Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas A Go Go - Part Four

And now the finale for Christmas A Go Go, the holiday various artists collection that had so many cool songs, it took four posts to describe them all. Incidentally, while doing research for my Christmas rock posts, I came across a really fun website called Mistletunes that covers tons of holiday songs, and even breaks them down into categories like eras, genres, and novelties.

Singer Rufus Thomas is probably best remembered for his 1963 hit “Walking The Dog,” as well as an earlier duet with his daughter Carla, but he was also an R&B pioneer who first started recording in the late 1940s. The funky “I’ll Be Your Santa” is aimed at women instead of kids, and Thomas has his own concept of what bringing holiday joy entails. The bass guitar is the most prominent instrument in an arrangement that recalls Sly & The Family Stone, while Thomas’s vocals are both ribald and soulful.

Aussie garage rockers The Chevelles unleash a spirited take on a treasured hymn with the mostly instrumental “Come All Ye Faithful Surfer Girls.” This is a virtual fuzz guitar festival with the only vocals being a Beach Boys like “Oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh.” A very catchy and fun tune.

The Electric Prunes’ psychedelic and slightly unsettling version of “Jingle Bells” has a spoken word intro that includes a special holiday greeting for Underground Garage listeners. The band then slinks into a slowed-down, heavy guitar arrangement, with vocals that sound like they’re coming from a chorus of over-served elves. Very odd, but somehow it all works.

Ray Davies of The Kinks has always been a master of satire, and on “Father Christmas,” he leads the band through a funny tale of a retail store Santa being pummeled by destitute children. Set in Britain’s economically troubled 1970s, the wry lyrics describe the kids screaming, “Don’t give my sister a cuddly toy/We don’t want a jigsaw or Monopoly money/We only want the real McCoy.” One kid requests a job for his father so the family will have food to eat. Although Davies clearly means the song to be funny, he sneaks in a charitable message that’s in tune with the season. “Have yourself a merry merry Christmas/Have yourself a good time/But remember the kids who got nothin’/While you’re drinking down your wine.”


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