Sunday, 4 January 2009

Nichole's Christmas Mix

Well, there has been an embarrassment of riches here, with two cds from Nichole, each containing over twenty tracks. I have to confess that I have only been listening to the Christmas mix so far, and enjoying it hugely. So, here's my review ...

Deck the stills - Barenaked Ladies

A charming little opener, that reminded me of a round on 'I'm sorry I haven't a Clue' with the challenge being to sing the song 'Deck the Halls' using only the words Crosby, Stills and Nash. It made me smile.

There's no place like home for the holidays - Leon Redbone

A lovely sonorous little tune, in the western tradition - I could imagine Bob Wills singing this one. I love this man's voice, and definitely want to hear more of his work.

I'll be home for Christmas - Matchbook Romance

A complete change of tack, with an imposing intro of majestic guitars, bass and drums leading into a rather twee song that's at complete odds with the music behind it. An oddity, but quite fun as a Christmas tune.

Please come home for Christmas - Willie Nelson

Back to the country vibe with an old favourite now, singing a maudlin song about somebody wishing their wife would come home for Christmas (or if not Christmas, then by New Year's Night). Delightful, in that so-miserable-it's-cheerful C&W way.

Little Drummer Boy / Silent Night / Auld Lang Syne - Jimi Hendrix

This was a set that I hadn't heard before, and I'm mightily impressed. Hendrix truly was a genius with the electric guitar, producing sounds and emotions that were uniquely his own. I love the way he manages to bend notes and add vibrato to them without losing the sustain. The only thing that would make this better would be to lose the rather superfluous and unnecessary drum beat behind the guitar.

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! - Dean Martin

A smooth classic, with not much to say about it really, other than to wonder just who would eat popcorn at Christmas, exactly?

Have yourself a merry little Christmas - Ella Fitzgerald

Another classic, but a version that was new to me. Very much appreciated.

Even Santa Gets the Blues - Marty Stuart

Another genre to add to the mix, with some very laid back blues and some virtuoso guitar work. Another artist to add to the list for further investigation.

Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

A classic live performance from the King on the 1968 NBC TV special, that reminds us exactly how much we lost when Elvis died.

I want to spend Christmas with Elvis - Debbie Dabney

The perfect companion to the previous track!

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt & Henri Rene

Another loss to the world of music, Eartha Kitt really did have an amazing voice with an effortless delivery that sounds like melted chocolate. Delicious.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan

A bouncy, upbeat version of this carol, that turns into an extended medley, but this didn't really grab me as much as I thought it might.

Christmas in Prison - John Prine

A rather charming little ditty about spending the festive season behind bars.

O Holy Night - Wynonna Judd

This seemed a touch over-produced to me. I think that I would prefer to hear Wynonna Judd singing a cappella rather than with the rather twinkly and sugary musical accompaniment here.

Peace - Norah Jones

Ah, a simpler arrangement - just a piano and Norah Jones singing. Lovely.

Christmas Time is Here - Diana Krall

Continuing the mood, this is a surprisingly mellow, if not downbeat rendition.

White Christmas - Otis Redding

Otis has a mighty fine voice, but an annoying habit, I say, an annoying habit, I'll tell you one mo' time, an annoying habit of repeating, repeating certain bits of the lyrics.

Frosty the Snowman - Jackson 5

Ah, another wonderful classic from the days when Michael Jackson didn't actually look as white as Frosty himself.

Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano

I was expecting a bit more classical guitar on this track, rather than the smooth, lounge jazz that it turned out to be. Good all the same, and it has sort of grown on me.

Zat You Santa Claus? - Louis Armstrong

A lovely opening, with whistling, icy wind and sleigh bells before old Satchmo's gravelly voice asks the question in the title. A great bit of jazz.

Love for Christmas - Felix Gross

This sounds like an oldy, and it's another bit of jazz although of the more restrained variety than the preceding track. Great stuff, particularly the smoky sax solo.

Trim Your Tree - Jimmy Butler

More jazz, and Jimmy Butler manages to make his offer to 'trim your tree' sound utterly filthy, promising to bring along his 'hatchet and beautiful Christmas balls' and will sprinkle his 'snow' with abandon. Ban this sick filth now! ;-)

Santa's Secret - Johnny Guarnieri & Slam Stewart

I laughed out loud at the revelation of Santa's secret being his reefer habit. A wonderful gem of a song and utterly unexpected.

I have a Little Dreidel - Barenaked Ladies

Ah, this is much better than the previous medley, although it does sound a bit rude ...

The Christmas Song - Joe Williams

A lovely, laid back version of a classic. I particularly liked the haunting sax playing way back in the background somewhere.

Auld Lang Syne - Lou Rawls

A perfect end to the disc, with a stunning a cappella rendition of the song.

All in all, an excellent Christmas compilation with the vast majority of the songs being new to me and all enjoyable. Thanks, and this is one disc that will certainly be getting hauled out on an annual basis.

Now for the second disc ...

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