“At the party of astrologers, the Christmas tide was due.”
Albert Bouchard’s Re-Imaginos is not a Christmas album but I listened to it obsessively in the run up to Christmas of 2020 (when it was released) so it’s become a festive fave. It does have a Christmas song on it though… kind of. I say “kind of” because I have no idea what Girl That Love Made Blind is really about. It’s a reworked track from Bouchard’s days in Blue Öyster Cult and it’s the kind of mysterious, cryptic stuff that fans have been picking over for decades. What does “the Christmas of my life” mean? Is it a beginning, an ending, or is it a reference to Cliff House (the San Francisco building featured on the cover and once burned down on Christmas Day of 1894)? Who knows. But it is a lovely and memorable track that has all the quirks, charm and cosy warmth that has made Re-Imaginos my favourite album of the decade so far.
The release of Bruce Dickinson’s first solo album,1990’s Tattooed Millionaire,didn’t represent the fulfillment of some pent-up creative ambition. Instead, an offer to record a track for Nightmare On Elm Street 5 turned into an opportunity for the Iron Maiden frontman to have some simple fun recording an album with his drinking pal, jobless ex-Gillan guitarist Janick Gers. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit of a throwaway effort. The title track is upbeat and infectious but pub rockers like Lickin’ The Gun and Zulu Lulu prove every bit as unremarkable as their titles and album nadir Dive! Dive! Dive! is just too silly (“no muff too tuff”). But the album gets evocative and personal on the excellent Born In ’58, the dusty Bad Company-esque opener Son Of A Gun is one of my favourite Bruce tracks and there’s a sense of fun and warmth in the band’s unpretentious approach. So, while far from a classic, time has been kind to Tattooed Millionaire, especially its stronger first half. I return to this album any time I want a bit of nostalgic summery fun.