Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bill Brock's Christmas 2006

Our final week of looking at Christmas comps from actual submissions to our P.O. Box continues on.

This comp came to us from the home of National League MVP Ryan Howard, Ben Franklin, a great cheese steak sandwich, and one Mr. Bill Brock from the great City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bill's comp arrived in just a simple paper sleeve with a playlist glued to the back. A festive Christmas card featuring three cats greeted us as well (that I quickly whipped into a cover for the comp), and a letter:

"Sure, I'll play. Here's my comp from this year. Compiled for my own amusement, and that of a small circle of friends. No theme. Just stuff I like. Filtered through I some previously unarticulated guidelines.

"First off, my comp is unabashedly pro-Winter Holiday. Irreverence and cynicism are welcome, but songs that don't reflect the positive side of the holidays in some way aren't going to make it. There's plenty of that kind of stuff that I like, but I'm not going to put in my annual Christmas mix.

"Also, no freak show stuff, My mix is not about feeling superior to what my small audience would see as theologically or aesthetically ridiculous: no Little Marcy, no singing dogs, no 'so bad, it's good.'

"Beyond that I just mix it up and try to make it stick together. I've got pretty wide-ranging tastes, and part of the fun of making these is that I can put Mort Lindsay and Joey Ramone in the same mix. I also try to mix the somewhat familiar with the slightly obscure.

"And the old with the new. I try to hit a couple of new releases each year. Finally, I try not to repeat my previous Christmas comps. (Except for 'Come On! Let's Boogie To The Elf Dance!' - the best Christmas song of this century - which I'll continue to put it in my annual mix until it becomes as ubiquitous as Nat's 'Christmas Song'.)

"Thanks for the opportunity to examine my annual ritual. And for your terrific blog."

I sent Bill a standard set of questions that I'll be asking everyone who sent in a comp. Due to his hectic schedule, he didn't return the answers to them but forwarded the above letter to me again. So the letter and the music will speak for Bill in proxy.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) DJ John has craftily blended and mixed clips from several Charlie Brown Christmas specials (with Vince Guaraldi's "Linus & Lucy") into this mega-mix-mash - one of the greatest mashes ever! Click on DJ John's name to zap this one!
2.) What pronunciation! This is a rip-snortin', high-falutin', elbow-bendin', toe-tapper if there ever was one! Our friend Ernie offered this back in 2005 - I think it's still available!
3.) Funkify! Bootsy Collins' version of "The Christmas Song" is one of the highlights on his remarkable Christmas CD!
4.) SMOOTHH! I haven't heard much Tony Bennett during this whole look at comps. What a refresher!
5.) The Rotary Connection's sound is very dated but the lyrics and the always fresh voice of Minnie Riperton still contain enough clout in this day and age!
6.) For those who don't know, Arthur Treacher had an entire career playing snobby English butlers. Here he sings to a rock-n-roll beat - quite charming! Lee Hartsfeld once offered this at his fan-damn-tastic blog!
7.) One of a handful glam rock Christmas anthems. It has stood the test of time because it sounds better every time I hear it.
8.) Chuck Berry's version of this old chestnut is just too good. Listen to Johnnie Johnson in the background playing that piano = WOW!!!
9.) This might be the best instrumental version of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" out there. Herman Apple has way too much fun with this one!
10.) VINTAGE CALYPSO! This is one of many brilliant songs off Dust-To-Digital's dynamic "Where Will You Be Christmas Day?"
11.) Long before Bill Engvall and "Hee Haw", Homer & Jethro were the only purveyors of musical country comedy out there! This one came from their 1968 Christmas album entitled "Cool Crazy Christmas"
12.) A wonderful artifact from the early days of televisions! The King of Jingaling at once offered this one and explains it better than I could!
13.) From the first notes of that trill flute, I knew this was Jethro Tull. They make "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and make it sound not just good but awesome!
14.) Did you know Santa had a secret agent bird that helps his keep tabs on all of us? A funny new Christmas character has arrived courtesy of Brad Paisley!
15.) Not bad sounds! The Big Mess Orchestra offered these tracks from their upcoming Christmas album at their website. Gonna keep tabs on this one...
16.) I miss the Ramones... what they could have done on a FULL Christmas album... WOW!
17.) SWEET! Hip, swinging sound from the Glad Singers! Their Christmas album was featured at - if you haven't clicked it, what are you waiting for?
18.) If you can't stand country music, you haven't heard the mellow Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens - works every time!
19.) A great Christmas song from Japan's premier girl rock band! Find this one at GMTPlus 9 (-15)!
20.) It's Ray Charles. It's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". So why am I having a rough time with this one? Uncle Ray's Christmas album was released in December, 1985 and has too much polish on it at times. What Ray could have done back with this in the 1960s!
21.) I agree with Bill - this is Sufjan Stevens' best Christmas song. Best Christmas song of this century? It's a contender... but I'll wait another 30 years before I pass judgment.
22.) Nice selection! Hard to believe but I just got the Ira Ironstrings CD for my collection last Christmas. I've missed out on a lot! Fantastic stuff for "those who have heard everything"!
23.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS! Like an ice cube down the back of your shirt, John Jacob Niles' haunting voice will grab your attention and make you take notice! Don't believe me? Click his name! WOW! Didn't know he had a full Christmas album out!
24.) Yessss! Granddaddy's take on "Winter Wonderland" with the Alan Parsons feel is a trip! Just purchased a used copy of this rare, RARE British import comp - well worth the $$$$$$!
25.) THREE SUNS SPOTTING! Their music just stands out... you immediately know its them when you hear it!
26.) The immortal Leadbelly plays his heart out on this one! There's more in this 1:05 than Mannheim Steamroller has had in their last two Christmas albums! Scroll up to #10 for the link.
27.) Sweet Lou... This guy is sadly neglected around Christmas time on the radio airwaves - program directors take note!
28.) The Edison Male Quartette has their own MySpace site - HELL YEAH! This is the earliest known Christmas song committed to recorded sound - the first came ten years prior in 1889 when banjoist Will Lyle recorded "Jingle Bells" - no known copies exist anymore. If you can find a copy of "Voices Of Christmas Past", let me know!

Quite an impressive Christmas comp Bill! The selection of songs is varied, the flow moves right along. The special surprises for me were mindblowers (Arthur Treacher, Big Mess Orchestra, and John Jacob Niles)!

I've listened to this several times now and it still sounds great - always the acid test! I would recommend some PhotoShop courses for CD artwork. If you can paint like you can create a Christmas comp, we might be seeing the evolution of a young Picasso!

Thanks for sending this Bill - you're right, who needs to answer questions? Send us another at Christmas?

UP NEXT: Bill Huot's 2004 - 2005 - 2006 Samplers (THREE REVIEWS)



Bill Huot said...

I tried to order Voices of Christmas Past from Dawn of Sound last year but Peter Nagy told me that he had just run out. I asked him to keep me in mind and let me know if any copies turn up. In January I got a message from him that he had found a whole boxfull at his parents' house. He still might have some. I presume that he can still be reached through the Dawn of Sound website:

CaptainOT said...

Bill - My local library has the Voices of Christmas Past CD - I knew about that one coming out of the chute!

It's worth the price - lots of rare Christmas stuff from all over the globe!