Christmas With The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I find most Christmas songs unbearably bad. The only type of Christmas songs I love are the old Pagan ones that have had a thin layer of Christianity papered on top (much like Christmas itself) and one of the best, Down in Yon Forest, crops up on the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s new Christmas album. A quick lyric sample: “In the bed there lays a knight / Whose wounds do bleed by day and night / Under that bed there runs a flood / The one half runs water the other runs blood.” … and a Happy New Year.

But there’s plenty of jollity on the album as well along with a bunch of lyric changing that I’m dying to quote here and entirely ruin for you. These humorous, singalongs are enhanced by being recorded live while the more intricate songs are recorded in the studio.

But the highlight of the album for me is – as you might expect – the top notch uke playing. Their instrumental version of Wassail is a masterclass in arranging for a ukulele group – everywhere you look there’s something interesting going on and it still works as a whole – and Christmas Rose is a beautifully played waltz. They use the uke in some interesting ways; the album opens with sleigh bells imitated by playing the strings behind the nut. The uke playing highlight of the album is the album closer: a funky-ass version of Good King Wenceslas. The intro is incredible. I don’t know how they manage to build those up.

You can buy Christmas with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and listen to extracts here.
And The Ukes will be turning up on Colin Murray‘s Christmas Show on Radio 1 on the 22nd December (who has some mad ukulele skillz himself).

View Comments


  1. LonnaB December 8th, 2008 8:50 pm

    “much like Christmas itself”

    Good to know I’m not alone, Woodshed.

  2. Phredd December 8th, 2008 10:31 pm

    Mine arrived in the mail along with the new live cd. It was sealed with a kiss and in invitation to join the group. OK, those last two were wishful thinking, but I do love both cds. Excellent!

  3. Woodshed December 9th, 2008 8:40 pm

    Lonna: It think it’s established fact (although you wouldn’t guess it from all the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ stuff).

    Phredd: You definitely should be in the group. I’d love to hear the UOGB doing Elmer’s.

  4. acilius December 9th, 2008 9:09 pm

    It’s a brilliant album. It was through your earlier post that I first heard it was available, thanks very much for the news.

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  6. Woodshed December 10th, 2008 8:28 pm

    acilius: You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed the album.

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  9. Byjimini December 14th, 2009 9:43 pm

    Nice, just bought it, can’t wait to get it through, though I wish I could download it (legally) and have it right here, right now…

  10. Woodshed December 16th, 2009 10:12 pm

    Byjimini: I second that. I wish their stuff was on eMusic.

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