Cover of Happy Holidays
Since it?s Christmas, it might be a good time to do another one of these hypothetical mixes! Granted, to rustle up all these songs might take a while, but at least you?ll be ready for next year! So, here you go ? enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
1. Christmas Turkey FanFare / Born of MEAT, from Heaven to Hell * The First Noel – V/Vm & The Electronic Fly Symphony [from Turkey]
Turkey was a compilation 7″ put out by V/Vm Test Records, the label owned V/Vm, oddly enough. This is the first two tracks from that 7″, and the last cut is the first track on the flip-side. To be honest, this is one of the only V/Vm things I’ve heard, although I do dig it. Apparently, their stuff runs the gamut from electronica to mashups to noise, two genres of which in particular should be pretty obvious from this track.
2. The Stripper’s Holiday – An Ensemble Of Lonesome Fellas [from Homeless For The Holidaze]
This is a great medley of “The Stripper” and some well-known Christmas songs. Homeless For The Holidaze is a great Christmas compilation put out by Jim Freeman of ’63 Burnout. For more information, check out the Kittysneezes Interview with ’em!
3. New Year’s Revolution – Graham Parker [From Christmas Cracker]
Graham Parker tends to occupy a similar space for me as Elvis Costello ? but since I love Elvis, that’s probably a good thing. This is a New Year’s song from his 3 song Christmas EP (six songs, if you include the fact that demo versions of each song are also included). It’s a pretty cool one.
4. Mud (Christmas 1976) – Hilly Kristal [From The CBGB’s Christmas Single]
Sadly, this year, Hilly Kristal, the owner of CBGBs‘ died. I thought it was appropriate to include both sides of his 1976 single given as a Christmas gift to CBGB’s patrons. This was the flip side, and it was written and recorded for his daughter. It’s a cute story about a pig who is happy to receive mud for Christmas, since, well, after all, he’s a pig. And pigs like mud. It’s pretty sweet and good natured.
5. Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas ? Eels [From Electro-Shock Blues Show]
Here’s a live Eels cut from one of their limited-edition live albums. The studio version of this was released on a promo-only EP to promote E’s second pre-Eels solo record, Broken Toy Shop, but this one’s more rockin’. Because that’s what the Eels are good at. Rockin’.
6. Christmas Piglet – The Presidents Of The United States Of America [From O Come All Ye Faithful: Rock for Choice]
This is a goofy, fun one. It has very little to do with Christmas, but those typically make the best Christmas songs. Just ask anyone who’s spun “My Favorite Things” this time of year. But who doesn’t like pigs? I love pigs ? they’re very smart AND very delicious. That’s the best combination ever.
7. Carol of the Bells – The Bird And The Bee [From a Digital-Only Single]
Of the traditional carols, this is one of my favorites, although I never knew the lyrics. I knew it HAD lyrics, but no idea what they were other than ?Ding, hear them ring? and suchlike. But it does have more words, and the way Inara George sings them makes them sound sad and wistful. A lot of things sound that way from her. Mostly wistful, but there?s a sad element to this one, too. Maybe it?s just me.
8. Deck The Halls/Sleigh Ride – The Moog Cookbook [From Bartell]
I only a few months ago found out that the Moog Cookbook had a third album ? which was great, since I loved their first two. It?s an odds-and-sods compilation, including a few remixes they did for other people as well as some of the covers they cut for B-sides. The last part of the disc, though, is a Christmas EP they recorded. Unlike a lot of their stuff, this one actually sounds less like homage to the Moog records of the 60s and one that could actually be one from that vintage.
9. Thank God It’s Not Christmas ? Sparks [From Kimono My House]
This is totally not a Christmas song. Even says so in the title of the song. However, I do not care. It is Sparks, and they are AWESOME. As is this song. As is the album title?s pun.
10. Your Christmas Whiskey – The Minus 5 [From Oh Santa! New & Used Christmas Classics]
There were quite a few songs from Yep Roc?s new Christmas sampler that I could have chosen. It actually took a lot of restraint to not go with more. I had to choose this one, though. It IS the Minus 5 after all. And I love the Minus 5. Obviously. It?s actually a relatively up-beat song considering the title.
11. It’s Christmas Time – Sun Ra [from The Singles]
Of all people, I?d probably have least expected Sun Ra to do a Christmas single. But here it is! It really sounds like some of his really early stuff, but there?s still some production on there that?s a bit out-there and ahead of its time and whatnot. Looking up a bit more info about it, it?s officially by The Qualities, a vocal group produced and put together by Sun Ra (with him playing harmonium). To be honest, it?s not the best song in the world, but still ? Sun Ra! Christmas! Together! Forget Mars, Christmas on Saturn is where it?s at!
12. That Was the Worst Christmas Ever! – Sufjan Stevens [From Songs for Christmas]
I like the title on this one. Musically, it?s a pretty straight-forward Sufjan Stevens song, nothing too terribly surprising from him. Of course, there?s nothing wrong with a straight-forward Sufjan Stevens song ? he?s damn good at writing those. So who?s gonn complain? No one, that?s who. Particularly since it?s a GOOD straight-forward Sufjan Stevens song.
13. Christmas Cards – They Might Be Giants [From O Tannenbaum]
The flipside to the “O Tannenbaum” single, this has never been released elsewhere. A pity, I always thought. Even the ripoff CD release Holidayland didn’t feature this, though it had the A-side on it. I believe this is one of the few They Might Be Giants songs credited to the band members aside from John and John in addition to TMBG ? which makes me think that this song was improvised as a quick B-side to keep the single from warping. Which is fine, and sometimes those are the best.
14. Kentucky Homemade Christmas – Fluffy Kittens [From The Compleat Fluffy Kittens]
I love the Fluffy Kittens; unfortunately, they’ve broken up, but their closest analog is probably The Ditty Bops; they’ve got a similar style and sound. This is an unreleased demo of a cover of the Kenny Rogers Christmas song. Some of the demo tracks were way more electronic than the stuff they performed live or put on the only release, the 3-song EP, and this is one of them. (They also had a cover of “Hooray For Santy Claus” from Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, which was much more electronic and almost sort of dancy.) Still, though, it’s too bad that they broke up, because they were one of my all-time favorites. And The Ditty Bops so need to cover “Eleanor”, because that song is magnificent and should be heard by the world!
15. Merry Christmas From The Family – Jill Sobule [From It’s The Thought That Counts]
Written by Robert Earl Keen and covered by quite a few country and alt. country artists, here’s a version by someone who isn’t terribly related to either the Country Music or Alt. Country scene! I love Jill Sobule’s stuff, and she does a bang-up version of this hilarious song. The Montgomery Gentry version is probably the one most people are familiar with, but while that one is pretty good, too, I prefer this one.
16. Santa’s Gonna Come In A Stagecoach – Buck Owens [From Christmas With Buck Owens & His Buckaroos]
I would start by asking if there’s anyone out there who doesn’t like Buck Owens, but I know my mom doesn’t, so there goes that hypothetical question. But, OK, is there anyone other than my mom who doesn’t like Buck? I didn’t think so. This is from Buck’s Christmas record, although unlike some of the cuts from it (like “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy”), this one didn’t end up getting covered a whole bunch. I’m not sure why ? maybe it’s too old-themed; not many stagecoaches anymore? but then again, there weren’t really any in the 1960s when this was recorded, either. Either way, though, it’s a great tune.
17. Office Xmas Party – Los Abandoned [From Mix Tape]
I suppose this is a sort of questionably-Christmas one of a few on this list, but I really enjoy the song, so there you go. Actually, Mix Tape was a really good album from last year. Sadly, I don’t think Los Abandoned really broke out the way they should have, but there’s always their next album. Hopefully. Or, apparently not ? I just looked them up to see what they were doing, and apparently they broke up at the end of October. At least you can get their album for just five bucks through the Band’s store. Along with a few five-dollar T-shirts and also an EP.
18. Christmas – The Posies [From Just Say Noel]
Not a cover of the Who song (I always find funny that that one gets tagged as a Christmas song, despite not really being all that Christmasy, being a mediation on whether or not the deaf, dumb and blind can be Saved), but a very good song none-the-less, and one that actually is probably a little bit LESS Christmasy than the Who song. Actually, it’s pretty dang depressing. This was from the Geffen Records Christmas Sampler from 1996, and featured some cool stuff, and some cool acts. Like Beck’s “Little Drum Machine Boy” and XTC’s “Thanks For Christmas” (the latter of which by no means exclusive to that compilation?), for instance. Or, heh, “The Closing Of The Year” from the cast of the film Toys.
19. There Ain’t No Santa Claus On The Evenin’ Stage – Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band [From The Spotlight Kid]
This one doesn’t even really try to be a Christmas song, and is probably even more depressing than the Posies cut, but I love Captain Beefheart, and so I’m gonna include him wherever I can. Actually, I suppose, in a weird way it IS kind of a Christmas song, as it’s about the downtrodden and oppressed, and you could probably make an argument that it’s reminding us that we shouldn’t forget them in this season (or any time, really). But I won’t. I’m just going to say that it’s a great song by a great performer.
20. Flexible Flyer – Brian Dewan [From The Operating Theater]
One of those songs that’s a Christmas song mostly by dint of being about Winter. But I don’t mind. I really dig Brian Dewan ? partially because of his immense creativity when it comes to building things. He’s playing an electric zither (sort of like an electric guitar with a whole bunch more strings, to paraphrase Tom Lehrer in a much less eloquent way) which he built himself ? and his new project is Dewanatron with his cousin Leon, where they build analog synthesizers and house them in beautiful wood cabinetry to make them as much of furniture as instruments. He also makes filmstrips and shrines, one of which appears on the cover of Lincoln by They Might Be Giants. And he did the cover of David Byrne’s Uh-Oh. And the internal artwork of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. And and and. His new album is on Eschatone Records, which is possibly the greatest label name I’ve ever heard.
21. Holiday Mood – Apples in stereo [From Oh Santa! New & Used Christmas Classics]
You can never go wrong with the Apples in stereo, and that’s a fact. It’s in all your science textbooks. (Somewhere at the back.) This was first released last year as a digital download via Yep Roc, their new label, but now it’s on the Yep Roc Christmas Sampler. And, as I mentioned with the Minus 5 cut, there’s many more from that disc that I came very close to choosing as well, but I wanted to have room for other stuff. Anyway, if I’d done that, then I probably would have just told you to buy your own copy of Oh Santa! and maybe seen if I could have got Yep Roc to pay me to write the notes for each track. But they didn’t, and so I won’t. You’ll just have to buy Oh Santa! and make up your own notes for the rest of the cuts.
22. Down By The Pharmacy – The Young Fresh Fellows [From Merry Croutons, Mr. Gulp Gulp]
Unlike some of the others with “Christmas” or “Santa” in the title that really aren’t Christmas songs, this one IS. It’s “Down By The Pharmacy” from the first Young Fresh Fellows album, The Fabulous Sounds Of The Pacific Northwest with new Christmas-related lyrics. This was from a fan-club-type Christmas Cassette, Merry Croutons, Mr. Gulp Gulp, a full album of stuff released right around the time of the first record. It sounds pretty much recorded on the fly, but that’s partly what makes the album so much fun. It really has a fun, party vibe to it. Put this track on at your next Christmas party and people will think that you’ve booked the world’s worst funk band to play and have a great time with the other guests.
23. Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) – Asobi Seksu [From the split 12″ single Seasons Greetings From PAS/CAL & Asobi Seksu]
Asobi Seksu are a pretty cool band ? they’re from New York with a Japanese frontwoman. This is their cover of the Ramones classic (I believe, technically, it’s credited usually as a Joey Ramone solo cut, but Ramones is Ramones). It’s not as rockin’ as the original, but it’s not quite as dreamlike as their usual stuff ? it’s a pretty good mix of the two styles. I have to say, I do prefer the original, but then, it’s very hard to top the Ramones at anything. The closest I can think of is Tom Waits’ original of “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”, but the Ramones even give HIM a run for his money on that one? and they might just top him, too. And topping Tom Waits? That’s nigh impossible. So, hey, Asobi Seksu shouldn’t feel bad that their version isn’t as good as the original ? few things are, and they definitely do a perfectly good cover.
24. I Wish You Merry Christmas – Hilly Kristal [From The CBGB’s Christmas Single]
This was the A-Side to Hilly’s single, and the only thing he recorded until near the end of his life, and he did a full album. This is a pretty straight-forward Christmas song ? no singing pigs or cute stories ? but it is still a GOOD Christmas song. The amusing thing is, even though it’s what the “C” in CBGB’s stands for, it’s a lot more country-sounding than you’d expect for the man behind the nexus of the American punk and new wave movement.
25. Artoo-Detoo, We Wish You A Merry Christmas – Brian Dewan [From The Tarquin Records All Star Holiday Extravaganza]
This is a pretty cool compilation from the label probably most known for putting out a lot of the James Kochalka Superstar records (and, likewise, he appears on this compilation a few times as well). I mentioned earlier that Brian Dewan’s been working a lot with electronics lately ? you can definitely tell that on this cut (despite it being from 1997 ? it HAS been a long-held interest for him; after all, he’s very involved with the Raymond Scott estate, as well as being in the Raymond Scott Orchestrette tribute act). It’s a cover of the song from the Star Wars Christmas Record. It’s typically written as “R2D2”, though the Official Star Wars Spelling is “Artoo-Detoo”. I don’t know why I know that; I’m not even that big into Star Wars. I mean, I like it OK, but? Anyway. Brian Dewan’s got a great voice, which I don’t think he gets enough credit for, but considering that he’s so talented with just about everything else under the sun, I suppose people figure that he’s got to have SOMETHING he’s good at that he DOESN’T get enough credit for. But still, dude can sing.
26. Tiffany Sequence m. 22 (Fa La La) – An Ensemble Of Lonesome Fellas [from Homeless For The Holidaze]
And this one here is possibly my favorite cut from Homeless For The Holidaze, which is based on a bit from the soundtrack of Tiffany Memorandum by Riz Ortolani. When I listened to this album, this one just struck out at me as being not only a really cool piece of music, but a really cool arrangement as well.
27. What’s In Our Christmas Stocking – V/Vm [from Turkey]
And, the other cut from Turkey, it’s a nice little stinger to end on.