Nov 20, 2013

Happy Holidays With Steve & Eydie And Many More!

Oh, happy day - or days, plural, I should say, because this is the time of year when most of us get time off from work. Who knows what trouble you'll get into? So go on now, put on your dancin' shoes, knock back some eggnog and dance, fool, dance:

Or chill with some festive holiday music. There's so much to choose from, but let's start with a classic. You can't go wrong with Steve & Eydie (especially if your parents are visiting), and given the recent passing of Eydie this year, this LP is especially poignant.

Next, an indispensable collection of Yuletide cheer with sultry soul. This is truly one of the best holiday CDs ev-ah! And, okay, I may be a teensy bit obsessed with it, but that's because it's so shocking to find a new-ish holiday CD that'll stand the test of time. I know, right? I'm still shocked.

I don't remember my family ever playing "A Merry Mancini Christmas" over the holidays - did yours? - but I wish they had. Actually, when you listen to it, you'll almost feel as if it was played when you were a child. There's something so homespun about it - with just a light kicker of jazz. And, yes, I'll confess, it actually does warm my heart (whenever I dig it up from the backyard).

Everything's Archie! If you can't get enough of The Archies, guess what? They put out a Christmas LP. Is it as good as you want it to be? Not exactly, but it's still fun (and kids, if you know or have any, will love it). Plus, there's one track, "Archie's Christmas Party" that sounds like Bananarama on speed with sleigh bells. Which is either fabulous or horrific, depending on your point of view.

And now for some mmmmm-buttah! Actually, just so you know, this isn't a new CD, but a new compilation, and it's a pretty darn good, bringing together the best of her 1967 and 2001 Christmas LPs. I love her version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas." It's sublime, like the best French manicure

I adore Kelly Clarkson, too. Her music? I kinda go back and forth - some of it I enjoy, some if it's like white noise. But rejoice, Clarkson fans, because her holiday CD is Clarkson at her best. Plus she does a smashing Big Band version of "My Favorite Things," which I would like to think is a big f-u to this Swiss Miss mess, but that's me (and, really, it could be true) (please let it be true).

Meanwhile, I don't want to neglect other faiths. Unfortunately, for my Kwanzaa friends out there, all I have is the single "Happy Kwanzaa" by Teddy Pendergrass (but who doesn't like Pendergrass?).

As for my friends out there celebrating Hanukkah, I just can't with this, but I wholeheartedly endorse Kenny Ellis' now classic 2005 "Hanukkah Swings!", and believe me, it earns that exclamation point. Who knew the "Dreidel Song" would swing so well? (not me) (although on second thought, it kind of makes sense). And can you really go wrong with a CD that includes "Hanu-Calypso?" I think not.

As a kid, I never got into "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" because it felt like it was trying to be "good for me" or teach me "life lessons" and I was way too hardcore for that. Yet I enjoyed the music, and this soundtrack includes not only the songs, but plenty of incidental music, the original network intro and a few promotional adverts, too. In other words, it's a Rudolph orgy!

Stand back! Grandmas everywhere are clamoring for La Boyle's latest seasonal offering. Say what you will about her (she's ugly as butt) (she's a crazy cat lady) (she's mentally unsound), but she does have a terrific voice. Yet too often in this CD, it's buried under overbearing production. Still, a few tracks, like "The Christmas Waltz" and "In The Bleak Midwinter," are lovely; they put her little-girl-lost voice right out front where it belongs. Suddenly, she seems pretty, and maybe, just maybe, not so batshit crazy after all.

Where almost done, but we gotta keep the holiday vibe going strong, don't you think? So who, I ask, can really kick-start the room? Wait, I know! This guy:

Hell, yeah, it's Ray Charles! Timeless singer, timeless songs. No brainer. And if you've seen "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," then you're already familiar with the title song. There's even a duet with Betty Carter. Believe me, this will fire up any holiday gathering. 

Are there Beatles fans out there? Count me as one of them, of course (from "Revolver" onward, at least) (and, yes, I know I'm going to get flack for that) (bring it on, yo!). This compilation of their seasonal greetings - on the BBC and elsewhere - doesn't exactly include complete songs, but instead features the lads chatting, joking and generally being "cheeky," as they say in the UK.

If some of you are making holiday mixes (you know who you are), drop-kick a few of these tracks in-between songs to shake things up a bit. Even non-Beatles fans will be charmed.

Have you O.D.'d on the holidays already? It's no surprise. My local CVS had Christmas decorations up the day before Halloween. Before. Everywhere you go, Mariah's screaming "Jingle Bells" or Michael Buble's warbling "Santa Baby," or God forbid, this train-wreck singing "A Very Ke$ha Christmas." There's no escape. The cure to what ails you? One word: Bongos (Tino Contreras' version of "Brazil" will make you levitate with happiness). Trust me on this one.

Maybe you don't want feel all "happy-happy" during the holidays. Maybe you want to feel all down 'n' dirty. I get it. We all get it (we don't want to see it, but we get it). And, no, I'm not talking just naughty, I'm talking filth. Pure mud. Interested? Then try Avenue D, the sexually explicit electroclash duo from Miami whose underground hit, "Do I Look Like A Slut?" is obscene, hilarious, and an anthem, of sorts, for proud hos everywhere. Include it in a mix of otherwise innocuous holiday songs and you'll really get the family's attention.

Have fun at all your holiday get-togethers, but remember, don't drink and drive, carry rubbers, clean that gunk out from beneath your fingernails (people notice!), and for every gift you receive, slap a Post-It note on it with the name of the person who gave it to you.

Why? Because, silly, there's nothing more embarrassing then re-gifting a junky ashtray or a Spirit Sister silver necklace or an All-In-One soup and salad bowl or a Map Of The World rayon pillow to the person who gave it to you. It can happen!

Happy Ho-Ho, everyone!

Leave a lump of coal or a pretty-pretty thought in the comments, if you like.


KH said...

Looks like the Mancini album is gone… Bummer.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Fear not, it's fixed!

Apple Fanboy Dude said...

Cool- thanks! Looking forward to hearing Hank's take on Christmas…

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You are most welcome. Happy Gobble-Gobble Day!