30 Songs For Christmas (2112)
Day One - Winter Wonderland, Rag Fair, 2002
We begin 30 Songs 4 Christmas with a Christmas standard that doesn't reference Christmas - Winter Wonderland. Written by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard Smith (lyric) it has been recorded by hundreds of artists since debuting in 1934 (Richard Himber and his Ritz-Carlton Orchestra).
This version is by the Japanese a cappella group Rag Fair. Formed in 1999 they grew from street performers to having their own TV show. They have released 7 albums and may have recently called it quits.
Winter Wonderland, Rag Fair, 2002
Download: Winter Wonderland - Rag Fair
Day Two - Let It Snow, The Diplomats of Solid Sound, 2010
Day Two of 30 Songs 4 Christmas is another song that is considered a Christmas standard that doesn't mention Christmas - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, written by Sammy Cahn (lyric) and Jule Styne (music) on a hot Hollywood day in July 1945 (Other Cahn/Styne songs include: Three Coins In A Fountain, I Fall In Love Too Easily, I've Heard That Song Before and another Christmas song The Christmas Waltz).
Very much out of the The Mar-Keys/Booker T & The MGs school of soul, The Diplomats of Solid Sound have been touring and recording since 1998 (based out of Iowa City, Iowa). Let It Snow features the vocals of The Diplomettes.
Let It Snow, The Diplomats of Solid Sound, 2010
Download: Let It Snow - The Diplomats Of Solid Sound
Day Three - Mary X-mas, Nina Hagen, 1997(?)
Hey Hey, King Kong
Let's Dance To My Christmas Song
Some refer to Nina Hagen as the Godmother of Punk (I'm sure Patty Smith's followers might have something to say about that) but she is at the very least part of the 70s-era punk foundation. An opera prodigy by the age of nine, she became an East German star in the early/mid 1970s with her band Automobil. Allowed to leave East Germany she made her way to London in time to be part peers with the Sex Pistols and The Slits. In 1977 she returned to Germany (West Berlin) and formed the Nina Hagen Band putting her opera training to good use.
Since then she has recorded several albums, toured (mostly Europe) and performed on stage (in the US and Europe) and on screen. She is the voice of Sally in the German dub of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Mary X-mas, Nina Hagen, 1997(?)
Download: Mary Xmas - Nina Hagen
Day Four - North Pole Rock, Cathy Sharpe, 1960
Cathy Sharpe was an early rock n roll/rockabilly singer. North Pole Rock was co-written by Sharpe (with Ed Jensen) for Global Records, out of Bakersfield California, in 1960. The flip side is Will Santy Come To Shanty Town
North Pole Rock, Cathy Sharpe, 1960
Download: North Pole Rock, Cathy Sharpe
Day Five - Jingle Bell Slide, Jack Scott, 1963
Born In Windsor, raised in Detroit (where he still resides) Jack Scott charted many hits in the late 1950s and early 60s. As an early rock n roll singer he's up there with Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison and like Elvis and the "Big O" Scott straddled the worlds of Pop, Rockabilly and Country. His first gold record was Leroy / My True Love (1958). In 2011 he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Jingle Bell Slide is the B side of another Jack Scott Christmas Tune, There's Trouble Brewing.
Jingle Bell Slide, Jack Scott, 1963
Download: Jingle Bell Slide, Jack Scott
Day Six - A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn't So), The Flaming Lips, 2003
Oh if i could stop time
It would be a frozen moment just around christmas
When all of mankind reveals its truest potential
- Wayne Coyne, A Change At Christmas
In their own unique way, the Flaming Lips have an association with Christmas. For much of the 2000's Lips frontman Wayne Coyne was developing, shooting and editing the feature film Christmas On Mars (released in 2008). Plot: Needing to find a replacement for Santa Claus the colonizers of Mars draft a Martian? (Coyne) to be Santa.
A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn't So) is not from that. It was originally released on the Flaming Lips 2003 EP Ego Tripping At The Gates of Hell.
A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn't So), The Flaming Lips, 2003
Download: A Change At Christmas [Say It Isn't So], The Flaming Lips
Day Seven - Snow White Rock Christmas, Vibra Corporation (aka The Intergalactic Touring Band), 1977
When asked "What Is the Worst Christmas Record I Own" the answer (and there are a lot of choices) has been Snow White Rock Christmas by the Vibra Corporation (as known as The Intergalactic Touring Band).
The Intergalactic Touring Band released one album in 1977. I bought it (I think I bought the only copy from the record store I was working at). I tried to like it. I was in to Progrock (which this is), Larry Fast (Synergy/Peter Gabriel) was on it - it couldn't be that bad. I tried hard to like it, for a couple of years I tried to like it. I didn't like it. I Traded it In.
Show White Rock Christmas came out the same year as a 12" promo, credited to the Vibra Corporation. I eventually picked up copy. Didn't like it. Traded it in. A few years ago I bought it again.
My opinion on it has soften with age, I still don't think it's anywhere near a great song, but it does makes me smile. I'm going to have to find another worst Christmas record.
(This past spring I was hanging out at Volume on Markham St in Toronto, tried to convince someone not to buy The Intergalactic Touring Band LP but had a change of heart - by the way Tuesdays are Prog Tuesdays at Volume).
Snow White Rock Christmas, Vibra Corporation (aka The Intergalactic Touring Band), 1977
Download: Snow White Rock Christmas, Vibra Corporation
Day Eight - Happy Xmas (War Is Over), INSPi, 2002
I've been trying to find a cover version of John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Happy Xmas (War Is Over) that I liked since I started collecting Christmas music. There are lot's of covers but until I came across this at Amoeba Records this year I hadn't found one.
Don't know much about INSPi. Like Rag Fair, they are a Japanese a cappella group. They still perform throughout Asia.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released by John and Yoko in 1971 as a protest song over the Vietnam War.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over), INSPi, 2002
Download: Happy Xmas(War Is Over), INSPI
Day Nine - Detroit Christmas Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, 2001
Today starts a working week tribute to the music and musicians from one of America's great cities, Detroit. The week is also dedicated to Rob at Volume (on Markham St in Toronto) who hipped me to dig deeper into Detroit's musical heritage.
Born in Alabama, Robert Bradley had been playing for several decades in Detroit - in Coffeehouses, Baptist churches and on the streets - before chance introduced him to Musicians/Producers Michael and Andrew Nehra. With Drummer Jeff Fowlkes they formed the band Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise in 1994. They have recorded several albums, Robert's songs have been in the films Love N' Dancing and Lackawanna Blues (in which he also appears).
Detroit Christmas Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, 2001
Download: Detroit Christmas, Robert Bradley
Day Ten - It's Christmas, Ultimate Ovation, 2007
Formed in the mid-1970s, the Ulitimate Ovation released a handful of singles over their career - which is still going. Their last 45 It's The Weekend / Girl Your All I Want is great (you should be able to pick it up at Volume on Markham St in Toronto). They have also released, I believe, an app for the android phone.
It's Christmas is from a 2007 compilation of tracks from Detroit artists, Holiday Hootenanny.
It's Christmas, Ultimate Ovation, 2007
Download: It's Christmas, Ultimate Ovation
Day Eleven - Mr. Santa Claus (Bring Me My Baby), Nathaniel Mayer and his Fabulous Twilights, 1962
Like may R&B artists Nathaniel Mayer's career can be divided into two. As an 18 year he had a top 40 hit in 1962 with Village Of Love. He recorded several other singles before fading away in to East Detroit. In 2002 Norton Records released an unreleased early recording I Don't Want No Bald-Headed Woman Telling Me What To Do which encouraged Nathaniel to record and perform again. He recorded several albums and developed a devoted following prior to his death in 2008.
Mr. Santa Claus (Bring Me My Baby), Nathaniel Mayer and his Fabulous Twilights, 1962
Download: Mr. Santa Claus, Nathaniel Mayer
Day Twelve - Christmas Day, Detroit Junior, 1960
Emery Williams Jr, aka Detroit Junior, born in Arkansas, began his career in Detroit (hence the name Detroit Junior) and became one of Chicago's premiere piano players. He recorded a few singles under his own name but became known as a sideman for Howlin Wolf, Eddie Taylor and others.
Christmas Day features very little of Detroit Jr's piano playing. There is a little speculation that Christmas Day is by another Detroit Jr, though it does seem to be by Emery.
Christmas Day, Detroit Junior, 1960
Download: Christmas Day, Detroit Jr
Day Thirteen - You Won't Have To Wait Until X-mas, Lee Rogers, 1965
Born in Mississippi in 1939 (as Roger Craton), Lee Rogers moved to Detroit at the age of three. He grew up singing on the streets and in the Church. Active through out the 1960s he cut many singles, mostly for local labels like D-Town. His biggest hit was I Want You To Have Everything (1964). He moved to LA in the early 70's but didn't have much luck, only recording a couple of singles. He died in 1990
You Won't Have To Wait Until X-mas, Lee Rogers, 1965
Download: You Wont Have to Wait Till Xmas, Lee Rogers
Day Fourteen - Santa Doesn't Come To Little Jewish Children's Houses, The Yid Kids, 1997
Courtesy of Rodney Bingenheimer (Rodney On The Roq)
Santa Doesn't Come To Little Jewish Children's Houses, The Yid Kids, 1997
Download: Santa Doesn't Come To Little Jewish Children's Houses, The Yid Kids
Day Fifteen - Fruitcake, The Superions, 2010
- 2 1/2 cups golden raisins (about 12 ounces)
- 2 cups dark raisins (about 9 ounces)
- 1 3/4 cups dried currants (about 8 ounces)
- 1 3/4 cups chopped glacéed fruits (such as red cherries, pineapple, and apricots)
- 3/4 cup chopped candied orange peel
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons dark rum
- 2 teaspoons each grated orange and lemon peels
- 1 teaspoon Lyle's Golden Syrup or light molasses
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
- 5 large eggs
- Mix first 6 ingredients in large saucepan. Add 1/2 cup rum; bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat. Mix in grated orange and lemon peels, syrup, and baking soda. Let stand until fruit mixture absorbs liquid, stirring often, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan, then line bottom and sides of pan with parchment; butter parchment. Sift both flours and salt into medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture; beat until just blended. Stir in fruit mixture. Transfer batter to pan. Cover pan with foil.
Bake cake 2 hours. Reduce oven temperature to 275°F; continue to bake covered until tester inserted into center comes out clean but slightly moist, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer to rack; remove foil. Pierce top of cake all over with skewer. Drizzle 6 tablespoons rum very gradually over cake. Cool completely in pan. Cut around pan sides to loosen; remove pan sides. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Wrap in foil; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving
Recipe from Bonappetit.com
Fruitcake, The Superions, 2010
Download: Fruitcake, Superions
Day Sixteen - Canadian Christmas, The Fleshtones, 2008
This week is a tribute to songs and performers from the Great White North (not always white but always great).
The Fleshtones are not from Canada but from from Queens, New York but their bass player, Ken Fox, is. Ken was an original member of Toronto punk band The Raving Mojos. He wrote Canadian Christmas.
Canadian Christmas, The Fleshtones, 2008
Download: Canadian Christmas, The Fleshtones
Day Seventeen - Takin' Care Of Christmas, Randy Bachman, 2008
In the mid 1970s, in Canada (or at least Southern Ontario) Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) where huge - size-wise, sound-wise and popularity-wise. They were all over the radio. They played anywhere and everywhere.
Takin' Care Of Business (off their second album) is perhaps their best known single. In 2008 Randy Bachman re-fashioned TCB for a Christmas release.
Takin' Care Of Christmas, Randy Bachman, 2008
Download: Taking Care Of Christmas, Randy Bachman
Day Eighteen - Twelve Days of Christmas, Bob & Doug McKenzie, 1981
Recently I was feeling homesick. A trip to the record store was in order, flipping through the record bins, there for a buck was - The Great White North by Bob and Doug McKenzie. Home sickness cured.
Bob (Rick Moranis) and Doug (Dave Thomas) hosted the Great White North(aka Kanadian Korner) on SCTV. It was a 2 minute segment dedicated to all things Canadian.
Reading Wikipedia I didn't realize how well this album did (I knew how popular it was in my neck of the woods) - Platinum (triple platinum in Canada), a Grammy Nomination, top ten on Billboard. A Beauty.
Twelve Days of Christmas, Bob & Doug McKenzie, 1981
Download: Twelve Days of Christmas, Bob & Doug
Day Nineteen - Down On Christmas, Stompin Tom Connors, 1970
One of Canada's most prolific artists, almost unknown outside of Canada's boarders, Stompin Tom has defined Canada for many Canadians. He's written over 300 songs, almost all of them about Canada and toured the country, shore to shore, many times. He ranked 13th on the list of greatest Canadians (Tommy Douglas, father of Canada's Medicare was number one). He is truly a unique individual, a strong believer in artist rights.
His Christmas album Merry Christmas Everybody is a classic.
Down On Christmas, Stompin Tom Connors, 1970
Download: Down On Christmas, Stompin Tom Connors
Day Twenty - Run Rudolph Run, Bryan Adams, 1987
The standard bearer for all Rock n Roll Christmas songs which followed, Run Rudolph Run (aka Run Run Rudolph) burst on to the scene in 1958, courtesy of Chuck Berry. Written by Johnny Marks (writer of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) and Marvin Brodie, Run Rudolph Run has been covered by many artists including Bryan Adams.
Run Rudolph Run, Bryan Adams, 1987
Download: Run Rudolph Run, Bryan Adams
Day Twenty One - All I Want For Christmas Is The Leafs To Win The Cup, Helix, 2013
This posted is dedicated to my sister (a leaf fan) and my brother (not a leaf fan).
It's hard to believe that Helix is still going - and going strong - after almost 40 years. As a teenager they often played the bars in my hometown (in fact they are playing there tonight, at the Moose Hall). I remember them stopping by the record store I worked in. They have had quite the prolific career opening for Rush, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, KISS, many others; recording over a dozen albums. A few years back they received a boost after being reference in an episode of The Trailer Park Boys.
The Toronto Maple Leafs last won the cup in 1966-67 season (1967 Canada's Centennial). The vast majority of Leaf fans have never experienced a Leaf hoisting Lord Stanley's trophy.
All I Want For Christmas Is The Leafs To Win The Cup, Helix, 2013
Download: All I Want for Christmas is the Leafs to Win the Cup, Helix
Day Twenty Two - Rockin Around The Christmas Tree, Anne Murray, 2008
Anne Murray, enough said.
Rockin Around The Christmas Tree, Anne Murray, 2008
Download: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Anne Murray
Day Twenty Three - A Quick One (Pete Townshend's Christmas), Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of The British Empire, 2007
Presents will be given.
Todays post is dedicated to Chris in Ottawa.
Billy Childish (Steven Hamper) is a hyphenate - painter, poet, writer, filmmaker, musician. As a musician he has been quite prolific, having recorded over 50 albums. Thee Headcoats might be the most well known of his various groups. The Who are a major influence on much of his work.
A Quick One (Pete Townshend's Christmas), Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians of The British Empire, 2007
Download: A Quick One (Pete Townsend's Christmas), Billy Childish
Day Twenty Four - It's Christmas Time, Mr. President, 2011
A heavy psychedelic afrofunk Christmas treat from France's Mr. President (Bruno Horvat).
It's Christmas Time, Mr. President, 2011
Download: It's Christmas Time, Mr. President
Day Twenty Five - A Groovy Christmas & New Year, Pee Pee Dynamite, early 1970s
Another slice of afrofunk.
Don't have much info on this one. It was originally released in early/mid 1970s on a small Ghana-based label (Argo).
A Groovy Christmas & New Year, Pee Pee Dynamite, early 1970s
Download: A Groovy Christmas & New Year, Pee Pee Dynamite
Day Twenty Six - Xmas Done Got Funky by Jimmy Jules & Nuclear Soul System, 1977
Jimmy Jules (Charley C. Julien) born in New Orleans, released his first single (under the name Jimmy Jules) on Atlantic in 1961. He was a backup singer for Marv Gaye, Otis Redding, Betty Everett , among others. He wrote songs for Johnnie Taylor, Etta James, The Three Degrees and Archie Bell & the Drells. He toured across the States and Europe from the 1960s into the 90s. These days he's an organist and teacher.
Xmas Done Got Funky by Jimmy Jules & Nuclear Soul System, 1977
Download: Xmas Done Got Funky, Jimmy Jules
Day Twenty Seven - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Darlene Love, 1963
I am among the faithful who believe A Christmas Gift For You From Phillies Records (aka Phil Spector's Christmas Album) is the greatest Christmas album of all time. Great Songs, Great Performances and the Spector "Wall of Sound" production. This is Art at it's highest form. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is from this album.
I am also of the faithful who believe Christmas truly starts when Darlene Love sings Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on the David Letterman Show. (watching this is a tradition my sister and I share - watching this every year together). Tonight marks the 19th appearance of Darlene Love singing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on Letterman.
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), Darlene Love, 1963
Download: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) Darlene Love
Day Twenty Eight - Santa's Got A Big Old Bag, The BellRays, 2005
Out of Riverside, California , The BellRays have been recording and gigging since 1991. Their unique garage rock n soul sound gives Santa's Got A Big Old Bag a kick.
Santa's Got A Big Old Bag, The BellRays, 2005
Download: Santa's Got A Big Old Bag, The Bell Rays
Day Twenty Nine - Signs of Christmas, James Brown, 1966
James Brown, The Godfather of Christmas Soul Music, released 3 Christmas albums and a handful of Christmas singles over his long career. A long career that saw him at his peak performing 330 nights a year and mantaining a torrent release schedule of singles and LPs. He was the hardest working man in show business.
Having grown up in poverty, Christmas was a special time for James. Many of his Christmas Songs are Classic. He died on Christmas Day, 2006.
Signs of Christmas, James Brown, 1966
Download: Signs Of Christmas, James Brown
Day Thirty - The Night Before Christmas, Alvin and The Chipmunks, 1963
Before creating Alvin and The Chipmunks, Ross Bagdasarian Sr (Dave Seville) was a songwriter and actor. He appeared on Broadway in Time of Your Life, in film in Hitchcock's Rear Window, as well as in The Greatest Show On Earth and Stalag 17. Among his early songs were Come on-a My House - a hit for Rosemary Clooney, Alfi and Harry and his most well known song, Witch Doctor. Alvin and the Chipmunks, with Bagdasarian provided all the voices, made their debut with The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) in 1958.
The Night Before Christmas, Alvin and The Chipmunks, 1963
Download: The Night Before Christmas, Dave Seville & The Chipmunks