Saturday, March 31, 2007

JohnsCDs 2006-0768-030 - Progressive Christmas V5

Just a mere five days ago (equalling ten Christmas comps since), we brought you "Progressive Christmas V4", a 2005 disc based on a format that Martin Johns once had to follow in his radio days.

This is the 2006 follow up CD which can, at any given moment, veer off into musical directions you wouldn't normally think of when listening to a regular comp.

To quote from Martin's insight from "Progressive V4":

"'Progressive' was a college radio station format I worked in. The 'rules' were... an equal balance of music 'categories' (Category 1 - Jazz / Category 2A - Soul, Blues, R&B / Category 2B - Country, Folk, Bluegrass / Category 3 - Rock & Pop / Category 4 - Classical, World Music, and everything else including the stuff that defied definition) and about 80% were supposed to be new releases.

"I grew to love the format, which was generally a tough sell to DJs and listeners alike. If you were really good at it, it was pretty much like free-form radio. So I adopted the "Progressive" moniker for my genre-hopping mixes."

To get some more insight on "Progressive V5", here is the section of the review that I've set aside for Martin to share with you. We call it (all together)...


In keeping with the "Progressive" spirit, I don't usually do these until late. In this case, though, I did a demo early in 2006. (I specifically remember the original mix contained two tracks from "Santastic". The rest I forget.)

"Progressive Christmas V5" underwent more complete overhauls than I care to remember. In the end, only a couple of tracks remain from the original set. The graphics were completely changed, as well.

A number of tracks, one at a time, turned this one around for me - "Flash Gordon", Aimee Mann, Grooveworks... But one of these was "Lord Of The Dance/Simple Gifts". In addition to providing a sound not otherwise represented on the disc, it was a gift, of sorts, for Louise, one of my former radio co-workers and who will unlikely never hear it.

Two moments stand out in my mind about Louise: a discussion on The Island of Misfit Toys, and listening to her singing in church for the first time. The song she sang was "Simple Gifts". I haven't seen or heard from Louise in a very long time, but I treasure those moments.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) Talk about harmonies! Blue Jupiter is an acappella group with a hip-hop beat - this rousting song leads off their 2003 "Scattered Flurries" Christmas CD.
2.) "Gift Wrapped Boy" by The Big Happy has the feel of a forgotten 1960s girl group single on steroids! The country rock sound of the band is excellent. Find this on "to Kate... a benefit for Kate's sake".
3.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! This is the very first Christmas song in my collection from Earth, Wind, & Fire! Hard to believe... Smooth, solid sound (as always) from EWF off the "Sounds Of The Season: NBC Holiday Collection 2005".
4.) This track by the Pussycat Dolls was a B-side on their 2005 "Stickwitu" single which was never officially released in the U.S. - you can travel to the UK, Europe, and Australia to pickup this harmless fluff piece or order it online. Madonna retains her crown for worst cover of "Santa Baby" ever.
5.) Their MySpace site states that Grooveworks are a "mix of rock, funk, and progressive metal". This cut from 1997's "A Drive-By Christmas" is loud, distorted, light, edgy, obnoxious, and kicks ass throughout. Brilliant!
6.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Found off an old cassette of a 1980 radio show, this rockin' little number is sped up to make them sound like the Chipmunks! So what? You can download this song FREE of charge at Boston Monkey (scroll down) and discover who "The Snowballs" really are! Excellent find, Martin!
7.) WOW! Opens with the bassline from Ray Charles' "Hit The Road, Jack"! Great swinging jazz / rock version of "Carol Of The Bells" by Aldo. His 2005 Christmas album is called "Merriment"
8.) Billy Coulter's voice has some Bob Dylan in it - surprising! This song is pretty well done and comes from the 2005 "Holiday Feast V8" compilation.
9.) Not bad for a song whose medley dates to 1848! "Lord Of The Dance / Simple Gifts" is a sweeping majestic song from Blackmore's Night's 2006 "Winter Carols" album.
10.) First heard Jake Speed & The Freddies yesterday on Martin's "Christmas In Tikrit" comp. This is a beaut of a bluegrass folk Christmas song from their "Losantaville" CD.
11.) Techno pop Christmas is alive and well on the Le Grand Magistery record label courtesy of Baxendale. This one came from the 2005 Internet only comp entitled "A Very Magistery Christmas" at iTunes.
12.) Late Tuesday caters to fans of Sarah MacLachlan, Indigo Girls, and Sixpence None The Richer. They have the sound nailed down - lyrics that tell a story too! From their 2004 Christmas EP "Storybook Beautiful".
13.) This song belongs on the "Ey Mon, It's Christmas" comp posted earlier today. Doctor Sparkles has this song at his website to listen to or you can pick up his full length non-Christmas album at CDBaby.
14.) Oooooooo! Very nice jazzy blues feel to this one... a bit naughty with the title too! Jane Fuller steams this up to the PG-13, R rated level... whatever she's selling, I'll take 30! Off her "The Spirit Of Giving" Christmas album!
15.) Smooth jazz version of "Good King Wenceslas" with embellishments of "O Come All Ye Faithful" and Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here". Not really a medley but still sounds good to me. From Bobby Felder & Friends' "Christmas Jazz At People's Church".
16.) Poco? Really? Sounds like them... This was available as a free download at (run by Poco's steel guitar player Rusty Young). Soft and easy going!
17.) This version of this great Christmas song far outdistances the original recording by Frank Sinatra no less! From Mann's "One More Drifter In The Snow" album.
18.) Eloquent techno pop! The Stars released this via the "Very Magistery Christmas" on iTunes. Twice I've tried to download something from Apple - their Quicktime player and more recently iTunes and both screwed up my PC deluxe! You can't even pay me to join the Apple revolution...
19.) The Goo Goo Dolls just hit my hometown two weeks ago (Wikipedia has a pix of them at the Embassy). This is a fine Goo Goo style song off the "Sounds Of The Season: NBC Collection" (see #3 above).
20.) "I want peace this Christmas... flags flying at full staff..." Paulette Mieche with Robbyn Kirmsse have a wonderful song for any season; Christmas especially!
21.) A clever punk pop Christmas song by Government Yule bring the curtain down on this one. Listen to this one at their MySpace site.

Another typical and brilliant comp from the fertile mind of Mr. Johns. It's worth saying that for the simple reason of hearing Earth, Wind, and Fire play a holiday tune - must have listened to that eight times while banging my abused but faithful keyboard.

Lots of good music, surprises, and energy keep the flow of this comp moving well. There's also another slew of titles to be added to my wish list.

Who knew Christmas was so progressive? Thanks Martin...

UP NEXT: JohnsCDs 2006-0970-009 - 'Tis The Season


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