Starting this week, I will reviewing six different Christmas comps that were either sent to me by other Christmas collectors / enthusiasts or download available comps that were created by Christmas collectors / enthusiasts.
To start it off, I present to you Canada's very own Jeffco Productions and my very good friend Jeff Fox.
One day in the summer of 2001, I was doing some deep searching on Napster and Google for Weird Al Yankovic Christmas greetings (WEIRD AL CHRISTMAS GREETINGS!). This search led me to the website of Jeffco Productions.
Upon first look, I discovered a group of people who've known each other for a long time and did fun things together. They held the Jeffco Giveaway every year, they occasionally did ice sculpting, and every Christmas since 1992, they issued Christmas compilations.
I immedately e-mailed "To Whom It May Concern", introduced myself, sharing my passion for Christmas music, and, like any other self-respecting Christmas collector, starting begging to get copies of those Christmas collections.
Several days later, Jeff Fox replied to my e-mail and offered to begin trading with me. The cover you see above was a special CD I created to introduce myself to the Jeffco family - a "best-of" collection of all of my previous annual Christmas compilations.
We kept up the correspondence throughout 2001, learned that both Jeff and I shared the same tastes in Christmas music, and we quickly became friends. This was cemented at Christmas, 2001 when we exchanged our first annual Christmas packages. Not knowing the other person was doing the same thing, we both loaded up a box full of Christmas CDs, videos, and surprise gifts and sent them to each other.
I cannot remember what I sent to Jeff that year but I sure remember what he sent me - copies of EVERY Jeffco Christmas compilation to date - Christmas Wishes 1 - 10 (1992 - 2001) and Christmas Turkeys 1 - 5 (1997 - 2001). As I listened and learned from all Jeff sent me, he wasn't satisfied with just the traditional Christmas comps that he usually issued (Christmas Wishes). So he began featuring the "not so great" side of Christmas music (Christmas Turkeys).
What scared me even more was we both used the same music on different compilations - once in the very SAME year! Musically, we were about even - artistically, Jeff was light years ahead of me. His website features some of his CD covers and labels that he's created for himself and others. He even did the artwork for my 20th annual Christmas compilation in 2004. Jeff's one of the most talented graphic designers out there.
Unbeknownst to me, Jeff was going to retire the Turkey comps in 2001 and stick with the Wishes comps. That was before we began trading Christmas music and our friendship blossomed. Before the 2002 holiday season began, Jeff paid me one of the highest compliments of my lifetime. He thanked me for my friendship and my passion of Christmas music; a passion that rubbed off on him and convinced him to continue with the Christmas Turkeys comps.
I repaid him the compliment several years later on my 20th annual Christmas compilation - I went on record by stating that if I should die, my entire Christmas music collection goes to Jeffco Productions.
Last year, Jeff informed me there wasn't going to be a CD this year BUT podcasts available at his website. Unfortunately, I don't own an iPod or the slightest idea how to access the podcasts from my computer. I'm still trying to figure out to back up data on my computer since the great hard drive crash of 2005. I've yet to learn how to use the whole iPod / podcast technology or figure out bit torrent, etc.. Thankfully, Jeff sent me a CD with all the podcasts in MP3 form.
PODCAST #1 - Christmas Mixed Bag - Pt. 1:
The title says all. Any set of music that starts off with a Christian boy band doing a Christmas tune, then leads into a version of Jingle Bells with tuba, washboard, and banjo is pretty good in my book. Add in some Rob Thomas ("New York Christmas"), Amy Grant, Band Aid 20 (what were they thinking?), and Jars of Clay's "Christmas For Cowboys" (timely now thanks to "Brokeback Mountain") and this is a solid start to anything.
PODCAST #2 - Christmas Mixed Bag - Pt. 2:
We begin with a Canadian artist named Allison Crowe doing "In The Bleak Midwinter". One of the best things about Jeff's compilations is he features many Canadian artists. The podcast continues with Windham Hill, that Christian boy band again (eek!), The Ventures (rock on!), Quartette (another Canadian band), The Blind Boys of Alabama (w Me'Shell Ndegeocello), and a player piano doing a Christmas tune (I sent him that one!).
PODCAST #3 - Christmas Mixed Bag - Pt. 3:
Not your average podcast! This one features the best of traditional Christmas music done by artists like The Choir Of King's College, The Cape Breton Chorale, various chamber choirs, several organs blasting, and some symphonies playing. This was such a 180 degree turn from the previous two podcasts but I didn't mind at all. This is perfect music to play at Christmas dinners softly in the background or when you tour European castles (like Jeff did a few years back).
PODCAST #4 - Christmas Turkeys Best Stuff - Pt. 1:
Imagine a Shakespearian actor doing a dramatic recitation of "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" to start off with. Johnny Cash's Christmas message reminding you "it's not cool to kill at Christmas". MST3K's immortal rendition of "Let's Have A Patrick Swayze Christmas". South Park, Blink 182, Slim Sphincter farting "O Come All Ye Faithful", and Meco asking that Christmas question "What Do You Get A Wookie For Christmas?".
PODCAST #5 - Christmas Turkeys Best Stuff - Pt. 2:
You've probably heard The Singing Dogs do "Jingle Bells". Probably the cats. Maybe the cows. But turkeys? "Butch The Gay Santa Claus" from Cherry Poppin Daddies follows. "Ding! Fries Are Done" - might be the worst song here. Wait... the cast of "The West Wing" doing McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime"... can I change my vote? Cats meowing "Silent Night", Joe Pesci wondering how "fat-ass" Santa will get around if "It Doesn't Snow On Christmas", RuPaul (OMG!), and South Park again. That's entertainment!
PODCAST #6 - Christmas Turkeys Best Stuff - Pt. 3:
I've always admired Jeff's bravery. He always uses groups I never dare consider (RuPaul, South Park). He begins with Insane Clown Posse's "Santa Claus Is A Fat Bitch", Hoobastank, and The Vandals' "My First Christmas As A Woman." Jeff slows things down with Jim Reeves, Mel Blanc, and Cyndi Lauper... you think you're in the clear... with Jeff? He hits ya with Ricky Martin's "Ay Ay Ay It's Christmas" (kidney punch), Boyzvoice's "Let Me Be Your Father Christmas" (below the belt), and Big Tad's grunting or clearing of sinus passages version of "Jingle Bells" (knockout punch).
PODCAST #7 - Christmas Turkeys IX: One More 'Til 10 - Pt. 1:
Randy Bachman doing "Taking Care Of Christmas" starts this off, followed by The Sisterhood's "Rocking Disco Santa Claus" from The American Song-Poem Christmas CD (another donation from me!). An old school rap version of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" is next, then the one and only Wing doing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (the smelling salts please!). Two more songs from the American Song-Poem CD, Beck's "The Little Drum Machine Boy", and a song I forgot I gave to Jeff - Billy May's "Do You Believe In Santa Claus?"
PODCAST #8 - Christmas Turkeys IX: One More 'Til 10 - Pt. 2:
The Three Tendons squeeze their palms together for their version of "Deck The Halls/Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". Jan Barlow's rant "Jerry Falwell Is Coming To Town" is next - a song designed to offend anyone! Lewis Black follows, then Sarah Silverman's "Give The Jew Girl Toys" - the funniest Christmas song of 2005. The Del Rubio Triplets' version of "The Chipmunk Song, Little Richard wishing you "plenty of Tutti-Frutti fruitcake for Christmas", Rod Stewart & Dolly Parton doing "Baby It's Cold Outside" (I'm still in therapy), and more American Song-Poem songs. Are you weary yet? I'm not!
PODCAST #9 - Christmas Turkeys IX: One More 'Til 10 - Pt. 3:
Holly Cole's great version of "Sleigh Ride" starts us off... we might be leveling off. William Hung's Christmas Message / The Little Drummer Boy is the next song... CRASH DIVE! Pudie Tadow's hip-hop, rap version of "Get Your Driedel On follows... pulls out of the dive! Spinal Tap's "Christmas With The Devil" levels us off again, two different versions of "Mr. Grinch - one metal, one jazz/metal - turbulence!. The final song needs explanation. Culturcide is a Houston, TX based band that has produced some wicked, wicked song parodies - some with homosexual themes. "Santa Claus Was My Lover" is sung to the tune of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" (you can hear Michael underneath their lyrics!) and describes a romantic encounter with St. Nick himself.
More on Culturcide and its origins follow in the next review...
Put all these podcasts together and you get a three hour and forty-five minute cornucopia of Christmas music - something for everyone to smile, laugh, think, cry, even offend. My friend Jeff keeps coming up with stuff even I've never heard and that's quite a big statement.
These podcasts were available at Jeffco's website during the entire month of December, 2005. Even though the podcasts are long gone, you owe it to yourself to check out his amazing website and his ENTIRE online Christmas collection - you can see what albums and songs he owns, even download the album covers! Be sure to leave him a message over at his blog - maybe if you ask real, REAL nice like I did back in 2001, he might do something for you.
Jeff, this is the longest review I've posted on my blog to date... You deserve it not only for your love of Christmas music but for being a great friend since that first e-mail way back when. Take a bow, my good man...
On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...