(The following was originally posted by Acilius on 9 December 2008)
The Christmas album, referred to on their website as “Christmas with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain” but labeled as Fiducula inter Angelos (“Miniature Lyres among the Angels,”) does not after all include the performances they issued last year as a virtual album called “Never Mind the Reindeer.” Those performances are still available on iTunes. I do miss the rendition of “The Holly and the Ivy” from last year, but new tracks like the “Wenceslas Canticle” and a vocalese version of ”Winter Wonderland” more than make up for its absence. Their “Jingle Bells Canticle” gets us (Mr & Mrs Acilius and the dogs) dancing every time we hear it. Here’s ukulelehunt‘s review of the album.
In a comment on last month’s post, ukulelehunt’s proprietor Al Wood, a.k.a. Woodshed, gave it as his opinion that Live in London #1 is the UOGB’s best album yet. I agree, though Mrs Acilius still leans toward Precious Little. She plans to walk down the aisle to that album’s recording of “Finlandia” when we make the ”Mrs” part official in May, so it has a sentimental importance to her. Though when we listened to Live in London #1 and heard Hester Goodman’s rendering of “Teenage Dirtbag” as a ballad of adolescent lesbian angst, Mrs Acilius was so enthusiastic I wondered if she was about to suggest using that instead. She assured me that her enthusiasm was strictly political, stemming from a conviction that sexual minorities need representation in music. That she has a crush on Hester is purely by the way. Here is an unflattering picture of Hester sitting next to George Hinchliffe that I could look at if I were in a jealous mood, which of course I never am.
I’d single out a few other tracks for praise as well. Four tracks I can’t bring myself to leave out are a distinctly Hellenic ”Misirlou” (I linked to a video of this arrangement a while back,) a rousingly militaristic version of “Pinball Wizard,” their hilariously genial “Anarchy in the UK,” and a simultaneous segue tour de force simply titled “Melange.” The whole album is very strong, and despite its origin as a collection of pieces from many performances over several years holds together quite well as a whole. The live format also captures some of the band’s showmanship that’s been missing from other albums.