Friday, December 22, 2006
Denvers both Bob and John, and the rest of the holiday musical treats
Mike made a mile-high oops in confusing his Denvers in the comments in the last post. But followed up with this re-worked album cover that was just too good to leave in the comments section.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be curious to hear that one. Someone at work gave us the DVDs of Gilligan’s Island’s second season, and last summer I found the kids watching them, enjoying them and coming to the inevitable conclusion: “They’re never going to get off the island, are they?”
But since we're talking about Christmas CDs, last year I posted my list of all-time favorites. It turns out 2006 has been a rather weak year for new holiday collections, although there are indeed some classics. Here are some of the things I picked up this year:
“A Twisted Christmas,” Twisted Sister
The question isn’t “Why did Twisted Sister release a Christmas CD?” No, the questions are “Why did it take Dee and Jay Jay so long and how have we managed to survive all these years without it?” Ignore the cranky high-falutin’ critics, this disc is brilliant. Who says Christmas can’t rock hard? Some of the songs are merged with the music of classic Twisted, like “O Come All Ye Faithful” with “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The kids and I were at Best Buy one day and this song was cranking over the store speakers, and you could see heads bobbing all over. “Let it Snow” is mixed with the boys’ old opening song, “Rock and Roll Saviors.” This is supposed to be Twisted’s last CD. I hope not. But if so, they’re going out in style.
“Happy Holidays,” Billy Idol
After the retro success of Twisted Sister, I had high hopes for this offering from another 1980s icon. I was thinking “White Christmas” would be delivered along the lines of “White Wedding,” with a typical Idol sneer. But no, Billy tosses out stuff like “Frosty the Snowman” like he’s looking to open a theater in Branson, Mo. It’s like Billy looked in the mirror one day and thought he saw Andy Williams. And like Andy, it gets old quick. Some of these are fun to toss on a mix playlist, but it would have been so much better if Idol had stayed true to himself. I'm not sure if Idol is taking this seriously, or if we're supposed to wink and enjoy the joke.
“Christmas Offerings,” Third Day
No joking here. I’ve probably listened to this disc even more than the Twisted CD. I wasn’t a big Third Day fan until I saw them in concert on the Wire tour. Now I’m hooked. Being devout Christian rockers, Santa is nowhere to be found on this reverent collection of classics and originals, recorded both in the studio and in concert. In fact, the audience takes over on a couple of songs, and it’s fantastic. There are some timeless classics here, and I’m predicting I’ll be playing this for years to come. I made an iPod playlist alternating cuts with this and last year’s “Christmas Sessions” from MercyMe.
“How Cool is That Christmas,” Rachael Ray
OK, I confess I don’t have this CD. It’s a collection of songs we all already have, like the Bing and Bowie duet and Hall and Oates’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” and something frightening called “Dominick the Donkey.” Listing it here is just a shameless excuse to run this photo of Rachael Ray. But do we really need an excuse? My wife insists I have a hopless crush on Rachael. But that is so wrong. It's not like I'm out there buying Ritz Crackers just because she's on the box. Sometimes you just need crackers. And she happened to be on the box, just like I just happened to be in the mood for Alpha-Bits a few years back when each box contained mini-bobblehead. OK, I might be the only male to subscribe to her magazine. But I swear it was for the articles. We even made the peppermint meringue cookies that were featured this month. Yum-O!
“Home for Christmas,” Hall and Oates
This is kind of hard to find, but it’s the first Hall and Oates Christmas offering since they released a single of “Jingle Bell Rock” so long ago that was actually on a green vinyl 45. I pounced on this when I saw they were covering Robbie Robertson’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight,” one of my favorite modern Christmas songs. The rest of the stuff is a mixture of what you might expect, performed in the finest blue-eyed soul that Philly has to offer. And looking at the cover, it appears some elementary school art student was put to work -- for an hour or so.
“Gloria,” Hawk Nelson
These Christian rockers released a four-song EP with a neat original, “Alleluia,” a traditional song “I Heard the Bells,” a re-worked classic, with “Gloria, I just met a girl named Gloria” replacing any “in-excelsis-Deo-ing” and a funky cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” that doesn’t really fit, but is still a lot of fun.
There are a couple other issues out there, like Sarah McLaughlin's, but we already have the best song on there from when it appeared on another collection. The Fray has a neat take on the Lennon-Ono classic "Happy Xmas (War is Over) that you can get as a single in iTunes, and Sufjan Stevens has a massive box set that I don't have the patience to track down and sort through.
I hope you hall have a very merry Christmas and a wondeful new year!