Various Ghosts Of Christmas Past

The thing about Christmas albums is that there’s only a four-week window each year when it’s socially acceptable to listen to them. Plus, apart from a few absolute classics, such as Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You, most simply try to cash in on the festive season rather than be an earnest tribute to Yule. That’s what makes Ghosts Of Christmas Past so unusual. Dating back to 1981, it was Belgian label Le Disques du Crepuscle’s attempt to create a contemporary Christmas record and, to a certain degree, they succeeded. Featuring the usual mix of their roster and artists from Factory and Postcard Records, it’s a collection of reworked Christmas standards, with some other songs with a vaguely seasonal feel included. This new reissue brings together songs from the various versions of the compilation that have been released, plus some extra songs from the label’s Christmas seven-inch singles. Some tracks are horribly dated (such as the French Impressionists’), others were never good anyway (especially Winston Tong’s appalling "The Twelve Days of Christmas”) but there are some rather lovely songs here, especially those from the Durutti Column and the Pale Fountains, that make it more than just an interesting time capsule, even if it isn’t quite the classic they were hoping for. (LTM)