Monday, December 13, 2004

Jingle bell rocks

Working in the music business, I get a chance to collect some fun, different Christmas albums, and yes, Hanukkah albums too. I have the obligatory Beach Boys, Phil Spector's "A Christmas Gift For You," Elvis, etc. Also Louis Armstrong, Boy's Choir of Harlem, John Fahey, many many more.

But the real joy is finding some stuff outside the mainstream. I have several compilations from when I worked at Capitol Studios featuring such diverse artists as Kate Bush, Cliff Richard, Shawn Colvin, The Ramones, James Brown, Bobby Darin, well, the list goes on and on.


Until now, my absolute fave was The Roche's "We Three Kings." With humor and joy, their voices soar as only they can. They are a spine tingling delight as they take on the usual songs, plus originals.


But I've found something new: The Barenaked Ladies' "Barenaked For The Holidays." What a thrill! They do everything from very respectful versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" with Sarah McLaughlin, followed by a very witty ode to Elves who want to unionize, "Elf's Lament" with lyrics spun at the speed of their popular "One Week."

We have roller rink organ stylings, straight ahead rock'n'roll, even a version of Deck The Halls ("Deck The Stills") sung entirely with the lyrics "Crosby Stills Nash & Young". These guys are so charmingly out of their minds, it's a joy to hear. They even throw in a straight reading of "Do They Know It's Christmas," far and away a better Christmas charity song that MJ's treacly "We Are The World." I mean come on Mike, it's supposed to be a charity song about starving people in Africa, and the title includes the plural pronoun 'we'?


The ladies men also include "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah," and "I Have A Little Dreidl" for Jewish folks. And it's all topped off by a very earnest "Auld Lang Syne" that is so solid and rootsy, it almost makes you want to thrust your cigarette lighter into the air and wave.


This is the funniest, most creative ChrismaHanuKwanza album I have heard in years, and I highly recommend it.