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Archive for the ‘El Vez’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: STARBUCKS Hi-Fidelity Holiday (1998).

This is one of my favorite Holiday CDs.  Say what you will about Starbucks (and I know you will), they know their audience (even if I don’t drink coffee).  Almost the entire CD is excellent, or at least in that groovy Hi-Fi style.  There are a few songs that don’t quite fit with the others, but overall, this is a keeper.

ESQUIVEL-“Jingle Bells”
I love Esquivel, and this space age jingle Bells is just the most fun.  You look ravishing tonight.

KEB’ MO’-“Jingle Bell Jamboree”
Keb’ Mo’ is a great performer, but this song doesn’t quite fit on this CD.  Especially after Esquivel.  Maybe if it was a little later in the sequence?  But the song itself is great and should be heard more at Christmas time.

COCTEAU TWINS-“Winter Wonderland”
I have loved Cocteau Twins for decades.  This version of “Winter Wonderland” has been a perennial favorite.  I love what they do with the song and how they keep it faithful but make it their own.  This should have followed Esquivel.

DEAN MARTIN-“Baby It’s Cold Outside”
This song is problematic for many reasons.  But if you can get past the creepiness, Dean’s version is fun.  It’s interesting that the female singers are practically a chorus of voices.

COMBUSTIBLE EDISON-“Sleigh Ride”
I’ve pretty much forgotten about Combustible Edison, but I love this swinging instrumental version of this song.  It’s totally terrific.

LEONARD COHEN-“Hallelujah”
This is not a Christmas song.  At all. It is also so over played that I never really want to hear it again.

XTC-“Thanks for Christmas”
I love this song.  It’s bright and happy and the XTC voices and guitars are just perfect.

EL VEZ-“Christmas Wish”
I have a soft spot for El Vez, but man I don’t care for this version of this song.  It’s not bad, but I kept thinking it was some B list actor form a 1950s rock n roll film (like Arch Hall).  I suppose if it was more in the El Vez spirit I’d enjoy it more.

JAMES BROWN-“Merry Christmas, Baby”
I like this song except it always bugs me that there’s a line about not being drunk but being all lit up like a Christmas Tree.  James seems a little not into this recording, to be honest.

THE ALARM-“Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
This song bugs me.  I think it’s the obnoxious (but well meaning) idea that war can be over if we want it.  But whatever.  This version is kind of flat, which is springing given The Alarm is all stadiumed out most of the time.

THE TEMPTATIONS-“Little Drummer Boy”
This song is tough to pull off.  The Temptations were a little flat at first I thought, but they pulled through to the end and won me over.

PEGGY LEE-“I Like a Sleighride (Jingle Bells)”
This song is weird and fun.  The “I like a sleighride” chorus is weird and kind of creepy, but it’s got a real fun feel overall.

ROBBIE ROBERTSON-“Christmas Must Be Tonight”
So I listened to this song and had literally no recollection of ever hearing it before–even though I have listened to this disc every year for a decade.  And even now, I have no recollection of it either.

THE BLUE HAWAIIANS-“We Four Kings (Little Drummer Boy)”
Is it because I have heard every Christmas song a million times that I gravitate to the oddball recording?  Probably.  I love this surf guitar instrumental version of “We Three Kings,” it brightens my day.

BOBBY DARIN-“Christmas Auld Lang Syne”
This is a classic.  It used to bug me that he goes so over the top with the LOOOOOOORD business at he end, but it doesn’t bug me much anymore–its makes me smile.  I really like the melody and the way the songs are conflated.

Overall this is a great collection of songs.  It’s not all as groovy and space-age as it appears, but it’s still good holiday fun.

[READ: December 1, 2017] “Skinks”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This story is told by a little boy, Wendell, who wants to be called Dilly.  He tells us that Jesse doesn’t like it when he calls him Dad.  Jesse always says “Two things.”  Like “One, your dad left a long time ago and two, although you don’t want to say he’s your dad, he still is.  I’m not.  Clear?

Clear.  Clear as mud, he says.

Jesse is now in the hospital and the boy has been talking to his mom a lot.

When he goes into Jesse’s room the pastor is in there.  “He thinks all the answers are in that book,” his mother says to him.  She then says to the pastor, “I know it’s serious, but that was years ago when you both loved getting into trouble.  He’s different now.”

The pastor bristles at this and says “some of us know better than to get into fights over things people say.”

There’s a lot of observations from the boy about his mother (and what both she and Jesse say about women in general)

And sometimes he just goes in and talks to Jesse, which he thinks is weird, but he does it anyway.  When he heard there was skink in the hospital he knew Jesse would want to see it. “It’s a weird word but I like it.”

But mom and a police officer enter and Dilly hears the officer say, “I’m sorry, but things have changed.”  Before he can leave the room he sees that Jesse is now restrained.

The pastor comes out while Dilly is outside and asks Dilly what he’s doing.  When Dilly mentions the skink, the pastor gives him some suggestions about bait and ways to catch them.   During this brief conversation, a lot of truths come out.  About Jesse, about Dilly’s father and about the pastor.

But I feel a little too much like Dilly in this story–like everyone is talking around me.  There’ a few too many gaps that I can’t fill in to fully get what happened.

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SOUNDTRACK: PUNK ROCK XMAS (1995).

Long before it was cool to make “punk” things for mass consumption, Rhino released this Christmas album.  I bought it because I was pretty tired of Christmas songs back in 1995 and this was a pretty good antidote.

Listening to it twenty years after it came out, I was surprised to hear how many songs would fit pretty nicely in a contemporary rocking playlist.  Although in the true spirit of punk, there are a number of songs that wouldn’t fit at all, either because of the very anti-Christmas sentiment or the bad language.  I have labelled those [NSFC] Not Safe for Christmas.

THE RAVERS-(It’s Gonna Be A) Punk Rock Christmas
This song is actually quite fun.  Santas’s gonna be a Sex Pistol for a Day and Farrah Fawcett is going to change her hair.
THE DICKIES-Silent Night
This is a fairly faithful rendition of the song, just done as a surf punk song with the nasal vocal delivery of The Dickies.  I’ve know this song for decades and have rocked out to it on many a non holiday eve.
SLOPPY SECONDS-Hooray For Santa Claus Theme From ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’
This is a rocking cover of the hilarious song from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.  I can’t even imagine how they know it as I only know the movie from MST3K.
FEAR-Fuck Christmas [NSFC]
This song starts off like a slow ponderous song and then it ends abruptly with a hardcore chant of the title.
THE GREEDIES-A Merry Christmas
This is a fairly straight punkish blend of Christmas songs, puts some pep in your ho ho ho.
THE DAMNED-There Ain’t No Sanity Claus
This song is just great, Christmas themes or no.  In fact I don’t even know what the rest of the words are and it could easily NOT be a Christmas song–except for Santa Ho Ho Hoing at the end.
PANSY DIVISION-Homo Christmas [NSFC]
Kudos to Rhino for adding this aggressively queer song to the mix.  But it is quite explicit.  Also, I never noticed before but the opening chords could easily have the harmonica solo form Blues Traveler’s big hit fit in there very nicely (and wouldn’t that be a hoot).
BOUQUET OF VEAL-It’s Christmas [NSFC]
This is a mildly inappropriate song about sex and drugs but it’s catchy and short.  You could probably slip it in without people noticing.  (That’s what she said).
THE CELIBATE RIFLES-Merry Xmas Blues
The Celibate Rifles were an Australian punk band.  I don’t really know them at all.  The verses of the song are fast and hard to understand but they’re darkly comic and the chorus is just a punk version of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”  The end is a fairly straight blues riff.  A fun addition to a party.
RAMONES-Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)
This song is pretty widely accepted as a classic Christmas song now.  Listening to it amid these other punk songs, it made me realize just how far the Ramones drifted away from their punk sound and into a more metal feel.
METAL MIKE, ALISON AND JULIA-Deck The Halls
This is a pretty goofy, sloppy, slurry version of the song.  There’s mention of a helicopter.  It’s a minute of fun.
EL VEZ-Feliz Navinada
This is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  A wildly buzzy guitar, fast chanting of Feliz Navidad and some serious Public Image Limited love thrown in.
HUMPERS-Run, Run Rudolph [NSFC]
This would be a pretty straight punk version of this Christmas song, fun for all, except for the “Check this shit out” comment before the solo.
TVTV$-Daddy Drank Our Xmas Money [NSFC]
This is a sad (funny) drunken tale of a drunk dad spending all of the Christmas money.  It starts out with a slow intro and then a fast punk conclusion.
THE FROGS-Here Comes Santa’s Pussy [NSFC]
 This is a slow creepy song that feels like it’s meant to be really naughty, but it’s just kind of dumb.
MOJO NIXON-Christmas Christmas [NSFC]
I just don’t really like Mojo Nixon (my store could use some fixin’).  I do, however, enjoy the idea that the chorus is done in the style of “Louie Louie.”  But the verses are a bit beyond the pale.
D.I.-Mr. Grinch [NSFC]
The song starts with the melody form the song “Black Sabbath,” but it soon becomes a more standard punk version of the song.  The biggest problem with the song is that it’s nearly 4 minutes long.  People will clamor for the original, which is more fun anyway.
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS-White Christmas
This is a sloppy but faithfully punk version of the song for the first verse.  The second time around is blistering sloppy noise punk.

[READ: December 12, 2017] “The Face”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection

This story is told in an interesting way.  It begins with a boy raking leaves in an old couple’s front yard. He’s making money and having some fun (he leaps in the pile and wrestles with the bags once they are full).  Then he sets the pile on fire.

While he’s watching it burn, the homeowner, an 80 year old man comes over to talk to him.  Mr Aurelius asks if was true that the boy had been to Hong Kong.  He had and he told the man some things he saw there (most of what he saw was ferries and dead animals). (more…)

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