$ here


Unknown said...

You have a great music blog here! I've added you to my mp3blog list and custom search, check it out.

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jonder said...

Are you hibernating?
Spring is almost here...