It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like (a Very Odd) Christmas Print
Music - Music News
Written by John James   
Tuesday, 11 December 2001 18:00
• It’s time for holiday music to get the mood – or the party – started right. No muzak or Mitch Miller here, mates. So allow me to share my highlights of this season’s funkiest new Christmas CDs. Cut right to the chase of the bitchin’-est of the bunch: the power rawk girl-power duo of Evil Beaver and its Smells Like Christmas Spirit on the Johann’s Face record label. This bass-and-drum combo of Evie Evil and Laura Ann Beaver are backed by Chicago’s Brassholes, and they mix up an amalgam of influences and styles. From sludgy guitar fuzz rollicking with riot-girl pep on the title track and “Soulful Christmas” to the indie-rock acoustic take on “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” this nine-track CD is lots of fun. Alongside a female Elvis impersonator, Patty Elvis, two strange covers are found within: a white-girl sock-it-to-me spirit take on Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” and – dig this – Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”

• MTV and Atlantic Records spread the top-40 sugar thick on the TRL Christmas collection, with *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, and TLC in the first five songs. And while I had to suffer through Bif Naked’s cover of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” I’ve got to purr for the slick opening track, Willa Ford’s sexy spin on “Santa Baby (Gimme Gimme Gimme).” Other highlights include Smash Mouth’s “Better Do It Right” and Saturday Night Live’s Jimmy Fallon and his crunchy-ice memory of the neighborhood “snowball” assaults.

• The grown-ups’ table will enjoy the holiday advice from Dr. Duke Tumatoe and his It’s Christmas (Let’s Have Sex) on the J-Bird label. As a regular on the Bob & Tom radio show and a juke-joint barnstormer, Tumatoe pens witty electric blues and party music from his native Indianapolis. This new 10-track set features songs like “Eat Me – I’m a Turkey,” “Don’t Phhttt on My Christmas This Year,” and the R&B groover “All I Want for Christmas Is to Lay Around & Love on You.”

• The best indie-label collection I’ve heard this season is the Parasol label’s Stuck in the Chimney: More Christmas Singles CD. This is the second holiday set from the Urbana, Illinois-based label, and while the artists aren’t well-known, the 16 tracks hold many a gem, from Sukilove, Jennifer Jackson, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and Toothpaste 2000. Cool covers are sprinkled liberally, such as The Green Pajamas version of “O Holy Night,” White Town’s take on Teenage Fanclub’s “December,” Doleful Lion’s try at Alex Chilton & Big Star’s “Jesus Christ,” Fonda’s spin on Wham’s “Last Christmas,” and Absinthe Blind’s cover of “Silent Night.”

• Guitar slingers and surfboard swingers will rejoice beachside with a new Gary Hoey collection entitled The Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey! on the Surfdog imprint. The 17-track set collects all his radical fretboard Christmas classics as well as soaring versions of “Ave Maria,” “Carol of the Bells,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

• If progressive rock and gorgeous vocals are your slice of heaven, the Magna Carta label has just released The December People and its Sounds Like Christmas collection. The band is a mysterious collective of famous musicians who would rather go unnamed, with an invitation-only list of rock royalty as guest vocalists, including John Wetton, Steve Walsh, and Robert Berry. This assemblage asks questions such as, “What if Pink Floyd had included a cover of ‘Silent Night’ on the Wish You Were Here album?” Or: “What would ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ sound like if performed by Queen?” The answers to these questions are marvelous, like John Lennon’s “Merry X-Mas/War Is Over” if recorded with the Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles and “The First Noel” à la King Crimson. The CD features a new Kansas track, “The Light,” and one special sound collage, “Christmas Poem,” that channels the same ground as The Beatles’ “Number 9” from the White Album. Happy holidays!

Television Alert:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Garbage tonight, Sting on Thursday, Macy Gray on Friday, Neil Diamond on Monday, and Yolanda Adams on Tuesday; The Late Show with David Letterman serves up Cake on Thursday and Diana Krall on Friday; Late Night with Conan O’Brien hosts Los Straitjackets on Monday overnight; The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn presents Saves the Day on Thursday overnight and the compelling Sigur Ros on Friday overnight; and Saturday Night Live’s musical guest this weekend is No Doubt.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, Dec. 18:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change

Bell Biv Devoe – BBD (Universal) all new from the former New Edition crew

The Beltones – Cheap Trinkets (TKO) the band’s first full-length album, featuring a cover of Bob Marley’s “Concrete Jungle”

DMX – Angel (Def Jam) mini-movie DVD featuring Mary G. Blige as his guardian angel

Fear Factory – Digital Connectivity (Roadrunner) DVD and VHS collecting all the band’s videos, live footage, recording sessions, and eight previously released audio tracks

Hatebreed – Perseverance (Victory)

Lil’ Bow Wow – Doggy Bag (So So Def/Columbia)

Master P – Game Face (No Limit)

Mystical – Tarantula (Jive)

Nas – Stillmatic (Columbia)

No Doubt – Rock Steady (Trauma/Interscope) featuring myriad producers, including The Cars’ Ric Ocasek, Timbaland, Dr. Dre, and Sly & Robbie

Ruff Ryders – Volume Three (Interscope)

Slaughter & The Dogs – Beware of Slaughter & The Dogs (TKO) all new with a cover of the Beatles’ “Hard Days Night” and a newly recorded version of “Hell in New York”

Strobe Talbot – 20 Pop Songs (Alternative Tentacles) featuring Jad Fair and Mick Hobbs of Half Japanese

various artists – The Fast & The Furious: More Music from & Inspired by the Motion Picture (Island) fuel-injected tracks from Saliva, Hoobastank, Roni Size, BT, and Primer 55