Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Christmas Cheese: Chesler's 2006 Holiday Compilation

Today's yuleblog review marks an end of sorts. This is the final comp from a regular Christmas music enthusiast sent to us via the P.O. Box.

Shortly after I began cranking out the reviews in early February, Dave Chesler of Royersford, Pennsylvania sent me a quick letter of introduction. It read in part:

"Al Aitchison turned me on to your blog... I have been putting together holiday comps since 1990 when I worked with Andy Cirzan at Jam Productions in Chicago...

"My comps are mostly made up of rock, pop, novelty, and humorous bits. To date, my collection consists of around 1200 CDs and another 300 - 400 albums, singles, and cassettes."

GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! He knows both Al and Andy and has a Christmas collection that might just take up a basement!

I quickly contacted Dave and asked for him to send along a comp - which he did. I purposely saved it for now - nice way to end one phase of this whole two-month process, huh? Dave was sent the standard set of questions I've asked everyone here at the yuleblog and he replied like this:

1.) When did you begin creating your Christmas compilations?

Back in 1990, I worked with a couple guys who collected XMAS music and produced annual holiday compilation cassettes. I heard those tapes and was instantly hooked, both on the idea of collecting the music and putting out annual tapes.

2.) Explain the process on creating your Christmas comp.

I am a big fan of non-traditional holiday music, commercials, bits, etc. It's easy to hear the traditional stuff - all you need to do is turn on the radio to one of the all XMAS music stations or listen to 95% of the holiday CD's put out every year. I look for the more interesting stuff (at least in my opinion) that you don't hear everyday, if ever at all.

I collect music from record shows, other collectors and the Internet and the stuff I find in a given year is potential fodder for the following year's CD (always working a year ahead). I start listening, no BS, in late July and August (much to my wife's chagrin) and begin honing the songs, bits, etc. down to where I have my top tier and second tier songs written down.

I usually start laying the tracks down in September and once I am satisfied with the master, I'll send it to one of the production houses I work with to duplicate it. My father is a graphic designer and he has been doing my CD art for years (much to his chagrin). Come about mid-November, I get everything back and package them up myself so they're ready to go out after Thanksgiving.

The bottom line is that I make the CD's to my liking in the hopes that other people will like them too. If they do, great. If they don't, they can use them as coasters.

3.) Who do you share these compilations with? How many do you send out?

I produced cassette comps for 10 years and in 2001 started making CD's. The past four years I have produced two CD's/year. I've made 150 of each and send them out to co-workers, colleagues, fellow collectors, friends and family.

4.) What is it about Christmas music that appeals to you?

It brings me to my happy place.

5.) What kind of feedback do you get from the comp?

Most people I send it to that reply back really like it, or at least tell me that they do (those that don't like tend to not say anything). I get more and more calls every year from people asking that they still be on my mailing list, so I'll take that as a good sign. I also throw an annual CD release party and give the discs out to all attendees (which could be why the party seems so well attended - it's either that or all the free food and booze).

6.) What other projects/websites do you work on other than Christmas?

None - I'm a one collector guy.

7.) Anything you would like to share with people reading this review?

Find something you like doing and just do it.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) WOW! Forty seconds of awesome acappella courtesy of The Blenders. Love the final note: WRINGGGGG!
2.) Back-to-back Blenders! Cool tune! These guys have recorded FIVE Christmas CDs in eight years - "Nog" (1997), "When It Snows" (2002), "Another Folkin' Christmas" (2004), "Holiday Best" (2004), "Most Wonderful Time" (2005)
3.) I'm glad Christmas yodeling door-to-door never caught on... aren't you? From ACN's "Christmas Comedy V1".
4.) The mini-review at CD Baby states "reviewers across the country fall in love with this band every time they hear them play." Based on their lone Christmas song on the CD, oh yeah! What a sound! I hope these guys eventually record a FULL holiday album!
5.) Here's a Christmas song that has me stumped. Name a file-sharing program, it's been on it. No year is given, and very little is available on Carolee Goodgold via the almighty Google. Can anyone out there fill in the blanks and was this a for-real song or a clever parody?
6.) Sweet mercy... I'm afraid to look. Did this come on the Air Force PSAs I offered? It did? I am so sorry...
7.) WOW! Ritchie Blackmore (he of Deep Purple and Rainbow) has a great sound with Blackmore's Night! Listen for yourself to this wonderful song! This CD was released last November - how did I miss this?
8.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! A rock version of "Christmas In Kilarney"! Bing Crosby is somewhere spinning in his grave! Good stuff! From the 3-CD set "Tramper's Dynamic Christmas".
9.) A witty and impressive sounding song about the correct or incorrect spellings of Hannukah. Or Chanukah? Or is that Hanukkah? Maybe it's Channukkah? ARGH! Watch the video (scroll down) and judge for yourself!
10.) Frickin' A was the talk of Boston with this song shortly after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. I can only hope I hear a song like this the Christmas after my beloved Chicago Cubs win the World Series... just once before I die, please?
11.) Another Christmas comedy bit from the American Comedy Network (see #3 above). Love the "Family Feud" buzzer sound f/x!
12.) Robert Lund's parody of the Police's "Every Breath You Take" - pretty fair to good. First heard this on Mike & Cindy's HO HO 2004 last month.
13.) Maybe the best track off Paul & Paula's "Holiday For Teens" Christmas album. The background sax just screams Benny Hill in a weird way!
14.) The actual credited artist is Bobby The Poet with some help from The Hardly Worth-It Players and Senator Bobby who had a Top 20 hit in 1967 with "Wild Thing".
15.) Released at Christmas, 2004, the Xmas Balls gathered many of the best Nashville studio musicians to create this tender song and this CD which you can get for about the price of a Big Mac at
16.) Excellent mash-up of Darlene Love's "Sleigh Ride" and the Beastie Boys' "Body Movin' ". Off the extremely rare "We Wish You A Merry Christmash" CD from Half Inch Recordings (scroll down) - if you have it Dave, I am your new best buddy o pal o friend, capice?
17.) More than likely, Dave got this CBS promo from this Christmas disc of radio commercials usually sold by this eBay seller. However, the promo is not from 1946 - it was from December 21, 1958.
18.) Not a Christmas song... but Bleu & the kids rock it out to plead their case for a snow day! From the kiddie CD "For The Kids".
19.) WOW! The Plain White T's are from Villa Park, Illinois (home of my cousins Ron & Tom) and are on the rise! This tantalizing cut comes from the 2005 Christmas comp entitled "Taste Of Christmas"!
20.) Here's an eye-opener! Regina Richards (who? where? when? what comp?) rocks it out! I'm guessing this was late 1970s to early 1980s. More info is requested please.
21.) Okay... where have I heard this before? ACN? Kevin & Bean? I've heard this but can't put a source to it... Dave? Care to share?
22.) A reggae song that offers the opinion that Santa Claus is black... angry, catchy, and fun! From the first of a trio of British samplers entitled "Season's Beatings" (scroll down but look at ALL them playlists - ja mon!).
23.) Uh oh... Richard Cheese (thank you) is in the house! Warms it up with an uptempo version of Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here". As always, hilarious! Find this on his "Silent Nightclub" CD.
24.) I can handle Larry the Cable Guy as Mater in "Cars". Beyond that, his act has grown stale and I can barely tolerate him. Next...
25.) Jumpin' Jupiter! Here's a cover that sounds better than the original! Very nicely done! Found this one on the 2-CD set "A Holiday Feast Creme de la Creme" (which also includes track #4 - see above).
26.) Setzer takes "In The Mood", gives it the full treatment, and passes it off as a Christmas song. Not one of my faves from Brian.
27.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Marah creates a wonderful, contemporary song that's very reminiscent of the Phil Spector "wall of sound" Christmas songs! If their 2005 Christmas album sounds like this, consider it added to the wish list!
28.) Reading the Christmas Reviews review of Marah's CD, they state that several of the tracks are under a minute in length and two feature funny skits / segues like this one... Added to my wish list!
29.) Oh... my... a METAL Chipmunk like Christmas song? A whole Christmas CD like this? Chuckling...
30.) Dave used "Yet Another Holiday Disclaimer" on his 2006 comp and I used "Holiday Disclaimer" on my 2006 comp (see #3 above). Great minds...
31.) Great rocking song, driving beat and guitars, and the occasional detour! Good stuff from "The Holiday Feast IV Christmas CD" (scroll down - but look at all those other Christmas comps!).
32.) Vintage punk/rock tune that I can't find a source to... awesome cover. More info, please!
33.) A quick home recording of a child singing "Jingle Bells"... is this you Dave?

IMPRESSIVE! Dave, this is a heckuva Christmas comp! Lots of old and new, a right mix of rockers, silliness, and just plain odd, and the best thing is that it's mostly new stuff I've never heard before!

It doesn't surprise me after brushing up against Mr. Andy Cirzan that Christmas grabbed ahold and never let go. Your Christmas ear has its own style and it shows throughout the comp. It flowed very well with wonderful moments along the way!

Thanks for sending this... and please keep me on your Christmas list! Can't wait to hear what the 2007 comp will sound like!

UP NEXT: Putting The X Back Into Xmas (Probe is turning-On the people)



Anonymous said...

I have a bunch of Dave's comps... they're all greta!!!

Capt, I have the Merry Christmash CD. I'd be glad to burn it for ya...


Ernie said...

Came home today with a handful of CDs by the guy. They had a couple more, but either the CDs weren't in the cases or they were so scratched I didn't think they would play. Glad I got them after seeing your write up. Now, to the listening cave!