Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Official MFD Christmas Album, Side One

Last month, with the help of Dirk Digglinator over at Hambonian Studios, I put together my very own Christmas compilation album. Click here for more on that "release."  Here's a closer look at side one:

"Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney
single release (1979)

When the idea for this compilation first popped into my head, my initial thought was, "Side one, track one will be Sir Paul."  And it was so.  It's not McCartney's best song by any means, but ofttimes even mediocre McCartney is better than most pablum and if nothing else, it's catchy as all get-out, especially the chorus.  I'm sure McCartney didn't imagine this as more than a throw-away Christmas single, but it's definitely had some staying power.

"This Christmas" by The Temptations
from their album Give Love at Christmas (1980)

To be honest, I was hoping that the Donny Hathaway original would fit into our 1976-85 time frame, but it did not.  However, this smooth version will do just fine.  After a slow intro, the strings and tight background vocals make this modern R&B Christmas classic the Temptations' own.  Even an ill-advised synth solo can't dampen the spirit.  The entire Give Love at Christmas  album is recommended.

"Xmas at K-Mart" by Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band with The Rootettes
single release (1978)


I discovered this song on the compilation disc Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Xmas.  They had me at the band name.  I like a novelty tune as much as the next guy, but when it comes to decrying the overt commercialization of Christmas, this song don't mess around.  There's also a little self-promotion and a background vocal line from The Rootettes that will stick into your head for days and will immediately come to mind whenever you hear the word K-Mart.  I like how Root Boy "sings" with absolutely no regard for phrasing.  Normally that would bother me, but it works here.  Bonus points for mentioning mood rings and 7-11.

"She's Right On Time" by Billy Joel
from his album The Nylon Curtain (1982)

One of my favorite Joel songs with a huckuva bridge, I've always wondered why it didn't get more play around this time of year.  Granted, it's a love song that just happens to be set around Christmastime, but I think it fits.  Never released as a single, Joel did film a video for the song because it was the 80's (and if you need proof of that, check out the black metal mini blinds).

"Jingle Bell Rock" by Hall & Oates
single release (1983)

A fairly straight-ahead cover, but it's become my favorite version of this song.

"2000 Miles" by The Pretenders
from their album Learning to Crawl (1984)

Sort of like "She's Right On Time," this one is as Christmasy as you want to make it.  I think it's a beautiful, lush song of longing during this time of reflection.  I've provided the video below, but do yourself a favor and don't watch because it doesn't do the song justice.

"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses
from the compilation album A Christmas Record (1981)

Previously covered on this blog last year; here's what I wrote then:

Around these parts, this wonderful song is being heard as background music for a frequently aired TV spot.  All that does is drive me to call it up on iTunes and give it a listen.  Like most songs from The Waitresses, it's an unusual but catchy song. It's definitely one of the better original Christmas tunes written during my favorite decade (with competition from Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime and Wham's Last Christmas). So why don't we hear this happy tune more often on the radio??

Musically, it all works for me from the rhythm guitar to the horn parts to the unexpected chord progressions to Patty Donahue's quirky vocals.  Much like the protagonist in the song's narrative, I often have the desire to "miss this one this year" as the holidays turn from quiet reflective time to something else completely.  But then, once it gets here, I'm filled with joy and happy that I didn't miss it.  As is its nature, Christmas will find you regardless.  

"Jingle Bell Hustle" by Wayne Newton
from his EP It Could Have Been Such A Wonderful Christmas (1979)
Yes, this is a disco version of Jingle Bells and it's wonderful.  Any argument to the contrary is invalid.  When the background singers, disco strings, and scratching guitar come in at the chorus, I can't help but move.

I've seen Wayne Newton in Vegas - he's a showman nonpareil and I'd pay to see him again.  He didn't perform this particular song because it was August when I caught his act, but I can easily visualize him singing this with Vegas showgirls providing the backing vocals.  He's an entertaining (if dated) singer and "Jingle Bell Hustle" is an entertaining (if dated) track and a great way to close out side one.

1 comment :

  1. Let's not forget that (according to Mixcloud), the Kid's gift to the world "reached 19th in the New Wave chart and 73rd in the Pop chart." – Hey, Taylor Swift... Jealous much??