REVIEW: The Darkness – “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” (single)

THE DARKNESS“Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” (2003 Warner CD single)

The Darkness wins when it comes to Christmas songs.  Not content to rock up a classic, or write a crappy original, they did something that very few artists do:  They wrote an original Christmas tune as good as any of their prior singles.  For that reason, I heartily recommend “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” to discerning rock fans everywhere.   If you can’t find or don’t want the single, you can still get the track on the UK best-of compilation The Platinum Collection.

Even though the guitars are thicker than a good ol’ bowl of Thin Lizzy pudding, there is no mistaking this for anything but a Christmas song.   It is a joyous rock re-imagining of a Christmas carol, with the unmistakable Justin Hawkins falsetto.  It is incredibly difficult not to smile.  A suitably joyous music video was made for this song, featuring the band opening gifts from each other such as a double-neck guitar.


“You know those guitars that are like, double guitars?”

The B-side is a non-album track called “I Love You 5 Times”.  This slow ballad features Justin teasing like a purring cat, stuttering, and joking around.  It’s not one of their most outstanding songs, and wouldn’t make my own Darkness mix tape.  It is however a non-album Darkness song with a typically great guitar solo, so not completely a throw-away.  The A-side is the reason to get this single.

And that A-side is holly jolly good time.

4/5 stars

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35 comments

    1. I was thinking of YOU specifically when I chose many of my Christmas reviews this year (not this one though). I tried to choose some interesting ones that would appeal regardless of the Christmas content. I hope you like what I’ve selected. They’re all rolling out slowly. But even if you don’t, I guarantee that some of these albums I’m doing have never been reviewed online before.

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        1. It just gave me some guidelines when choosing this year. For example, “Will this album engage somebody who really doesn’t care about Christmas music?” So some items I picked with that in mind. We’ll get there — I think there are some damn cool things in the hopper even if wrapped and red and green!

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        1. Well I gave it my best shot! Some of these discs have not been played in many years. I had forgotten what was on them. Ripping them to PC yielded some good memories!

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  1. You rotter! I was going to review my picture disc of this next week! It’ll have to wait until 2017 now!

    Gotta love this, how many other Crimbo songs are constructed around a bell end?!

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      1. That’s what this great cultural exchange is all about. It is very, very much built around that. I saw them in August (I think) and they lowered a Xmas tree on stage and played it anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Brilliant. I guess it was that much of a hit (#1 or not) that they still play it regularly? I think if you’re going to lower a Christmas tree onto the stage in August to play your Christmas hit, then THAT IS EXACTLY the way to do it!

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        2. No idea we only saw them the once, before ‘One Way Ticket’ was released, I think. They were very good, but you could tell they weren’t a happy band at the time. Frankie was standing all by himself all night …

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        3. And he was gone shortly after that. Although I think he had some writing credits on One Way Ticket.

          I always feel extra bad for bands who don’t get along when there are brothers in the band. Like the Gallaghers. Can you imagine being in a band with those two? Brother fights are so much more awkward and intense.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Absolutely and the reason they worked better than Hot Leg (in my opinion) is that they changed the sound enough to be a different band — but not enough to alienate fans.

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  2. I had never heard this before, have never really kept up on Christmas singles, Christmas #1’s, etc. from across the pond(s) over the years, but always have loved The Darkness and fondly remember those early days when American people were going crazing for these guys during the “Permission To Land” album and tour(s) cycle. I always thought any Christmas song sung by Justin Hawkins would have to pledge his love for “snow”!

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      1. The music landscape around that time (as with basically every era of music), was riddled with “one-hit wonders”, and sadly to the passing music fan, The Darkness, with Justin’s soaring falsetto, the striped unitard, and preening on-stage antics may have gotten them lumped in there. I still like tunes from all three CD’s.

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