Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas A Go Go - Part 2

Little Steven likes to call his syndicated radio show Underground Garage a dance party, and that’s a good way to view the various artists holiday compilation he’s put together called Christmas A Go Go. So what better way to keep the party going than to spread it out over four posts.

On the relentlessly cheerful “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday,” Roy Wood’s Wizzard uses the Wall Of Sound approach of Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You to build an entire palace. As a founding member of Electric Light Orchestra, Wood was accustomed to working with stringed instruments, and he employs a ton of them, along with horns, and a children’s choir on this showstopper. The energetic production evokes an old fashioned TV variety show.

Tina Sugandh’s beautifully sung “White Christmas” begins with the standard arrangement, but soon drifts off to India via exotic sitars and tablas. If George Harrison had wanted to include a Christmas song on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it would have sounded like this.

There are more than three musicians in the Chesterfield Kings, and their knack for tapping into Aftermath era Rolling Stones has earned them a place of honor among garage rock fans like Mr. Van Zandt. “Hey, Santa Claus” was probably one of the first tracks he considered when he decided to create this party-themed holiday compilation. It kicks off with a classic Chuck Berry riff before lead vocalist Greg Prevost approaches the man in red with a list of requests, including a girlfriend and a new car. Sounding like Mick Jagger, Prevost sings, “I hope you have time to stop off in your sleigh.”

Former Stray Cats vocalist-guitarist Brian Setzer launched a lucrative second career by recreating the Big Band sound of the 1940s. He struck gold again when his Brian Setzer Orchestra started recording Christmas CDs like Dig That Crazy Christmas and Boogie Woogie Christmas. “Santa’s Got A Hot Rod,” with its highly energetic swinging arrangement, call-and response vocals, and twangy guitar, is a prime example of how Setzer gets the job done. And like most of his work, it’s a lot of fun.

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