No, it isn’t any of John Lennon, Slade, Wizzard, Wham! or Mariah Carey, so rest easy.
The recent passing of Shane MacGowan of The Pogues threw even more attention on The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s 1987 song ‘Fairytale of New York’ which is widely regarded as the ‘best’ Christmas song here in the UK although a ditty concerning an Irish immigrant’s Christmas Eve reverie about holidays past while sleeping off a binge in a drunk tank, and his mouthy former lover, hardly invokes the ‘spirit of Christmas’. Perhaps the spirits, yes.
Anyway, there’s talk of it being #1 in numerous charts across the world for Christmas.
You may regard this as sacrilege but I’ve chosen another version of it for NMC’s Christmas song, namely a cover from Norway’s Katzenjammer.
It is almost eight years now since Katzenjammer went on ‘hiatus’, a decision driven mainly by personal circumstances attributable to Marianne Sveen, who has since recorded and released one solo album (‘Next of Kin’) that was delayed until 2021 by her daughter’s illness, and with another one in the works.
Sol Heilo has released a solo album (‘Skinhorse Playground’) and an EP (‘Solstice’) while still collaborating occasionally with Unni Wilhelmsen and Hanna Marie Karlsen, while separately she has become a successful musical score writer for films as well as an animator.
Anne Marit Bergheim is, or was, a member of two bands that I know of, Telegram and Tiergarten, the latter turning up often in NMC’s pages – they have released a couple of new singles, one of which featured in NMC’s Songs of 2023 list- and with an album to come shortly.
The one band member I’ve lost track of is Turid Jørgensen (Honerud). If anyone can fill me in what she’s up to now musically please do.
The 64,000 dollar question that always shows up when Katzenjammer is mentioned is whether they will ever get back together. I’ve seen and heard too many negative responses to that question over the years, including one directly from Marianne Sveen when I interviewed her, to convince me that will ever happen.
On the other hand the mantra really should be ‘never say never.’ I have read comments on social media that suggest it should not be discounted entirely while the members may now have satisfied their urge to do ‘something different’ after years on the road together. And they have now all entered Middle Age, one where you start to think about doing things (again) before you get too old (See Sleater Kinney, Bananarama, Shakespears Sister et al).
And as I’ve pointed out before, there are more people who never saw them, and who want to than did see them back in the day.
Perhaps an album and/or a one-off tour at least might be possible?
Each has demonstrated clearly in their post-Katzenjammer work that they still have the talent, and in spades.
Anyway, about the song. It was recorded with the gravelly voiced Canadian baritone Ben Caplan and the Trondheim Soloists. Anne Marit starts off the sparring, followed by Marianne with a convincing soft Oirish lilt, then Turid takes up the cudgels (pretty convincingly in my opinion, I always reckoned she was the feistiest of the quartet) before Sol rounds it off with the pathos only she can generate.
Find them on: