Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas A Go Go - Part Three

As much as I’m fascinated by rock and roll Christmas albums, they have a pretty high failure rate in regard to my own personal taste. Christmas A Go Go, like Yuletunes and Chris Stamey’s Christmas Time, is one of the rare exceptions where almost every song works. Since I already covered the Beatles tribute band The Fab Four on an earlier post, I’m skipping their contribution to Christmas A Go Go here.

As stated earlier, Little Steven Van Zandt was determined to increase the allure of this compilation by throwing in some genuine rarities. It’s safe to say there aren’t too many other holiday CDs that can give you a surf rock reinvention of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” delivered by 1950s kids show host, Soupy Sales. Listening to “Santa Claus Is Surfin’ To Town,” you can almost hear Little Steven chuckling like he does when he laughs at his own jokes on his radio show, Underground Garage. The clever lyrics come in waves of surfer lingo, as Sales describes Santa hanging 10 and dispensing toys on his board. People who don’t live near the water can expect to see him making his rounds in his woody.

Christmas songs from time to time have depicted women with romantic designs on Santa, and that’s what the five ladies in the Swedish band, The Cocktail Slippers have in mind on “Santa’s Coming Home.” This catchy number laments the amount of time Santa’s work keeps him away, and it's presented via a Go-Go’s style arrangement with some fun vocal interplay. Note: The Cocktail Slippers have a more recent Yuletide offering in their garage rock take on the Wham! holiday hit, “Last Christmas.” It’s available from Wicked Cool.

Actor Joe Pesci has made quite an impression through his films, particularly the “funny how?” scene in Goodfellas. On Christmas A Go Go, he gives the wiseguy treatment to the innocent Gene Autry song, “If It Doesn’t Snow On Christmas.” Backed by a big band and spouting 1940s style patter like, “I would really feel much better if the mooch could fly a plane,” Pesci makes this sound like it could have been recorded around the same time as Autry’s version. He has issues with a distinctively New Joisey sounding children’s choir and derides them as “reform school brats” when he discovers someone has stolen all the candy canes.

The Seattle-based Boss Martians give Charles Dickens a psychedelic spin with their high speed rock song, “3 Ghosts (A Modern X-mas Carol).” The band adds a touch of prog rock via Nick C’s energetic keyboard playing while vocalist-guitarist Evan Foster gives a well-written first-person account of Scrooge’s eventful night, starting with the visit from Jacob Marley.

Coming next, in the Christmas A Go Go finale, a soulful offer from Santa; another surfing version of a famous carol; an electric and slightly spooky “Jingle Bells;” and the dangers of offering Monopoly money to angry, disadvantaged kids.


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