Silent Night, and Good Luck, various artists (Mistletunes)
Here's an all-new compilation (OK, I recycled a couple of oldies from my cassette days, but the vast majority of you didn't know me then, so it's all good) from the various theatres of the War On Christmas. (That's a war Mistletunes mix disc recipients win every year.) For those of you only seeing this in a Web browser, the stockings on the disc cover at left have Joe McCarthy and Bill O'Reilly's names on them.
"Hanukkah and Christmas Hand in Hand," Huffamoose — A cute, if a bit shambling, rewrite of "Winter Wonderland" tailor made for 2005, a year in which Christmas is also the first night of Hanukkah, a cosmic coincidence which may explain why I was literally carpet-bombed with great pop and rock takes on the Jewish observance this year. In honor of that, I've put a few more than usual Hanukkah selections on this year's compilation.
"Christmas in the Snow," Marah — I hadn't been following this Philly band's career closely, so their recording of an entire Christmas album gave me an excuse to get a little deeper into them. This isn't a lot like their non-holiday records, but it is plenty of fun.
"Who Let the Elves Out," Robert Lund — I don't think I have to draw you much of a word picture as to what this sounds like, now do I?
"Ocho Kandelikas," Hip Hop Hoodios — Found this Hanukkah stomper on one of those Hungry For Music compilations (excellent charity if music looms large in your life, by the way). If the band's name leads you to believe this tune is a Latin groove set off with a hard rock bridge, well, you're right, but you probably don't do well on those parts of standardized tests where they ask you to correlate similes: "A is to B as C is to D...."
"Christmas in America," Melissa Etheridge — A fairly obvious choice, I'll admit, but I've always had a soft spot for the girl. Besides, we need a "come home for the holidays" lament on the playlist, right?
"St. Patrick's Day," John Mayer — Fooled me at first, too, but this is a well-written and sincere Christmas ballad from a few years ago. This year, of course, he's decided he wants to be a blues guy, but as we used to say, it's a free country, offer void where prohibited.
"Christmas Everyday," Rosie Flores — This Tex-Mex spitfire fakes north and throws us a little Motown on this horn-led holiday original. Not to be confused with the song of the same title by Smokey and the Miracles, nevertheless it's right in the same sort of groove. (Are we still allowed to talk about "grooves" in the post-vinyl era?)
"The Man in the Santa Suit," Fountains of Wayne — I forgot I had this slice of pop-rock heaven until the Wayne boys put it on this past year's odds 'n sods collection, Out-Of-State Plates. Love how the kids think the Santa dude looks like Jerry Garcia, rest his soul....
"Latke Clan," The Leevees — Out of left field came these guys with Hanukkah Rocks, a whole album of power pop dedicated to Hanukkah, and Jewish-American culture in general. I picked this because it's more overtly about Hanukkah than some of the other tunes on their CD.
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Jack Johnson — I like how Jack rewrote the last verse so Rudolph could toss a little bit of attitude back at the "other reindeer" who "used to laugh and call him names." Gives ol' Rudy a bit of street cred.
"A Change at Christmas (Say It Isn't So)," Flaming Lips — Wayne Coyne, the Lips' leader, is reputed to be a bigger Christmas head than any five people who visit this site, so it's odd this is one of only two original holiday tunes the band has recorded. (They covered "White Christmas" once too.) Perhaps the band is saving the A-material for its long-rumored movie "Christmas On Mars."
"What Do Bad Girls Get?," Joan Osborne — You'd have the blues too if the good girls were getting all your Christmas gifts. Damn dirty good girls.
"It's So Chic to be Pregnant at Christmas," Nancy White — The rhetorical answer to the above question.
"Verhanukkah," Kisswhistle — A great parody of the Elvis Costello song "Veronica" that also tells the story of the Jewish observance.
"Office Christmas Bash," The Fabulettes — A humorous ode to the one social event of the year that can send your career into a permanent nosedive.
"The Santa Claus Walk," Dwight Twilley — The power pop veteran provides us with a shiny new holiday dance craze. You can put away your copies of "Macarena Christmas" now. (Just so you know, there really is such a record.)
"River," Aimee Mann — A fresh cover of Joni Mitchell's melancholy ode to the holiday season is always welcome, and Aimee is a really good candidate to deliver this message.
"Stop the Cavalry," Jona Lewie — I can't push "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" at you every year it's pertinent, so this poppy little number delivers a similar message from a soldier's point of view. Because at Mistletunes.com, we support the troops.
"On Christmas I Got Nothing," Chuck Brodsky — Who better to deliver the Hanukkah message than Bob Dylan? He's not returning our calls, though, so Brodsky leaps into the breach with this witty impersonation.
"Away in a Manger," The Fab Four — Speaking of impersonations, see if you can tell what Beatles song the arrangement of this classic carol is based upon.
"Christmas Hot Rod Race," 52 Pickup — Fans of Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen will recognize this as a repurposed "Hot Rod Lincoln." Now if we could just convince these guys to take a crack at "The Virgin Mama Hated Diesels."
"Silent Night," Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns — As it's the quasi-title song of this collection, we needed a unique version of the carol — let's face it folks, almost everybody does it exactly the same way — so I reached back to this band's seminal Christmas album from 1962 for a New Orleans-style interpretation.
"'Zat You, Santa Claus?," The Brian Setzer Orchestra — A little more New Orleans music before we leave you. The Louis Armstrong classic gets a fresh coat of paint from Setzer, along with one of his patented 32-bar guitar solos.
"Christmas Wrapping," The Waitresses — Because there's nothing like hooking up for the holidays. (Am I a bad person for noting this song is 25 years old this holiday? It's old enough to hook up itself!)
Eras: The Beginning, The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, The 21st Century
Genres: Reggae, Soul/R&B, Rap, Blues, Punk, Surfin' Xmas, Tropical
Novelties: Fifties and Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, The 21st Century
Compilations: Regular Comps, Charity Comps, Soundtracks
Special Reports: Recent Releases, Hanukkah, Miscellaneous