Welcome to week four of our two month look at Christmas comps. Last week, we spent looking at various comps sent to us via our P.O. Box.
This week, we'll be looking at Christmas comps found online during the 2006 Christmas downloading season.
During that magical time last Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, I surfed many sites and blogs looking for anything Christmas related.
One said search brought me to a blog entitled Music For Maniacs. Their post of December 15th informed me "one of the Grand Poobahs of maniacal music" had just issued a holiday compilation. Who could it be?
You know him, you love him - the one & only Otis Fodder.
Otis has been involved in more online projects than I can count and has worn more hats than Kevin Smith during the filming of "Clerks".
Fodder was the main person behind the groundbreaking "365 Days" project in 2003. Every new calendar day brought an obscure or rescued MP3 offered to the public.
He's the director of Comfort Stand Recordings - one of the first Internet record labels offering free music to the discerning ear.
Watch as over the next ten years, the huge record companies will take a cue from Otis and strictly offer their music online - CDs will go the way of the 8-track.
If that wasn't enough (and proof that sleep is overrated), Otis also has his own website running where more Internet goodies can be found.
Such was the case last December when Otis presented these comps as his Christmas gift to the world. The links are still active so while you're downloading, here are Otis' answers to the standard set of questions that I will be asking everyone whose comp will be reviewed here:
1.) When did you begin creating your Christmas compilations?
The first compilations were on (60 and 90 minute) cassettes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After that followed Christmas music on radio shows and then in 2002 I made my first Holiday Compilation on CD-R in 2002, Holiday Freakout.
2.) Explain the process on creating your Christmas comp.
A) Gather songs and shorts from CD, Vinyl, MP3, Tape
B) Rip CDs with EAC (Exact Audio Copy)
C) Record Vinyl and Tape (or open MP3s) using Cool Edit (Adobe Audition)
D) Normalize/Volume/EQ... Minimal, as needed
E) Throw them one by one into the multitrack and Edit/Trim files as needed
F) Mix down
F) Cut/Separate Tracks into WAV files
G) Encode WAV files with (win)LAME (for nogap encoding)
H) Tag files and file names
I) Create artwork
J) Zip up Audio/Art
K) Upload to site
L) Create web page
3.) What is it about Christmas music that appeals to you?
I actually prefer to listen to no Christmas music around the holidays and play it throughout the year revolving in my iTunes. Not all songs of course as too much would, sorry to say, drive me completely nuts. But instrumentals along the lines of Ethel Smith at her organ are always welcome any time of the year.
4.) What kind of feedback do you get from the comp?
Little to none for Holiday Freakin last December, as this was the first Holiday mix to be put online. Holiday Freakout in 2002 was never put online and instead I pressed 100 2-CD sets and sent them out as Holiday cards. And cassettes a decade prior were sent out as well.
5.) What other projects/websites do you work on other than Christmas?
6.) Anything you would like to share with people reading this review?
Thanks for listening.
HOLIDAY FREAK-OUT 2002 TRACK REVIEWS:
1.) Title says it all. Santa's in and out in 48 seconds... he must have A.D.D.!
2.) S-A-N-T-A, C-L-A-U-S, Hooray for Santa Claus! Any song from the 1964 film "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians" is welcome here!
3.) Proof positive that Santa is addicted to crystal meth. Sam Ulano is out of control on this track - why I love it!
4.) This mash led off my 2005 Christmas comp - it stunned many of the long time recipients (achieving the effect I wanted). One of my personal faves.
5.) It's titled "Snowflakes" but you'll never hear a better instrumental version of "What Child Is This? (Greensleeves)" in your life!
6.) Another dramatic recitation of the famous "Yes, Virginia" letter. Is this actually Fred Lowery aka The Blind Whistler speaking?
7.) If you don't like anything Christmas by Arthur Lyman (like me), then you need medical attention.
8.) Been looking for this one forever! Written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Christopher Guest, and Paul Shaffer (that Paul Shaffer) - a perfect 1970s Motown parody!
9.) I made it into this song about eight seconds... a new personal best! To continue...
10.) The venerable Mae West doing her Beatle cover ("From Me To You") from her 1966 "Wild Christmas" album.
11.) "For a gourmet treat for your Christmas morning breakfast, butter a ring mold well..." Ummm, can I have some Raisin Bran instead?
12.) Thank you Otis! I'm addicted to surf guitar music in general but Christmas surf is a HUGE passion! What a track!
13.) Then there's this... I'm trying to hear the surf music behind Frankie & Annette's blah recitation of "The Night Before Christmas". Remarkably, their only record together!
14.) Ooooooooooo! Martin Mull's "Santafly" is a personal favorite since I heard it on "The Dr. Demento Show" back in 1978!
15.) From the 1981 "A Christmas Record" - an album ten years ahead of its time!
16.) A satirical record from 1958 that has grown stronger each year (sadly). A testament to the genius of Stan Freberg.
17.) I tried to listen to it all... but I had to stop it because I was going into epileptic sugar shock. Feeling light headed but I'll be okay.
18.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Ever hear "Donde Esta Santa Claus?" with the sound of the Shirelles or The Ronettes? This is SO far better than the Augie Rios original!
19.) This one has the feel of the original Claudine Longet recording but not the Saint Etienne version.
20.) WOW! "Ritz" is Richard ("Riff Raff") O'Brien, and "Kimi" is Kimi Wong (played a tranny in the "RHPS" movie & was O'Brien's first wife). Recorded way before "Rocky Horror" - this version was from Dec 1974. An earlier, longer version of this was released in Dec 1973 - both for download here!
21.) Gotta love that pure, unadulterated 1970s Christmas disco! Great, great stuff!
22.) Like I said, gotta love that pure, unadulterated 1970s Christmas disco! Sung by "Mr. Las Vegas" himself!
23.) MOOOOOG! Taken from the landmark Sy Mann Christmas album "Switched On Santa".
24.) No, it's not Herb Alpert - it's the Border Brass and their great album "Tijuana Christmas" (click on "Switched On Santa" above and tell Jeff the Captain sent ya!).
25.) A haunting song from the first animated Christmas special. Predates "Rudolph" by two years - 1962!
26.) I've yet to hear a bad song from Ferrante & Teicher (that includes non-Christmas songs too)! This is magic!
27.) Refreshing to hear the original - Dickie's son Jon released a compilation album in 1997 that used sound-alike bands spliced with a not so great dub of the original 45 - nasty!
1.) "This is a program for today's people; The Now Generation." Who can argue with logic like that?
2.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Amazing sounds throughout! It must be heard to be believed! Adding their Christmas album to my wish list!
3.) The Blue Hawaiian's homage to Martin Denny! Their whole album is flavored with Hawaiian and exotica - not bad from the same guys who supply SpongeBob a bunch of music!
4.) If you're looking for one album that has everything from cha cha, polka, waltz, even a hora - Brave Combo's "It's Christmas, Man!" is it. But... the CD is getting hard to find - buy it when you can!
5.) Still the greatest Christmas mambo on vinyl, cassette, 8-track, CD, Edison Cylinder, whatever!
6.) Sweet Mother of God... make it stop, MAKE IT STOPPPP! I thought this was bad... but this takes the blue ribbon home!
7.) Say wha??? Who are Kirsten & Heather Mayne? Why are they singing "Silver Bells" at double speed? Why am I laughing outrageously at the whole thing?
8.) Otis is determined to break my computer... I actually prefer the dulcet tones of Little Marcy over Tammy Faye!
9.) Was this an edit? The only version of this I know is that one with Dr. Demento's duet with Wild Man Fischer... Quick, painless, funny!
10.) Esquivel's space age version of "Frosty" hasn't aged one iota since its release many moons ago. Zu-zu , zu-zu, zu-zu...
11.) The Velvet Fog is good form singing this old chestnut with a fair amount of scat! Sweet!
12.) Cash's decision not to sing the rum-pum-pums makes the whole song! Solemn and straightforward.
13.) Franklyn MacCormick was a Chicago radio legend - his voice was heard soothing Chicago as it went to bed. Some of my relatives still in Chicago are going to go nuts when they hear this!
14.) Sing it Jimmy! From the first 365 Days project (scroll down to January 27). I'm never going to be able to listen to "Eres Tu" without thinking of Jimmy.
15.) It's funny how George Lucas embraces everything "Star Wars"... with the exception of its Christmas related stuff! Sung by a then-unknown Jon Bon Jovi!
16.) This is Spike Jones? Where's the glug-glugs? The cowbells? The gunshots? Sounds more like Henry Mancini than Spike - snappy stuff!
17.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" on the musical saw! I damn near woke up my kids due to my howling laughter! The only Christmas track of Pritikin's album sadly...
18.) Can Dickie Goodman be called "The Godfather of Sampling"? There's a cotillion of people who think so...
19.) One of the first crossover Christmas rap songs - not counting #15 on Disc 1 above.
20.) I miss the Ramones... what they could have done on a FULL Christmas album... WOW!
21.) A typical brilliant, sarcastic, catchy song by Neil Innes! At Beatlefest 1994 in Chicago, he gladly signed my copy of "The Rutles" twice - once as himself, once as Ron Nasty!
22.) Remember the cute kid they brought in on "The Partridge Family"? Bet you didn't. Ricky Segall's shining moment on record.
23.) WOW! "Wallace and Ladmo" was a hugely popular Phoenix kids show from 1954 - 1989. This is one of two Christmas tracks off their compilation album of all their musical highlights!
24.) A great surf guitar track from the same fellas who did "Wipe Out"! Crazy, man, crazy!
25.) I never liked Jan & Dean... maybe it's because I could never tell their stuff from The Beach Boys. Skipping ahead merrily...
26.) I always laugh at this one. Not because it's a rotten rip-off of The Chipmunks but because from that strangely familiar opening riff, I keep hearing the "Three's Company" theme song throughout.
27.) Only Red Sovine could get away with a song about Christmas and divorce. Sounds like Red's gonna have a nervous breakdown - laughing like mad here!
28.) WHOA! A Carpenters bootleg? Ignore the kids in the audience... focus on that breathtaking voice of Karen Carpenter - the very definition of perfection.
29.) Herman Apple must be proud man wherever he is - his Christmas album is a qualified Internet success!
30.) Psych! Thought Santa was leaving huh? That's why they call him Tricky St. Nicky...
HOLIDAY FREAK-IN 2006 TRACK REVIEWS:
1.) Introduced by the Cartwrights, we get a spirited Moog song by Roger Roger - where did this come from? Tell us more! Jan & Dean wish you a Merry Christmas at the end that leads us into...
2.) How... robotic... this... guy... sounds... and... sings! Only Otis can consistently come up with this stuff!
3.) MOOOOOG! A toe tapper of a Christmas song played on everyone's favorite electronic instrument!
4.) There's a whole genre of Christmas industrial promo songs - this one is an epic! Is that JoAnne Worley singing "The 12 Days Of Christmas"? WOW!
5.) There's not much of a call for Christmas songs in Cantonese... I'll keep this one on file for future reference! Was this from a full Christmas CD? If so, where? Don't leave me hanging Otis! And what about that space age kiddie record?
6.) Oscar The Grinch... err, Grouch singing why he hates Christmas. Poor Slimey... he'll never get any presents!
7.) What more can be told about Danger Woman? Was this her only record? Who unearthed this? Did she record any other Christmas songs? And you thought Gene Autry's "Rudolph" has a lot of reverb!
8.) Karen Gathercole recorded this and gave it to co-workers as a Christmas gift? Can I work with someone else? Go download the whole 20 minute message here. Nice segue with the Marc Bolan Christmas greeting.
9.) FRENCH CHRISTMAS RAP? Hints of "In Excelsis Deo"? Sacre bleu! My brother-in-law teaches high school French - bet he'll use this in the classroom!
10.) I've heard about this one for a long time - first time I've ever heard it. About as I imagined it.
11.) Noted Texas record producer Smith proselytizing about the decline of Christmas as Nancy sings "Silent Night" in the background... quite depressing in a funny sort of way
12.) The inmates are rioting, revolting, and... playing "Jingle Bell Rock"? Go check out Pastor McPurvis and get the entire concert at Vinyl Orphange.
13.) WOW! A French Christmas song that has the flava of 1970s blaxplotation movies! Mon dieu!
14.) A kid describes and la-la's about drowsiness with an organ playing in the background. Where's the Christmas at?
15.) Surprisingly good Christmas pop tune! Taken from the "Fantasia de Navidad" Christmas CD - sadly OOP.
16.) Ethel Smith tickling the Christmas organ ivories! No wonder Otis can listen to this 365 (pun intended).
17.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! An inspirational Christian song winds ups as an ten minute series of angry moments teaching us that love can change mundane things like driving, watching a baseball game, or... ODD!
18.) Hot, quick-tempoed instrumental version of "Christmas Night In Harlem"! Beat me daddy with that boogie beat!
19.) The title says all. Is this the famed saxophone player Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis by any chance?
20.) Ooh la la! Another French Christmas song sung to a tune that closely resembles "All My Loving" by The Beatles! Even has the Beatle beat and harmonies!
21.) Ah-one, ah-two... The inmates are back playing "O Come All Ye Faithful"! See number 12 above!
22.) OMG! 2 Live Jews singing about the Sabbath to the Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night". If temple was only this fun...
23.) Just a hunch... but if Santa heard Mae singing this, I'm betting he'd steer clear of her house! West's high-pitched wailing might have thrown off the reindeer in any case. And it that didn't do it, the extra Tammy Faye Bakker song Otis tacked on the end ("Frosty The Snowman") would have damn killed them all!
It's about 12:15 AM EST, Monday February 26th... I purposely scheduled to review Otis' stuff tonight because my wife goes to an Oscar party every year and I don't. That's because a.) ever since Rob Lowe sung to Snow White, I refuse to watch b.) they never awarded Martin Scorsese an Oscar... until tonight (Congrats Marty!).
It's fitting I'm reviewing this on Oscar night because if I were to hand out awards for all the comps I've heard until now, Otis Fodder's "Holiday Freak-in 2006" would win the "Best Comp" award hands down. I'm guessing a majority of this music is being heard for the first time for a lot of people. The music holds up, surprises you, shocks you, entertains you, and makes you laugh seven chances out of ten.
It was a total departure from anything I've heard so far. It was a pure joy for me not to hear The Sisterhood not playing "Rocking Disco Santa Claus".
Otis' 2002 comp was a more traditional Christmas comp. However, he threw in some real diamonds (Sam Ulano, The Kaisers, Neil Innes, Kimi & Ritz, Toni Stante, Swingerhead to name a few) that elevated his great Christmas comp into a phenomenal Christmas comp. The pacing, the energy, and the total sound of the 2002 comp was a complete success.
When he returned the standard set of questions to me, Otis also added this:
"I also re-uploaded the two compilations and put the page back online here - http://www.otisfodder.com/share/holiday.html
"I will keep the page up, so add links for people to download the compilations. Much thanks!"
Otis is just a giver, isn't he? Thank you for the wonderful gifts of your comps last year and now.
Thanks Otis for continuing to scour the planet for new things sounding strange, weird, exotic, foreign, and mostly funny. May you continue your work until it becomes work. But please, PLEASE... don't wait another four years to produce another Christmas comp!
UP NEXT: Retro Christmas (Ultra-Swank)