The latest from the US rock guru Greil Marcus, Real Life Rock (Yale University press) is a record of his writing for various publication sources. It covers the years 1986 to 2014. So, it becomes a  ‘dip’ book rather than something you read to its end.  Marcus calls in on artists he has heard and spoken with, and often he delights in the inconsequential. Within that context it’s another success story amidst his growing personal library of deliberations on the contemporary music world.  

Although countless US artists of many a music genre have recorded religious based material Marcus makes life hard for a reviewer to actually focus on this theme with “Jesus’ or ‘Christianity’ or even ‘religion’ missing as entry words in a considerable index. So, as said, it’s a ‘dipping’ process, and within this there is result.  Take page 101. Here the reader can find a section on The Earliest Negro Quartets 1894-1928. Street preachers, church sermons, gospel choruses and marching bands receive attention. Often he has wry humour, as on page 247 when writing of Dylan’s influences from early blues, Marcus comments on  a Bukka White: “His voice is an eternal whine, as if he knows this is the only way to get God’s ear, you reach that country, and you can’t believe you have to leave. You can, he couldn’t.” Although Marcus is very much into US recollections there are visitations this side of the Atlantic. He does take in The Sex Pistols performing at Brixton’s Academy, and of course it was so that certain punk style outfits like to use religious terminology, and so on page 405 calling in on  the album Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts.  And there are words about Laurie Anderson’s dwelling upon the Book of Revelation  (p147) When it comes to Dylan’s, ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” he turns to the version from Guns N’ Roses (p65) but writes few words. Marcus also takes off into film and for one title better known to us he picks up on Absolute Fabulous where God appears to Edina as Marianne Faithful “wistfully mooning over what fools these mortals be.” (p284).

Well, it’s a great ‘pick-up and put down’  dip book.



History books record the Georgian town of Kataisi  as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Any Music encyclopedia of contemporary music would record  that in George 0rwell’s celebrated year of 1984   the same community welcomed into the world Ketevan Melua, or, as we know her, Katie. This delightful singer has an appeal range that takes her through almost every description in popular music, whether it be blues, jazz, alternative, indie, pop and rock. She can cope with them all.

Six albums with arranger and producer Mike Batt of much more than Womble fame, have brought her hit parade success, and the new album even without without the Batt influence should see no change to her chart fortune.  Yet not all review voices sing sweetly for this new album. One reviewer finds the record hardly warming the heart, and another somewhat dismissively terms the Georgian born Katie’s release boring. 

I find myself far more at home with the review in the London Evening Standard. To these ears, and the ES, her album In Winter (BMG) is simply beautiful.  The September 16, 1984 born singer has gone back home to record, and on many tracks she is joined by the atmospheric sounds of the delightful Gori Women’s choir, who murmur, sooth, and engagingly produce the engaging Georgian style of polyphonic singing. The ten track In Winter is not an album of Christmas hymns and carols, save for a few visits, but in atmosphere it evokes this time of year. It opens with a Ukranian song ‘Little Swallow’ that in tune at least will be known to many as ‘The Carol of the Bells’ and here beautifully performed. A friend of mine heard my playing this, and immediately‘ went out and bought. All Night Vigil – Nunc Dimittis’ charms as does ‘Dreams on Fire,’ while for the surprise inclusion there’s Joni Mitchell’s, ‘River.’ The most absorbing, and certainly unexpected, is her version of the so popular ‘0 Holy Night.’ Maybe its because I’ve heard it sung so often both live and on record by a powerful male singer that  the thought of the whole thing brought down to almost bare bones by someone not equipped with a huge range, especially on the top notes, kind-of made me initially listen with expectation of a mess. Not so. Within acceptance of her range and delivery, she simply shines, and makes it something special. So to it makes a welcome change from the powerhouse projection that yes often comes the way of this persuasive song. She deals with it in almost effortless fashion in the manner of someone who says they have a song and would you like to hear it. Perhaps she could have gone almost completely Christmas in the song selection. 

Metallica is a heavy rock outfit, formed by the still present drummer Lars Ulrich as a direct response to the seeming infinite dominance of ‘wimp’ rock when they came to the fore with their first album Kill ‘Em All issued as far back as 1983. In a recent Methodist Recorder article ‘Pretty Amazing Grace – using contemporary popular music in church worship’ the band obviously had respect from writer Tom Osborne, although in a given discography the album chosen is their 1991 self-titled affair rather than the new double set ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (Blackened), and that said there was nothing new in the overall  title listing that was suggested beyond 2008. 

The latest certainly keeps Metallica to the forefront of metal but whether this, or any of their material is for a ‘Christian’ setting is highly debatable. Certainly some of their content makes for discussion, and pretty brutal if honesty reigns in the context of this band. On this new double set anger pervades and tracks such as  “Hardwired, ‘Confusion’ and ‘Halo on Fire’ offer a chilling bleakness of modern life. The latter has a lyric that keeps saying: ’I fear to turn on the light/For the darkness won’t go away.’ Their incessant cry is on ‘Confusion’ is simply: ‘All sanity is now beyond me/Delusion/ All sanity is but a delusion of my life.’ These sentiments are delivered against some searing guitar work, dominant drumming, and demanding vocals of James Hetfield that risk him being deaf and mute sometime in the near future. Musically it’s a power-house, slightly derivative, but thundering into the brain should you listen on headphones. My publication ‘The International Encyclopedia of Hard Rock & Heavy Metal, suggests they were possibly the first metal act to attract the now common ‘thrash’ tag. Certainly some of the music on this new release will please those who like it fast and fiery. There is no “gospel” of any kind. That begs another increasingly hard question” ‘In what way can you make sense as a Christian community to those who are writing off existence?” You can also ask “In what sense and to what degree does a band such as Metallica express the mind-set of young people today?” or for another “Is there no light to be found, no moment or time to celebrate goodness?”

I find no current Christmas release to touch two albums that first found release late last year – they still sound brilliant: Yulefest (Hyperion)from The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge with the brilliant arranger Stephen Layton, a release so contemporary and exciting in the treatment of the familiar, and from the US, Dancing Day from Saint Thomas Choir,, Fifth Avenue  (Resonus)


The last issue of Crisis went to bed before it was learnt that the great man had died at the age of 82. We had given a lengthy review of his new and highly successful album. Fulsome and positive reviews of his life and work appeared in countless magazines and newspapers. 


  • 1 who recorded 7 0’clock news/silent night? 
  • 2 there have been countless recordings of white of the less known is by otis........
  • 3 the group that recorded  I was born on Christmas day   
  • 4 A Christmas Gift is associated with which US producer  
  • 5 Who recorded  mistletoe and wine   
  • 6 Who recorded santa’s list   
  • 7  Who recorded saviour’s day    
  • 8 The Pogues sang of Fairytale in which city
  • 9 Christmas 2005:Who sang you raise me up  
  • 10 Who sang Christmas time ?
  • 11 Which famous Christmas piece was originally meant for Easter  MESSIAH
  • 12 Name the carol from St Day. Cornwall  Sans Day
  • 13 which folk group hit the charts with Gaudette    
  • 14 Who or what was Rudolph ? 
  • 15 What colour Christmas did Elvis sing about  
  • 16 Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders had a hit for Christmas that had so many miles in its title. How many?
  • 17 Which British city was the instigator of the twelve lessons of carols and hymns? 
  • 18 What was the title of the major Christmas hit for Harry Belafonte?  
  • 19 Complete  Lullay My....
  • 20 What is the second the second line of  The Holly and the Ivy    



These have noted from a variety of magazines during this past year.

  • No one has shown us any compassion except the graveyards. No one loves us like the graveyards.
    Ruquia Hassan .Kurdish woman from Raqqa
  • My youth went the day I gave birth at 26 and I understood that everything was about the next generation.
    Suzanne Moore
  • When they smoked pot, they took care not to do so in front of him, disappearing like naughty schoolboys smoking behind the bicycle shed.
    Philip Norman (Beatles and George Martin)
  • Artists are truth tellers and excavators.
    Jake Lever
  • If the world hasn’t made you semi-mad, you ain’t living in it.
    Richard Ashcroft
  • There is no steady accretion of advances towards greater civilisation or even human decency. It can all be taken away terrifyingly quickly.
    Isaiah Berlin
  • The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.
    Pope Francis
  • You can‘t legislate humility into boardrooms.
    Jim Armita
  • House delivers a somewhat negative verdict:
    This tendentious canter through the history of biblical translation
    House, Christopher,  Books, How Moses got his horns, Review, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2016. P 28/
  • A schools board in Mississippi USA is found guilty of racial segregation, and the Times headline:
    Missippii schools told to end segregation 60 years on.
    Deng, Boef. The Times, May 19. 2016. P 32.
  • Just how do Christian bodies get things so wrong or at least open themselves to widespread derision? – doubtless  there are reasons for and against the action in  Sciuate, a small coastal town not far from Bosto. However who has time to go into the pros and cons of this and that when at least on the surface things are somewhat off beam. It brings to a joy a journalist searching for a story to realise that the Church of St Francis Xavier Cabrini has been under occupation for 4.222 days,but now a courr has told parishioners they must get out not jail, as the song might say, but church.  It appears the archdiocese wished to sell the property. It is said by one prominent parishioner that
    The archdiocese wanted to sell off churches to replenish its coffers, which were being depleted by the sex abuse crisis
    Sherwood, Harriet, Campaigners fighting sale of property, Guardian May 20. 2016. P 23.
    However before parishioners could be locked out, the occupation began once one parichsoner slpped inside.. And so began the occupation. It must be agonising  that here was a church with some people when many do not have anyone and the latter scenario would have made things so much more easy. Why are things so difficult!
  • The name of Jimmy Savile refuses to go away.  
    Here I fear that tackling the legacy o the on-timw DJ will produe  thousands of new victims, and they are not the absed.
    Daniel Finkelstein raises a matter that is often neglected in the hurried pursuit of presumed guilty – namely false accusations and the devastating effect that can have.  He refers to a report he  receives from Professor Carolyn Hoyle of Oxfod University’s Cenre for Criminology. She has been workinf with colleagues Naomi-Ellen Speechly and Ros Burnett. The Impact pf Being Wrongly Accused of Abuse in Occupationa of Trut. Finkelstein finds it a relentless and dispiriting study. His brilliant analsys ends with the paragraph
    To record this is not to minmise the suffering of the abused. It is not to deny the undeniabl truth about abuse. It is juat to urge that we sont add misca`rriages of justice to the errors we have already made.
    Finklwatein, Daniel Destroyed by false accusations, The Times, May18, 2016. P 25.
  • Church authoeites greeted with pleasure that there is a Government iniitiativw and revie in ways of sustaining England’s churches and cathedrals, a number of these ar e Grade 1 listed. 
    There are just 700 listed Catholic churches and chapels across England  and Wale as opposed to 15.000 Church  of England churches.
    Reporter, Tablet. March 26. 2016. P 37
  • There are hundreds of noncorformist and Methodist chapels, many of them exceedingly be`autiful in their relative plainness.. Many of these are listed in on way or another even down to outside railings, and where in some cases the present day work is hampered by both heritage and in Methodist terms, by the church’s own body, not withstanding enormous insurance costs.
    People may wonder whether the Archbishop of York’s favourit hymns is One More Step Along  the Road I Go by Sydney Carter. This supposition stems from Dr John Santamu’s pilgrimage walk of 2.000 miles that sees him visir hundreds of churches and pray with 22.000 people over six months.
    Meantime a book appears on July 6 with 2.6 million words – simply four times as long as War and Peace. This long awaited text is the deliberations of the Chilcot enquiry into the machinations of the Iraq war conflict. A vast amount of money has been spent in compiling the report.Lively wrirer Alice Thompson in her usual precise writing style says faith schools nedd to stamp ot prejudice. She feels too many Children are exposed to intolerant or extreme views so religions must be forced to co-exist in the classoom.
    Thomson, Alice,Faith scools, Times, May 25. 2016.No page number kept.l
    She feels most religious worship should take place at home, not in school.  Children are though asked to take on board the intolerances of home and somehow in their limited understanding to cope with the mixed faith situation of th school, and most likely will feel their parents are right, and so exercise an indiffereance other belief systems, unless they come from a very liberal background.
  • The American President visits Hiroshima while the people of  Nagaski ask
    What about us?
    Rich, Motoko, International N ew York Times, May 26, 2016. P 2.
  • In the dropping of atomic weapoms  the original Urakami CathedraL in Nagaski was destroyes with about 8.000 Cattholics in the area were killed. The bomb of August 9, 1945, killed an estimated 74.000 people. 
    They say the messag they want the world to take from Mr Obama’s visit-  that nucleur weapons must never again be used 
    Ibid p 2
    Of course those who possess say they will never be used , but then they were, not once, but twice.Were the people consulted?
  • While there are some Christians who see Mel Gibson as a redoubtable evangelist for the cause, those who think differently  gain pleasujre from being told in the press that t he film-maker is thinking of making another epic – this time on the Resurrection. Gibson has spent time in the Hollywood shades  owing to language aqter being to being stopped in July 2006 for speeding in Malibu, California. 
    His response to the officer gained him a very cold shpulder in many qujarters.
    “F**king Jews,” he said to the arresting officer. “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” Gibson continued, “Are you a Jew?”
    Hoyle, Ben, Gibson hopes to resurrect career, The Times, June 11, 2016. P 46.
  • Jesus pops up on radio, or shall we say there is brought to the fore the alluring  and demanding question What Would Jesus Eat? (BBC Radio 4). Grilled eels and sliced orane is the suggestion for the Last Supper but folr dome a suprise – crayfish and pork. B ut would a Jewish man eat pork? Would the other men eat pork?
  • The pope is never far away from media attention and this tikme he finds society at fault, or, at least, those who are en gaged in the pursuit of perfect  bodies. The Pope celebrates a Mass in St Peter’s Square dedicated tl disabledpeople and their caregivers.
    It is thought that sick or disabled persons cannot be happy, since they cannot live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment.
    D’Emilio, Frances, Vatican, I paper, June 13. 2016. P 24.
  • The US is home tp another gun attack and this time the  Venue is 0lando with at least 50-deaths.  The focus is on hate of gay people. It draws into play emotional response, especially from one  journalist, and who among other things states:
    Gay Americans are so creative. Our ancestors managed to turn a riot into a movement of love. They managed to turn the Aids epidemic into one of the most powerful forces the US has produced. We should not become nationalistic or vengeful. We should not perpetuate the cycle of violence.
    Thrasher, Steven W.Guardian, June 13. 2016. P 25.
  • Photography is a world that has rarely made its entrance on the pages of ths text, and arguably is another of those worlds that somehow by and large avoid Christian atten tion or approval – just how many major photpgraphic exhibitions has the Church sponsored? And if not the big picture, then the same question for towns. C ertainly it is hard not to argue its case in God’s scheme of thins when say confrontwed with the work of  the American artist Louis Stettner – someone who has spent 80 years capturing Parisian life, and those of New York.  From June 15 to September 12 his work  is at Centrepompidou,France while  the FT newspaper gives over a page in its Weekend, Arts
    (Life & Arts: June 11/12 2016. P 12).
  • I was solitary before, but now my solitariness becomes complete and awesome. Hence the dizziness, like vertigo. Like a statute on plinth – that is how I live now.
    Pope Paul VI, instanced Robert Harris.
  • We have been under siege and invasion. Lives have been lost almost every day.. But we are still faithful to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    Vilage, Fulani.Nigeria.
  • When we design, we think about how people are working and living. It’s all wound up with culture, politics – everything is in the mix.
    Thea Fauve
  • Food makers’ relentless advertising and bloated products, full olf unnecessary sugar and salt, contributed to many of the incredibly expensive chronic illnesses our health system has to deal with.
    Corby Kummer. (Subject USA).
  • What is the greatest threat to humanity? Climate change, pandemic, nuclear war? According to the 0xford philosopher Nick Bostrom, these things pale beside the danger posed by artificial intelligence.
    Ian Adams.
  • This industry is brutal. No matter how tough you are, sometimes there’s the feeling of not being wanted. It’s cut throat.”
    Dakota Johnson. Actress.
  • Teenage girls have always spent most of their spare time on the phone, just waiting for their lives to START – but what excuse do adults have?
    Julie Burchill
  • I have no idea where I’m going. There is no plan.
    Neil Young at 70.
  • My transvestitism  today is more of an aesthetic exercise than an erotic one.
    Grayson Perry
  • The Chilcot report is longer than all the Harry Potter books put together. No one’s going to read it.
    Claire Short
  • We seem to be living in an age where we’ve beome scared of our sophistication. We crave things that feel authentic.
    Roger (no surname given)
  • IKEA is a kind of faith, a belief system.
    Paula Cocozza
  • The most enduring images of the 2016 UK festival season thus far have been provided by music fans rolling around in mud.
    Music Week.
  • Marxism gave my parents faith to last a lifetime. The left today looks as it it’s also developing into a church.
    Martin Kettle.
  • We go to the gym to train a muscle – we should train the brain too.
    Andy Puddicombe. Meditation expert.
  • You can’t design something sitting at a computer screen . The computer is a tool. I still design in my sketch book, I only go to my computer when I know what I am going to do.’
    Ian “Swifty’ Swift.
  • Anyone who tops the charts can now deliver a lecture on poverty to politicians who earn less than their stylists.
    Craig Brown
  • Sunglasses, like commenting on a forum, make us feel important, even when we’re not’
    Emma Forrest
  • Everything I was drinking to achieve I’ve found in my sober life’ closeness with people, creative inspiration, erotic adventure, and true confidence, the kind that doesn’t come from a bottle. I pride myself on knowing who I am now. That’s real power.
    Sarah Hepola
  • You took the fundamentals of our daily lives – friendship, shopping for food, singing and playing them against the Wall. You made your daily bread a` protest.
    Words about Bowie, Frank Cottrell-Boyce.
  • Every entertainer is insecure. We’ve been tap-dancing our entire lives for your approval.
    Sia Furler.
  • I came to America thinking I was at the very top, but pimps, pushers, lairs and ex-husbands brought me crashing down
    Carol White.
  • When the language folk use leads them into their own empty black hole of doubt and despair, then clearly their theology has let them down.
    Christine Kinch
  • It is a permanent astonishment to me, how casually strewn with glory Britain is.
    Bill  Bryson
  • I am a robot. I’m also a layer, a nurse, a waiter and a teacher.
    Julia Carrie Wong (professional jobs at risk).
  • You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body. But you will never imprison my mind.
    Nathan Law student protest Hong Kong.
  • Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary
    Sebastian Junge    
  • Men are three times more likely to take their own life than women, yet they shy away from seeking help.
    Louise Chunn.   
  • If you see not the wilderness, but only the trophy animals in can you value any of this ?
    Nilanjana Roy
  • I was cooking bacon and I looked in the pan and saw pigs squeaking and crying and dying. The crackling noise was just really horrible  
    Cara Delevingne


1Simon and Garfunkel 2 Redding 3 SaInt Etienne 4 Phil Spector 5/6/7/ Cliff Richard 8 New York  9 Westlife 10 Bryan Adams 11 Messiah 12  St Day in Cornwall 13 Steeleye Span 14 Red nosed reindeer 15 Blue 16 5000 17 Truro 18 Mary’s Boy Child. 19 Liking 20  Are dancing in a ring