Monday, March 19, 2007

JohnsCDs 2002-110(33)-029(A) - Hepcat Holiday

Earlier today, I posted the first comp from the prolific Martin Johns (Background info? Click the link!).

This 2002 comp is his earliest true Christmas comp he sent to me via the P.O. Box. along with some 20 other comps. Sleep is very overrated among Christmas music enthusiasts.

The festive cover and title really says it all - a comp chock full of swingin' Christmas music for all those crazy cats and fabulous felines to jitterbug to.

Considering the whole lounge music craze was about over by 2002, this might seem a little dated. However, with Mr. Johns as your DJ, this can turn into a masterpiece.

For more on this project, I've asked Martin for a special insight. We call it...


I loved the NeoSwing movement, especially the Jump Blues stuff and the general irreverence. As the universe of legitimate NeoSwing Christmas music was rather limited, I challenged myself to do a credible collection without resorting to using any classic swing tracks.

I admittedly focused on a rather narrow sound and style - the predominant niche of the niche - but that was intentional. I regretted not having the Royal Crown Revue's track in time for the disc; obtained it shortly after Christmas and included it on a 2003 mix.

The Swingerhead track was intended to be "Twas The Night Before Christmas." I had run off close to 15 discs before realizing the error. I decided to correct it on the "official" version I sent out in 2002, but kept the "error" discs and have sent them out through the years to new "subscribers." The difference is pretty subtle, overall, though I prefer the "Twas The Night Before Christmas" version, myself.

Also please note that the Dave's True Story track is actually "This Christmas", not "Christmas Song".


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) Starts off slowly and then begins to swing! The title track from the Radio King Orchestra!
2.) Excellent cover by Swingerhead! This CD is already on my wish list. I'm gonna be broke by the end of this comp!
3.) Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer, and Squirrel Nut Zippers are the only swing bands whose Christmas CDs you can consistently find at Christmas time in stores. Would love to see some of these other bands at Christmas (retail stores take note!).
4.) Cha-cha-cha! Sultry singing by Lavay Smith, the orchestra swings, making this totally hip! You can find this track on this excellent comp!
5.) Ooooo! Another nice title track! According to the Swingtips website, the 2006 edition of this CD is available. What's the difference between this version and their previous version from ... ?
6.) Someone told me that Brian is working on a THIRD Christmas album... someone make him stop, already!
7.) You can tell the Squirrel Nut Zippers apart from the rest - their sound is so distinctive! Maybe the best swing Christmas CD out there.
8.) Take Elvis' classic "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and swing it up? Ouch. Wasn't too enamored with this cover. From the 1998 "Swingin' Christmas" comp.
9.) Interesting tune. Great swing feel but at times the vocalist is fighting the rather loud guitar for space on the song.
10.) WOW! Excellent cover of Ralph Marterie's great Christmas song! The Blues Jumpers are still selling their "Swingin' Holiday" CD at their site.
11.) I've heard Setzer and his orchestra sound better... and sadly, their overall sound even makes Darlene Love totally unlistenable - that's a FIRST! From the "Jingle All The Way" soundtrack.
12.) Fun, swing version! I wish all versions of "Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers" sounded this good! (See #5 above).
13.) Outstanding rendition of "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus"! Almost as good as the Mabel Scott version! Another track from "Swingin' Christmas" (see #8 above).
14.) This is the REAL deal! The Park Swing Orchestra takes "jingle bell time" and turns into "swingle bell time"! From their 2001 "In The Swing Of Christmas" CD.
15.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! The songstress behind "Midnight At The Oasis" swings out on a fantastic track with some help from the Duke Robillard Band! Found on the "Stony Plain's Christmas Blues" comp.
16.) A swing version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"? The League of Decency made this one work extremely well! CD Baby has their FULL Christmas album for sale!.
17.) Impressive sounding take on the Nutcracker Suite! You'll hear Les Brown, Glenn Miller, and Count Basie all wrapped into one on this! From the Alley Cats "Swing N Jive Christmas".
18.) First recorded by Sugar Chile Robinson in 1949, Nichaud Fitzgibbon's sultry voice and jazzy bounce all but catapult their version over the original!
19.) First heard these guys on "Sleigh Me!" and was blown away. Here they are again and I'm absolutely floored! What compilation or album did this one come from? Psst... click here for THREE Christmas MP3s from this talented band!
20.) What's jumpin, jack? This one - by the Flipped Fedoras (what a name!). Another excellent track from the "Swingin' Christmas" comp (see #8 above).
21.) A lounge track homage to a seasonal drink favorite? This one by Casey MacGill might make my Christmas comp!
22.) Surprising song that has a film noir feel to it... My favorite song by the Swingtips on this CD (see #5 above).
23.) Perhaps the most non-PC song about Santa since Tiny Tim's atrocious "Santa Claus Has Got The AIDS This Year". At least this song makes you chuckle.
24.) WHOAAAA! Take a lounge band, add "What Child Is This?", Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O Mine", mix thoroughly, and you'll get this bizarrely amazing Christmas song! Released as a single in 1996... WOW!

This comp is extremely well done - the theme was consistent, the sound was good, and all the bases were covered in this swing / lounge extravaganza.

As far as I can tell, there isn't a single song on this comp that was recorded before 1995. It comes close on occasion to evoking those memories that only those classic swing Christmas songs can do - a remarkable feat.

I'm pretty sure this isn't the only swing comp Martin has in his huge bag of Christmas music. This comp would make anyone in the under 40 age demographic tap their toes and swing out!

UP NEXT: JohnsCDs 2002-1827-18 - Solid Gold Christmas V2



stubbysfears said...

The Dave's True Story cut is from a fan club CD-EP (see the comments attached to the Yuleblog "Sleigh Me" review).

Bill Huot said...

Hey, Captain,
How about keeping the tracks from The Holiday Festival of Music up for a couple of more days? Please. Rapidshare won't let me download more than one track each day.


CaptainOT said...

Stubby - Thanks for the info... I thought I read it somewhere!

Bill - Extended until Friday. Never want to disappoint a reader!