Monday, January 29, 2007

Sleigh Me: A Collection Of Retro Holiday Classics (Atomic Magazine)

If you haven't visited, you're missing out on a great community of Christmas music lovers who offer their picks on great holiday music, web links you have to see to believe, and new and unusual albums or CDs.

This CD was first brought to my attention in the Forums at FLLLL (be warned: once you enter the Forums, you may not come out!). KCMike first told us of this CD back on November 21 of last year (thank you sir!).

I quickly ordered a copy the same day and waited for my copy to show. And waited. And waited. And waited. Two weeks had passed. This might be normal if I had sent in a check or money order but I paid with PayPal!

I dashed off a quick e-mail asking where my copy was. One quicker reply later I got my answer: "Sorry for the delay. Your order slipped through the cracks. The disc was sent today." Lesson learned? Never order anything online before the long Thanksgiving day weekend.

About ten years ago, the retro lounge culture was reaching its peak in popularity. Swing dancing was in vogue as new swing bands popped up everywhere. Lounge clubs began appearing where smoking jackets and martinis were welcome. 

Capitol Records released their endless volume collection of "Ultra-Lounge" music (of which I personally own 18 of the 25 volumes released). The Vince Vaughn - Jon Favreau movie "Swingers" perfectly captures this time in our culture.

In 1999, Atomic Magazine published its first issue with dynamic articles on the lounge scene, music and book reviews of retro icons past and lounge swingers present, places on where to buy those leopard print jackets and bowling shirts, tips on how to host the perfect cocktail party in your bachelor pad, and fantastic glamour shots.

Shortly before Christmas 2000, Atomic released this beaut of a Christmas CD featuring new bands doing their new lounge takes on your Christmas favorites:


1.) Lavay Smith - Winter Wonderland
Cha-cha-cha! Sultry singing by Ms. Smith, the orchestra swings, making this totally hip!

2.) The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra - Jingle Bells
Nails the great Glenn Miller arrangement to a T. When are these guys and gals in town?

3.) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Christmas Time In Tinseltown (again)
I've yet to hear these guys but I'm told they rock... and if you believe that, you wanna buy a bridge?

4.) George Gee & The Jump Jive and Wailers (with Nick Palumbo) - Run Run Rudolph
Move over Brian Setzer... these guys have Chuck Berry's tune well in hand!

5.) The Jive Aces - Santa Is Back In Town
The UK's number one swing band de-Elvises this tune, swinging it out in the process!

6.) Los Straightjackets - Sleigh Ride
Misspelled on the CD, there's no mistaking that great instrumental sound of these guys!

7.) Dave's True Story - Let It Snow
A jazz combo whose sound is completely off the charts! You'd swear this was an orchestra! WOW!

8.) Michael Andrew and Swingerhead - Mistletoe Mambo
The title say it all... excuse me while I have a whiskey and soda and hit the dance floor!

9.) Casey MacGill - Egg Nog
A lounge track homage to a seasonal drink favorite? This one might make my Christmas comp!

10.) Michael Andrew and Swingerhead (featuring "Broccoli Rob" and Eddie Nichols) - We Three Kings
Starts off slow, they pop the clutch, and off we go! Frrrrrrrrankencense!

11.) The Ray Gelato Giants - Winter Wonderland
Bouncy, gritty, and totally swingable - a great rendition of this song!

12.) Atomic Magazine - Christmas Greetings
The record noise and pops makes this charming...

A fantastic addition to any Christmas music collection. Now I have to check out all those artist links to see if any of them (other than the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies and Los Straitjackets) have any full Christmas CDs to their name.

Like with any popular culture trend, the lounge scene died down in popularity and by 2001, it was practically off the radar screen. Atomic Magazine stayed in print for another two years, suspending publication in 2003.

Thanks to the Internet, the magazine is still alive online. You can visit their website to get back issues, read articles, shop for some retro gear, and experience the whole lounge scene once more. Be sure to visit the new online companion sites: The Retro Radar and The Fedora Lounge to keep in touch with all the be-boppers and hipsters around the world!

Oh... you can STILL get this Christmas CD by ordering it here online ($10 - a STEAL!).

UP NEXT: My most embarrassing purchase of the 2006 holiday season.



Ernie said...

I've got a full Christmas CD from Swingerhead somewhere that I like. And I think Lavay Smith had one, too (with her Red-Hot Skillet Lickers, maybe). That should get you started. :)

stubbysfears said...

I'm aware of full Christmas CDs from Swingerhead (got it) and the Jive Aces (need it). Dave's True Story had a few Fan Club Christmas CD singles around the turn of the century that are wonderful, if you can track them down.

If Lavay Smith had one, I missed it.

And don't forget Swingtips ("Santa Swings") and The Blues Jumpers ("Swingin' Holiday") to add to the genre shopping list.

Ernie said...

Perhaps I was mistaken about the Lavay Smith Christmas CD. I thought this ( was her, but she's no where to be found on it. Perhaps I'm just confused...

stubbysfears said...

"Blues, Mistletoe & Santa's Little Helper" is a straight ahead Blues comp (an excellent one), but that cover could "confuse" any red-blooded American male.

That said, the world of Christmas music is far from finite, and it's impossible to keep up with all of it. It's entirely possible Lavay Smith had a Christmas CD and I missed it. And, if she hasn't done one, she should certainly consider doing so!

Ernie said...

My buddy checked his CD, and it appears that Winter Wonderland is a track on Ms. Smith's Miss Thing CD. I guess I was confusing it with that other CD. I couldn't find any other Christmas stuff from her.

CaptainOT said...

Ernie & Stubbyfears - The Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra, George Gee, Dave's True Story, and Casey MacGill haven't recorded anything other Christmas tunes than what's on this compilation.

The Ray Gelato "Winter Wonderland" version can be found on his 2001 "Ice Cream Man" CD.

The Jive Aces released a single in the UK only entitled "White Hot Christmas" (you can see their streaming video of this at their website) - not bad!


stubbysfears said...

I was fooled into thinking the Jive Aces release was a full CD by the prices it is listed for in this country.

However, I can assure you that Dave's True Story has a larger holiday repetoire.

"A Dave's True Story Christmas" (presumably a Fan Club release, 1999) featured "Winter Wonderland," "Let It Snow," and "This Christmas." The latter (not the Donny Hathaway song) is included on the "Hepcat Holiday" comp I sent you, though I wrongly titled it "Christmas Song."

"A Dave's True Story Christmas II" (presumably a Fan Club release, 2000) featured "White Christmas," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," and "The Christmas Song," as well as the "karaoke versions."

And...I've just learned that the group contributed three tracks to what appears to be a download only 2006 comp, "Happy Holiday-Christmas Favorites." The Dave's True Story tracks are: a slower than usual "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," a very sexy rendition of "Mele Kalikimaka," and a version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" that all but eliminates the male lines. That comp also features Deanna Kirk, Alana Davis, The GrooveBarbers, & Ian Moore plus Lisa Loeb's "Jingle Bells," which has more than made the rounds.

Tony-O said...

Atomic Magazine did not go out of business because of the dying swing culture, but because of 9/11.

After having taken a break in publication to reorganize (they were in the middle of getting new financing when 9/11 happened) they were able to come back briefly before the strain of trying to stay afloat became too great. Being a New York-based magazine during that time made everything all that much harder, but the magazines they did put out (before and after 9/11) were amazing (and I'm not just saying that because I was a contributor.) I truly wish there was some way they could go back into production. Leslie and everyone connected with the magazine are not only top-notch writers, they're terrific people as well.


CaptainOT said...

Tony - WOW! Thanks for the additional info about Atomic Magazine!

I really wish this magazine was still around - I would subscribe in a heartbeat!