Thursday, February 23, 2006

Al's Christmas Ale 2005

This is the fifth of six different Christmas comps that I'm reviewing this week. These comps were either sent to me by other Christmas collectors / enthusiasts or download available comps that were created by Christmas collectors / enthusiasts.

In a previous review, I explained how FaLaLaLaLa.com brought together Christmas music lovers from all over the world to one spot on the Internet.

Many of these people created their very own year-end Christmas compilations and shared them with their family and friends. It was a shock to realize I wasn't the only person creating annual Christmas CDs - but did that make me normal?

Al Aitchison was a fellow collector from New York City who posted this message at FaLaLaLaLa.com on December 21, 2004:

"Hey, does anyone out there make annual Christmas CD's? I'm always looking to trade with other collectors. I have extra copies of my latest collection. It's unlikely the CD will arrive by Christmas but who cares? It's never too late! Anyone interested in swapping collections can contact me via Falalalala.com."

Who can resist an invitation like that? I quickly contacted Al and we swapped copies of Christmas compilations. As the holiday season ended, my attention turned to burning new Christmas albums and CDs, filing the music into my master Christmas spreadsheet, and searching the Internet for new sources of Christmas music. However, I never thanked or replied to Al for his fantastic compilation.

Please forgive me Al for my gross oversight. Maybe that's the reason my hard drive crashed and burned shortly after we swapped copies. That'll teach me...

Al's Christmas Ale 2004 was unlike any Christmas compilation I had ever received. It contained twenty-five astounding original Christmas songs sung by some pretty good artists - all of which I had never heard before:

1.) Gus Thomas - Snowball And Mistletoe
2.) The Automatics - Merry Christmas
3.) Universal Honey - Best Christmas Ever
4.) Electric Jungle - Funky Funky Christmas
5.) The Okie Dokies - Chase Away My Christmas Blues
6.) Tina & The Shabblers - Santa Won't Be Blue This Christmas
7.) Three Hour Tour - Peace On You
8.) Holly Golightly & The Greenhornes - Little Star
9.) Young And Sexy - Santa Claus Likes Rich Kids Better
10.) Eddie Howard & His Orchestra - Uncle Mistletoe
11.) The Swingtips - Santa Swings
12.) Adam McIntyre - Every Day Is Christmas
13.) Big Ass Truck - Holly Jolly Christmas
14.) Drugstore - Xmas At The Drugstore
15.) Benny Grunch & The Bunch - Santa, I Been Bad All Year
16.) King Obstinate - How Will Santa Get Here
17.) Ray Wilkins (featuring Petra Fierlbeck) - Candles And Cakes
18.) Buckskin Bill - Jingle Bell Jane
19.) Little Roger & The Goosebumps - Xmas In The Hot Tub
20.) Austin Church - Another White Trash Christmas
21.) The Jingle Janglers - What I Love About Christmas
22.) Universal Groove - I Wanna Be A Reindeer
23.) The D's 3 - Poppa Santa Claus
24.) Cowboy & Spingirl - Christmas
25.) Joe Rogier - Come Christmas Morning

Many of these songs are so obscure it begs me to ask question I should have asked two years ago: Where did you find these songs Al? Are these long lost records that you found in Goodwill stores? Do you have a HUGE Christmas CD collection? Did you ever work for a radio station back in the day and collect all these gems?

Any info is gladly welcome...

Earlier this year I contacted Al again to see if he'd like to swap compilations again. Not only did he happily agree but he even had my name and address on file - you put me to shame Al!

TRACK REVIEWS:

1.) Valerie Masters - Christmas Calling
Sounds very much like Petula Clark - great style / arrangement! Another original obscure record?

2.) Blues Disciples - (Havin' A) Christmas Party
This is a rockin' tune... recorded live too... everyone's having a great time!

3.) Zombina & The Skeletones - Transylvanian Christmas
Combining Halloween and Christmas seldom works for me... this one makes me do the Monster Mash! Great!

4.) Frickin' A - Merry Merry Merry Frickin' Christmas
An angry and hysterical rant on relatives and Christmas in general! I might pinch this one for my CD!

5.) Her - Psychedelic Christmas
A girl band and their take on a trippy Christmas... not bad at all!

6.) The Crosstones - Jingle Bell Baby
There's good reproduced doo-wop and there's bad... this one falls into the latter I'm afraid.

7.) Second Nature - Christmas (The Best Time Of The Year)
A definite 1970s feel to this one... think Kool And The Gang by way of John Davidson!

8.) The Bonnie Sisters - I Saw Mommy Cha Cha Cha With You Know Who
OH YEAH! Another long lost song I've been searching for gone! What a great cha cha tune!

9.) Badabing Badaboom - A Hip Little Christmas
Cross the McGuire Sisters, a Louis Armstrong trumpet, and a Stephane Grappelli violin... OUTSTANDING!

10.) Tom Greed & The Snowflakes - Christmas Love
The ghost of Eddie Cochrane lives in this song! Grabs you by the collar and drags you along!

11.) Trinity - Video Christmas
Not your average reggae Christmas song... listen for the "Donde Este Santa Claus" lyrics!

12.) Kathy Dunn - Santaville
Another song scratched off my search list... Al, where do you get this stuff, man?

13.) Bo Schronce - Call Me Claus
This guy can wail! You've been warned... You better call him Claus!

14.) The Wacky Redneck Hillbillies - Hangin' 'Round The Mistletoe
This is not bad... it starts to sound the same around the 1:45 mark so... it's not good either!

15.) Vernon Garrett (with Sir Stan & The Counts) - Merry Christmas Baby
This record exceeds the limit of wah-wah guitars prescribed by law... It's an interesting cover!

16.) The Velva-Tones - Jack The Snowshoe Rabbit
This tune's is worthy of Andy Cirzan... definitely recorded in a church basement!

17.) Joann Auborn & The Rays - Sentimental Christmas
Al, you keep outdoing yourself... This is a lovely tune (out of tune piano notwithstanding)!

18.) Freddy Cole - Elvin Elf
Is this Nat King Cole's brother? This sounds just like Nat... Al... AL?

19.) DC Drive - Santa Bring My Baby To Me
What a band from the 1980s sounded like at the annual Christmas party. You can feel the mullets...

20.) Sammy Marshall - Jingle Mint Twist (Song-Poem)
WOW! A song-poem that didn't make it onto the American Song-Poem Christmas CD!

21.) Tralala - Everybody Christmas Time
Add girl band, add metal, add Christmas... an interesting mix!

22.) Butch Ryan & Groovy Cool - It's Christmas Time
A Christmas song that goes nowhere... too bad... it had promise!

23.) Housewives On Prozac - I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall
They formed a band at the 20th HS reunion (kidding)! A funny, FUNNY tune... Check their website!

24.) Trailer Trash - Real Live Doll
"I want a beer chugging, mud blocking, trash talking real live doll..." Next song, please.

25.) The Ruffians - Together At Christmas
Sounds like a very young R.E.M. doing a Christmas tune. A catchy tune as well...

26.) Lord Nelson - Merry Christmas One And All
Scratch another song off my search list... A fantastic song and the perfect way to end this CD!


Chicago may have Andy Cirzan as its "King Of Obscure Christmas" but my vote for the New York City "King Of Obscure Christmas" goes to Al Aitchson.

The fact that both Andy and Al both had the SAME song in the SAME year (Sammy Marshall - Jingle Mint Twist) only proves this point. Like Andy's CD, you can listen to this CD eight or twelve times in a row and it still sounds great! And what diversity in sounds!

Al, I hope this makes up for not thanking you for last year's Christmas CD. I am very grateful you chose to swap copies with me last year and this year. I cannot wait to hear your CD come Christmas 2006!

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Capt

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