Ho ho ho! Fa la la la la, la la la! It's time for the Kulture Kult Ink Kristmas Musik Guide! Don't be a grouch no matter how exasperating Christmas might be. Here's a Christmas Top 10 list of recommended tune-age to help survive if you're up against the wall and about to scream. There's no lumps of coal, except as noted. So say "No!" to bad Christmas music! Grab some grog, put yer feet up by the cyber heath. Enjoy!
#1] Santa's Got Mojo: A Electro-Fi Christmas Blues Celebration.
This indie CD tops my list because everybody will like it and it will never offend by being boring or bland. Think of it as a great blues rent party. Mel Brown + His Homewreckers' fiery blues guitars smoke the way through the new classic, "Don't Plan No Party This Christmas" [Hear]. Also the old chestnut roasting over an open fire standard, "Winter Wonderland" Jack DeKeyzer's delta steel blues take on "The 12 Days of Christmas" gets real low down [Hear]. The chords will make you shiver. By the "8th day" of Christmas, you n' Jack'll both be feeling like a "Hoochie Coochie Man" [or lady]. Your guests will be gladly hollering for a Christmas pipe, or reaching for a hot Toddie to fortify the old constitution, and blow those old blues away, doggone it!
Local Electro-Fi Canuckster Andrew Gallaway's roster of award winning Juno blues makers are stellar on tracks by stalwarts Fathead, Morgan David, and Snooker Pryor taking over the blues horns, harmonicas and guitars for a track or two. All this and more! Bottom line? Lots of stale old Christmas hard nuts get a good cracking in what is just one hands down kool album, Christmas style or not. It's just so lively and well done, well heck, folks won't be able to stop tapping their toes whether they like the blues or not. Go for it! Please note: probably easiest and best to buy directly from Andrew on his website @ Electro-Fi
Fallback/ More of the Same? "Santa's Got Mojo 2" on Electro-fi! For a taster try Fathead @ Santa's Drunk!
#2] Jacob Miller + Ray 1: Natty Christmas [1978 Rewind Version] [Hear]
This was a tough call! Recent reissue of these root reggae rockers' rub a dub 1978 Christmas album is easily Santa's Mojo's reggae equal. The pumping bass, chucka chucka reggae guitars, and Irie root's rap will prove an infectious music hit with most everybody whether they listen to reggae or not. All the Kristmas Klassic tunes are instantly recognizable too. Santa's Mojo however lands on top at #1 on my list. Natty Christmas might not exactly be to all ahem, non musical tastes. However, most listeners will probably have no clue whatsoever what Jacob + Ray are singing about in their trez kool island patois anyway. Take your pick.
Natty is "Christmas time in the ghetto"! And "Natty Dread's No A Santa Claus", that's for sure [Hear]. Both Santa and he like a Christmas pipe, or two or three but long hair and beards notwithstanding, truer words were never spoken! One track rolls into another for a good time Natty Santa reggae fest of smokin' Christmas stokers including "All I Want For Christmas [is My Collie Herb]" [Hear]. Jacob Miller + Ray I will "Deck the Halls" [Hear] with, well go figure it out yourself ..... And worry not! Justice prevails! The police arrive to establish law, good order and the American way before the "12 Days of Christmas" are over! It's quite hilarious. All in very good fun.
Two versions of Natty Christmas are available. You will probably find them on line if you search hard enough. One has Jacob Miller's face roughly added to a trad print of Jolly Ole St. Nick smoking his pipe. The other has Natty Santa in a ratty, old over sized costume holding open his bag of, ummmmm, gifts! Yeah that's it!!!!
The first is from an orignal rather rough, noisy vinyl copy. The second "1978 Rewind" version is a remaster/ remix with new rap overdubs included on some tracks by Red Rat and Turbulence. They are quite amusing too, despite or perhaps because of the gangsta act and are sure to impress anybody under ohhhhhhh ....... 30 or......... 40 or ........
Hmmmm! I'm not sure if this CD comes with a government warning but let's throw one in just in case! Attention: This disc should only be bought in Canada by Khristmas Karolers who have a bonafide prescription for Mr. Harper's Grinch Brand "Medical Marijuana" O' Cannabinoid's!!! So go put that in your vapour pipe and smoke it, Justin T! Maybe next Christmas eh!?
#3] Ulta Lounge Christmas Cocktails
Shake it up baby! Mambo! Twist! Shout! Big band/ small combo square rock and roll cocktail lounge klassic subtitle says it all: "Hi Fi Holiday Cheer from Santa's Bar". Think 1950's/ 60's prosperity boom! Smart setters! Hi fidelity tastes! Getting plastered at Christmas! Third spot Kulture Kult spot on our koolest khristmas album list is awarded for straight foward Christmas drink appeal while being snappy enough to entertain everybody without becoming a drunken snooze fest. Mix and stir with a strong dash of "So bad it's good" weirdness and voila! A real Khristmas Kult Klassic!
Compilation features plenty of kissy poo "Christmas Kisses"[Ray Anthony], swarmy " Winter Wonderlands" [Peggy Lee] and cascading Christmas Hollywood Strings [Jingle Bells]. A plethora of top big band music singers, instrumentalists and studio producers abound Christmas slumming it in orchestras and small combos [Dean Martin / Kay Starr]. Can't forget to mention the wurlitzer dude either [Santa's Coming/ White Christmas]!
Rabbits + Bunnies: Hugh Hefner at home in the Khristmas Lounge! 1950?!?
For a post cool take focus on the real men and playboy bunnies lounge headspace and the fascination with normalcy [check "Ring Those Christmas Bells" n/a] throw in a few "race singers" [Lou Rawls / Nat King Cole]. Some "latin sounds" [Rudolph Mambo]. Do I hear a rumble?! Ironically the whole worlds about to explode under foot with a social upheaval/ overhaul few originally sipping back their ultra lounge White Christmas Cocktails would've realized. There's still plenty here to raise an eyebrow or two if you are really listening. However, here's betting most partiers will be oblivious! It all just sounds like too much fun! You know better. Enjoy!
Fallback/ Supplementary: I've had Ultra-lounge Christmas Volumes 1-3 on pretty heavy rotation for many a Christmas now. The first disc is a clear cut winner though there's plenty more where that came from if you are so inclined. Vinyl reissues are also available! That is very authentic! What else? Cocktail dresses, thin black ties, and of course a cocktail/ mocktail shaker!
#4] Bing Crosby "Voice of Christmas: Complete Decca Christmas Songbook"
Der Bingle: Betcha he just met Natty! Ha!
Number 4 is a heaping serving of 100% "White[bread] Christmas" with all the homespun fixings! Big gift pack of the Bingle's best in this hefty 2 cd set is all you will probably ever want or need for the Kulture Kult Khristmas music bar. Less bellicose than Frankie [Sinatra] or Sammy [Davis Jr.]. Straighter than straight compared to old Deano [Martin]! Main "dolls", the Andrew Sisters [Jingle Bells] are featured throughout! Bing's sentimentality is so thick and oddly convincing [Christmas in Killarney] that he could've sold it by the gram bag. Swoon as old Bing croons [White Christmas 1942 + 1945], still in his Christmas toque, scarf and gloves or if indoors, around ye olde Christmas tree with his smoking jacket and pipe. 40's movie style orchestration might garner a few smirks, but it's hard not to get all teary eyed in a good way and boy can he sing!
Tip: Find the record version! You need it!
Throughout his long career der Bingle recorded countless Christmas albums and remakes. All his primo Decca recordings from the 1940's and 50's are here in one place. Lots of boomers will have grown up hearing Bing on the family record console every year for decades. Back in the day, these trax would've been released on 45 singles and short but sweet 20 minute record albums which were more powerful and moving without the danger of Christmas cake overdose we get here. If you see a decent used vinyl copy, or the new reissue, snap it up! Otherwise, sprinkle these tracks liberally in your Kulture Kult Khristmas mix [God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen]. Stir up the cockles of the frozen 21st Century heart for just a bit again over the Christmas season! And score a big one for Bing's beyond the ultra lounge authenticity + pureness of heart!
#5] Elvis Presley's "Elvis' Christmas Album"  [Hear]
Possibly death was a good career move for the so called "King of Rock and Roll". Even his title should've belonged to Chuck Berry or Carl Perkins, in my books. But our #5 Khristmas album finds Elvis in fine form firing on all his 1950's rocking blues and gospel cylinders in a very powerful vocal tour de force. On bended knee ye King of the entertainers gets down before manger and child. With a sneer makes all the bobby soxxers cream their jean belting out the triumphant Santa Bring My baby Back + Santa Claus is Back in Town. His million dollar fifties white boy who can sing like a "negro" vocal histrionics get one damn fine work over on White Christmas and the perhaps more apt "Blue Christmas" [N/A] steals the show. Big secret here is that the second side of the disc was actually a remarkable Elvis goes gospel stand alone collection of rock o' the ages trax like Little Town of Bethlehem + It's No Secret. At it's worst "Elvis Christmas" 1957 is a "so bad it's good" klassic. At it's best it's a thoroughly good Elvis album from back in the rock and roll hay-day. Take your pick! Either way: Enjoy!
Buyer Beware: Elvis recorded any number of schlock Christmas albums afterwards for many, many years! Accept no substitutes for this Christmas 57 album! Cover features the Kings faced wrapped up like a Christmas present. Inside the gate fold sleeve were bonus cheesecake photos of our 50's teen dream striking oddly homo-erotic facial expressions for the girls. Go figure. A time piece, not to be missed!
#6] Phil Spector: "A Christmas Gift for You!"
Phil Spector's roster of girlie R+B singers are all here along with his trade mark "wall of sound" guitars, horns, drums, and chorus etc. etc. etc. This sparkly snow tinged trip back to early 60's teenage angst has weathered the decades incredibly well! "I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus" [Ronettes] is a sexually charged Christmas vocal orgy that's yet to be topped! Rudolph's Nose is sure getting pretty red [Crystals]. Still, make no mistake "Christmas [Darling Come Hone Soon]" [Darlene Love] is the dangling chestnut that originally scored big as the hit single from this superb, and ever so powerful and smooth Khristmas klassic #6 album. And each teenage opera of the heart despite the blatant innuendo still sounds so darn innocent too! Today you can bet everybody would be singing something outright vulgar and obscene instead. Be sure to add this album to your Khristmas mix!
Versions: The original vinyl album and later CD both feature the very early 60's "Christmas" fan cover. Later 70's + vinyl copies used the Phil dress up cover instead. The latter are the kool collector album should you wish to go vinyl. Spector makes a very scrawny, sorry assed teen Santa idol on the cover indeed, his seemingly reassuring platitudes on the album outro "Silent Night" notwithstanding! Claims to fame? Psssst Phil! It was never you -it was the amazing singers!
#7] Ventures "Christmas With The Ventures" [Hear]
It's 1965 and these all American boys still don't even know the times they are a changin', baby! Textbook Ventures read on a Christmas album lands at #7 on the kool list with a straight up Rock Guitar 101 set. No excess surf feedback. No musical soul whatsoever, rubber or blue. As a sop for the times the note perfect guitar strains of the Beatles "I Feel Fine" wind in to then only promptly segue right back out again [Rudolph]. Bottom line is the Venture's bedrock, very proficient, tried and true versions of all the old Christmas standards like [Santa Claus is Coming] [Sleigh Ride] + [Jingle Bells]. This Christmas is sure to anchor any top Christmas music orgy firmly in the rock and trad departments, no apologies given or sought. Here's to simpler times!
#8] Blue Hawaiians "Christmas on Big Island"
Mix the Ventures with a Hawaiian lounge surf band high on Valium. You get the playfully languid "Christmas on Big Island" album tripping in at #8 on the top 10 Koolest! Hawaiian, pedal steel and surf roots mix, tantalize, bewilder, then morph to do it over and over again. Pleasant Christmas aural wall paper with a hint of you are being played by this crack ace studio band who definately know their stuff, have paid their dues, could do this in their sleep. Regretfully, all audio and video links for the "Big Island" seem currently blocked on Youtube. [Tut! Tut lads! Very bad for promo/ sales!] Will see if I can add later. A comparison of the Blue Hawaiians take on "White Christmas" and "Blue Christmas" tells all. "Mele Kalikimaka" gets the ultra lounge treatment supreme. "We Four Kings", a surf drum makeover. Lots more!
#9] Johnny Cash "Christmas With Johnny Cash"
The Man in Black meets Hank Williams at Christmas time. The gravelly prophetic voice of Johnny's hangover regrets contains enough folk wisdom from the bottom of the bottle to continue to add a quirky everyman's take to the old Christmas standards and then some [I'll Be Home For Christmas] + [Christmas As I Knew It].
Versions: Like Elvis, Cash recorded an endless list of Christmas albums over the years. The later Johnny Cash Christmas recordings have fuller voice and arrangements and can get mawkish and overdone. Better this stripped down, early Cash sound like on his final Def American Recordings. For your convenience, I've posted the correct cover art above.
#10] Karajans Mozart Requim [KV 636]
Christmas morning, after the presents and hoopla are over, I like to grab my Christmas coffee for a quiet spiritual Christmas moment. This is the album I play! After that, the Christmas tunes come off heavy rotation [except for the odd party or two or three or .....] and it's back to our regular scheduled musical programming for another year. Thank God! I hope you like this addition at #10 as much as I do. Hope the Kulture Kult Khristmas Top 10 Klassics help get you through Christmas this year too.
Best bet, in my books, is to rip all your Christmas CD's to Itunes and make a playlist of the best trax. Add to it each year. Numerous collections of everything else, kool and not, will nicely round out your collection. The list above should get you off to a good start!
Add your own favourites below!!!!!