Archive for the ‘The Blue Hawaiians’ 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.

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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profSOUNDTRACK: THE BLUE HAWAIIANS-Christmas on Big Island (1995).

blue ha I was to get this disc used because I already knew one of their songs and I thought that a surfing Christmas album would be fun.

So I was pleased to add this to our collection.  But upon listening to it, I learned that while I enjoy surf guitar instrumentals, I do not enjoy the Hawaiian style of music popularized by Elvis.  This album features both of these types of songs.

The songs that I like include these instrumental surf guitar renditions: “Christmas Time is Here” (the Peanuts song); “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bells” (the guitar is a little too untamed for my liking in this version).  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a good instrumental, but there’s a very lengthy middle section that makes the song too long.  “We Four Kings (Little Drummer Boy)” is my favorite track on the album and the one that made me look into more from them.  It’s a great surf guitar rendition of “We Three Kings” with some excellent tribal drumming as a segue into a surf version of “Little Drummer Boy.”

The vocal songs are fine, they’re just not my style.  “Jingle Jangle” and “Blue Christmas” are just way too Elvis-y for my liking (we actually just watched some of Blue Hawaii so it’s in my head).  “Big Island” stars with Hawaiian style drums which I like, then it turns into a kind of blues song.  “Mele Kalikamak” is my favorite song with vocals, probably because of its nontraditional nature (to me).  It ends with about 20 seconds of waves breaking.

“Enchanted Xmas” ends the disc with some Western sounding guitars and some cool wordless backing vocals.  It gives the whole thing an eerier (or enchanted) feel.  Pretty cool.

So something of a mixed bag, but a great album to select tracks for a fun Christmas mix.

[READ: December 15, 2014] The Professor’s Daughter

From the team who brought us Sardine comes this very different kind of story.  Interestingly, in this book, it is Sfar who wrote it and Guibert who drew it.  And I have to say I like it a lot more than the Sardine books (both in content and drawing style).

The story is quite unexpected.  As it opens, a young lady (in Victorian times) is seen stepping out with, well, with a mummy.  It turns out that he is Imhotep IV and she has taken him from his holding spot and is going about town with him.  (And no, it isn’t all a dream.  At least I don’t think it is).

They go out for tea (which makes him tipsy).  He causes all manner of mayhem, including offending someone who slaps his face and challenges him to a duel.  Later when the police come, the professor’s daughter takes matters into her own hands (which only makes the situation worse!).  A man is killed and the mummy is the suspect (which leads to a few very funny scenes). (more…)

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