Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Eye catching cover, huh? It caught my eye at my local Borders store last December and I was instantly intrigued. Ten tracks total and some interesting comments from Rob "Bucket" Hingley of The Toasters:
"Hawaii is not exactly the place that readily springs to mind when one thinks about Christmas. Coconut palms rather than conifers and macadamias instead of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it's hard to envisage Santa divesting his red suit for shorts and changing sleigh for surfboard, riding the waves instead of snow. All these images at first made me raise an eyebrow.
"But of course, we are talking about Go Jimmy Go, and - as I have come to realize during my global peregrinations with these mischievous iconoclasts - everything is possible and nothing should be unexpected. So let's throw the eggnog out the window and grab a couple of daiquiris and a Piña Colada and go down to the beach to enjoy these Christmas tunes steeped in the sweet island sugar as only Go Jimmy Go could confect.
"With this sumptuous set of seasonal selections Go Jimmy Go once again demonstrates a level of lyrical musicianship that few contemporary bands can hope to emulate. The smooth rhythm stylings and the haunting vocal harmonies are sweeter than any candy in the stocking. The slick arrangements of the cadences roll in softly like the waves lapping on Waikiki Beach. So, come dip your toes in the warm waters of the "Island Sound" known the world around. Merry Christmas everybody - Hawaiian Style! Go Jimmy Go style!"
I asked one of the employees at the music desk about the CD and he never said a word. Instead, he put the store copy of the CD into the box and let it play. "Merry Christmas, Baby" with a reggae beat?
Oh, hell yeah.
I bought it on the spot and drove home to find out more about Go Jimmy Go.
My internet searches yielded the following info: the group was formed (of all places) in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1996. Regulars of a Ska Night at a popular watering hole decided Hawaii needed a good ska band and, after much procrastination, Go Jimmy Go was born.
Between 1996 and 2000, you needed a scorecard to keep track of the band's lineup. Two members were there from the very beginning - Ian Ashley (lead guitar/vocals) and Eric White (tenor sax) while others came and went as they pleased.
From the beginning, Go Jimmy Go strived to have an early ska sound like The Maytals and The Wailers. However, soul music, rocksteady, reggae, funk and even Hawaiian began to blend seamlessly with the band's sound, reflecting the many musical influences of the core members.
They also chose to focus on original music as opposed to covers. This would set them apart from many of the traditional ska groups currently performing on the scene. The strategy paid off - their gigs were getting bigger and better, the islands took notice, and soon the group was heading to the recording studio for their debut album "Slow Time", released in 2000.
By this time, Go Jimmy Go was indeed Hawaii's premier ska band and Moon Room Records, a label based in Hawaii, signed the boys up for new recordings. In quick order, they recorded and released "Soul Arrival" in 2003, re-released "Slow Time" with new unreleased tracks in 2004, and "The Girl With The Fishbowl Eyes" in 2005.
After some tours through Europe with The Tractors throughout 2006 and 2007, the band arrived back in the land where palm trees sway to record the CD you are looking at.
1.) Merry Christmas, Baby
Who would have thunk this Charles Brown blues Xmas classic would sound great with a kiss of ska?
2.) Holiday Movie Marathon
The song paints a reggae picture of a decked out home on Christmas Eve with roaring fire and a TV. Wonder what's on? Good original, btw.
3.) Once A Year
Your girl buys you a sweater for Christmas and you live in Hawaii - hence the title! Funny, catchy original!
4.) Christmas Morning
Ska telling of how one Hawaiian woke up on December 25th. Nice choice of presents! 3 for 3 on the originals.
5.) Sleigh Ride
Imagine a reggae instrumental of Leroy Anderson's immortal song. No whip cracks, just a hot sax and trombone to propel this one.
6.) The Twelve Days of Christmas Local Style
"And one mynah bird in one papaya tree..." The banter reminds me of Stan Freberg's parody of "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)" The standout track on this one.
A reggae, ska, Hawaiian New Year's song. Man, this is good!
8.) Tropical Christmas
Another reggae painted picture of lush Hawaiian landscapes at Christmas. I'm craving some pineapple for some reason.
9.) Mele Kalikimaka
Great drumming and guitar playing gives this a Django Reinhart / Hawaiian feel - outstanding cover!
10.) Holiday Hell Yeah!
Title song wishes every day could be like a holiday. If only every day sounded this good...
An exceptional Christmas CD that is fun, accessible, and downright catchy. I had tons of fun listening but I'm wagering Go Jimmy Go probably had more fun recording the album.
It certainly comes across on any song you'd select off the album. Just ask the Borders employee who did the same for me!
This CD got some major airplay last December on my boombox. My two daughters love to dance to music and this one was requested several times into January.
They leapt, they jumped, they danced but they never tried to hula despite my efforts to teach them. They refused to dance to this CD for some reason shortly after the failed dance lessons from dad. Go figure.