When I put the call out for compilations from Christmas home enthusiasts last year, I never imagined the response would be as large as it was.
Neither did I imagine that I would receive Christmas comps from as far away as Europe!
In September of 2005, my friend Karloff (who has the canny knack of finding extraordinary Christmas sites on the web) at FaLaLaLaLa.com pointed out an amazing new Christmas blog that featured lots of Christmas LP covers in Swedish.
The blog in question was indeed full of Christmas covers from Swedish artists. One need look here at the upper right hand corner of the 2004 cover to see a jolly guy dressed like Santa touting meat products!
Welcome to the world of Anna-Lena Lodenius, a journalist from Stockholm and a Christmas music lover who created her "Jul Igen - Christmas Again" blog in May of 2005 to feature selections from her Christmas collection.
For a time, there were strictly cover scans and descriptions of each. Soon Anna was sharing select MP3s with the Christmas blog community and people began to take notice.
It was one of these MP3s (Margret Jonsson's version of "Snoegubben Froste" - "Frosty" in Swedish) that made me ask Anna if she created Christmas comps, which she did. I asked her if she could send an extra copy and surprise! She sent TWO editions of her annual Christmas comp.
I sent Anna-Lena a set of questions that I will be asking everyone whose comp will be reviewed here:
1.) When did you begin creating your Christmas compilations?
It must have been in the beginning of the 90s. We moved to a new flat in 1992 and shortly after that we had one of our annual Christmas parties. That year, we asked people to bring odd, interesting, and funny Christmas Music and we had a competition when people could vote for their favorite song. Most records were left behind.
2.) Explain the process on creating your Christmas comp.
I am lecturing all over Sweden and sometimes abroad as well. I used to go to flea markets and Salvation Army stores when I got some spare time - usually it is an hour or two before the train leaves. Occasionally, I also try to investigate Internet auctions. But usually I found more interesting and cheaper records on my own.
3.) Who do you share these compilations with? How many do you send out?
Normally only my family and close relatives and friends. My husband and I have been DJ's at a club for incredibly strange music and we usually bring a couple of CDs along to share with some of the regular visitors of this club.
4.) What is it about Christmas music that appeals to you?
The sentimental approach, strong feelings, high ambitions. Every artist wants to present at least one Christmas Record. You can get a good laugh, and still it's a bit touching somehow. It is good to have a hobby that in a sense is totally useless and of no interest 11 months of the year. (CAPT'S NOTE: That's the quote of the year so far!)
5.) What kind of feedback do you get from the comp?
My family and friends simply love the records and play them over and over. They have traditions such as always playing my compilations on their way in the car to relatives in other parts of the country or when they are baking ginger bread or making fudge or whatever.
Over the last several years, there has even been a lot of media publicity. I have talked about my records in radio-shows, TV-programs and in different magazines. There have also been more requests for us playing music in different events.
6.) What other projects/websites do you work on other than Christmas?
I like all sorts of odd music, collects religious music, sports heroes trying to sing, animals (false or real) on records, all sorts of things. I also collect cookery books, postcards and many other things. I have a blog about kitsch (old and funny stuff from our summer house).
7.) Anything you would like to share with people reading this review?
Visit my blog "Jul Igen - Christmas Again". All are welcome!
1.) Sure, it's them barking dogs but this has a WHOLE new spoken introduction & fanfare ending I've never heard before! Fasten your seat belts!
2.) Thore Skogman singing a polka/folk song in Swedish. It's great fun!
3.) An uptempo number - this sounds like "Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette"!
4.) A Swedish duet from the 1950s? I don't understand a word but I'm having a great time nevertheless!
5.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! "The Chipmunk Song" in Swedish! I've fallen and I don't want to get up!
6.) This sounds familiar but I can't place it. A mix of Herman's Hermits with 1970s Moog accents.
7.) From the 1930s? Maybe earlier. Oompah oompah oompah with some clog dancing for good measure!
8.) This one has the Mac Davis sound. Very lost in translation here but I don't care!
9.) The great "Come On Santa, Let's Have A Ball" from Kay Martin & Her Bodyguards!
10.) Hey now! A great instrumental track featuring the Now Sound! Very nicely done!
11.) A 1980s Swedish singalong Christmas tune. Can't mistake that 80s sound.
12.) This 1930s record has a novelty record quality to it. Consulting my English/Swedish dictionary...
13.) "Jingle Bells" clucked by chickens. Dogs, cats, cows, pigs, now chickens. Can't wait for the ocelots version.
14.) Sung in Russian! You can get this one at April Winchell's multimedia section (hurry, won't be there long!).
15.) A quick song from my man Thore!
16.) Swedish country music... the twangy feel gives it away. Ja-hoo!
17.) WOW! For a moment, I thought this was the Cowsills! Guessing this is from the 1970s.
18.) Pilarm is Sweden's foremost Elvis impersonator (maybe the ONLY impersonator). I think this translates as "1000 Christmas Lights". Been covered by many Swedish artists.
19.) "Heartbreak Noel" indeed! This one's been credited to Debbie Dabney as well.
20.) A kiddie Christmas single about hooking up with Elvis "in heaven". Part of the flood of Elvis' songs issued after the King's death in 1977.
21.) This one sounds like a 1930s version of "Santa's Gonna Kick Your Ass" by the Arrogant Worms! WHOA!
22.) Rockin' Christmas Swedish number that's got sort of a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers feel.
23.) I used this very version on my Christmas CD last year. April Winchell has it at her site!
24.) Starts off with whistling from the mouth, then erodes to whistling of the colon. Light a match, will ya?
25.) The Sisterhood is back with "Rockin' Disco Santa Claus"! (See the link to April Winchell above).
26.) A Christmas song in Swedish complete with glockenspiel. I know I'll be humming this one later.
27.) "Diverse Julboogie" indeed! This one ranks up there with any of Bill Haley & The Comets stuff!
28.) MEDIC! Man, this is a 12 alarm car wreck that's laugh out loud funny (April Winchell has it).
29.) Swedish Christmas yodel? I've died and gone to heaven! Excuse me while I dance!
30.) A Swedish Christmas chanty? Thore, lay off the salami!
31.) Uh-oh... the 1980s are back... sounds like "Last Christmas" by Wham!
32.) America has Kid Stuff Records, Sweden has this. Swedish Smurfs singing / telling you a story... HELP!!!
33.) YUMPIN' YIMINY! "Blue Christmas" in Swedish. Sounds like Leonard Cohen of all things!
34.) WING? Pass the smelling salts...
35.) A quick song that ends the comp. Is this your sign-off song? God Jul!
1.) With "Jul Igen" in the title and it just ended the previous CD, this is Anna-Lena's signature song!
2.) A 47 second clip of "Santa Lucia" with bird calls and bomb droppings! Better fasten them seat belts again!
3.) It has that 80s sound... Hard to pinpoint what this song sounds like.
4.) Recorded in the 1940s (earlier?) but this gives Lawrence Welk a run for his money!
5.) Dance music alert! A "spoof" of another song but I've never heard the original so the spoof is moot!
6.) If the Crash Test Dummies were Swedish, this is what it would sound like. Spooky.
7.) "Frosty" in Swedish again... this reminds me of Bing and Bob in one of their "Road" movies.
8.) A man with a kiddie chorus sing a finger snapper. From a children's show?
9.) Governor Schwarzenegger wishes you a pleasant "how-lee-day". Stay away from those ski slopes Arnie!
10.) Frans does his best Barry White with the spoken opening but sings a standard kiddie Christmas song.
11.) "Cows" "mooing"... Probably the worst job of a keyboard doing animal sounds I've ever heard.
12.) Bouncy country Christmas duet in Swedish. Move over Tim McGraw and Faith Hill!
13.) WOW! A fantastic song about a snowman (not Frosty)! Great job with the instrumentation and vocals!
14.) This is one of those songs you'll end up humming days after you hear it. I'm signing up to learn Swedish now!
15.) "Christmas With Elton John" even sounds like an Elton tune! Nice job even though it's a bit long.
16.) Another 80s tune that has the flavor of Hall & Oates. Scary, huh? Extra kilo? Of what?
17.) SWEDISH CHRISTMAS RAP! Calling all my pimps, playas, and jiminies! What a tune!
18.) The other Yngve Stoor song I own is a Hawaiian Christmas tune in Swedish. This song has some island elements and some great organ playing!
19.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! I finally have a complete version of "Rock And Roll Christmas"! Thank you Anna-Lena!
20.) More Swedish Chipmunks! This is more folk than anything. And short.
21.) "We wish you a reggae Christmas and a reggae new year..." Sounds good to me!
22.) An instrumental version done nicely by Eilert Pilarm's Orchestra (see #18 on the 2004 CD).
23.) Yet another great Christmas tune from James Brown, Soul Brother Number One!
24.) Taken from Kevin & Bean's "A Family Christmas In Your Ass". Thanks for the reminder Gene!
25.) Jazzy, syncopated tune that sounds a lot like Jean Sablon, a French singer back in the day! Humming this one...
26.) Very New Wave-ish song about Santa Claus with a Swedish twist. Bordering on punk... WOW!
27.) OH YEAH! Taken from the classic "Switched On Santa" album (Find this one at the Christmas page of Jeffco Productions).
28.) A Swedish artist singing "Silent Night" in English (cool) and done in 1950s doo-wop style (COOL)!
29.) Nicely played! The Swedish track from the Peppermint Kandy Kids.
30.) Who let these chickens back in (see #13 on the 2004 CD)?
31.) Bossa nova like tune from Thore Skogman... adding his name to my wish list!
32.) From the OOP album "A Rubber Band Christmas" (which you can grab from WFMU's "Beware of the Blog!").
33.) There's that signature song again... gotta love it!
Where do I start? The language barrier I didn't mind at all because it's refreshing to hear new melodies of Christmas music I've never heard before. Several of these tunes I've whistled or hummed since I first heard these back in January - always a great sign!
When a song came along that I knew, it was indeed Christmas - there's some fantastic stuff on these CDs. Each one of these CDs rhythm was well paced, different musical eras flowed well into each other, and I loved every second of each of these compilations.
Anna-Lena, thanks for sending these Swedish delights. You've got a great ear for Christmas music and it comes across on the discs. I hope we'll continue to trade comps for a long time!
These memorable Christmas comps will find a place of honor on my shelves - "Blandat julgodis 2004" is number 799 while "Blandat julgodis 2006" is the 800th Christmas CD in my collection (somebody stop me!).
UP NEXT: Santafobic - 2004 & Santology - 2006 (TWO REVIEWS from Martin Klasch)