Tag Archives: 2006

A smaller Christmas, Day 3

We went to the orchestra concert at Green Bay East High School tonight. Thus, a bit of an orchestral selection for tonight’s tune.

“Basse (Winter Dance)” was one of the missing Christmas hits, a playlist of more contemporary Christmas songs assembled last year after reading that no Christmas song has been a hit since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in 1994.

This is an elegant folk instrumental written and performed by Ritchie Blackmore. Yes, the same Ritchie Blackmore who played all that crunchy guitar in Deep Purple and Rainbow. For the last 15 years, he’s been performing this style of music, often described as Renaissance or New Age. His wife, Candice Night, is the group’s singer.

blackmoresnightwintercarolscd

“Winter (Basse Dance),” Blackmore’s Night, from “Winter Carols,” 2006. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

The missing Christmas hits

Fascinating to read in the Milwaukee paper the other day that no Christmas song has been a hit since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in 1994.

My pal JB over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ also took note of that story, which prompted him to ponder the state of Christmas radio then and now.

All that said, there certainly are some Christmas songs that should have hit the charts in the last 17 years. Here are some of them.

“Who Needs Mistletoe,” Julie Roberts, from “Who Needs Mistletoe,” 2011. A country song every bit as filthy as Clarence Carter’s great “Back Door Santa.”

“Oi To The World,” Severe, from the wonderful Punk Rock Advent Calendar, 2009. Well, it’s reverent as far as UK punks go.

“We Three Kings,” Blondie, a 2009 holiday release. Always fun to find Debbie Harry under the tree. Always fun to hear Blondie’s classic sound.

“Merry Christmas Baby,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008. Blistering vocals and blistering blues guitar. Move over, fellas.

“Silent Night,” the Blackhearts and special guests, from “A Blackheart Christmas,” 2008. Some sound bites from that year’s presidential race make it a bit of a time capsule. It once had a bit of a valedictory feel. Now it has the feel of opportunities lost.

“Silent Night,” Bootsy Collins, from “Christmas Is 4 Ever,” 2006. A sweet mashup of reverent narration, funk, R&B and gospel.

“Winter (Basse Dance),” Blackmore’s Night, from “Winter Carols,” 2006. It’s out of print but is available digitally. If you can get past that Ritchie Blackmore is no longer rocking out as he did in Deep Purple and Rainbow and not cede all the elegant guitar work to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you might dig this instrumental.

“Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming),” Melanie Thornton, from “Memories,” 2003. It’s an import that has gone out of print. This tune was used in a Coca-Cola ad after the R&B singer’s death 10 years ago, but its back story transcends marketing.

“It’s Christmas And I Miss You,” .38 Special, from “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night,” 2001. It’s out of print but is available digitally. A gentle ballad reflecting the loneliness the season can bring. It’s co-written by guitarist Don Barnes and our friend Jim Peterik.

“Little Drummer Boy,” the Dandy Warhols, from “Fruitcake,” 1997, a Capitol Records promo EP. It’s out of print. In which the Little Drummer Boy takes a psychedelic trip.

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ (In A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train),” the Tractors, from “Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas,” 1995. It’s out of print but is available digitally. This fine bit of country swing actually was a modest hit on country radio in in 1995 and again in 1998. After all, it’s just their 1994 hit “Baby Likes To Rock It” retooled with new lyrics for Christmas.

“Soul Christmas,” Graham Parker and Nona Hendryx, from “Christmas Cracker,” 1994. If there were any justice, this scorcher would have been the hit from 17 years ago.

4 Comments

Filed under December 2011, Sounds

‘They won’t let me play’

Evan wants to do it all. Evan is 15.

He’s been in high school for little more than a semester and already has sampled at least a half-dozen clubs, two sports and most of the social opportunities. This week, the Snoball dance is on Saturday night.

But not all is well on the East High campus.

“Dad, they won’t let me play in pep band,” he said the other day.

Some of his friends are in pep band, including his girlfriend of the moment — the one with the strict parents, the one who gets to do almost nothing outside of school.

But you have to be in band class to play in pep band, and Evan hasn’t taken band class since seventh grade.

That hasn’t stopped Evan. Never mind that he doesn’t know any of the music. Never mind that he doesn’t read music well enough to learn the songs even if someone slipped him the sheet music. Never mind that he rarely practiced when he did take band class.

He got out his sax the other night. He started playing it. I doubt the pep band is playing “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” but there you go.

He fancies being able to walk in with his sax, sit down and play along with the pep band. I think it’s gonna be a hard lesson learned. It’s a little like playing basketball in the driveway and then thinking you can just join the varsity at midseason. Don’t work that way, pal.

Maybe Evan can listen to these tunes and learn them. From Houston:

“Louie, Louie,” the Rice University Marching Owl Band, from “The Best of Louie, Louie,” 1983. It’s out of print.

“Super Bad,” Kashmere Stage Band, from “Texas Thunder Soul: 1968-1974,” 2006. The best high school band ever.

5 Comments

Filed under February 2010, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 44

This has been a dreadful year for finding new Christmas music. I can’t remember the last time it was so hard to find something I really liked at the record store.

Thankfully, this has been a pretty good year for finding some good Christmas music around the blogs. Read on, and fill your sleigh.

— Blondie is offering a free download of a new recording of “We Three Kings.” It’s pretty good. Give it a listen or watch the video, then go get it.

— Nils Lofgren is offering free downloads of three Christmas tunes he did in the late ’90s to benefit United Cerebral Palsy in Arizona, where he lives. They’re laid-back versions of “O Holy Night” and “Do You Hear What I Hear,” and then Margo Reed joins him for a duet on “Silent Night.”

Listen to “O Holy Night,” from “Merry Arizona 97: Desert Stars Shine At Christmas,” then go get ’em.

— Did you have an Advent calendar when you were a kid? Ours had one part of the Christmas story each day. Our son Evan gets a piece of chocolate in his Advent calendar each morning. It’s breakfast.

In any case, each day of Advent 2009 brings a new song over at the Punk Rock Advent Calendar, courtesy of UK punker Jimmy Severe. More hits than misses. But don’t click on the links too early!

“Oi To The World,” Severe, from the Punk Rock Advent Calendar, 2009. (It was either this or a Who-inspired “Angels We Have Heard On High.” You can’t go wrong with either one.)

— If you like Christmas mashups as much as I do, head over to the Bootie Blog to grab either or both of their Christmas compilations, “A Very Bootie Christmas” from 2006 and the new “A Very Bootie Christmas 2.” There are 16 cuts on the former and 14 or 15 cuts on the latter, depending on whether you want the family-friendly version. Or, you can just grab individual cuts.

“Back Door Santa Getting It On,” DJ Schmolli, from “A Very Bootie Christmas,” 2006. Clarence Carter meets T. Rex meets Whitney Houston, courtesy of this fine DJ from Vienna, Austria.

“Christmas Bop,” Smash-Up Derby, 2006, from “A Very Bootie Christmas 2,” 2009. The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” meets Santa Claus and some familiar Christmas tunes, done live by the San Francisco group that bills itself as “the world’s first live mashup rock band.”

This cut also is on last year’s “Santastic Four,” the most recent of the four Christmas mashup compilations from dj BC of Boston. Bootie Blog proprietors A + D graciously point you toward those four fine “Santastic” comps. Dig them also. (There is no new “Santastic” comp this year.)

— Finally, a gentle reminder that this year’s Three Under the Tree posts will stay up here at AM, Then FM through New Year’s Day.

3 Comments

Filed under December 2009, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 38

The storm is starting.

For now, the snow is light, dusting our yard and our streets. We’re expected to get at least a foot of snow by the time the storm ends tomorrow night.

So, we’d better put three under the tree before the snow gets too deep.

“Winter Snow,” Isaac Hayes, 1970, from “Christmas in Soulsville,” 2007. On which Mr. Hayes is bummed out, having encountered a former lover with “lips so warm and a heart as cold as a winter snow.” It’s the B side to “The Mistletoe and Me,” his Christmas single from that year. The CD is a fine compilation of Stax Christmas tunes from the ’60s and ’70s.

“Winter (Basse Dance),” Blackmore’s Night, from “Winter Carols,” 2006. On which Ritchie Blackmore, the former Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist, proves he’s indeed a Renaissance man. This is a graceful, elegant instrumental. It’s a bit like the John Fahey tunes sampled in Vol. 37.

“In Like A Lion (Always Winter),” Relient K, from “Let It Snow, Baby … Let It Reindeer,” 2007. On which you think the kids might be learning a few things from Jackson Browne. It’s not really a Christmas or holiday tune, and certainly not Relient K’s familiar pop-punk, but rather a laid-back, reverent reflection on winter and hope.

We’ll save “Winter Wonderland” for another day. It’s rarely a wonderland when you have to shovel it just so you can get into the driveway when you come home from work late at night.

Leave a comment

Filed under December 2009, Sounds