Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Check The Cool Wax V2: Christmas Wax

Throughout the 2006 Christmas downloading season, a great number of sites and blogs went above and beyond the call of duty with Christmas shares.

Brainwerk's always hip and always fun blog entitled "Check The Cool Wax" contributed mightily to the festivities last year with a boatload of Christmas mirth.

Throughout the other eleven months of the year, Brainwerk posts some of the most incredulous vinyl finds on the planet.

For example, his latest post is a super ultra rare Bob Crane / "Hogan's Heroes" album that has Klink and Schultz hovering over Hogan behind a drum kit in Stalag 13!

(Bet I just lost about 1/4 of my readers... DIS missed!)

Back to last December. Brainwerk included among his Christmas shares the Mistletoe Disco Band's "Yuletide Disco", "Christmas With Melis" (Jose Melis), and an assortment of select MP3s and amazing artwork. Calm yourself - most of those links are down.

Two days before Christmas last year, he posted his Christmas gift to the world - a fabulous looking Christmas comp with 34 great tunes (79:55 - the maximum allowed on a burnable CD-R! Hot dog!). And yes, this comp is STILL available to download at his blog.

FYI, "Check The Cool Wax V1" is NOT Christmas related. It does have some wacky and wicked songs and it's still available to download!

While you're downloading all those glorious goodies, here are the standard set of questions I will be asking everyone who has a comp reviewed here:

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

My first ones were on cassette tapes, but last Christmas was my tenth year making them on CDs.

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

I make five to ten compilations a year for friends and family. One half have themes like Vintage Vegas, Classic Country, Birth Announcements, Halloween, Christmas, etc. The other half is new music, mostly punk, alternative and indie. The comps start out as ideas. I have a notepad next to my computer at work and I make lots of lists. When I hear a song that would fit in a particular category, I write it down. That way I have a good start when I get around to actually starting.

I'm a graphic designer so all my comps get artwork and labels. The Christmas comp that was posted at CheckTheCoolWax was a little unique for me. It wasn't necessarily my favorite songs or anything like that. There are tons of better Christmas songs out there. My goal was to make a fun mix with songs you may not have heard in a long time, or at all. I'm pretty happy with it. There are a few songs in there with lots of pops. It would have been nice to have cleaner records for them.

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

Friends and family. I usually make about 20. This comp however was only available on the site.

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

It just makes me feel good. It congers up great memories of childhood when Christmas was just magical. Christmas was just such a big deal. Circling things you wanted in the various Christmas catalogs... The way the lights reflected off the tinsel on the tree... All of the family being home together...

And, of course, getting a toy you have been waiting five months for. We always had Christmas music on. I now have two kids with the oldest being 2 1/2 years. It is great seeing him get into it now and the music is now playing for them.

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

It was pretty good. Unfortunately, I didn't get it up until Dec. 23. I was also having mucho server troubles about that time. People were having trouble downloading. By the time I had everything hammered out, it was Christmas day and I think most people had already finished most of their Christmas music downloading. I'll have it up all next season so people can enjoy it earlier.

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

3 blogs - CheckTheCoolWax, BrainVsZed and a private family one. I also work on some consumer electronic websites for work.

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

Thanks for stopping by my site. I have fun doing it. I only know a few people who like odd-ball music like this so it's great to get feedback from people all over the world. I know I'm not alone in my obsessions.


TRACK REVIEWS:

(Click on image to enlarge)


1.) You gotta like a theme song by the Beastie Boys...
2.) From the famous "Santa's Own Christmas" album. More on this one later.
3.) Holi-Dee! If you haven't heard Lenny Dee's outstanding Christmas album, you're doing yourself an injustice!
4.) "A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas" is an Internet favorite... rescued from obscurity (thank goodness) thanks to the sharing community!
5.) WOW! The "Viva Las Vegas" guitars drive this one and Al Hirt's gravelly voice and amazing trumpet is the icing on the cake!
6.) Gol-lee! I've only heard this song by Sammy Davis Jr. - hearing Nabors' big bravado voice throws me for a giddy loop.
7.) Liberace reciting "Twas The Night Before Christmas" in his soft bleating voice... Campy fun!
8.) Christmas disco was all over the place this year! This was from one of Brainwerk's shares in November!
9.) MMmmm! This is pure 1960s knock down, koo-koo, groovy Christmas music! My uncle's favorite girl group!
10.) Second time in two weeks that I've heard this one. Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 never recorded a Christmas album? What a shame!
11.) Breathy song from Claudine. Not really a Christmas song... but are you going to argue with Longet? Ask Spider Sabich!
12.) The Border Brass once again! Brainwerk offered this one but the link is down. Did you try Jeffco Productions out?
13.) Another track from "Santa's Own Christmas". Santa talking about God? Can you imagine a record label trying to re-release this?
14.) The great Hank Snow doing his "Reindeer Boogie"! This album is available on CD... it's a fantastic album throughout!
15.) Buck-a-roo! Buck and Susan make magic together! Grabbed from their 1971 "Merry Christmas From" album!
16.) The Louvin Brothers were before the Everlys and were pure country! Pick up their Christmas CD while you still can!
17.) Fourth country Christmas single in a row! Grabbing my 10-gallon hat! A rare Faron Young Christmas single! WAHOO!
18.) I haven't heard this ole Tex Ritter song in ages! Very nice! Hard to believe Tex was the father of Jack Tripper!
19.) Hank Thompson's twangy version of "White Christmas". Six consecutive country songs - all old school country! To quote Wavy Gravy at Woodstock - "This must be heaven, man!"
20.) Another great Buck Owens & Susan Raye duet. I missed this the first time Ernie posted it at his blog in 2005. Expect a yuleblog review of this one soon!
21.) Charley Pride was not just the first (and sadly only) black country superstar, he was and is a damn good singer! This is a great tune! Thanks for this one Brainwerk!
22.) A big, BIG song from Tiny! You can find the album at Ernie (not Bert)'s blog and then read my yuleblog review!
23.) My grandmother would play mainly Fred Waring's Christmas album around the holidays. This one brought back some frightening memories for me!
24.) Line Material used to issue these promos yearly... Brainwerk offered this one last year, Lee Hartsfield had a bunch at his blog, and I had this Canadian version last year.
25.) Okay... I used to dismiss the Caroleers because it was a kiddie album... this is the third song I've heard from them and my mind is definitely turned!
26.) WOW! Nice to hear Les Baxter's "Santa Claus Party" stand alone! I've heard bad edits from the "Christmas Cocktails II" version!
27.) This is a fun, fabulous track off a wonderful and sentimental Christmas album courtesy of Captain Kangaroo!
28.) Sung to the tune of "Mister Sandman" - both songs written by the same composer! Who knew Lenny could sing?
29.) Another Christmas song from the Caroleers. Pulling this one out to listen to...
30.) "Twas The Night Before Christmas" was one of many Rankin-Bass Christmas specials (and one of my faves). Click the link to read the premise - this is the song the clock rings out!
31.) I was ready to get this Hanna-Barbera album on eBay but when I learned NONE of their characters appeared on it, I passed. Brainwerk posted this one - saving me $30! Thank you!
32.) A Korean child (???) singing "Silent Night" in Korean (obviously). Quite strange and reverent all at once.
33.) The reprise off the "Santa's Own Christmas" album. More on this album below.
34.) Recorded in 1967 for his daughter Jennifer, this Cary Grant hearttugger was written by Peggy Lee! In Marc Eliot's biography (pg. 355), Columbia Records wanted a FULL Christmas album from Cary & Peggy but thanks to his recent marital separation and pending divorce from Dyan Cannon, Cary lost interest and it was shelved.


What a trip! This comp was all over the map - lounge, Christmas disco, 60s Christmas kitsch, old school country, kiddie music, celebs singing, and some foreign music thrown in for good measure! Most importantly, this was a "best of" comp from all the music Brainwerk had offered during the 2006 downloading season.

The 2006 downloading season saw the best and worst of Christmas music. Sometimes its behavior as well.

Last year, I had found a copy of the "Santa's Own Christmas" album and was ready to offer it here at the yuleblog. Brainwerk then posted his version and I quickly countered with mine (leaving it up for a brief time). Chalk it up to resentment and eagerness - last year was my first year offering Christmas shares.

I publicly apologize to Brainwerk and anyone else whose toes I might have stepped on as a result of my decision. I learned quite a bit about myself during the downloading season. Knowing what I know now, I would have done it differently. I never mentioned it until now (another reason I'm kicking myself in the pants) and hope you'll accept this heartfelt "sorry".


Something else I've been saving for you Brain. I was set to issue a Christmas comp with full length songs from other CDs I had posted throughout the year. The lineup was full of songs from CDs I had reviewed over the past year - Jo Stafford, Brian Setzer, The 4 Seasons, Ann-Margret, Regis Philbin, etc. - and readily available elsewhere.

However, when I downloaded your Christmas comp two days before Christmas (and less than 24 hours before I was ready to post mine), I noticed your lineup of stuff that came from your shares. I quickly dumped my lineup and gathered a whole new selection from my shares - and that's how my Christmas comp ended up the way it did.

Thanks for the influence Brain and your colossal Christmas comp!


UP NEXT: Katya's Office Holiday Party 2005


Capt

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Retro Christmas (Ultra-Swank)

Nearly two weeks ago, we travelled across the Atlantic to look at some amazing Christmas comps from Sweden - two from Anna-Lena Lodenius and two from Martin Klasch.

We quickly cash in some frequent flier miles and head back once again to the country that brought us ABBA, the Nobel Prizes, and Ann-Margret to find a blog that's... well, Ultra Swank.

A lad named Chris runs this amazing home of "playful lifestyle and design adventures from a happier time."

Since he began the blog in September, 2005, he has posted a treasure trove of stylish postcards, links to other design sites, and incredible music from the lounge age.

It was one of Chris' earlier compilations that led me to his blog. Last July, he issued the phenomenal comp "Retro Shopping Volume 1 - Music to Buy Toasters By" that featured brilliant music, including some of the famous Capitol Hi-Q recordings. This is the same stuff Ren & Stimpy used in their cartoons and it's STILL available to download.

Chris has also issued three "Space Age Lounge" volumes ("V1 - Ultra Swank Living", "V2 - Red Carpet Ride", "V3 - Love at First Flight") that are also still available to download. If that wasn't enough, Chris released this comp you're looking at last December.

Unfortunately, it's NOT available to download at the present time. I tried to contact Chris to ask him the standard set of questions I've asked everyone who sent in a comp. Sadly, my efforts weren't successful and as of press time, he hasn't responded.

TRACK REVIEWS:

(Click on image to enlarge)


1.) Snappy rendition from the man who sung the theme song to "The Love Boat". Smooth!
2.) Esquivel's space age version of "Frosty" hasn't aged one iota since its release many moons ago. Zu-zu , zu-zu, zu-zu...
3.) Not exactly James Brown but it doesn't get much lush than this, folks!
4.) From the 1969 James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - vocals by Nina Van Pallandt.
5.) "Rudolph mith your nose so bright, Won't you guide mein sleigh tonight?" Only Dean could have gotten away with giving Santa a German accent!
6.) The Mancini sound is in full evidence - a great double bill of Christmas tuneage!
7.) Anything Christmas by Eddie Dunstedter will quicken the pulse and raise your temp. Guaranteed!
8.) Possibly the best Christmas carillon album around, John Klein's "A Christmas Sound Spectacular" is just that!
9.) An Esquivel recording is like a great painting by Picasso - you'll always hear (or see) something new! One of his best.
10.) Elevator music to some, but there is an inherent cool about the Hollyridge Strings. Lush.
11.) Listen to the small touches Mancini adds - the vibes, the piano, the glockenspiel - gives it a jazzy classy feel!
12.) The timeless sound of Bacharach takes this otherwise dull song and brings it to life!
13.) This is my favorite Christmas track by Esquivel - those guitar and electric harpsichord fills just kill me!
14.) The Strings throw in some drums and bass, giving this a trippy 1960s feel. This whole album is still available at FaLaLaLaLa.com ... just so you know!
15.) Henry Mancini trying to outdo Mitch Miller and Ray Conniff. The decision: a three-way tie!
16.) A great song from a better album! Why can't I find this on vinyl anywhere?
17.) Why does my gut tell me this was an edit from the "Christmas Cocktails 2" version of this one?
18.) 100 years from now, they'll still be playing Esquivel's stuff. Truly remarkable.
19.) Irving Berlin was a huge Dean Martin fan - the scuttlebutt was he preferred Dean's version of this over Bing's!
20.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! This is the standout track (believe it or not)! From a library of production music, this one's available on the "Retro Shopping" CD mentioned way above.
21.) The beginning trumpet on this one sounds like it was soaked in bourbon; a drunk weary feel that's oh so Mancini!
22.) The big band feel and carillons add a snowy touch to the song. "Winter Wonderland" was made for the carillon!
23.) I've used different edits of this very song for my own comp closing for nearly 11 years. To hear it in its entirety is rather frightening. I forgot how fun this one is... WOW!
24.) I just melted... Julie London has that effect on me! Lovely, lovely song!
25.) This is the second comp to end with Kenton's pastiche I've reviewed... here's the first!


Chris, you've put together quite the retro lounge Christmas comp! I applaud all your choices on the CD - it was good to hear the James Bond song again and all the Esquivel (four songs), Henry Mancini (four songs), and the Hollyridge Strings (three songs) - heavy yes, but I didn't mind one bit.

Good luck with your swingin' blog and I hope there'll be a "Retro Shopping V2" with more of that delicious production music, and more importantly, a "Retro Christmas V2" later this year! God Jul!


THIS JUST IN (24 HOURS LATER): Chris has left a comment regarding this comp - click on the comments section!


UP NEXT: Check The Cool Wax V2: Christmas Wax


Capt

Monday, February 26, 2007

Otis Fodder's Holiday Freak-out 2002 & Holiday Freak-in 2006

Welcome to week four of our two month look at Christmas comps. Last week, we spent looking at various comps sent to us via our P.O. Box.

This week, we'll be looking at Christmas comps found online during the 2006 Christmas downloading season.

During that magical time last Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, I surfed many sites and blogs looking for anything Christmas related.

One said search brought me to a blog entitled Music For Maniacs. Their post of December 15th informed me "one of the Grand Poobahs of maniacal music" had just issued a holiday compilation. Who could it be?

You know him, you love him - the one & only Otis Fodder.

Otis has been involved in more online projects than I can count and has worn more hats than Kevin Smith during the filming of "Clerks".

Fodder was the main person behind the groundbreaking "365 Days" project in 2003. Every new calendar day brought an obscure or rescued MP3 offered to the public.

He's the director of Comfort Stand Recordings - one of the first Internet record labels offering free music to the discerning ear.

Watch as over the next ten years, the huge record companies will take a cue from Otis and strictly offer their music online - CDs will go the way of the 8-track.

If that wasn't enough (and proof that sleep is overrated), Otis also has his own website running where more Internet goodies can be found.

Such was the case last December when Otis presented these comps as his Christmas gift to the world. The links are still active so while you're downloading, here are Otis' answers to the standard set of questions that I will be asking everyone whose comp will be reviewed here:

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

The first compilations were on (60 and 90 minute) cassettes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After that followed Christmas music on radio shows and then in 2002 I made my first Holiday Compilation on CD-R in 2002, Holiday Freakout.

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

A) Gather songs and shorts from CD, Vinyl, MP3, Tape
B) Rip CDs with EAC (Exact Audio Copy)
C) Record Vinyl and Tape (or open MP3s) using Cool Edit (Adobe Audition)
D) Normalize/Volume/EQ... Minimal, as needed
E) Throw them one by one into the multitrack and Edit/Trim files as needed
F) Mix down
F) Cut/Separate Tracks into WAV files
G) Encode WAV files with (win)LAME (for nogap encoding)
H) Tag files and file names
I) Create artwork
J) Zip up Audio/Art
K) Upload to site
L) Create web page
M) Share

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

I actually prefer to listen to no Christmas music around the holidays and play it throughout the year revolving in my iTunes. Not all songs of course as too much would, sorry to say, drive me completely nuts. But instrumentals along the lines of Ethel Smith at her organ are always welcome any time of the year.

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

Little to none for Holiday Freakin last December, as this was the first Holiday mix to be put online. Holiday Freakout in 2002 was never put online and instead I pressed 100 2-CD sets and sent them out as Holiday cards. And cassettes a decade prior were sent out as well.

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

www.thebranflakes.com
www.comfortstand.com
www.365daysproject.com
www.otisfodder.com

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

Thanks for listening.


HOLIDAY FREAK-OUT 2002 TRACK REVIEWS:

(Click on image to enlarge)


DISC 1:

1.) Title says it all. Santa's in and out in 48 seconds... he must have A.D.D.!
2.) S-A-N-T-A, C-L-A-U-S, Hooray for Santa Claus! Any song from the 1964 film "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians" is welcome here!
3.) Proof positive that Santa is addicted to crystal meth. Sam Ulano is out of control on this track - why I love it!
4.) This mash led off my 2005 Christmas comp - it stunned many of the long time recipients (achieving the effect I wanted). One of my personal faves.
5.) It's titled "Snowflakes" but you'll never hear a better instrumental version of "What Child Is This? (Greensleeves)" in your life!
6.) Another dramatic recitation of the famous "Yes, Virginia" letter. Is this actually Fred Lowery aka The Blind Whistler speaking?
7.) If you don't like anything Christmas by Arthur Lyman (like me), then you need medical attention.
8.) Been looking for this one forever! Written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Christopher Guest, and Paul Shaffer (that Paul Shaffer) - a perfect 1970s Motown parody!
9.) I made it into this song about eight seconds... a new personal best! To continue...
10.) The venerable Mae West doing her Beatle cover ("From Me To You") from her 1966 "Wild Christmas" album.
11.) "For a gourmet treat for your Christmas morning breakfast, butter a ring mold well..." Ummm, can I have some Raisin Bran instead?
12.) Thank you Otis! I'm addicted to surf guitar music in general but Christmas surf is a HUGE passion! What a track!
13.) Then there's this... I'm trying to hear the surf music behind Frankie & Annette's blah recitation of "The Night Before Christmas". Remarkably, their only record together!
14.) Ooooooooooo! Martin Mull's "Santafly" is a personal favorite since I heard it on "The Dr. Demento Show" back in 1978!
15.) From the 1981 "A Christmas Record" - an album ten years ahead of its time!
16.) A satirical record from 1958 that has grown stronger each year (sadly). A testament to the genius of Stan Freberg.
17.) I tried to listen to it all... but I had to stop it because I was going into epileptic sugar shock. Feeling light headed but I'll be okay.
18.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Ever hear "Donde Esta Santa Claus?" with the sound of the Shirelles or The Ronettes? This is SO far better than the Augie Rios original!
19.) This one has the feel of the original Claudine Longet recording but not the Saint Etienne version.
20.) WOW! "Ritz" is Richard ("Riff Raff") O'Brien, and "Kimi" is Kimi Wong (played a tranny in the "RHPS" movie & was O'Brien's first wife). Recorded way before "Rocky Horror" - this version was from Dec 1974. An earlier, longer version of this was released in Dec 1973 - both for download here!
21.) Gotta love that pure, unadulterated 1970s Christmas disco! Great, great stuff!
22.) Like I said, gotta love that pure, unadulterated 1970s Christmas disco! Sung by "Mr. Las Vegas" himself!
23.) MOOOOOG! Taken from the landmark Sy Mann Christmas album "Switched On Santa".
24.) No, it's not Herb Alpert - it's the Border Brass and their great album "Tijuana Christmas" (click on "Switched On Santa" above and tell Jeff the Captain sent ya!).
25.) A haunting song from the first animated Christmas special. Predates "Rudolph" by two years - 1962!
26.) I've yet to hear a bad song from Ferrante & Teicher (that includes non-Christmas songs too)! This is magic!
27.) Refreshing to hear the original - Dickie's son Jon released a compilation album in 1997 that used sound-alike bands spliced with a not so great dub of the original 45 - nasty!

DISC 2:

1.) "This is a program for today's people; The Now Generation." Who can argue with logic like that?
2.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Amazing sounds throughout! It must be heard to be believed! Adding their Christmas album to my wish list!
3.) The Blue Hawaiian's homage to Martin Denny! Their whole album is flavored with Hawaiian and exotica - not bad from the same guys who supply SpongeBob a bunch of music!
4.) If you're looking for one album that has everything from cha cha, polka, waltz, even a hora - Brave Combo's "It's Christmas, Man!" is it. But... the CD is getting hard to find - buy it when you can!
5.) Still the greatest Christmas mambo on vinyl, cassette, 8-track, CD, Edison Cylinder, whatever!
6.) Sweet Mother of God... make it stop, MAKE IT STOPPPP! I thought this was bad... but this takes the blue ribbon home!
7.) Say wha??? Who are Kirsten & Heather Mayne? Why are they singing "Silver Bells" at double speed? Why am I laughing outrageously at the whole thing?
8.) Otis is determined to break my computer... I actually prefer the dulcet tones of Little Marcy over Tammy Faye!
9.) Was this an edit? The only version of this I know is that one with Dr. Demento's duet with Wild Man Fischer... Quick, painless, funny!
10.) Esquivel's space age version of "Frosty" hasn't aged one iota since its release many moons ago. Zu-zu , zu-zu, zu-zu...
11.) The Velvet Fog is good form singing this old chestnut with a fair amount of scat! Sweet!
12.) Cash's decision not to sing the rum-pum-pums makes the whole song! Solemn and straightforward.
13.) Franklyn MacCormick was a Chicago radio legend - his voice was heard soothing Chicago as it went to bed. Some of my relatives still in Chicago are going to go nuts when they hear this!
14.) Sing it Jimmy! From the first 365 Days project (scroll down to January 27). I'm never going to be able to listen to "Eres Tu" without thinking of Jimmy.
15.) It's funny how George Lucas embraces everything "Star Wars"... with the exception of its Christmas related stuff! Sung by a then-unknown Jon Bon Jovi!
16.) This is Spike Jones? Where's the glug-glugs? The cowbells? The gunshots? Sounds more like Henry Mancini than Spike - snappy stuff!
17.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" on the musical saw! I damn near woke up my kids due to my howling laughter! The only Christmas track of Pritikin's album sadly...
18.) Can Dickie Goodman be called "The Godfather of Sampling"? There's a cotillion of people who think so...
19.) One of the first crossover Christmas rap songs - not counting #15 on Disc 1 above.
20.) I miss the Ramones... what they could have done on a FULL Christmas album... WOW!
21.) A typical brilliant, sarcastic, catchy song by Neil Innes! At Beatlefest 1994 in Chicago, he gladly signed my copy of "The Rutles" twice - once as himself, once as Ron Nasty!
22.) Remember the cute kid they brought in on "The Partridge Family"? Bet you didn't. Ricky Segall's shining moment on record.
23.) WOW! "Wallace and Ladmo" was a hugely popular Phoenix kids show from 1954 - 1989. This is one of two Christmas tracks off their compilation album of all their musical highlights!
24.) A great surf guitar track from the same fellas who did "Wipe Out"! Crazy, man, crazy!
25.) I never liked Jan & Dean... maybe it's because I could never tell their stuff from The Beach Boys. Skipping ahead merrily...
26.) I always laugh at this one. Not because it's a rotten rip-off of The Chipmunks but because from that strangely familiar opening riff, I keep hearing the "Three's Company" theme song throughout.
27.) Only Red Sovine could get away with a song about Christmas and divorce. Sounds like Red's gonna have a nervous breakdown - laughing like mad here!
28.) WHOA! A Carpenters bootleg? Ignore the kids in the audience... focus on that breathtaking voice of Karen Carpenter - the very definition of perfection.
29.) Herman Apple must be proud man wherever he is - his Christmas album is a qualified Internet success!
30.) Psych! Thought Santa was leaving huh? That's why they call him Tricky St. Nicky...


HOLIDAY FREAK-IN 2006 TRACK REVIEWS:

(Click on image to enlarge)


1.) Introduced by the Cartwrights, we get a spirited Moog song by Roger Roger - where did this come from? Tell us more! Jan & Dean wish you a Merry Christmas at the end that leads us into...
2.) How... robotic... this... guy... sounds... and... sings! Only Otis can consistently come up with this stuff!
3.) MOOOOOG! A toe tapper of a Christmas song played on everyone's favorite electronic instrument!
4.) There's a whole genre of Christmas industrial promo songs - this one is an epic! Is that JoAnne Worley singing "The 12 Days Of Christmas"? WOW!
5.) There's not much of a call for Christmas songs in Cantonese... I'll keep this one on file for future reference! Was this from a full Christmas CD? If so, where? Don't leave me hanging Otis! And what about that space age kiddie record?
6.) Oscar The Grinch... err, Grouch singing why he hates Christmas. Poor Slimey... he'll never get any presents!
7.) What more can be told about Danger Woman? Was this her only record? Who unearthed this? Did she record any other Christmas songs? And you thought Gene Autry's "Rudolph" has a lot of reverb!
8.) Karen Gathercole recorded this and gave it to co-workers as a Christmas gift? Can I work with someone else? Go download the whole 20 minute message here. Nice segue with the Marc Bolan Christmas greeting.
9.) FRENCH CHRISTMAS RAP? Hints of "In Excelsis Deo"? Sacre bleu! My brother-in-law teaches high school French - bet he'll use this in the classroom!
10.) I've heard about this one for a long time - first time I've ever heard it. About as I imagined it.
11.) Noted Texas record producer Smith proselytizing about the decline of Christmas as Nancy sings "Silent Night" in the background... quite depressing in a funny sort of way
12.) The inmates are rioting, revolting, and... playing "Jingle Bell Rock"? Go check out Pastor McPurvis and get the entire concert at Vinyl Orphange.
13.) WOW! A French Christmas song that has the flava of 1970s blaxplotation movies! Mon dieu!
14.) A kid describes and la-la's about drowsiness with an organ playing in the background. Where's the Christmas at?
15.) Surprisingly good Christmas pop tune! Taken from the "Fantasia de Navidad" Christmas CD - sadly OOP.
16.) Ethel Smith tickling the Christmas organ ivories! No wonder Otis can listen to this 365 (pun intended).
17.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! An inspirational Christian song winds ups as an ten minute series of angry moments teaching us that love can change mundane things like driving, watching a baseball game, or... ODD!
18.) Hot, quick-tempoed instrumental version of "Christmas Night In Harlem"! Beat me daddy with that boogie beat!
19.) The title says all. Is this the famed saxophone player Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis by any chance?
20.) Ooh la la! Another French Christmas song sung to a tune that closely resembles "All My Loving" by The Beatles! Even has the Beatle beat and harmonies!
21.) Ah-one, ah-two... The inmates are back playing "O Come All Ye Faithful"! See number 12 above!
22.) OMG! 2 Live Jews singing about the Sabbath to the Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night". If temple was only this fun...
23.) Just a hunch... but if Santa heard Mae singing this, I'm betting he'd steer clear of her house! West's high-pitched wailing might have thrown off the reindeer in any case. And it that didn't do it, the extra Tammy Faye Bakker song Otis tacked on the end ("Frosty The Snowman") would have damn killed them all!


It's about 12:15 AM EST, Monday February 26th... I purposely scheduled to review Otis' stuff tonight because my wife goes to an Oscar party every year and I don't. That's because a.) ever since Rob Lowe sung to Snow White, I refuse to watch b.) they never awarded Martin Scorsese an Oscar... until tonight (Congrats Marty!).

It's fitting I'm reviewing this on Oscar night because if I were to hand out awards for all the comps I've heard until now, Otis Fodder's "Holiday Freak-in 2006" would win the "Best Comp" award hands down. I'm guessing a majority of this music is being heard for the first time for a lot of people. The music holds up, surprises you, shocks you, entertains you, and makes you laugh seven chances out of ten.

It was a total departure from anything I've heard so far. It was a pure joy for me not to hear The Sisterhood not playing "Rocking Disco Santa Claus".

Otis' 2002 comp was a more traditional Christmas comp. However, he threw in some real diamonds (Sam Ulano, The Kaisers, Neil Innes, Kimi & Ritz, Toni Stante, Swingerhead to name a few) that elevated his great Christmas comp into a phenomenal Christmas comp. The pacing, the energy, and the total sound of the 2002 comp was a complete success.

When he returned the standard set of questions to me, Otis also added this:

"I also re-uploaded the two compilations and put the page back online here - http://www.otisfodder.com/share/holiday.html

"I will keep the page up, so add links for people to download the compilations. Much thanks!"


Otis is just a giver, isn't he? Thank you for the wonderful gifts of your comps last year and now.

Thanks Otis for continuing to scour the planet for new things sounding strange, weird, exotic, foreign, and mostly funny. May you continue your work until it becomes work. But please, PLEASE... don't wait another four years to produce another Christmas comp!


UP NEXT: Retro Christmas (Ultra-Swank)


Capt

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday at The Christmas Place

Sure is quiet around the yuleblog on Sundays...

Many longtime readers of the yuleblog (around four I think) will tell you that I'm never here on the weekends. That's because I have forever reserved this time to be spent with my wife and three children.

Recently, there has been a spate of Saturday posts but a majority of these were written the Friday afternoon or evening before. It's then just a matter of a few mouse clicks on Saturday morning and nothing further.

So what got me charged up on a Sunday to sit down at my computer to bang on the keyboard?

Two weeks ago, I reviewed a Christmas comp from my friend Jonathan Melton entitled "Melton Mistletoe Mix 2006". RadioJonD has been busy with a number of Christmas projects this past year but an e-mail I received this afternoon reminded me of one of his other projects:

"Your reviews are hitting the ole Christmas audio g-spot for sure this year! Thank you for your tireless effort day after day, year after year!

"I hope that you don't mind that your yuleblog was, more or less, the subject of my monthly column for the February Christmas Place Newsletter. Check it out!"

If you don't want to click on the link, RadioJonD's article reads thusly:

"For February we have another one of those departures from radio columns. Oh, don't worry guys and dolls, we'll have plenty of music to explore! Most of you are familiar with FaLaLaLaLa.com. You have heard me go on and on about the place for some time now.

"One can hardly shake a candy cane at all the Christmas vinyl that the fine folks share over there! One of the prolific vinyl ripping elves of frequent contribution is a cat by the screen name of CaptainOT.

"The good Captain adequately and eloquently maintains his very own Christmas Yuleblog. There, he tirelessly sorts through the many CDs in his collection, including a mountain of Christmas compilations that he receives from his legion of contacts all around the globe.

"The good Captain's enthusiasm will engulf and infect even the most dull of readers as he ponders and comments on each and every track in his daily CD review. His skill with the English language ain't shabby either!

"February's offering is fresh from the pages of the Captain's annual review of comps he received last Christmas season. Santastic II – Clausome! is a mash-up mix of some of our favorite, and not so favorite, Christmas tunes reconfigured from the imaginations of the folks that re-mix them! Yep, it's still available to download.

While you are downloading and burning a CD of Santastic II, please do cruise by and salute the Captain at the Yuleblog and see what he has to say about this and many other works of creative minds of the Christmas music kind. Some will still be available by download. You may even see someone you know!

Grab a cup of coffee, some snacks, plenty of hard drive space and/or blank CDs and be prepared to stay a spell. Not one to hog the limelight, CaptainOT also provides links to other sites that will open up even more obscure Christmas and non-Christmas music for you. Leave a comment and tell the Captain I said "Howdy".


Needless to say, this gobsmacked me in the noggin. Thank you for the kind words Jon - you're pretty good wielding the words on the keyboard as well!

If you didn't click on the link above, The Christmas Place is a HUGE website made up of contributions from Christmas like minded people. Their forums and newsletters contain facts, trivia, giveaways, puzzles, stories, articles, Christmas tips, links, games, poems, recipes, and Christmas book and DVD recommendations.

It's a cornucopia of everything Christmas - an online North Pole! To those loyal Christmas Place people, thanks for visiting the yuleblog and I hope you'll stop back now and then. I'll be visiting you quite frequently!

What a pleasant Sunday surprise!


Capt

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Baby Jesus - 2006 - Christmas Collection

(Due to computer problems, this week's schedule has been pushed back one day. Sorry for the mess!)


Our latest Christmas comp hails from Tony Madejczyk of Durham, North Carolina (home of the legendary Durham Bulls minor league baseball team).

Tony's note was very simple:

"This CD is for your January review. I mixed it myself, I've been making these since 2000. Great blog!"

A man of few words, it seems. So I sent Tony a set of standard questions I will be asking everyone who sent a comp. His answers are as follows:

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

As early as Labor Day, or as late as the day after Thanksgiving, depending on what's going on around here. I try to wrap it up by my birthday, December 9, or at least the 15th! I'm also always on the look out for Christmas music all year long. This year was an embarrassment of riches on the blogs. THANKS, Y'ALL!

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

I've been inspired over the years by my brother-in-law Peter's "Cool Yule" cassettes from back in the day. Then in the late 90's I met this guy Bruce who had an INTENSE Xmas music relationship. Encyclopedic. So my chosen course is as follows:

The entire CD tries not to repeat either tunes or artists ('06 is the first to repeat an artist). I think about ALL the people on my list who will wholeheartedly put this disc on the moment they get it. I'll go "edgy" here and there, but I try to reel it back in within a song or two. The format is to start with something that sets this CD apart from others, especially commercial ones. That's the easy part.

Then I try to keep up the energy, relying on slower numbers for a "break" here and there. Then we end with a New Year's song (usually "Auld Lang Syne") and then a song after that about drinking. In '06 I went out on a limb with Death Cab For Cutie's "The New Year", followed by some fireworks. I had some fireworks in the closet I wanted to bring out this New Year's, so that worked out quite nicely.

As for collating or arranging the music, some years I have done as many as 5 different mixes before settling on one I like. This year it was 3. That's one major advantage CDs have over cassettes! I then even out the levels and try to use DJ style cross fades in a restrained and artful manner, using Roxio Jam on my Mac.

I create a master disc image and burn 'em to those funny white CD-R's you can print labels directly onto. To save ink, I try to use simple graphics. The stuff Ernie (not Bert) put up in July '06 was a lifesaver. To which I say THANK YOU. I print the covers on a laser copier at work, because that's what work is for, right? (Just kidding, but I won't say where).

My former part-time career as a music critic has left me open to many types of music. I also grew up in a typical mid-century home with a nice stereo and LPs of The Chipmunks, Christmas albums, polkas, Hawaiian music and cowboy songs. I have a soft spot for the old noise, but I have no problem getting excited about something new.

I also involve my nuclear family here at the house. My wife Melissa and our teens Laura and Kevin will be exposed to tons of Christmas music as I play cuts and ask bothersome questions like "Does this suck?" "Is this better?" "Like this...or like this? Which one is better?"

The kids are great for suggesting some of the newer stuff. I guess apples don't fall off of pear trees because they'll actually bug me to bring the "Final Mix" into the van when we go get our tree! I feel very fortunate to work in music-friendly environment.

Titling the comp is very important, even if the final title is not the craziest or most obscure creative concept. I just like easy titles that maybe some of my people will "get", either upon listening to the music or taking in what's happening around them. This part of the country was hit with a massive ice storm back in early December of '02. I called that one "Wintry Mix". In 2001, we were still very sad yet defiant over 9/11, that comp was called "Christmas. Because We Can."

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

Most of my family, everyone at work (it can get embarrassing when you forget someone), and a lot of folks around Durham and other parts of North Carolina that I've gotten to know over the years. It seems a lot of us music nuts have found each other here. And lately, to the Cap'n at A Christmas Yuleblog and music critic David Menconi at the News & Observer in Raleigh.

I burn about 80-90 copies. I also bring a handful with me to each holiday party I go to . Sometimes I'll run into someone I haven't seen in years and the CD makes it memorable for both of us.

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

I had a wonderful childhood. Christmas really did seem magical for a number of years and even with all the running around and stuff, it still warms my spirit to this day. It's about the giving and making time to share with family and friends. The music is rich in styles, interpretations and stories.

It's not totally a "Christian" thing and it's not totally a winter solstice celebration/party thing either. In some ways Christmas, at least the way I remember it, is very forgiving and full of people just trying to get along with each other. At least until about January 5th or so.

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

Tell me if this sounds familiar--you get most of the feedback about a year later? I got some emails this year from folks who liked it while putting up their tree or preparing food or driving to Grandma's house. The title "Baby Jesus" is a reference to both Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights AND the Matthew Sweet song I grabbed off of an obscure comp from about 10 years ago.

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

I have a YouTube project where I post video, most of it shot by me or at least made presentable by my mad editing skills.

I'm also assisting (a teeny bit) my friend Steve on his Comboland project, whereby we jump into a time machine and go back to North Carolina rock circa 1981-84. The dB's, Glass Moon, Arrogance, PKM...and The Fabulous Knobs! There's even a Christmas song towards the end of this YouTube medley/montage.

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

This may sound corny, but don't let anyone, anyone ever tell you that your time with music could be better spent on something else. Because it rarely is! (CAPT'S NOTE: Amen, brudder!)

Thank you so much for reviewing my comp. I've been making them since 2000 A.D., so to be recognized like this feels like Graduation Day!


TRACK REVIEWS:

(Click on image to enlarge)


1.) From the famous "Dennis Day Sings Christmas Is For The Family" album. Jack "Santa" Benny puts in a cameo!
2.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Who knew Boston and The Beatles would have sounded so perfect together? Remarkable mash!
3.) A wonderful Christmas song from the early 1960s! You can find this one on "A John Waters Christmas" CD.
4.) Say what you want about Jewel - some of her Christmas music is pretty doggone good. Another top notch song here!
5.) My friend Jeff at Jeffco Productions will be thrilled - Anne Murray's a Canadian legend. One of her classics.
6.) Holy Toledo, this is awful! Who let Moby remix Tony Bennett? This was a free download over at Target.com. Mercifully, they took this down! (I know... you're CRESTFALLEN!)
7.) Mmmm! Toni Braxton has a golden voice and proves it here. Not bad to look at either!
8.) This could have been awful but Chris Martin and the guys do a beautiful job. Very surprising!
9.) The quick tempo, the piano, the chimes, the xylophones! Where did the Latin rhythm combo with maracas come from? Phenomenal!
10.) Sung to the tune of "Mister Sandman" - both songs written by the same composer! Who knew Lenny could sing?
11.) If you haven't heard Jim Reeves' "12 Songs Of Christmas", you're missing out! This is the very definition of Countrypolitan.
12.) Hmmm... where have I heard this one before? I can't seem to remember, you? Welcome home, Bobby!
13.) I used this one on my 2006 Christmas comp as well. One of Chris Isaak's best off his "Christmas" CD!
14.) Blog of 999 Dances offered this entire gem of an album last Christmas - watch for the review in May or June.
15.) This song was cut in favor of "Fame And Fortune" from 1965 - 1998 on television. Which one do you prefer?
16.) Taken from the "Christmas With The Rat Pack" CD, this came from Dean Martin's legendary 1967 Christmas special.
17.) A fabulous Sammy cut from the above mentioned "Rat Pack" CD. Sammy never recorded a full length Christmas album... pity!
18.) If you're very, VERY brave, you can visit Ernie (not Bert) and still get this whole Menudo album. Good luck!
19.) A nice remix of "Deck The Halls" that can be found on the first "Santastic" album from DJ BC. But is it a mash-up?
20.) Cringing... I thought I had heard the last of 'NSYNC and other boy bands. I'm glad my daughters were born too late for that phenomenon.
21.) Just what I needed - a quiet respite! This is a soft, lilting piano track that's totally refreshing.
22.) My father-in-law only listens to Jim Reeves and George Jones. So I know this song very well!
23.) George & Tammy together again. Great stuff. With that commercial at the beginning, this one came from "Christmas Party With Eddie G".
24.) Quite a transition! WOW! I became a BIG Robert Randolph fan this year (click the link, read the first two paragraphs) but does this count as Christmas?
25.) The smooth sounds of Matthew Sweet! I'm surprised this guy's career died out the way it did.
26.) Outstanding version of "Auld Lang Syne" - just perfect!
27.) Haven't heard this one before - ridiculous, huh? Not bad...
28.) Tony's explosive send off. Nothing like waking up the neighborhood at 12:01 AM on New Year's Day!


Tony, Tony, Tony... This comp was first-rate, a home run, a triumph.

The CD just flowed from beginning to end, highly entertaining, a pure pleasure to listen to. Your song selection was superb, no messy sound clips to fuss over, and it can work either softly in the background or loudly over the noise of the kids playing with Christmas toys in the next room.

I better stop gushing or it's gonna sound like a Hallmark card in a moment... Thanks for sending the comp and I hope to hear 2007's edition later this year!


UP NEXT: Otis Fodder's Holiday Freaks 2002 & 2006 (TWO REVIEWS)


Capt

Friday, February 23, 2007

We're about to get COMPED! - Week 4

Three weeks are on the yuleblog, five more weeks to go. I hope you're
having fun because I'm having a blast going through these Christmas comps!

This past week, we focused on comps that were sent to the P.O. Box.
Next week, we're going to look at comps that I found online - several of
which are still available for your listening pleasure!

Here's what I'll be reviewing and you will be reading starting on Monday, February 26th:
  • Monday, February 26th - Otis Fodder's Holiday Freaks 2002 & 2006 (TWO REVIEWS)
  • Tuesday, February 27th - Retro Christmas
  • Wednesday, February 28th - Check The Cool Wax V2: Christmas Wax
  • Thursday, March 1st - Katya's Office Holiday Party 2005
  • Friday, March 2nd - Ton Rückert's 2003 & 2004 Christmas Comps (TWO REVIEWS)

Many of you have these downloaded already but for those who haven't, you can use the almighty Google and find it for yourselves or wait until Monday when I'll have the links waiting for you.

Either way, get your clicking fingers ready - it should be a fun, FUN week!


Capt

Jingle Belles From The Wellses 2006

(Due to computer problems, this week's schedule has been pushed back one day. Sorry for the mess!)


Our next compilation comes from the sunny state of Florida (you know, where our friend Ernie (not Bert) hails from?).

John Wells of Clearwater, FL sent us an extra copy of his comp to the P.O. Box. Or was that Colleen who sent us the comp? Hard to say considering whoever sent it placed their address label on the front cover!

Reading the attached letter inside confirms that it was indeed John who sent the comp. To quote verbatim:

"Hello! I've enjoyed your blog for sometime now and thought I would send a copy of my first annual compilation WITH some notes of explanation.

"My wife and I have some very good friends that do a musical act called "When Buffett Meets Sinatra". Through them, we have met a group of people that we hang around with. Most of the copies of "Jingle Belles From The Wellses" went to friends in this group.

"One of the songs on the disc is Montgomery Gentry's "Merry Christmas From The Family". Last year, I gave that song to several of our friends... just that song, no other ones... and intend to keep that song as a "constant" in future releases!"

To expand on this info, here are the set of standard questions I will be asking everyone who sent a comp:

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

2006 was the first year for a comp. In 2005, I made some copies of the song, "Christmas With The Family" by Montgomery Gentry and gave it to several beach-bar friends. I kept the song on the 2006 comp and would like to keep it as an annual track.

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

Really no 'process'....but the Internet has so many great possibilities...I have to thank Lee Hartsfeld for the inspiration (and downloads) of several versions of "Jingle Bells" that became the theme of "Jingle Bellses from the Wellses". Must also mention, of course, eBay.

And other favorites: A Christmas Yuleblog (naturally), Rock Over Graceland, Ernie (not Bert), Bongo Bells, and FaLaLaLaLa.com. The amount of time and effort that all these fine people put into their sites is amazing to me. This past fall I finally got tired of seeing all the old vinyl sitting dormant and got a turntable that allows me to make digital copies of LP's.

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

My wife and I are friends with two gentlemen that do a musical act at some of the local beach bars called "When Buffett Meets Sinatra". We've met some great friends through them, and this disc was meant as a small Christmas gift to our fellow 'groupies'. Probably when all was said and done, I made about 50 copies.

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

(Mimicking Jack Benny): Now WHAT kind of QUESTION is THAT? I don't understand THAT at ALL! What is it about music itself that appeals to us??

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

I was quite pleased to get several nice comments and compliments. One friend remarked that he didn't think someone as young as me (LOL) would know who Dennis Day was!!!

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

I spend countless hours surfing the Internet for no apparent good reason what so ever.

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

I'm already searching the Internet, thrift stores and flea markets for obscure titles to put on "ChestNuts from the WellsNuts" in November 2007. It's great fun putting together and sharing with friends. Music is such an important part of the Christmas season, and I like the idea of sharing some tunes that I know most people haven't heard in a hundred years....if ever!


TRACK REVIEWS:

(Click on image to enlarge)


1.) If you look closely, you'll see the letters "DM" before the title - the one and only Dean Martin!
2.) This is John Pizzarelli and his fun track "Santa Claus Is Near".
3.) The famous Crosby "Jingle Bells" outtake. Towards the end, Bing screws up and blurts out "Holy Jesus Christ" instead of "Jingle Bells"!
4.) Here's a Burl Ives song I'd wish they play more on the radio at Christmas instead of "Holly Jolly Christmas".
5.) Talk about easy listening! Ray Conniff would be envious of Westerfield. Where did this track come from?
6.) What a voice! What was the recording date on this one? Sounds much more modern than Clooney's early stuff.
7.) Same here. Rosemary's voice is so timeless that you don't mind the obvious 70s or 80s bass line!
8.) WHOA! Listen to them banjos and brass with just a touch of the Herb Alpert flavor! Very nice track!
9.) Your typical lush strings track courtesy of the first husband of Judy Garland.
10.) Another typical lush strings track courtesy of the man who reached #1 with "The Stripper"!
11.) Introduced by Jack "Santa" Benny as said on the cover of the album! Sing, Dennis!
12.) A young Sinatra's first stab at "Jingle Bells" - Columbia Records circa 1948.
13.) A swingin' Sinatra's second stab at "Jingle Bells" - Capitol Records circa 1957.
14.) Refreshing! Merv might have been a fawning talk show host but he was a heck of a singer! Has a 1920s feel to it - neat!
15.) How many licks does it take to reach the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? How many versions of "The Little Drummer Boy" did the Harry Simeone Chorale record in their lifetime? The world may never know...
16.) From their "A Christmas Treasure" album - ping pong between Andrews and Previn & orchestra!
17.) I like Chesney but this is way too Jimmy Buffett for my tastes. I'm with Renee on this one...
18.) Mademoiselle Gisele's fun version of "Jingle Bells" that ends with "MUSH!"
19.) First recorded by the king of trailer park - Robert Earl Keen. Nice cover by Montgomery Gentry.
20.) WOW! Nice sounds from the Brothers Mills! Checking my CD collection, I am sorrowfully low on Mills Brothers Christmas!
21.) For some people, Johnny Mathis IS Christmas music! Recorded no later than 1985 judging by the quality of sounds.
22.) Fine instrumental version of this one. Lots of strings and synthesizer!
23.) Another good version of this song. If this is just two people making all this sound, I am impressed!
24.) This one's not bad! Where have I heard this one before? Is it a cover? If it's an original, WOW!
25.) I'm not a fan of Jimmy Buffett - but whoever is singing, you have him nailed! Think Vegas!
26.) You learn something new everyday! This is the ORIGINAL version of "Jingle Bells" by the Singing Dogs!


As first comps go, yours John was very surprising! They're were some very nice finds on the disc as well as some interesting selections I never would have chose. To each their own...

Constants are fine by me; I've had the same opening and closing to my Christmas comp for the past sixteen years. Themes are okay as well - try to keep the theme consistent throughout. Your "Jingle Bells" theme was a little stop and go but again, this was your first comp. You'll pick it up as you go.

Your artist selection was very good - consider mixing up the lineup so you don't have two songs by the same artist back to back. I think the flow of your comp would have been better if you did.

In closing, these are merely suggestions. You have a good ear for Christmas music and I encourage you to continue making Christmas comps. Your style and potential have yet to be realized John. Keep at it and remember to send me an extra copy this December. I would love to keep track of your progress!


UP NEXT: Baby Jesus - 2006 - Christmas Collection


Capt

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mike & Cindy's HO HO 2004 - 2005 - 2006

(Due to computer problems, this week's schedule has been pushed back one day. Sorry for the mess!)


Last December, as the comps began to flood my PO Box, this one stood out (not because of the semi-racy cover located above).

It was the first package that I received that contained multiple copies of Christmas comps. I had assumed everyone would send me a copy of their work and that was that (what were YOU thinkin'?).

Mike Quinn of Overland, Missouri obviously read and re-read the yuleblog entry asking for comps and noticed that I never had said "Limit one comp per package". I smiled thinking that was the most I'd receive from one person (what were YOU smokin'?).

Along with the three submissions came a letter (more on that in a moment) and another disc that I thought was an audio CD at first. Boy, was I wrong!

It was a tape-to-DVD copy entitled "Peter Clark's Christmas Tree Tips" that we played at our Christmas party. The 30 minute DVD was looped and the emotions ranged from other party goers ranged from "Sweet mercy!" to "Can I get a copy of that?"

The letter of introduction was simple and to the point:

"Hi,
"It is great to find like minded people. I found your yuleblog by chance searching for Christmas music on the web.

"Enclosed is my annual Holiday Collection from the last couple of years and one bad DVD on Christmas decorating from the 1980s. Enjoy!"

I sent Mike a set of questions that I will be asking everyone whose comp will be reviewed here. The answers:

1. When did you begin creating your Christmas compilations?

In 1990, I made my first compilation for a few friends. I have been collecting records since high school in the early 1980s. I was tired of the same old Christmas music and started looking for odd and funny holiday music.

In 1995, the title was changed from "Mike's Ho Ho" to "Mike and Cindy's Ho Ho" to include my wife. She is still not too sure that was good move. We bought our first CD recorder in 2000 and made the leap from tape to CD.

2. Explain the process on creating your Christmas compilation.

I have worked part time at a record store in St. Louis for 15 years and I am always keeping an eye out for odd Christmas stuff there and other stores in town as well as resale shops, garage sales and, as of late, online but I am not a big down-loader. In early November, I usually hunker down in the record room of my house, gather all my new and old Christmas stuff and assemble the new compilation.

Cindy keeps me on track by offering her ideas as the process moves along and I agonize about what to put on this year's compilation. This usually takes an entire weekend much to Cindy's consternation. I then make a master copy and start running dubs. I then start making art work for the label and the cheesier the cover looks, the better.

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

Cindy and I share the CD with just about anyone who is remotely interested. We hand them out to our coworkers, friends and family as well as complete strangers who look like they might enjoy it. We have about 15-20 people who live out of town whom we send the CD off to. In 2006, we had our largest run yet of 400 CDs.

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

I find Christmas music interesting because there is so much to choose from and can be very eclectic. I tend to go for the funny and humorous. I like the challenge of trying to find strange Christmas music which gives me an excuse to go record and CD shopping. As a bonus it is much easier than writing Christmas cards.

5. What kind of feed back do you get from the compilation?

I get mostly positive feedback on the CD. Many people have told me that they listen to it while trimming their tree, shopping or holiday parties. Several people tell me they look forward to a new CD every year and that it has become part of their holiday tradition. I am a bit amazed by that but take it as a high compliment that they enjoy my silly little CD.

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

Nothing really. I think of my Christmas compilation as a chance to share some of my record and CD collecting hobbies with others. So I try not to take myself to seriously and will quit making them when it is not fun anymore. However, with all the positive response I don't see that happening anytime soon.

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

I would just like to thank the Captain for all his hard work on his blog. It is always nice to find like-minded people. I have enjoyed all of his blog entries. I have really been enjoying the reviews of others' compilations. It is really great to see how people are able to express their individuality with their collections.

I am honored that someone has taken the time to review my silly little compilation. Thanks and I will continue the search for next year's offering.


MIKE & CINDY's HO HO 2004 - TRACK REVIEWS:

(Click on image to enlarge)


1.) A "Lord Of The Rings"-esque type introduction of Santa! "Bow down to the power of Santa!" Where did THIS come from?
2.) This is Robert Lund - cleverly parodying R.E.M's "Stand"! Why haven't I picked up this CD yet?
3.) Bachman had this available at his website for download several years ago (where I found my copy). Sometimes credited to Bob Rivers' Twisted Christmas.
4.) =WINCE= Tell me when it's over... Hung has hung on to his 15 minutes way too long!
5.) Robert Lund's parody of "Feliz Navidad" - way too close to Bob Rivers' "Police Stop My Car" for my tastes.
6.) WOW! A Beatle-esque Christmas song from a Chicago group I've never heard before? Excellent!
7.) Maybe the only song about a dog urinating on a Christmas tree. A career lowlight for Rodney.
8.) A five second clip of someone shouting something... Say wha?
9.) I applaud Mike and Cindy for their use of this on their comp - I don't have the stones to do it. Too f-----' funny!
10.) Robert Lund's parody of the Police's "Every Breath You Take" - pretty fair to good.
11.) A tragic song about the handicapped orphan Little Mary Christmas. From the "John Waters Christmas" CD!
12.) High-energy rock version of Brenda Lee's perennial favorite. Off the "Happy Christmas V2" CD.
13.) Talk about a gem! Who is Little Peggy (who sounds a lot like a young Dolly Parton)? Where did this come from? Clues, please?
14.) Even though it's Christmas related, I still can't stand Bobcat Goldthwait - the human equivalent to nails on the chalk board.
15.) Okay... I've been looking for Mojo Nixon's Christmas CD forever. After hearing this, it's moved to the top of my wish list!
16.) Robert Lund's version... I think this one first came off of Kevin & Bean's series of Christmas CDs. Seen it credited to "The Kids Of Widney High".
17.) Another "Lord Of The Rings"-esque rant - about the destruction of Santa. Decaf is looking good for this guy.
18.) LAFFIN! Nice rhythmic tune about the darker side of Santa. I'm impressed with these guys!
19.) The American Comedy Network's answer to Adam Sandler's "Hannukah Song". I used this one on my 2005 Christmas comp.
20.) Lewis Black rants better than anyone else on the planet! From Kevin & Bean's "Fo' Shizzle St. Nizzle" CD.
21.) Title says it all! Getting my polyester slacks and dancing shoes on for this one.
22.) What if the Doors met Bing Crosby? A great track I've yet to use! The "Blame It On Christmas" CD is a blast!
23.) Robert Lund's parody of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated". Might have worked if Robert got a female singer to sing and not him!
24.) This may be my favorite song off all of the "South Park" Christmas stuff. Who sings to a mail order meat product?
25.) Bob Rivers' parodies never disappoint - when taken in low doses. From the "More Twisted Christmas" CD.
26.) You can't get any more Jewish than this - a kosher version of "Jingle Bells"! Oy vey!
27.) Cross "Do You Hear What I Hear" with The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" - an exceptional rockin' tune!
28.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Designed to clear any room in a matter of seconds! "Falllllllll on your knees"...
29.) Robert Lund's parody of Toby Keith & Willie Nelson's "Beer for My Horses" - strictly for the country set.
30.) "Oh, here comes Fatty with his sack of s--- and all them stinkin' reindeer!" I again applaud your courage Mike and Cindy!
31.) The Burgermeister Meisterburger (aka Paul Frees) sings "The First Toymakers To The King (Reprise)" from the "Santa Claus / Frosty" soundtrack!
32.) A nine second clip that yells "HAIL SANTA!"
33.) Country-rock-gospel Christmas tune that's a toetapper! From their 1992 Christmas CD - a rare one to find!
34.) Norris The Troubadour & The Seaboard Coastliners sing this trippy 60s gem from "The American Song-Poem Christmas" CD.
35.) Ever hear a surprising song about Santa involved in an old west shootout? Look no further! Find this one on the "Christmas Time Again" CD.
36.) Robert Lund's parody of "My Favorite Things" - we're hitting bottom here with this one.
37.) Portsmith Sinfonia's cover of B.Bumble & The Stingers "The Nut Rocker" - classy!


MIKE & CINDY's HO HO 2005 - TRACK REVIEWS:

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1.) OMG! I can't stop laffin' at this one! I'm posting this one for everyone to hear!
2.) Senor Tonto's techno-pop version remains the gold standard for this song! Go download it here!
3.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! A parody of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" wrapped around some bad nog. Adding Gastonomical Unit's Christmas CD to my wish list.
4.) Sarah Silverman is either brilliant or blasphemous depending on who you talk to. This song adds to the argument!
5.) Here's one from the "Christmas Cocktails III" CD. I used this on my annual Christmas comp last year.
6.) Whatever this guy was on, I hope he got help! From the first 365 Days project (scroll down to May 28 to download).
7.) The American Comedy Network's take on the "Secret Santa" grab bag to the tune Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man"! A few chuckles guaranteed.
8.) "Maybe This Christmas" I'll have the courage to play this one... Don't count on it.
9.) A nine year old sings to a dead Elvis! Another one from the first 365 Days project (scroll down to December 23 to download).
10.) Off the "Winter Warnerland" promo CD - actual title is "Ways To Save Money At Christmas".
11.) This one always makes me guffaw - thank you Count Floyd! Aawwooooooooo!
12.) An honest to goodness rabbi doing a twangy country yodel take on the dreidel! OY VEY!
13.) Recorded sometime in the 1970s at the height of disco. The second worst Christmas song I've ever heard (first place is also Tiny Tim: "Santa Claus Has Got The AIDS This Year").
14.) An anthem for all those Santa conspiracy believers. It's been awhile since I heard this one! Salute!
15.) Funeral dirge like song about Santa's appetite. This is eerie and depressing.
16.) This is Buddy Max and you can find this one for download at the first 365 Days project (scroll down to February 26).
17.) Another Bob Rivers parody - a better one for sure! Off his "I Am Santa Claus" CD.
18.) The good father's classic Christmas song (with Joe Walsh on guitar!). Check out his latest Christmas song - clocks in at 14 1/2 minutes!
19.) That was Bela Lugosi I heard it... not a Christmas clip but it fits!
20.) Okay... it's Andy Dick and his usual tired schtick. Skipping ahead (sorry).
21.) Darn it... I really want to find Mojo's Christmas album... the perfect man to record this song!
22.) A cajun classic! You can find it on this album or this album (where Mike and Cindy got it from).
23.) Tortured country Christmas song about Santa's option for bad kids in their stocking. Where did this one come from?
24.) That voice... shield the dogs! From the first 365 Days project (scroll down to April 25 to download and to view the Billboard ad I submitted of this very song!).
25.) I'm on record as stating anything Christmas crossed with anything Halloween is an instant turn-off for me. This one's not going to change my mind.
26.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! The MistleTones completely nail this! Snatches of "Sweet Caroline", "Love On The Rocks" and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" can be heard! This one's gonna get some consideration for my comp this year!
27.) "This is Marc Bolan here. I'd like to wish you all a SuperFunk Christmas and a Golden New Year.... Yeah!"
28.) A smooth jazzy blue Christmas song about Judaism at the Christmas season. Where did you find this... nevermind!
29.) My favorite rendition of this song! Their Christmas album is chock full of great stuff - get a copy if and when you can!
30.) The penultimate punk version of "Silent Night" - find it on Rhino's "Punk Rock Xmas" CD.
31.) Another visit from The Sisterhood and their rockin' disco Santa... I've heard this way too many times already this year.
32.) WOW... it's been ages since I first heard this on "The Dr. Demento Show" - find this on the "Holidays In Dementia" CD!
33.) Nothing says "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" edgier than this punk cover (see "Punk Rock Xmas" above)!


MIKE & CINDY's HO HO 2006 - TRACK REVIEWS:

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1.) Sounds like "South Park"... Mike and Cindy, you have strange intros indeed!
2.) TWISTED SISTER SPOTTED! If these released this album back at the height of their popularity, we'd be speaking about it in hushed tones...
3.) "I Got Yule Babe". No one ever thought of it before. More power to Joel Kopischke! Laffin!
4.) All I want for Christmas is Bobcat tied down on an anthill and one large jar of honey.
5.) Mull's two Christmas songs are classics; this one and his incredible "Santafly" take on 1970s blaxploitation theme songs. Good to hear this again!
6.) Parodies of "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" are just as unfunny as the original. NEXT!
7.) Hilarious cover! From a much-sought after OOP Christmas album called "Santa & Satan, One & The Same".
8.) YESSSS! From the amazing "Spirit Of Fruitcake V4" Christmas CD! Too funny!
9.) "Santa Mack The Knife"? No one thought of this one either? Another great parody from Joel Kopischke!
10.) This is purely heartbreaking until Kyle starts getting angry, drops the F bomb, and the Meat Loaf wannabe comes on. A pretty good track from "South Park".
11.) I've heard Dick Grande before and don't think much of his philosophy of "let's see how much raunch we can stuff into a song and get away from it."
12.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! FAN-DAMN-TASTIC! Do you know how long I've been searching for this one? I think that's Thurl Ravenscroft as Santa! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
13.) The actual title of this song is "Tub Of Lard" to the tune of "Deck The Halls" - off their "Christmas Jihad" CD.
14.) A brilliant parody of The Violent Femmes' "Blister In The Sun" - about the tortures of exposure to the winter elements!
15.) Not really John Madden but it's so perfectly captures the bumbling NFL analyst that I wet myself every time I hear it!
16.) Another track off the "Spirit Of Fruitcake V4" CD - I used this one on my 2006 Christmas comp as well!
17.) WOW! A new-wave punk-ish cover of the "Rudolph" tune! Incredible total sound! From this tantalizing Christmas CD that has been added to my wish list.
18.) You'd never know this was a Christian band hearing this They-Might-Be-Giants like tune! From the first "Happy Christmas" CD.
19.) I didn't think anyone could have done a parody of "Schnitzelbank" aka "Yah Das Ist Ein Christmas Tree". I was WRONG! Joel Kopischke strikes again!
20.) SANTA! SANTA! SANTA! A wicked parody of those dragstrip commercials! Wait... this isn't the American Comedy Network. Where did this one come from? Ah-ha! Mark Jonathan Davis!
21.) Nothing like Christmas 'round the trailer park with that special hairdo! See the "Fo' Shizzle" link above!
22.) Take "Gloria" by Them!, cross it with "In Excelsis Deo", and you'll get this! From the classic 1984 "Midnight Christmas Mess" album.
23.) "That's Amore"... "That's A Menorah". "Amore", "Menorah". I sound like Letterman! Joel Kopischke's Jewish take on this one must be heard to be believed!
24.) A quick cute song about Christmas physics! See #13 above for the link!
25.) I used to like Heywood Banks but here in the land of Bob & Tom, his stuff has been beaten to death. Sorry Heywood.
26.) If you asked a third grader to sing this song without knowing the lyrics, it would sound like this!
27.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! A parody of Barenaked Ladies "If I Had A $1,000,000"! The best parody by Joel Kopischke I've heard so far!
28.) Another awesome track off the "Spirit Of Fruitcake V4" CD! Can't wait to hear the other "volumes"!
29.) Love this track! El Vez gives it some much needed juice! I vote for replacing Jose Feliciano's original with this one!
30.) They're back! This is the song the Del Rubio Triplets played on the "Pee-Wee Playhouse Christmas Special"
31.) A parody of Bobby Darin's "Beyond The Sea" - wowza! Joel Kopischke's remarkable parody CD just made the top of my wish list!
32.) The glam pop Christmas national anthem! Still sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded!
33.) Another anonymous outro from Mike and Cindy... where's this from?
34.) Pure bluegrass take on Bill Monroe's "Christmas Time's A-Comin' ". From the "Cold Mountain" movie soundtrack.


I'm feeling lightheaded... what a trip this has been! I sat down behind my computer this morning around 8 AM to start these reviews. It's close to 1 PM and I just finished.

Mike and Cindy, there's some real gold in these here CDs... not fool's gold, mind you, but absolute 24 carat nuggets that have shined through. You guys obviously enjoy Christmas parodies, Jewish Christmas takes, comedy for Christmas, and a great ear for old and new Christmas classics.

Which one did I enjoy the best? That's like asking me "what plate of spaghetti do I like the best?" Each comp had a great voice, a feel all their own. I winced several times, I laughed out loud more times than I could count, and I thoroughly enjoyed each comp.

When I have the time, I'll relisten to these again and again and laugh again and again. You guys have done a stupendous job on these comps and I hope people who have received them in the past realize how grand they are! I tip my Chicago Cub hat to you both!


UP NEXT: Jingle Belles From The Welles 2006


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