The Pocket Gods - No Room At The (Holiday) Inn (Nub Music)

The Pocket Gods – No Room At The (Holiday) Inn (Nub Music)

Some artists just scream out to be loved and after having met Mark Christopher Lee, an artist discovered by the late, great champion of the alternative, John Peel, I have to admit to being one of those who does love the man and his music. Mark has produced a crazy amount of albums in his short career, over 60 as I write! Performing his brand of lo-fi indie, I have said before that by dipping his toes into electro-funk and psychedelic-pop along the way, The Pocket Gods bring these sonic capabilities to your Christmas-stocking this festive season, tainted as it has by Covid-19.

You might already have gathered by its title, that The Pocket Gods are sticking a tongue firmly in cheek, by redressing the Christmas story in a 21st century manner. Stables might be a little thin on the ground, certainly in this time zone, but Holiday Inns, Premier Inns and Travel Lodges, certainly are not. So would Mary & Joseph have been forced to seek shelter at these during this time of what we know as the nativity? Or more than likely have been forced to address the local authority and then been encouraged to apply for Universal Credit along the way. The album starts with its title track, a song performed in a not quite so lo-fi stylee, but with a heavy bass thump added to its pop. It documents the story we have all been made aware of recently, Mark sings, “…I walk these streets at night, all the shops are closed down, this used to be my town, now they’ve turned off all the lights. This Christmas there’s no room at the Holiday Inn [repeated]. I see a stranger sleeping in a doorway, I buy him coffee, ‘cos he looks so cold. He asks me for an answer, I said – I don’t know, all we can do is pray. This Christmas there’s no room at the Holiday Inn [repeated]… The church bells are ringing, but I can’t hear no singing. It’s supposed to be a joyous day, I think somewhere we have lost our way…” and as I see it crossing the issues we are encountering now, I’m just hopeful it won’t be forever, Mark.

Do you remember a tune by Jona Lewie, released shortly before the Christmas of 1980. Consider this a mashed up retelling of the tale, originally written in memory of those soldiers who spent Christmas in the trenches during the first world war. In this case Lee has set the tale in the Christmas of 2020, telling a tale of another war we have all been experiencing, Covid-19, Lockdown and a government who have been, some might say, less than capable. A time when “…I wish I could be dancing now in the arms of the girl I love, but it’s not allowed, not allowed!” And rather than the hun, the enemy in this tale is Covid-19, “…I wish I wasn’t locked down for Christmas.” the story ends, quite fitting really and we’re all living through this, so can see the humour in this tale. But it gets better and rather than seeing mommy kissing Santa Claus, the next number is ‘I Saw Mommy Doing Track & Trace‘, are you splitting yourself like I am at the moment? But “…under the mistletoe…” and a problem that I foresaw, what if “…Rudolph the red nose reindeer, he got a slight cough and cold…” and you know where this one’s going? Obviously “…he had to self isolate for 40 days…,” you don’t have to be Dominic Cummings to have to realise that! And as ‘Glitter Shitter‘, strides into sight, wearing the clothes of the late Mark E Smith, one thing is for certain – we are all bound to have a ‘Covid Christmas‘ this year, in another tune the former would have been proud that his follower had written.

The following tells us all how Mark is going to be spending Christmas this year, as ‘Fuck The Rules At Christmas‘ is brought to bear like Thor brings his hammer down. Not so wordy this one, as a fine musical chaos ensues. Another tune ringing out much of what we, as a world, have seen in the media this year, as ‘I Can’t Breathe‘ takes on issues of George Floyd, racism, to furlough and the impending issue of redundancy. There’s not much we haven’t seen this year that isn’t talked about in this number, all under the subject of ‘I Can’t Breathe‘. And after all ‘…our governments don’t care, if I can’t breathe.’ Pretty outspoken, ringing echoes of punk and 1976. Some might already be familiar with the work of The Pocket Gods, but I have to say this one trumps even those. Tackling the views many might hold, but keep to themselves, performed to a solid musical backdrop. I simply love this artist, bringing this album to a close and in a positive manner, with ‘Celebrate Freedom‘. As we consider the words “…Hold your head up high, come close by my side. Let’s stand together, forever…” and leave this journey with a positive memory, Mr Lee sets us on the way to a brighter New Year, and it will be. 

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.