Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Christmas From St. Peter's 2006 (Peter Smith)

Our next comp arrived via the U.S. Mail at our P.O. Box in January of this year. It didn't arrive via spaceship - don't let the clever cover fool you!

St. Peter is really Peter Smith from Stevenson, Maryland. Why St. Peter? His letter accompanying the CD explained it to me:

"I live in a 100 yr. old stone church - hence the name." Holy smoke! Nice digs!

The rest of the letter was full of praise for the work I've done here at the yuleblog and all the gems I offered last year during the 2006 Christmas downloading season.

Other revelations came out in Peter's answers to the standard set of questions I'm asking everyone who sent a comp:

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

It all started at a 5,000-watt radio station in... Ummmm... It all started 5 or 6 years ago while I was idly and innocently surfing the web. I stumbled across the amazing Jeffco site, and was introduced to Christmas Turkeys. I hadn’t intended to dedicate my life to the pursuit of strange and exotic Christmas music; honestly I hadn't. Jeff made me do it. It's all his fault!

But seriously... What a great guy Jeff was to introduce me to the world of Xmas comps (CAPT'S NOTE: Yep, that Jeff is a good guy!). From the git-go, he was nothing but friendly and helpful. To this day, we swap tunes on occasion. Although it's a genuine challenge to send him something he hasn't yet heard, I've succeeded once or twice and that has made me happy.

Mind you, I really and truly don't blame Jeff for having caused me to spend endless sleepless nights typing inane strings like "manatee refrigerator hubcap Christmas MP3" into my computer and then hitting "Find Now". It constantly amazes me how successful I am at getting hits doing this; although many times I end up with feeble punk/garage band renditions of pseudo-classics like "Grandma Exfoliated A Screaming Manatee Refrigerator Hubcap For Christmas, Dammit!" – not exactly my musical taste...

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

When I began the pursuit of Christmas disk happiness, I had relatively few resources. And so my first couple of disks were quite modest and sedate. A bit of waylaid Turkeys material, some stray tunes I'd picked up at Big Rock Candy Mountain, at WFMU, at April Winchell's place, from Kevin & Bean.

That first year, I hadn't yet found your wonderful site (thank you, thank you, thank you), or FaLaLaLaLa, or Ernie (Not Bert), or Check The Cool Wax, or... Oh, there are so many great people nurturing us all by posting neat stuff. And I thank you/them all for the great pleasure.

Now that I've matured a bit, I tend to try to put together primarily comedy Christmas comps; with a couple of goofy 50's tunes thrown in for good measure. Don’t get me wrong: I love real, HTG Christmas music; e.g. the Firestone albums, The Little Drummer Boy, Crosby, et al. It's what I generally play for myself at home.

The purpose of my particular comps is to be able to provide my friends with a holiday gift of pleasure and amusement. My goal is for virtually everybody to find something on my disks out of which to get a chuckle. It's awfully good to laugh.

This year, I experienced 2 "firsts". I bought a simple editing/mixing program (which I'd never had before) - Sony Sound Forge 8.0 - and I decided to integrate bits and pieces of meandering sound bytes throughout the comp. The upshot of these 2 baby steps was that I ended up with 82 tracks. (CAPT'S NOTE: EIGHTY-TWO???)

Although a couple of edits and fades were a bit rough around the edges (e.g. tracks 13 and 14), I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out. As for the sound bytes, I didn't stick to just Christmas materials. I was able to work in snippets which worked admirably out of context. There's a certain guilty and delicious pleasure in being able to segue rather neatly from Mr. Rogers to The Cryptkeeper…

From the Cryptkeeper to Charlton Heston to Glinda, The Good Witch of the North… From Little Marcy to Henry Fonda to Winona Ryder to Janet Jackson… From Richard Simmons to Joan Crawford… Well, perhaps that last one actually ain't so far off the mark…

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

The first year, I believe that I made 20 copies, about half of which I gave to friends at work. Within a couple of days, more co-workers were asking for them and I gave away what I had left. I knew then that I had struck oil… black gold… Texas T… The next year, about 40 copies. This year (gulp) 125.

All have gone to close co-workers and good friends. (And they told 2 friends, and they told 2 friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…) A genuinely understanding and infinitely patient friend at the office has suffered my slings, arrows, and idiosyncrasies and produced each year's CD cover. Thank you, Sandy.

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

I was a real Christmas freak when I was little. As I've grown older (48 now), some of that magic has morphed into more of a contentment. Christmas music brings the holidays into focus. The songs I choose are often the traditional carols and tunes, but with a wry twist. It's the unexpectedness. The freshness.

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

Not everyone provides feedback, but those who do so tend to be enthusiastic. I've found that generally people latch onto 1 or 2 specific tracks. If they find the overall disk enjoyable and hone in on just a couple of items, I'm happy to have made them happy.

Then again, I've come to believe that the disks may worry a few people. An illustrative tale: Each year I've given a disk to a friend at work who has always seemed just a bit suspicious about my warped sense of humor. She didn't comment to me at all about this year's effort.

Another co-worker pulled me aside at a recent meeting to advise me that they both listened to your CD in the car and "we spent the whole time listening and wondering 'What was he thinking when he chose that?' " I guess I could do worse...

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

No other projects on a regular basis. If I find a trove of great stuff of any kind which I think that a good friend might get a kick out of, I might pass it along via disk. I don't have a website, and don't know that I have the self-discipline necessary to keep up with maintaining one.

I have huge respect for you and for all of the other blogmeisters who give so much of themselves to make the rest of us so merry. One of my goals this year is to learn the fine art of uploading so that I can share some of my holiday finds and treasures. It'll happen.

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

My comps aren't "traditional". They tend, in fact, to be pretty esoteric/odd. Especially this year. By the time you post your review of my slight effort in March (it's late February as I write this), I'm willing to bet that almost all of the musical tracks on my comp will have surfaced in previously-reviewed comps.

And you know what? That's fine, and it's good. Although your readers and listeners may have heard most of this stuff before, the people on my gift list may not have. Each of us who has produced a comp has done so with a specific target audience in mind.

My audience is my friends. They know me, and they know my personality. If it can shine through in my comp, super. I'm not giving just a Christmas disk, I'm giving something of myself. And when the day is done isn't that really what the holiday season is all about?

(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) Mr. Rogers Neighborhood (Mr. Rogers) - "Now these are sounds of different things that other people have recorded..."

2.) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Charles Gray aka The Narrator) - "I would like... if I may... to take you on a strange journey."

3.) Barry Gordon - Zoomah, The Santa Claus From Mars
"Zoomah" - a 1950s cutesie wutesie kiddie song that's a step above the rest thanks to its space age feel.

4.) NORAD Tracks Santa promo (1968)
Two "NORAD Tracks Santa" albums are floating around - the first is the 1964 album, and tracks from the 1968 album like this one have been swapped via file-sharing.

5.) The Cryptkeeper - Cryptmas Intro
Halloween and Christmas don't mix...

6.) Rick Alexander - Santa Is An Anagram For Satan
TOO FUNNY! Makes the comparisons between Santa and Satan - sorta like the Lincoln and Kennedy comparisons!

7.) A Charlie Brown Christmas (Charlie Brown) - "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"
Linus does! His famous soliloquy was something CBS wanted cut. CBS also wanted a laugh track... morons.

8.) John Boy & Billy - Christmas Balls
This DJ team from Charlotte, North Carolina have been called "the redneck Bob & Tom". So-so funny "risque" Christmas song. From their 1998 OOP Christmas album.

9.) Judy Tenuta - Christmas Greeting
Ughhh... Judy Tenuta was about as funny as a root canal and twice as painful! NEXT!

10.) Kay Martin & Her Bodyguards - Come On Santa, Let's Have A Ball
Packs a lot of wallop in 1:09! From the famous Christmas party record... Not for the younguns!

11.) Arnold Schwarzenegger - Christmas Greeting
Arnold's in favor of English only in California... another definition of irony, folks!

12.) Danny Elfman & Cast of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" - Kidnap Santy Claus
Halloween and Christmas... Tim Burton... this film... Will politely skip ahead before I burst into profanities and disgust.

13.) The Wizard Of Oz (Wicked Witch of the West) - "I can cause accidents, too!"

14.) A Christmas Story (Schwartz) - "I double-dog-dare you!"
I grew up close to Jean Shepherd's old stomping grounds in Hammond, Indiana. The Warren G. Harding school where this event occurred in Jean's life is still there - didn't see a flagpole though!

15.) SNL - Tonto, Tarzan, & Frankenstein - The Little Drummer Boy
Kevin Nealon sings the song, Jon Lovitz speak sings it in fluent Tonto-ese, and Phil Hartman as Frankenstein pounds on a drum. There's a version by this same trio of "Away In A Manger" floating around...

16.) Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales (Sally) - "Each [Christmas card] has a little bunny on it dressed up like a shepherd."
From the newest Charlie Brown Christmas special (2002). Has moments but nothing like the magic of the original.

17.) Kevin & Bean - The Real Slim Santa
The title track from K & B's 2000 Christmas CD. Who knew Santa could rap? Clever parody!

18.) That 70's Show (Debra Jo Rupp) - "Stand still. Nobody likes a Santa with plumber's butt."
Do you like Santa with a plumber's butt? Well?

19.) Gary Owens - Preparation H Commercial
If you want to hear this incredibly funny piece of Christmas audio, check out the Daily Wav (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

20.) The Caroling Cattle - Santa Cow (The Night Before Christmas)
I've heard this about a dozen times. I chuckle in spots but that's about it. It hasn't grown on me and probably won't.

21.) Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Ben Stein) - "Bueller... Bueller... Bueller..."

22.) Voicedude - Carol Of The Burgers
A Christmas mash-up using clips concerning fast food hamburgers from Christmas and non-Christmas sources. Not a great mash but it gets an "A" for effort! Find it on the first "Santastic: Holiday Boots 4 Your Stockings" CD.

23.) I Love Lucy (Lucy Ricardo) - "...when [Santa Claus] comes he brings the North Pole with him and he slides down like a fireman!"
Lucy explaining to Little Ricky how Santa gets down the chimney. Hear this clip at the Daily Wav also (scroll down to December 15 - 17).

24.) Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (Pee-Wee Herman) - "Feliz Navi-blah!"
A fun clip - easily found at the Daily Wav again (scroll down to December 8).

25.) Jimmy James - Feliz Navidad
AHA! Jimmy James is a drag queen extraordinaire whose Christmas CD is quite good! This is her famous version as Bette Davis. This is one of the funniest Christmas songs I've ever heard!

26.) What's Up, Doc? (Austin Pendleton) - "Who is that dangerously unbalanced woman?"

27.) Whatever Happened To Baby Jane (Bette Davis) - "But you are, Blanche... you are!"

28.) Liberace - 1954 Christmas Greetings
Peter found this clip over at the Internet Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records. I offered the full flexi last November.

29.) Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special - Christmas Special Theme
The first musical number from the 1988 special... sung by one Pee-Wee Herman, a trio of Diana Ross & The Supreme wannabes, and a chorus of U.S. Marines.

30.) Gene Simmons - Holiday Reminder
"... and reminding you that I regurgitated over 358 pints of blood this year. Merry Christmas!"

31.) Eddie Lawrence - The Merry Old Philosopher
This third of the song came from "Christmas Party With Eddie G" which split this song thrice. Split up or whole, it's still a great novelty Christmas song. Want a good read? Read about the amazing career of Eddie Lawrence - WOW!

32.) Billy Crystal - The Christmas Song (Radio Edit)
My friend Ernie (not Bert) has offered this mostly forgotten but hysterical 1980s Christmas novelty not once but twice. I prefer the full version with features a longer Sammy Davis monologue riffing on holidays and "We Are The World"!

33.) "The Addams Family" (Wednesday & Uncle Fester) - "Uncle Fester, do you believe in Santa Claus?" "Well, of course! You kids are talking like children!"
I'm not sure if the Addams Family count as Halloween but I've always liked Uncle Fester so I'll give this props.

34.) Barbara Feldon - 1973 Christmas Seals Radio Spot
A typical 30 second PSA courtesy of the Christmas Seals. I've amassed quite a collection of Christmas Seals campaign LPs (1958 / 1965 / 1968 / 1971 / 1973 / 1975 / 1978). Find this MP3 over at April Winchell's site!

35.) Freddie Davies - Santa Face Is Bringing Me A Budgie
GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Another long-lost Dr. Demento song to cross off my list! Freddie Davies' career has been remarkable even by UK standards. Check out the film "Funny Bones" - he plays one of the Parker Brothers and all of his comic skills are on display!

36.) A Christmas Story (Schwartz) - "I triple-dog-dare you!"
The kid who stuck his tongue on the flagpole was nicknamed Flick. He later grew up and opened his own tavern in Hammond, Indiana - still open for business! Flick died back in the 1980s I believe but his family still owns the tap!

37.) Linn Sheldon aka Barnaby - Boofo Goes Where Santa Goes
Sheldon was a longtime fixture on Cleveland television as Barnaby. His faithful animal sidekick was Boofo. Our friend Lee Hartsfield (who lives in Ohio) offered this as a tribute to Sheldon at his magnificent blog.

38.) 3rd Rock From The Sun (John Lithgow) - "Who needs Christmas anyway? I say 'Bug-Humbar.'"
Quick, funny clip from the High Commander. One day I'll break down and get all six seasons of this show on DVD.

39.) Jeff Fox - TV Christmas Medley
Jeffco Productions' founder put this medley together and first offered it on his 1999 Christmas Turkeys 3 CD. I'm offering it here so others can use it for their Christmas comps and give Jeff some extra anonymous recognition around the globe!

40.) Bill Murray - Christmas Greeting
"Hello, this is Bill Murray. I hope you have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Happy New Year, and Happy Groundhog Day." You can almost hear the twinkle in his voice when he says "Happy Groundhog Day!"

41.) The Cryptkeeper - Revenge of The Cryptkeeper
Halloween and Christmas don't mix... sounding like a skipping record, record, record, record...

42.) Cast of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" - Oogie-Boogie Song

43.) GEICO Commercial (Taco Bell Chihuahua) - "Oh, great! A talking gekko!"

44.) Tom Lehrer - Hannukah In Santa Monica
One of two Tom Lehrer holiday songs. His first came in 1959 with "A Christmas Carol". Forty years later, he recorded this Jewish gem. The lyrics could stand alone as brilliant satire poetry!

45.) A Charlie Brown Christmas (Charlie Brown) - "I like getting presents, and sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees and all that but I'm still not happy. I always feeling depressed."
This special first aired on Thursday, December 9, 1965 - preempting "Gilligan's Island" of all shows! From 1965 - 1999, CBS televised this special. ABC picked it up in 2000 and has showed it since.

46.) Roger Christian - Little Mary Christmas
A tragic song about the handicapped orphan Little Mary Christmas. From the "John Waters Christmas" CD!

47.) It's A Wonderful Life (James Stewart) - "Zuzu's petals...THERE THEY ARE! BERT? WHADDYA KNOW ABOUT THAT? MERRY CHRISTMAS!"
This is the point in this movie when all hankies or Kleenex must be in place for the final 15 minutes. Love Jimmy Stewart's scream when he finds the car smashed into the tree a few seconds later!

48.) Kay Martin & Her Bodyguards - Santa's Doing The Horizontal Twist
Before the Internet, only hardcore Christmas collectors knew about this album. Now it's readily available, introducing a whole new audience to the risque twists of Ms. Martin and her boys!

49.) Edd "Kookie" Byrnes - Yulesville
This song still has enough charm to give me a smile... but that charm is almost used up. Next...

50.) Porky Pig - "Son of a B-B-B-B-B, son of a B-B-B-B-B, son of a GUN! Hehehe... you thought I was gonna say 'Son of a bitch, didn't ya? Hehehe"

51.) Little Marcy - C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S
Little Marcy is a Christian dummy attached to a Christian ventriloquist. Scary thing is it worked! Look how many records they issued! This song's not so annoying... charming in a weird way.

52.) On Golden Pond (Henry Fonda) - "Wanna dance? Or would you rather just suckface?"

53.) Winona Ryder - Christmas Greeting / Good Times (Janet Jackson) - "I'm just glad I don't have to spend Christmas in the slammer..."
Two Daily Wav clips cleverly spliced into one. If you or me decided to shoplift what Ryder did, we'd be behind bars - it wasn't even a blip on the radar for Winona.

54.) Unknown Hinson - You'll Have A Black And Blue Christmas
GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! A singer who looks like Count Dracula but sings country like Dwight Yoakam? This song bends the Halloween/Christmas don't mix rule but it's quite good and funny!

55.) Leave It To Beaver (Tony Dow) - "What a dumb thing to do! I bet you wouldn't have done anything like this if Mom and Dad were here..."

56.) Lou Monte - Dominic, The Italian Christmas Donkey
This song is cute... but I prefer Monte's "Italian Jingle Bells" mucho better, signore!

57.) Mr. Ed - "I love Christmas. Wilbur is so full of the spirit of giving. And I'm so full of the spirit of receiving!"
"Mr. Ed" was a show no one wanted at first. It went into syndication in 1961, picked up a major sponsor - the Studebaker car company - and then CBS brought the show to their network where it stayed until 1966.

58.) The Cryptkeeper - Under The Missiletow

59.) Planet Of The Apes (Charlton Heston) - "YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!"

60.) The Wizard Of Oz (Glinda) - "Phew! What a smell of sulfur..."

Next time you watch this film, look closely at the marquee. "The Bells Of St. Mary" with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman is showing - the top Christmas movie of 1945. The following Christmas, "It's A Wonderful Life" tanked at the box office!

62.) The 8bit Peoples - Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
This song is actually from a group called Bit Shifter. The 8bitPeoples are a group of music lovers and techno geeks who use old home video games as inspiration. You can get this song and a whole album of music like it here!

63.) A Charlie Brown Christmas (Peanuts Gang) - "MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHARLIE BROWN!"
Cue the Vince Guaraldi Trio and kid's choir singing "Hark The Herald Angels Sing!"

64.) The Odd Couple (Jack Klugman) - "Don't talk to me about Christmas, will ya? All that sticky, phony goodwill - I'd like to get a giant candy cane and beat the wings off a sugar plum fairy!"
No one personified New York anger or attitude better than Jack Klugman! Was he the best Oscar Madison? Close.

65.) Albert Brooks & Little Kristi - A Daddy's Christmas
Read more about this wickedly funny Christmas bedtime story over at Randy's Rodeo - number one on the "D" list!

66.) SNL - TV Funhouse - Christmas Time For The Jews
GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Robert Smigel creates a spot-on Phil Spector soundalike song with a devastatingly hilarious animated film!

67.) Cheers (Kelsey Grammer) - "Oh, joy, Christmas Eve. By this time tomorrow, millions of Americans, knee–deep in tinsel and wrapping paper will utter those heartfelt words 'Is this all I got?' "
Never was a big fan of "Cheers" until Frasier Crane came along. What's Grammer been up to since "Frasier" went off the air?

68.) William Shatner / George Takei / Jonathan Frakes - Star Trek Christmas Greetings
Get this cosmic Christmas greeting at the Daily Wav (scroll down to December 23-24). Shatner alone is worth the price of admission!

69.) Dancer, Prancer & Rudolph - The Happy Reindeer
Probably the best Chipmunk soundalike Christmas song out there. This was on the first "Christmas Comedy Classics" comp back in 1991- sadly OOP. Does anyone know of another more recent comp that this is on?

70.) Little Richard - Christmas Greeting
"Hi! I'm Little Richard wishing you plenty of tutti-frutti cake for Christmas!" That pecan pie is looking a lot better now!

71.) Room Service (Donald McBride) - "Jumping Butterballs!"

72.) Kitt The Amazing Car Of Tomorrow - A Knightrider Christmas
Hasselhoff's 1984 attempt at rapping to the "Knight Rider" theme song. If you haven't heard this one, consider yourself fortunate.

73.) Dennis Wilson - Christmas Message
Taken from the "Ultimate Christmas Collection" CD, you can sadly hear the drug-weary voice of Dennis Wilson asking for toy donations. Even the cheery music from an earlier day can't brighten this track.

74.) Unknown - Get Outta My House, Santa Claus
No clue where this came from. Please take a listen and shout out the group or artist's name if you know it!

75.) Daffy Duck - "You're despicable!"

76.) Craig Malon - I Want Kristy McNichol For Christmas
The title says it all. Recorded back when Kristy was a charmer! Senses Working Overtime included this one on several past Christmas podcasts.

77.) Richard Simmons - Christmas Greeting
Who ordered the Christmas ham?

78.) Mommie Dearest (Faye Dunaway) - "I TOLD YOU NO WIRE HANGERS EVER!"

79.) The Addams Family (Wednesday & Pugsley Addams) - "Dear Santa... even though Mr. Thompson says that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, we didn't believe him. So please come or else it will make us look like dummies. Signed Wednesday and Pugsley Addams."
Lisa Loring has had a rough life but she's clean, sober, and living a normal life - way to go Lisa!

80.) August Greenberg - Jingle Bells
Perhaps the purest version of "Jingle Bells" you'll ever hear. And you can download this plus other songs by little August and his sister Georgia free of charge at Comfort Stand Recordings.

81.) I Love Lucy (Ricky Ricardo) - "This is a Ricky Ricardo production!"

82.) Porky Pig imitator - "Th-th-th-that's all, bitches!"

I am spent. This was a entire all-you-can-eat buffet with one paper plate, a large album rack in a Goodwill store, a chocolholic trapped inside a 24 hour lockdown at the Hershey plant. So many choices in one setting.

Peter, you certainly went panning for gold on this ambitious comp - you came up with some real good nuggets, some fool's gold, and quite a lot of stones in the mix. And like any old prospector, you must determine what is the real gold, the fake gold, and what should be trod underfoot.

Don't get attached to things. It's funny to hear Bette Davis immediately after Jimmy James' version of "Feliz Navidad" but was it necessary? You threw in many non-Christmas clips that were totally out of left field, destroying the flow and the feel of the comp.

Continue to hone your skills with Sound Forge. It took me nearly two years to feel comfortable with my skills shaping music with my Sound Forge. I experimented constantly and keep a journal of things I'd learned. In a matter of weeks, months, or years you'll be able to mix songs like Jeff's great medley (see #39 above).

I wish you success for your next Christmas comp. Please send us a copy - I would love to hear your progress!

UP NEXT: Bill Brock's Christmas 2006



stubbysfears said...

The SNL track "Christmas For The Jews" does, in fact, feature the REAL Darlene Love. You can find it on a 2006 CD, "Jingle Belle Time...It's A Swell Time" which I bought here:

or at the site recommended by Elviki a few posts back (for the Jimmy Charles track). The site Elviki recommended is probably better organized.

Kudos to Darlene for having enough of a sense of humor to participate in a parody of herself.

CaptainOT said...

Stubby - My respect for Darlene Love just grew another tenfold! Thanks!

Everyone - We're still looking for identities for several of the groups or artists on a number of these songs: #8, #74, #76
Any clues?


CaptainOT said...

We've found artists for tracks 8 and 76 - check out the track review for further info.

Anyone have a clue on track 74?