Lost Winter's Dream, Lisa Mychols (Rev-Ola/Cherry Red)

I first heard Lisa thanks to Dan Pavelech's pair of Hi-Fi Christmas Party CDs, which each feature a tune from this album. What we have here is a comparative rarity in rock 'n roll Christmas world: a single artist's conception of an original Christmas album with all original tunes. Actually, "Jack Frost" is a cover, but it's such an obscure one that it doesn't hurt the premise. It's a song from a Russian film, "Morozko (Father Frost)," supposedly based on a Russian fairy tale that mashes up various bits of "Cinderella" and the parable of talents from the Bible. "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" fans probably recall the episode in which this film was parodied. But let's not lose sight of Lisa's achievement here, first recorded in 1990 and released in its current form in 2002. With the help of Wondermints Darian Sahanaja and Nick Walusko, she knocks out a power pop masterpiece that has been criminally overlooked even for being a Christmas album by an American artist that's only available as an import. Bangles and GoGos comparisons are a bit too facile; she's clearly learned from the same original sources as those bands without turning this into a spot-the-influences party. You'll certainly hear 60s girl groups and garage rock, Phil Spector, Beach Boys, ELO/Wizzard, 80s power pop and even a bit of Rimsky-Korsakov with balalaikas ("Jack Frost" again) through the 12 songs of this CD. You'll also hear some melancholy in the songwriting, but that just adds more depth to her performance -- I'll let you track down her website for the inspirations behind this album. We've mentioned the title song and "Listen to the Bells Ring" elsewhere on the site, so I'll skip to the funky "Closer to Jerusalem," which could be the soundtrack to a "happening" in a 60s hippy movie; the poppy "We Will Look Away," a bubblegum anthem with just a hint of Partridge Family; "Bernie's 3rd Christmas," a garage-pop workout; the ballad "Christmas Came Too Soon," drenched in a variety of acoustic and electric guitar sounds; and the cello-led climax "Pure and Simple." This is very nearly the Pet Sounds of Christmas albums.


"The St. Stephen's Day Murders," Elvis Costello with The Chieftains (Rhino)

Not a rocker, but an actual Celtic folk tune, which is to be expected, as this originally appeared on the Chieftains' own 1991 Christmas album The Bells of Dublin. Co-written with Paddy Moloney of the group, the lyrics are unmistakably Costello, taking a typical Christmas celebration to the title's grim conclusion. For you non-Brits, Dec. 26 is St. Stephen's feast day, historically celebrated as Boxing Day -- for noblemen to "box up" gifts for the servants, as goes the legend, and also marked as a holiday. (Costello did do a song called "TKO (Boxing Day)" on Punch the Clock, but the holiday reference is merely a pun; the metaphor for a troublesome relationship has to do with actual pugilism.) St. Stephen was reputedly one of the first martyrs of Christianity, stoned to death not long after the Crucifixion, which lends a certain gruesome appropriateness to Costello's lyrics. If you're more a Costello fan than a Chieftains fan, this is one of the bonus cuts on the Rhino reissue of Mighty Like a Rose, an oft-overlooked but worthwhile Costello album that features two co-writes with Paul McCartney and the reissue adds a few cuts from his seldom-seen "Unplugged" show. Update: Costello's The Delivery Man CD from 2004 contains a song called "Bedlam," which he often precedes in concert by saying it's the story of the Nativity. And it kinda is, if the desk clerk at the inn is named Rumsfeld.... Further update: Costello tries to make the Nick Lowe classic "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding"into a Christmas song by offering it on Stephen Colbert's Christmas special.


"Candy Cane Children," The White Stripes (V2)

A white-vinyl single, the song is originally from 1998 and was reissued in 2002. "Candy Cane" is what you're used to from the Stripes, with a guitar figure evoking Neil Young and lyrics addressed to "candy cane boy" and "girl." Not bad at all. The throwaway B-side has Jack reading the Gospel of Matthew on the story of the Magi, followed by Meg singing "Silent Night" a capella, at least until she forgets the lyrics. Stripes obsessives may want to track down 2003's "Cold Mountain" movie soundtrack, where Jack performs "Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over," although that's a Civil War-appropriate folk performance rather than a Jack 'n Meg kind of thing.


Graham Parker's Christmas Cracker, Graham Parker (Dakota Arts)

Updated entry: This 1994 CD EP has been long out of print, but Parker recently uncovered several unsold boxes of this brief classic containing three original holiday tunes, "Christmas Is For Mugs," "New Year's Revolution" and "Soul Christmas," the latter featuring co-vocalist Nona Hendryx. If anybody should have the attitude to do a rockin' Christmas record, it's Graham, and these are solid. Demos of the three songs also are included on the CD. The full story behind the original recording and release of this EP is related at Graham's website, and while you're there check out the other rarities and reissues from the more recent years of his fine, fine, superfine career. My copy is the British edition, released on Demon. Anyway, when the current batch of these discs is sold, that's probably it — back to eBay and auction prices. Graham branched out to another holiday on his 2004 Your Country CD with "Almost Thanksgiving Day."


"It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas," Pet Shop Boys (EMI)

Someone thoughtfully forwarded me a snippet of this, no doubt inspired by the briefer mention of it on the site earlier. Still don't have much background on it other than the fact that it was released only to fan club members. But it's a good uptempo club dancing tune with appropriate lyrics. Shame they don't cop to its existence on their official discography. I found a few references on Google to Pet Shop Boys' 1993 "A Very Merry Christmas Card," which sells at music auction sites for ridiculous amounts of money, but the descriptions are unclear as to whether this is just a collectible piece or whether it's actually a CD. On their 2002 album Release, there's a song called "Birthday Boy" that alludes to the guy whose b-day is Dec. 25. Update: "Snow" is now available on Elton John's Christmas Party.


"Christmas," Cowboy and Spin Girl (Parasol)

From the 1994 album Odds and Bobs, I'm surprised this never turned up on one of the Parasol compilations. A chunky Chuck Berry rhythm carries this short but catchy number along, buoyed by some odd vocals on the chorus and some crunchy lead guitar. Found both their albums on iTunes, but their label's site still has actual CDs.


Star of Wonder, Trolley (self-issued)

This Milwaukee-based band contacted us to make sure we knew they were out there with this six-song holiday EP, apparently first released way back in 1997. Despite all the time gone by, they're still worth knowing about, bringing us a fine variety of jangly guitar pop-rock that keys off original Sixties sources like the Beatles and the Byrds by way of later power poppers -- their "Christmas in the Marketplace" has a definite resemblance to Murmur-era R.E.M., for example. They get just a touch of surf music into their "We Three Kings," their original "It's Christmas" keys off early Beatles, and then it's Byrds-to-R.E.M. for "Describe Eternity." They cap things off by power-chording their way through "I'll Be Home For Christmas." Highly recommended.


"Christmas at the Zoo," The Flaming Lips (Warner Bros.)

The cult faves put this number on their Clouds Taste Metallic CD, an ode to zoo animals getting set loose for Christmas, only to say "Thanks but no thanks." This group apparently likes Christmas a lot; they're currently shooting a movie, tentatively titled "Christmas on Mars," in which Mars colonists try to hang onto their sanity by staging a Christmas celebration. Wayne Coyne of the group apparently is a Christmas compilation maker, like many visitors to this site, according to a story at ChartAttack.com. The Lips also did a single with two versions of "White Christmas," one side of which wound up on the British charity compilation It's a Cool, Cool Christmas. They've added a new holiday tune to their repertoire in 2003; see The 21st Century.


Christmas Island, Jimmy Buffett (Margaritaville)

I occasionally hear from the Parrotheads in the audience that their boy is unjustly neglected here at Christmas Music Central. While I've never drunk the rum-flavored Kool-Aid (with an umbrella in the glass) in regard to Buffett, I have to give him his due, in that a lot of rock fans I grew up with have gravitated to his music over time. So here he is on his 1996 holiday CD, pointing out he was born on Christmas Day the same year W.C. Fields died on the holiday, for what it's worth. If you're familiar with the Buffett sound, there will be no surprises -- mellow tropical grooves overlay everything, right down to the steel band accompaniment on John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." The title song is the classic done by such folks as the Andrews Sisters and Leon Redbone, and other familiar songs include "I'll Be Home For Christmas," a rocked-out "Up On the Rooftop" and "Run Rudolph Run," plus "Mele Kalikimaka" and "Jingle Bells," though the latter seems to clash with the tropical vibe here (snow, sleighs, etc.). Capping off the CD are three originals, "A Sailor's Christmas," "Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rhum" (that's how he spells it), in which Santa takes that overdue vacation in the islands, and "Merry Christmas Alabama (Never Far From Home)," which swings perilously close to a country ballad. A little too mellow for me overall, but I know it's just the right speed for some of you.


Christmas Turkey, The Arrogant Worms (self-released)

These crazy Canadians knocked out a whole CD of original novelties for 1998, with great titles like "Santa's Gonna Kick Your Ass," which is probably what a lot of people's dads really said to them between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, they balance the karma on this with "Dad Threw Up On Christmas Day," an ode to gluttony, viruses and food poisoning, which eventually takes us to the story of "Vincent the Christmas Virus." Other holiday ailments covered in song include "Christmas Hangover" and "Christmas Blues." Even the main course has "Christmas Turkey Blues." And imagine waking up to discover "Oh God, I'm Santa Claus!," complete with Wild Man Fischer touches. This is sure to yield a few good change-of-pace nuggets on your holiday mix tapes and discs.


Christmas, Rockapella (J-Bird)

The popular a cappella group best known for their work helping to track down Carmen Sandiego give us a holiday album. A couple of years ago, they put an original Christmas tune, "Hold Out for Christmas," on an album, and that one's here, along with two more originals, "The Hope We Hold" and "Christmas Without You." The rest are well-known chestnuts like "Silver Bells," "White Christmas," "The Christmas Song," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and so on. An homage to the Mills Brothers, "Glow Worm," segues into "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." And they pull out all the stops for a very contemporary version of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Overall, there's a kind of samey feeling to the whole album that is the group's downfall, although I suspect they sell this material a lot better live.


Christmas, Low (Tugboat)

Low is a trio from Duluth, Minn. with several independently released albums to its credit. They emphasize the spaces between the notes as much as the notes and work almost exclusively in slow tempos, giving off a fairly hypnotic vibe. Needless to say, there aren't many cuts on this 1999 album that are candidates for a mix tape or CD, although The Gap was interested enough in their version of "Little Drummer Boy" to feature it in a Christmas commercial back in 2000. Their own "Just Like Christmas" would be the single off this album, and they cover "Blue Christmas" and "Silent Night" in their inimitable style. "Blue Christmas" and "If You Were Born Today" were on a 1997 single on Wurlitzer Jukebox Records that is pretty rare.


A Window Shopper's Christmas, 5 Chinese Brothers (Prime)

This one's been bubbling under my radar for a couple of years and I finally latched onto a copy of this 1997 Christmas classic. There's nothing Chinese about these guys, although there are five of them; try rockabilly/folk/country fusion on for size, then consider they wrote all but one of the tunes on this album, and you've got the ingredients for a jumpin' Christmastime. Great titles, like "Rockin' In the Manger," "The Fruitcake Song," "Missing Miss December," "Christmas on Interstate 80," and "Department Store Santa Claus Strike," and they're supported by good songs and good performances. "Making Angels in the Sand" is for those of you spending the holiday in the sunnier climates.


"I Hate December," Ivy (Seed)

From the 1994 EP Lately, this deep melancholy ballad offers a bit of a curative when the happy side of the holiday gets a little too oppressive. This band features vocalist Dominique Durand plus Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, who did a fair amount of songwriting for this band just as he does for the Waynes.


A Swingin' Christmas in the Attic, Michelle Malone (SBS)

This Georgia-based singer-songwriter is known mainly as a roots-rocker with Bonnie Raitt tendencies -- she even plays slide guitar -- but this Christmas album has more of a jazz and blues feel, as piano takes the lead here and Michelle leaves her guitar on its stand for the duration. This is from 1992, which might explain the departure from current style, but it's still available from her website. I'd originally heard of Michelle through one of the Flagpole compilations where she did "Santa Baby" backed with guitar and bass. This version is a different performance, as the whole album was recorded live. No originals, just a quick trip through the canon, including a recitation of "A Visit From St. Nicholas" to trio backing. Great personality, great singing, though rock fans might like her more recent non-holiday work.


Joyeux Mutato, Mark Mothersbaugh (Rhino)

This is as close as we'll ever get to a Devo Christmas album, as Mark was a member of the Akron spud-boy ensemble. Today, he's better known for writing soundtrack music for the likes of "Rugrats" and "Duckman," among others. Listening to this, we at Mistletunes suddenly realized we're partial to lyrics over music, as we were initially disappointed at the instrumental nature of the album; only "I Don't Have a Christmas Tree (Soylent Night)" has conventional vocals, although they are mutated somewhat. But the music slowly started to work its magic. Mark's modus operandi is to work in all electronic instruments, grab something familiar and then go off on a tangent. The opening track, "Blue Joy," takes off from "Joy to the World" and builds into something melancholy yet Christmasy. "Midnight Wind-Up Toy" takes phrases of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and evokes ricky-ticky toys that work on tightened mainsprings. And so it goes through 12 tracks and 79 minutes. The music was originally created to accompany an art installation and is packaged in an outrageous felt Digi-Pak with suitably deranged cover art in a limited edition of 3,000. But it's been reissued in a less lavish package.


I Wanna Be Santa Claus, Ringo Starr (Mercury)

Ringo and his producer Mark Hudson (remember him from the Hudson Brothers and as Hansen's producer?) string together a lot of ready-mades in putting this CD in the racks. You'd be disappointed if he didn't do "The Little Drummer Boy," right? Beatles fans would want to hear "Christmastime Is Here Again," so it's here, despite the fact it's not much of a song and was only ever intended for use as background music. Ringo's not the kind of singer who makes you wish the album was longer. And there's lots of post-Revolver pilfering for arrangements. Still, nobody went home early from making this album; six of 12 cuts are originals and the performances are sharp, even inspired. "Come On Christmas" is straight out of the Gary Glitter discography, "The Christmas Dance" out-McCartneys Paul in the music hall department, "Winter Wonderland" percolates on the lick from "Rockin' Pneumonia" and Ringo indulges his love of country on "Blue Christmas." "White Christmas," a song that seldom gets a fresh arrangement, goes all tropical on us with a light reggae rhythm, Hawaiian guitar and steel drums. And how did George Harrison miss out on performing the album's closer, the India-influenced "Pax Um Biscum (Peace Be With You)?" Between this, the Beatles' Christmas recordings, John and Yoko, The Rubber Band and Fab Four, not to mention George's New Year song, you can have yourself a very Mersey Christmas. This album has been reissued with a new cover and a different title as part of Universal's 20th Century Masters series for 2003.


Holidayland, They Might Be Giants (Restless)

Rabid TMBG fans might have all these tunes one way or another, but this is a good way to get them all in one place. This is a CD EP; there are only five songs, one of which is "Careless Santa," actually by Mono Puff, a side project, and one of which is, Hanukkah alert, "Feast of Lights" from the Festival of Light 2 album. The rest are "Santa's Beard," "O Tannenbaum" (see below) and a cover of The Sonics' "Santa Claus." Good stuff; wish the Johns would flex their considerable brainpower on a full-blown Christmas album someday.


"O Tannenbaum," They Might Be Giants (Elektra)

The pair of Johns knocked together this fairly straight rendition of the Christmas tree carol at a 1992 soundcheck, complete with lyrics in the original German. The following summer they recorded the B-side, "Christmas Cards," which is a not particularly catchy number, quite unusual for this band, which also isn't on the above EP Holidayland. My copy is on green vinyl, by the way. TMBG also is on record for the holiday with "Santa's Beard," and offshoot band Mono Puff also did a 1996 number, "Careless Santa," both of which appear on Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Xmas.


"One of Those Christmas Days," Third Eye Blind (Elektra)

From roughly around 1997, a short uptempo goof-around cut with the chorus "...that we spend in bed." Lyrics do a double-entendre around the idea, or perhaps a single-entendre. Doesn't appear to be on any of the band's albums, although CDnow will sell you a Liquid Audio download of it for $1.49. Update: CDnow's still around as part of Amazon, but Liquid Audio has retreated to a behind-the-scenes role in the music downloading biz. Steve Hansen lets us know this song at least turned up on a KROQ-FM compilation, A Family Christmas In Your Ass, which turns up on eBay from time to time. I deleted the rest of this entry, which was a rant against proprietary file formats. Needless to say, that ship has sailed, but at least we got the iTunes Store out of all this, from which you can now download the tune.


"Christmas Ride," Fight (self-issued)

Originally from 1994, this is former Judas Priest singer Rob Halford's one-off holiday single, and the sound will take you JP fans right back to their heyday. Rob's had an interesting ride since he left the band, but by making this available again he's serving notice that some things never change.


"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Tori Amos (Atlantic)

Tori slips this little number onto the British EP single of "Spark" from her 1998 album from the choirgirl hotel. A ballad version, played sincerely but with very little bombast; mostly piano but with some atmospherics in the background. The EP features another number, "Purple People (Christmas in Space)" that has nothing to do with Christmas. The preacher's daughter previously did a live version of "The Little Drummer Boy" for You Sleigh Me, a benefit CD mentioned elsewhere on this site.


Mersey Christmas, The Spongetones (self-released)

These guys must really love the holiday. Besides appearing on two well-regarded compilations, Optional Art's Cool Yule and Black Vinyl's Yuletunes, the band sent out holiday-themed novelties to its fan club from time to time, and all those tunes are compiled here for your Christmastime pleasure. The best-known tunes here are from the two compilations mentioned above, "Christmas Boy" and "Christmasland." Added to that are a rocked-up "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," "Carol of the Guitars" rather than "Bells," a live "Blue Christmas" complete with Elvis impersonation, a solo guitar "The Christmas Song," the original "Merry After-Christmas" as a duet with a helium-influenced voice, "The Merry Wiped-Out Drummer Boy," the treatment of which should be obvious from its title, a little Tennessee Two action backing the "Killer Wolves" on "Jingle Bells," a version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" done as the whistled theme from "The Andy Griffith Show," and a countrified version of "We'll Have the Brightest Christmas" from "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol." An original ballad, "There's a Star," caps off the CD. The rest is brief goofs and greetings from band members. A fun collection, though the best songs are available elsewhere.


Here Is Christmas, The Lovemongers (2B)

Heart fans know this is actually Ann and Nancy Wilson with several friends doing something more pop-oriented than their more famous group. In fact, the title song was credited to Ann and Nancy when it was released as a single in 1989. "How Beautiful" was also donated to A Home for the Holidays benefit album, and the rest are heard here for the first time. Fellow Lovemonger Frank Cox takes a solo on "Last Noel" and the group takes on several familiar carols in traditional arrangements, including an a capella"Oh Holy Night" and an instrumental "Bring a Torch." The sleeper on this album is "Christmas Waits," a serious stab at Burt Bacharach -- including a touch of Carpenters! -- that would be a hit in a perfect world. For 2002, this album was reissued as a Heart album, called A Lovemongers Christmas. Update: For 2004 the album has been re-released again, this time with two new songs, "Mary" and "Let's Stay In."


"Jingle Balls," Korn (Epic/Immortal)

Having not followed Korn very closely, I've only got this single, which originated in Germany or The Netherlands, to go on. Based on the lead track, "Falling Away From Me," from the album Issues, we're looking at your basic hard rock crunch circa 1999, not bad. There's also an a cappella mix of that track, in which the lyrics are more understandable, although the lengthy breaks in between verses are jarring. But the track which brings this single to this site, "Jingle Balls," is just silly, taking the familiar carol down to a sludgy tempo and hammering every beat while the singer growls the lyrics in the lowest, most incomprehensible voice. I'm inclined to write this off as a bit of Spinal Tap-level goofing around rather than a serious performance.


Merry Christmas... Have a Nice Life!, Cyndi Lauper (Epic)

Cyndi already had a bit of history with Christmas, having previously recorded "Early Christmas Morning" and "Feels Like Christmas." Both of these are here, along with several others, mostly co-written or written by herself. Of the originals, "Early" is one of the better holiday rockers to incorporate a children's choir, and the most party fun will be had by those who cue up "Christmas Conga" and "Minnie and Santa," the former self-explanatory and the latter a great bit about a woman who sets out to seduce the jolly elf. And succeeds; no wonder The Bobs changed Mack Rice's tune to "Mrs. Claus Wants Some Lovin'." There are some covers too, including "Three Ships," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Silent Night." Overall, Cyndi strikes a fair balance between party fun and holiday balladry on this album, though I personally prefer the former.


We Three Kings, The Roches (MCA)

This sister singing group of the 70s and 80s suffered the fate of being better known among other performers than the general public, but they managed to make a number of albums together, separately and in various combinations over the years. Their regular material was quirky folk-pop, and their various influences are all on display here. While this 1990 CD is a tour de force of music-making, it's definitely not Mistletunes material. The vast majority of this is traditional carols in mostly traditional arrangements, with lots of classical and madrigal influence. Well-known carols get fairly conventional arrangements, like the title tune, "Deck the Halls" and "Away in a Manger," but they loosen up a bit more with pop tunes like "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells, "Sleigh Ride" and "Silver Bells." Suzzy Roche wrote the ballad "Christmas Passing Through," which is pretty good, and Terre Roche contributed the a capella "Star of Wonder." You might want to slip this into the collection of someone whose idea of Christmas music is the Michael Bolton album. Was reissued in 1994 by Rykodisc.


Gift, Cheap Trick (Not Cool)

From 1995, this mail-order single was a one-off to raise money for charity in the band's home town. The two songs are "Come On Christmas," a holiday-ized version of their standard "Come On Come On," and "Christmas Christmas," a rocker that featured members of Robin Zander's family on background vocals. The latter song apparently exists only in collectors' heaven for now, but "Come On Christmas" remains available on the box set Sex, America and Cheap Trick.


Holiday Songs and Lullabies, Shawn Colvin (Columbia)

You have to give Shawn credit for putting a lot of thought into this album, making a point of choosing less well-known tunes for her first holiday album, "Silent Night" being the exception. And the Maurice Sendak cover art compliments the concept. Her version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was a little bit more of what I was hoping for, but that tune didn't fit the concept, so it's not here. The album does make a good Christmas gift for new mothers (like Shawn herself), but this doesn't really rock out in any meaningful way.


Joy: A Holiday Collection, Jewel (Atlantic)

I was afraid of this. Jewel is an excellent singer with great chops and no shortage of sincerity, but her records work best when the songs challenge her out of that granola-fed folksinger riff she can do in her sleep. Which means a Christmas album by her is going to highlight all the sappiest aspects of her performing side. This is exhibit A for the prosecution. It really doesn't belong on this site; in fact, Atlantic is missing an opportunity if it doesn't push this CD through its Nashville wing. For that matter, there is enough of the religious side of the holiday to push it to Christian radio too. The only thing that really rocks out here is a performance of "Go Tell It On the Mountain," but that gets smooshed into a medley of Jewel's "Life Uncommon" and the Bette Midler tune "From a Distance." She duets with her mom on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in a performance similar to one that ran on VH1 last year, though she manages not to work in any yodeling with her dad. And there's a more reverent version of her hit "Hands" to close the album. Jewel gets an A for effort in that there is CD-ROM content hooking into the Web with streaming QuickTime, latest version necessary. Obviously, there was a lot of forethought and effort expended here; too bad it's all so conventional in the end.


"I Want an Alien For Christmas," Fountains of Wayne (Atlantic)

You have to go back to "Santa and the Satellite," or at least "A Spaceman Came Traveling," to find another outer space Christmas song. This 1997 alt-pop tune is a killer, with lines like "I want a little green guy who's three feet high with 17 eyes that knows how to fly." The "flip side" (you don't turn CDs over, you know) is "The Man in the Santa Suit," in which the streetcorner Santa gets no respect. There's a two-line tune about "Hanukkah under the stars" tacked onto the end of this, but it's too short to issue a full Hanukkah alert. All of this single is now available on FoW's odds-n-sodds collection from 2005, Out Of State Plates.


What's In That Bag, Chuck Leavell (Capricorn)

Known for his piano work with the Allman Brothers Band and the Rolling Stones, Chuck stepped up to the mike for this 1998 holiday outing. He's no Greg Allman in the vocal department but he does all right, supported by the Muscle Shoals Horns. He mixes up the styles on "Joy To the World," going from gospel to boogie, duets with Lisa Fischer on "Please Come Home for Christmas," steals Bruce Springsteen's arrangement for "Merry Christmas Baby," goes New Orleans on the original "Hey Santa," and straight blues on "Even Santa Gets the Blues." He also gives us piano instrumentals of traditionals like "O Christmas Tree," "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," "We Three Kings" and several others. "Away In a Manger," surprisingly, is done on guitar. Bob Bailey points out that the album apparently started out as a home-grown project in 1996, as A Homemade Christmas from Charlane Plantation. "That's the name of the Christmas tree farming operation, in central Georgia, that he and his wife run when he's not on the road with the Allmans or the Stones," Bob adds. He notes that some of the songs were re-recorded and a few new ones were added, but the official version is otherwise not too different from the self-produced one.


Hey Santa, Carnie and Wendy Wilson (SBK)

After listening to this 1993 release, I think I understand why my wife doesn't like The Beach Boys, especially if you consider the old saying that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The two oldest daughters of Brian Wilson obviously picked up something from him, but his love of early rock 'n roll apparently isn't it. This is strictly middle-of-the-road pop music, even if it does draw from musical cues pioneered by their father's group. Everything on here is overdressed, pumped up with musical introductions that ladle on the schmaltz before they even hit the first verse of several of these songs. This technique absolutely ruins the title song, which is otherwise the most listenable tune on here and the most like something Brian might have done. Beach Boys obsessives might want this for Carl Wilson's appearance on "Hey Santa," the reunion of The Honeys as backing singers on "Rudolph," and Brian's performance on piano on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," which is the album's mandatory singing-kids performance featuring various Wilson and Love children and grandchildren, with the actual Beach Boys themselves singing backup to the brats. Shoulda asked Dad for more help on this, girls.


"Christmas Wrapping," The Spice Girls

A personality-oriented song like the Waitresses' original of this practically begs for comparison when somebody does a cover. Particularly when the culprits are the Spice Girls, doing what appears to be a slavish copy on the back of their "Goodbye" single. Poor Patty Donahue; bad enough for her to be dead without having one of her great performances strung up and tortured by this flock of screech owls. They also take a halfhearted stab at Phil Spector's "Sleigh Bells" on a couple of compilations listed here.


"Always Winter, Never Christmas," XTC (Geffen)

About nine years after "Thanks For Christmas," XTC returns to the Christmas fold, quietly, with this tune. Actually, Andy Partridge does; this is a home demo, released only on the CD single of "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" from the 1992 Nonesuch album, the group's last studio album until this year's acclaimed Apple Venus Vol. 1. It's a little quirkier sounding, with a loping bass line, but it still has that trademark XTC flair for melody.


"Drummer Boy," Jars of Clay (Silvertone/Essential)

An alternative slash Christian rock act, the Jars take an original tack to their arrangement of the popular holiday tune, straddling power pop with a mildly world music-esque rhythm track. Then they do "The Grinch Mix" of same, dropping out most of the melody instruments in favor of the rhythm. The first is a bit more radio and mix-tape friendly. I usually steer clear of Christian rock myself, but in this case I would have deprived myself of something very nice. From 1995. Update: Bob Bailey tips us that this also appeared on a 1995 EP on Brentwood Records called Drummer Boy, featuring an acoustic "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and the non-holiday cut "He."


Ho! Ho! Hoey, Gary Hoey (Surfdog/Virgin)

I don't know much about Hoey except what is obvious from this album -- that he's a first-rate rock guitarist. And that's not strictly fair to him, either; according to the liner notes, he played all instruments on this album. This 1995 album fills a Christmas music vacuum that has existed since the days of the Ventures, the last performers to make a rock guitar instrumental Christmas album. Those who combine this comparison with the name of the record label may be disappointed, however; this is not surf music, but contemporary rock guitar sound and technique applied to 11 holiday standards. No originals, and the choices are fairly obvious -- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Silent Night," Christmases white and blue, and so on. There are some variations in tempo and approach, though, with acoustic takes on "Little Drummer Boy," "Away in a Manger" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," for example. If you've already glommed onto Hoey and you like this sort of thing, 1997 brought us Ho! Ho! Hoey 2, 1999 brought us a third installment and there's also a Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey now, too. There's also a double-disc compilation of the who-ho-hole oevure just released in 2003.


"Jesus Christ," Kristin Hersh (Rykodisc)

This 1995 jumbo single features Throwing Muses leader Hersh on the Alex Chilton holiday tune, a more acoustic and Christmas-like arrangement than the Big Star original. She also does "Amazing Grace" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," although there's nothing special or Christmasy about those. A non-holiday tune, "Sinkhole," is kind of interesting. "Amazing Grace" also appears on Xmas Marks the Spot from Rykodisc, as they opted to use the Big Star version of "JC."


Too Many Santas, The Bobs (Rounder)

I've always had a soft spot for a cappella music, and non-instrumentalists The Bobs are possibly the most inventive such group currently recording. Here, they take their own twisted stabs at a few rock standards, transforming James Brown with "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag," turning Mack Rice's "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" into "Mrs. Claus Wants Some Lovin,'" and taking the Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick" a bit farther south and changing it to "Rasta Reindeer." There's also a more faithful cover of "Christmas In Jail." The rest are originals in the group's irreverent mold; those familiar with such songs as "Bus Tour to the Outlet Mall" and their bumper-sticker litany "Kill Your Television" will know what to expect from "Yuleman vs the Anti-Claus," the title song and all the others.


This Christmas, 98 Degrees (Universal)

If the Backstreet Boys are the late-90s boy band Beatles and N'Sync the Rolling Stones (tenuous, I know, but bear with me) then 98 Degrees is ... the Beau Brummels? Yeah, I know, these guys have hits, but so did the Brummels. Anyway, this 1999 effort is their grab at the Christmas ring, and it's pretty perfunctory. While N'Sync at least stays close to the R&B thing, these guys go mostly pop with just the faintest of soul touches. Song choice may be the problem, as they went with mostly slow tempo stuff all the way through. There are only three originals, and we get two nearly indistinguishable versions of "This Gift," the second billed as the "Pop Version." "The Christmas Song" gets a vintage soul treatment, and they start out "Little Drummer Boy" as a slow jams version, although it loses that edge once they get into the song. Traditional numbers like "Silent Night," "Oh Holy Night" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" are way too reverent. They do get props for straight a cappella versions of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "Ave Maria," but again, not much innovative going on here.


Home For Christmas, N'Sync (RCA)

It's easy to dismiss anything coming from a group whose average fan is a 12-year-old girl, especially one as visible as N'Sync. But quality standards for teen idols have gone up over the years, and the group delivers a solid, though unremarkable, Christmas compilation. This 1998 album is a typical effort by a popular group: a handful of standards ("The Christmas Song," "The First Noel" and an a cappella "O Holy Night") combined with originals typical of the group's non-holiday output. There's also the obligatory New Year's concluding tune, "Kiss Me at Midnight." The group operates in the modern R&B idiom, and like other such groups they fall back into soft jazz when doing slow-tempo tunes. Performances are solid, but the original songs just aren't that memorable. Consumer note: Six songs from this album are recycled on the group's The Winter Album, which also includes six non-holiday songs.


Chicago XXV Christmas, Chicago (Chicago Records)

The "do it yourself" mentality of new wave/punk has had an interesting effect on the music business, spawning hundreds of artist-inspired record labels, direct selling of music on the Internet, not to mention all the DIY artists. So who would have thought 70s corporate rockers Chicago would be in the forefront of all this today? That's what happens when an act still exists but there's no radio format for their new music; they have to take the reins themselves or get into multilevel marketing. Never fear, however, this Christmas album by the group could have been released in their heyday; all the audio cues that betray a Chicago record are combined with a roster of popular holiday tunes, plus one original, "One Little Candle." If you're a 70s lite rocker at heart, this is right up your alley; see also Rhino's Have a Nice Christmas compilation. Update: Rhino now distributes the Chicago catalog, and they spiffed this album up with half a dozen additional cuts for 2003 and renamed it Christmas: What's It Gonna Be, Santa?


Have Yourself a Tractors Christmas, The Tractors (Arista)

We're bumping up against all-out country music with this 1995 release, which can be found in discount bins nowadays. I steered away from this deliberately for years until my wife found it in a dollar store precisely because I've ruled out country from this site. But my conclusion is that there's enough rock to include it here; it's not too difficult to filter out the Okie in these guys from a lot of the cuts. They definitely tread hard on the line between rock and country, as seen in their cover of Buck Owens' "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy." And they sometimes fall off that line into straight country, as in the originals "Baby Wanna Be By You" and "The Shelter." Most of the tunes are original in fact, led by "The Santa Claus Boogie," "Jingle My Bells" and "Santa Claus Is Comin' (In a Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train)" in terms of good rockin' tunes, and if you like swing, there's "Swingin' Home For Christmas." The piano solo of "White Christmas" is a little different and would be at home on the Blues Xmas album. "Silent Night, Christmas Blue" closes the album with a medley of the classic and an original tune that is a stately stomper. A great country Christmas album, but rock fans will find some cuts of interest. The Tractors have a new Christmas album out in 2002 called The Big Night, and I imagine it's more of the same as this one. Bob Bailey concurs: "More rock and roll than the first. Includes some re-arranged covers ('Run Rudolph,' 'Santa Claus is Back in Town'), some country/western swing covers, and some originals. Worth the price for 'Bo Diddley Santa Claus,' in which Bo helps out by driving Santa's sleigh."


"Merry Christmas From the Family," Robert Earl Keen (Sugar Hill)

A modern classic by the alt-country songwriter about a latter-day real-life rural Christmastime, with nods to RVs, AA, convenience stores, Mexicans, families extended by multiple marriages and much more in just four minutes. I'm partial to Jill Sobule's cover for its higher pop sensibility quotient, but the original artist's performance is more than adequate to get the various points across. If you need a little help with that, Keen has released a quasi-children's book based on the song, with lots of appropriate illustrations coordinating with the witty lyrics. Looks good on the coffee table that way. The song was originally released on the Gringo Honeymoon album on Sugar Hill from 1994. Update: Bob Bailey reminds us that Keen went back to the Christmas well in 1998 with "Happy Holidays Y'all," with lyrics depicting the morning after the holiday: "There's a Barbie doll in the gravy boat on Mom's TV set...." It's from the CD Walking Distance on Arista.


A Christmas Package, Carey Ziegler (Yodelin' Pig)

Near as I can tell, this CD single from this Maryland act is from 1996 but a fair number of Maryland-area record stores still seem to have copies. "That's What Christmas Used To Be" is a nostalgic mid-tempo rocker. "Country Fryed (sic) Christmas" leads in with a bunch of deliberately bad banjo picking and faux-sincere narration before launching into a rap tune about the holiday. The futzing around at the beginning detracts from the song, in my opinion. But then, sound editors can help you mix-disc makers with that problem. The final track, "Heavy Metal Christmas," is as advertised. Update: Bob Bailey notes that two members of Crack the Sky, Rick Witkowski and Joey D'Amico, played on this record.


"Mistress For Christmas," AC/DC (Atco)

Do I really even have to describe this one? It's AC/DC, for crying out loud. It's called "Mistress For Christmas." And it's from the 1990 album The Razors Edge. I doubt you'll need a lyric sheet for this one.


A Drive-By Christmas, various artists (Legion)

Not to be confused with the compilation on Drive-Thru Records, this is a 1997 disc of really hard rockers doing mostly original Christmas tunes, with a few covers thrown in for good measure. Driveway's "Heatmiser" is a fun take on that classic, The Homeless push the thrash into sixth gear with "Homeless For the Holidays," Drop Kick Jesus punks out on "Holly Jolly Christmas" and Jay Foucher Project's "6 String Medley" is a straight rock instrumental delivering a melange of popular carols. Rudimentary Paste takes us back to the 80s with "Spirit of Getting," though they seem a little too happy to get that Gary Numan box set. Hamlet Idiot has an early lead for title of the year with "It's Christmas (You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself)." Grooveworks heads for the hard-rockin' blues with "Santa, What'cha Bringin' Me Tonight," featuring strong blues-mama vocals. And Dogboy throws a little Tim Burton into the holiday with "Christmas Time Again."


"When Southern Bells Ring (Here Comes X-mas)," The Judybats (Sire)

Somewhat downtempo, but definitely in character for the Judybats. Lots of guitars and violin set the tone, reflective lyrics match the musical mood, and call-and-response vocals help drive the message home. Less holly-jolly and more wistful, but a good change of pace. This was a CD single in 1990, and unless it turned up on a compilation somewhere I don't think it's otherwise available.


Horny Holidays, Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors (Triple X)

The patron saint of good time barflies everywhere applies his charm and mediocre singing voice to holiday music on this 1992 album, with rockin' results. Most are covers, though Mr. Mojo claims credit for "Little Man Song" and "It's Christmas Time." The production gives the impression this whole shebang was thrown together over an afternoon and a half, and if it wasn't then kudos to the producers. Mojo's got good taste in covers, "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus," "Run Rudolph Run," "Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday" and "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" among them. Another one that could use a Parental Advisory sticker, by the way.


Seminal Twang, Shonen Knife (Virgin)

Two of three cuts on this 1991 EP are Christmas-themed, "Space Christmas" and "Christmas Message '91." This Japanese all-girl rock trio is known for its slightly out-there, Ramones-style delivery and comic book themes, and this tune fits right in with their style. The second cut starts out with an acoustic version of "Space Christmas," and then follows up with a list of thank-yous from the band in pretty decent English. The remaining cut is "Bear Up Bison."


"Suddenly It's Christmas," Loudon Wainwright III (Virgin)

Those of you who remember Loudon probably only recall his 70s single "Dead Skunk" or his brief, one-season stint as the folk-singing Captain Spaulding (a nod to Groucho Marx) on "MASH." Either way, you know he's got a fairly corrosive sense of humor, and this 1993 single reaffirms that assessment as he sings, "Suddenly it's Christmas/Right after Halloween." Recorded live. From the album Career Moves. Update: Bob Bailey points us to a further LWIII Christmas tune, "Christmas Morning," from the 1999 album Social Studies, featuring The Roches on backing vocals.


Rock 'n Roll Christmas, Dion (The Right Stuff)

One of those semi-misleading entries in holiday lore, Dion did not record this back in his heyday with the Belmonts, but in 1993. The approach, though, is not unlike his great hits of the doo-wop era, an interesting choice on his part when you consider his mid-career transformations from group singing star to folkie ("Abraham, Martin and John") bluesman and even Christian popster. On this, he takes the rock band approach, although the overall sound is just a degree more mellow than it should be. Dion picks up a little Spector on the way, covering "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," doing that version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and even going spoken word in the middle of his "Silent Night." Not surprising; Spector produced an album for him in the mid-70s. The doo-wop "Jingle Bell Rock" is worth the whole album, and he puts a little Cajun into "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." He also pays his respects to Charles Brown with "Please Come Home for Christmas" and an uptempo "Merry Christmas Baby," not to mention his album opener "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" having that "Wanderer" feel. There are a lot of classic rock acts doing Christmas albums nowadays, but this album actually is classic rock.


The Essential Christmas Treasury 1997-2003, Yes Virginia (Wise Guy Records)

Somehow this Delaware band has been flying under my radar for the entire time this website has been up. Every year between the two dates listed above, this group has issued a rock 'n roll Christmas disc. And as it happens, this site first went live in 1997. So we've got a lot to make up for regarding these guys. As it turns out, they've been honing their approach all this time, taking a 70s mainstream rock approach to tunes from the Christmas canon, both popular and obscure. They also throw in two non-Christmas tunes that are frequently passed off as holiday tunes, "My Favorite Things" (separate vocal and instrumental versions) and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," no doubt because that song featured in the Bill Murray movie "Scrooged." Mainstream 70s stuff was never my favorite genre, but these guys do a great job — with new acts like The Darkness mining that era, these guys may actually be ahead of their time. They're part of a Delaware-area benefit compilation called Let Them Know It's Christmas, which you can check out here.


Merry Christmas, Mariah Carey (Columbia)

Yeah, I used to rail against this 1994 album because of my extreme distaste for this formerly ubiquitous, leather-lunged diva. I decided that was not the mature path to take, about a few minutes before I found a copy of this marked way down in the used-record bin. So let me make up for lost time in being just the tiniest bit fairer to this than I have been. You've read me using the term "diva moments" in other reviews on this site, sometimes in a derogatory fashion, and believe me there are plenty of diva moments here. Essentially Mariah fits in with other R'nB artists in the approach she takes to singing, lots of over-the-top trilling that escalates as the song goes on. So I still don't recommend the ballads on this CD, like "Silent Night," "O Holy Night," "Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)," and especially skip "Jesus Born on This Day," with the obligatory kiddie chorus. But she gets credit for going to the Phil Spector well in covering "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and his version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," and both songs are done well. The closer, "Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child," is a good gospel rave-up and "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is a solid, and popular, original. As Mariah's career seems to be in a rebuilding phase about now, let me offer some career advice: more uptempo stuff, some smart cover choices will do more for you than the few extra composer's points you get co-writing album filler, and save the diva moments for your live shows.


Snowed In, Hanson (Mercury)

I was saving up insults like "the 90s answer to David Seville and the Chipmunks" and now I have to toss them aside. This 1997 album's not bad at all, especially if you have no preconceptions about this semi-overexposed brother act. We here at Mistletunes certainly can't complain about a lineup of tunes that could have been chosen after a visit to this very website, can we? The boys grab Bruce Springsteen's arrangement for "Merry Christmas Baby" and the little guy in the group sounds a lot like Michael Jackson singing it, which is good or bad depending on your taste. Other astute choices for covers include "Little Saint Nick," "What Christmas Means To Me," "Run Rudolph Run," and they even manage not to butcher Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." There's a few original tunes as well, like "At Christmas" and "Everybody Knows the Claus." Former Hudson Brother Mark, the producer, obviously knows the ins and outs of recording a brother act.


"Everybody Loves Christmas," Eddie Money and Ronnie Spector (CMC International)

After a long silence, Eddie Money returns with a Christmas single and brings Ronnie Spector along to help him sing it. I have a single, which says it's from a new album, Shakin' With the Money Man. Eddie and Ronnie previously did a a duet of "Take Me Home Tonight" back in 1986 and this 1997 offering is similar to that, with a little bit of jingle bells thrown on top of the Springsteen-Southside Johnny sound and Phil Spector wannabe production. Derivative, but fun to listen to.


"Xmas Lights Spin," Mark Eitzel (Matador)

Eitzel, the former light behind American Music Club, snuck this onto his most recent album, Caught in a Trap and I Can't Walk Out Because I Love You Too Much, Baby. It's a dark little number in which St. Nick leaves his bag of toys in the bar, although the point behind the song remains obscure to me after a few listenings. An acoustic guitar and vocal performance, it probably won't jump out at you on a mix tape.


"There's a Star Above the Manger Tonight," Red Red Meat (Sub Pop)

From the 1997 album of the same name, I single out the title song because it's the only remotely Christmas-oriented tune on the album, a sort of Middle Eastern electric folk rock ballad asking Jesus to give out with some luck at the gaming tables. A little dark perhaps, but so is midnight mass.


Seven Gates, A Christmas Album, Ben Keith and Friends (Reprise)

Ben's a top pedal steel player with longtime ties to Neil Young, and Neil's credited as co-producer on this 1994 album, along as sometime guitarist, pump organist and lead vocalist on two cuts. This is as close as it comes to a Neil Young Christmas effort, although it's Ben's show all the way. But this is pretty much a straight country album. Half the cuts are instrumentals featuring Keith's pedal steel in the melody position and many of the vocals are from a children's chorus. Neil shares the lead with Johnny Cash and Nicolette Larson on "The Little Drummer Boy" and with Nicolette and the children's choir on "Greensleeves." This really doesn't stand out from the pack of country Christmas albums in any meaningful way, and there's not much that's uptempo or fun about it. But fans of the above folks might want this in their collections all the same.


Christmas Gonzo Style, Jerry Jeff Walker (Rykodisc)

Those who are fans of Jerry Jeff know his predilection for the word "gonzo," but I'm afraid there's nothing I would consider gonzo about this 1994 Christmas album, which is basically a country-western swing Christmas album. It's nicely performed, but there's very little that rocks out on it. This album also commits the common Christmas mistake of letting kids sing one of the songs slightly off key, in this case "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I assume one of the kids, Django Walker, is related to Jerry, but schmaltz is schmaltz. There is some rock involved in the performances of "Here Comes Santa Claus/Up On the Rooftop" and "Jingle Bell Rock," thankfully, but the rest is as un-gonzo as I can imagine given the wealth of items you can find elsewhere on this site that do fit the description.


"Christmas Eve," Savatage (Atlantic)

This band is not widely known, but its fans are fanatical; the group is what once was called heavy metal, but with progressive overtones. This 1995 number, from their Dead World Dead concept album about Bosnia, is basically a progressive rock version of "Carol of the Bells." This same outfit also operates as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, about whom see below. Update: Many listeners think this song, and the remade version by TSO, somehow involves Metallica; it does not. However, Ron Alley informs us that Metallica actually did do "Carol of the Bells" live with the San Francisco Symphony once, and that West Coast radio stations have a recording of it that they play at Christmas time. However, there's no known official release of the song, though we won't rule out bootleg or file-sharing sources for it.


Christmas Attic, Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Atlantic)

Christmas Eve and Other Stories, Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Atlantic)

The folks behind this operation also perform in a prog-metal outfit called Savatage, see above, and what these two albums amount to is similar to the dreaded Mannheim Steamroller, but with a bit more crunch. It's mainly symphonic hard rock versions of existing Christmas music, so if your tastes run to those British Rock Orchestra albums of classic rock tunes that occasionally pop up, you'll love this; from the Mistletunes standpoint, we think these guys should listen to Emerson Lake and Palmer's "Nutrocker" a few dozen times in a row before doing another album. By the way, Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the CD that includes "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo," the retitled "Carol of the Bells cover mentioned above.


The Dark Side of the Xmas Tree, various artists (Performance)

There's not that much to do with Pink Floyd on here beyond the title and cover art homages. Apparently, this 1990 album is a compilation of an EP from 1981 by The Space Negroes, a 1985 single by Magic Mose and His Royal Rockers, a Christmas album by The Jethros, and a couple more tracks by Erik Lindgren. There's very little cohesion among all these disparate tracks from different times and places, although some of the same people are on many different tracks. The Space Negroes kick off the album with back-of-the-hand anti-caroling like "Jingle Hell" and "We Wish You a Lousy Xmas," although they at least get in some social commentary with "Deck the Halls (With Poison Sumac)." Magic Mose bats .500 with his two contributions, the better one the satirical "Have Yourself a Groovy Little Solstice." The band falls flat with "I'm Dreaming of a Noir Xmas," but at least they were shooting for something with this Christmas crime story. Most of the rest of the album is The Jethros with instrumental versions of popular carols, cutting across dozens of genres. "Frosty the Snow Plow" is a kind of industrial-sound version of the song, and there are some hints of Spike Jones, but there are also some bits here and there that are simply undistinguished. Maybe this was supposed to be soundtrack music for a Christmas movie. Lindgren's "Ho Ho Ho" closes the album with 12 minutes of the title. Don't be fooled by the publishing company's name being Foot Foot; there's nothing of The Shaggs on this CD.


Acid Xmas, various artists (Streetbeat)

House music tends to have one use and one use only -- to rock the house. Dance and drone. As a result, theme house records are kind of redundant. Nevertheless, here we have a Christmas record from a dozen mixmasters, beatboxes to the fore, thudding and droning their holiday greetings. It's all a bit samey-samey, especially when they throw away the familiar melodies of the Christmas songs they're doing and just hammer on one phrase. Still, it can be fun to zone out to all these old analog synthesizer sweeps and whooshes; having listened to this all the way through, I'm now a little nostalgic for my old Kraftwerk records.


Mistletunes

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