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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Is Just Around The Corner

Christmas is here once again. Don't you just love how the wheel goes round and round? I've just cracked open this year's dark rum, even if a nice bottle of Benromach Traditional Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey I won in a local competition last summer has managed to beat it to the start line this year. What would life be like without the seasonal spirit?

The steady flow of new Christmas music from Malta which started last year continues unabated this year. I stay away from the stuff that's too saccharine sweet for my taste but unfortunately this year there are even a song or two that I'd have liked to to include in the special edition of on my weekly podcast that reached me a little too late to be included. Is it just me or do some Maltese musicians and singers release their Christmas songs not as early as they should? You really can over do it in either direction on this.

I'm quite excited about this year's MMI Christmas podcast because it's packed with very special material. The first track is has never been heard publicly before and it comes from one of my favourite Maltese band of all time, duo Particle Blue. Although the duo split a few years back, Antoine Vella has sent me an unreleased song from 2005 called Christmas Time Come On. These guys make me cry. This is the real deal. No sugar coated nonsense. Just raw emotions but still very appropriate for the season. What a gem!

Fr Karm Debattista mssp has released an outstanding album of Christmas songs this year. It's called Min Hu dat-Tifel? (Who's This Boy?) and features traditional Christmas carols rearranged in a contemporary folk rock style played by Andrew Zammit on the lead guitar and bass, Edward Ellul also played on the bass, while Noel Grech played the drums, Jacob Portelli the violin, and Paul Giordimaina played the piano. Aside from singing, Fr Karm plays the recorder, rhythm guitar and keyboards on this album, which is nominated in the Top Album category for the MMI 2009 Listeners' Picks poll, which is open for votes on Facebook until Friday 1 January 2010.

Andrew Zammit has released a Christmas song this year. I'd have loved to include Paċi fl-Art (Peace on Earth) on this week's podcast but it only reached me after I had recorded the show. I'll certainly play it on next year's Christmas podcast, but if you'd like to hear it now just go to Andrew Zammit's MySpace page.

I'm quite please to be able to include quite an unusual Christmas song this year. It comes from the JMJ Project, which comprises John E. Zammit Pace (guitars, piano, harpsichord), Manny Cefai (bass, vocals, keyboards) and Joe "Peace" Camilleri (drums, percussion, vibes). This project is most remarkable because these middle-aged Maltese musicians contributed each of their parts for John lives in Malta, Manny is in the UK, and Joe il-Peace is based in Orlando, Florida. John and Joe sent their parts for Xmas on My Mind to Manny who put them all together in time for Christmas. This way of putting a song together is probably a first for the Maltese music scene. I hope to bring you other tracks from the JMJ Project (or the individuals involved in it) in 2010.

The crowning glory for this year's MMI Christmas Special is a recording from 1989 featuring one of Malta's best ever musicial comedy duo
Freeway. Toni Vella and Jesmond Tedesco Triccas have appeared on a previous edition of the MMI podcast from this 1989 edition of my Mill-Garaxx TV series. As the week they appeared on Mill-Garaxx happened to be a Christmas edition too they contributed their Pudina tal-Milied (Christmas Pudding) medley accompanied by Il-Merħla. Don't let anyone tell you that there was no fun to be had in Malta in the 1980s.

The next MMI podcast will appear on Saturday 2nd January 2009 and it will feature the top picks by my listeners and others voting on Facebook for the favourite 2009 Maltese music releases. Until then, over the coming days we will once again be releasing Ġorġ Mifsud-Chircop's special christmas editions of his Tisqifa għall-Għana Tagħna featuring Karmnu Debono l-Pikipakk (from Birkirkara) and Frans Mifsud ta' Żaren ta' Vestru (from Żejtun).

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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