Thursday, December 05, 2013


The festive season is upon us, and stockings have been hung by the chimney with care... provided that by "stockings" you mean my upside down Christmas tree and dinosaur-infested nativity, and by "hung by the chimney" you mean randomly scattered about the house, and by "care" you mean vodka.

As I've been festooning the tree and Angry Johnny, I've been indulging my weakness for kitschy Christmas music. Between my Ella Fitzgerald Christmas albums (one sacred, one profane), a Very Chris Issak Christmas and various loopy Christmas burblings from Sufjan Stevens, I've been listening to a 3 CD set called 'A Nostalgic Christmas', which was given to me last year by one of the ladies in my office who doesn't like me very much.

It's terrible. There's Rosemary Clooney tearing herself away her vast collection of prescription pill bottles just long enough to belt out 'Jingle Bells' and 'Little Drummer Boy'. Then there's Frank Sinatra meandering his way through 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing', with all the reverence you'd expect from a man having an adulterous affair with Ava Gardner. There's also 'A Christmas Message' by one Charles Taylor, although whether it's the murderous Liberian warlord or just some forgotten 1960s warbler I couldn't say.

The turgid music isn't the only disappointment in this boxed set. Frankly, it was put together with about as much care and diligence as a Big Mac ordered at 3am from a McDonalds in a bad part of town. I don't see how else one can explain 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' by Rosemary Clooney being Track 10 of CD 2 and Track 1 of CD 3. Or 'Suzy Snowflake', again by Rosemary Clooney, being Track 13 of CD2 and Track 10 of CD 3.

Clearly someone had the job of churning out some product, and nobody cared much how he or she did it.

However this dull yuletide cloud does at least have a silver lining; this CD set introduced me to one of the coolest, snappiest little Christmas songs ever. Behold the the swinging glory of 'Zat You Santa Claus?' by the inimitable Louis Armstrong.

It's both Track 5 of CD 2 and Track 5 of CD 3. Sheesh.


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