Thursday, December 18, 2008

12 Days of Chrismas Music, finished

Apologies to all for the delay on my part in completing The 12 Days of Christmas CD's. Aside from unexpected time constraints, I was surprised at the pile of CD's on my desk that I had to filter through to get to the last 5 of the 12. I had not expected the balance of my "choices" inventory to be so high.

8) Blind Boys of Alabama's Go Tell it On a Mountain is the only "spiritual" choice here, not because there weren't other possibilities, simply limited by the self-imposed number 12. Excellent vocals as usual from BBOA and great songs choices. I'll even put up with "The Drummer Boy", the most pain-inducing Christmas song ever. If there were a way to legislate that song out of being, I'd be on the phone 24/7 to my congressional representative.

9) The Anonymous 4's Christmas Music from Medieval Hungary which is not really Christmas music but 20 antiphons. Which is o.k., since the Anonymous 4 members are Susan Hellauer, Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky, Johanna Rose and therefore, not anonymous. This CD is great for hearing in the background as you sit buried in a comfy chair, egg nog in paw, staring at the light patterns developing on the ceiling above your Christmas tree.

10) Yule be Misearable is a collection of various Jazz and off kilter songs performed by a variously talented group of musicians including Ramsey Lewis, B.B. King, Spike Jones, and Louis Armstrong. Holds up incredibly well under constant play, even Spike Jones' "My Birthday Comes on Christmas".

11) This is a toss-up between Dean Martin's Christmas with Dino or Philip Aaberg's Christmas. I love the low key of Aaberg'CD and marvel at how quickly the nerves de-jangle and blood pressure drops, all positive things for music to do.
Dean Martin, on the other hand, was a marvel of creation. I know of no other singer that could sing so effortlessly and effectively. His ability to insinuate a laid-back attitude to his song renditions were the perfect embodiment of "cool". His "Baby, It's Cold Outside" would keep any warm-blooded woman at the house, peeling him a grape. "I've Got My love to Keep Me Warm" sets the scene for fireplace, cocktails, shag rugs, and a night of "Ho. Ho. Ho"'s.
For the fun of it, I'll lean on ol' Dino for # 11...although Aaberg's CD is absolutely gorgeous. You have the urge for a blanket when his notes-of-many-spaces solo piano-playing starts.

Let me end with
12) The Beatles' White Album. "Has he been smoking that mistletoe (don't ask) again?", you may be wondering. Back in the day when Vinyl was King (and Queen, and Prince, and Duke), I received the White Album as a Christmas gift. Rather than playing ANY Christmas music that year, I parked the two vinyl lp's on my Heathkit teak wood needled phonograph and played these albums continually. By late January, the lp's had lost their intense black gloss and were turning a whitish gray scarred look. Are there any traditional Christmas songs on the album? Nope. Any song suggesting holidays? With the exception of the tongue-firmly-in-cheek "Back in the U.S.S.R", nope?
But, these days, whenever I hear any song from this album the first thing that is conjured up is Christmas in New Jersey, a unique state of mind most difficult to explain.

For other more thorough reviews, click here, here, here, and here for Whisky Prajer's views on the aural Christmas cheer.

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"The White Album" -- talk about a surprise, but perfectly fitting conclusion! You've gone and out-Prajered me, man!
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