Tag Archives: Bob and Doug McKenzie

12 days of Christmas, Day 12

We were talking the other night about Christmas presents for our son, who’s 15, a sophomore in high school. At issue was whether we have that one big gift, the one with the wow factor.

I was thinking back to when I was 15, what that one big gift was. It was Christmas 1972. That one big gift was this:

That is a suede leather Converse All-Star basketball shoe, gold with black trim. I, too, was a sophomore the year I got a pair. It was a big deal. I’m not sure my parents fully understood the attraction, but they popped for the $15 — almost $75 in today’s dollars — to get them. I wore them until they wore out, then kept them around for years as something close to sandals.

There are other good memories of that one big gift. The Tickle Bee game, G.I. Joe, the Packers helmet and jersey, and, of course, that Panasonic AM-FM radio.

Now we have one big gift for you. More of our favorite Christmas tunes, the ones without which it wouldn’t be Christmas.

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971. A remastered version is available on  “Gimme Some Truth,” a 4-CD compilation released earlier this year.

“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967. (The link is to a double CD also featuring “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” their debut album from 1966.)

“Merry Christmas, mein friend!

“Winter Wonderland,” Steve Goodman, from “Artistic Hair,” 1983. I bought this record at his show in Madison, Wisconsin, in April of that year. He signed it “Joe — Hello.”

“It’s kind of absurd/when you don’t know the words/to sing/
walkin’ in a winter wonderland!”

“All I Want for Christmas,” Timbuk3, 1987, from “A Different Kind of Christmas,” 1994. It’s out of print. Pat MacDonald grew up here in Green Bay and has returned. These days, he performs as pat mAcdonald — he insists on that spelling. His gig notices also say “Timbuk3 (no space!) is to be mentioned in a biographical context only.” So there!

“All I want for Christmas is world peace.”

“Merry Christmas Baby (alternate edit),” Elvis Presley, 1971, from “Reconsider Baby,” 1985. It’s out of print, and pricey if you can find it. It’s my favorite Elvis record, full of his blues tunes. That it’s on blue vinyl is just icing on the cake.

“Wake up, Putt!”

“Twelve Days of Christmas,” Bob and Doug McKenzie, from “Great White North,” 1981.

“OK, so g’day, this is the Christmas part.”

“Santa Claus and his Old Lady,” Cheech and Chong, from Ode single 66021, released December 1971. Also available on “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Cheech and Chong,” a 2-CD best-of compilation released in 2002.

“We could sure use a dude like that right now.”

No great lines, just great tunes

“White Christmas,” the Edwin Hawkins Singers, from “Peace Is ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.” 1972. It’s out of print with that title, but is available as “Edwin Hawkins Singers Christmas,” with essentially the same cover. This has a great solo by Tramaine Davis.

“Christmas Medley,” the Salsoul Orchestra, from “Christmas Jollies,” 1976. This is 12 minutes of soul, salsa and dance bliss. An instant party starter.

“Halleujah! It’s Christmas,” .38 Special, from “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night,” 2001. Re-released in 2008 as “The Best of .38 Special: The Christmas Collection,” one of those 20th Century Masters reissues. This joyous, upbeat tune — written by guitarists Don Barnes and Danny Chauncey and lead singer Donnie Van Zant — ought to be a classic.

“Feliz Navidad,” Robert Greenidge, from “It’s Christmas, Mon!”, 1995. It’s out of print. Though Greenidge gets no cover billing on this CD, he’s playing the steel pan. He’s been with Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band since 1983. Earlier this year, Greenidge and his bandmates released “A Coral Reefer Christmas” on Buffett’s Mailboat Records label. This tune is not on that record.

“Christmas in the City of the Angels,” Johnny Mathis, from Columbia 1-11158, a 7-inch single, 1979. Though Mathis has recorded several Christmas albums, this cut never made it onto one. People ask for it every year. (This cut has gone from radio to tape to CD, and then ripped, so that may explain the sound quality if you find it lacking.)

Bonus gifts!

Some of our friends have sent along some tunes they thought you’d like.

“Must Have Been A Mighty Day,” Emily Hurd, from “Tins and Pins and Peppermints,” 2010. She’s a singer-songwriter from Chicago by way of Rockford, Ill., where we have a mutual friend. It’s been interesting to listen to her style evolve, moving from loose and gritty to far more poised and polished. This tune has a bit of both styles. She previewed this record for fans last year, then released it this year.

“Cashing In On Christmastime,” Charles Ramsey, 2010. He’s a singer-songwriter from Philadelphia who has some other nice, non-holiday stuff on his MySpace page. This genial, laid-back cut reminds me of Bob Dylan or Tom Petty with the Traveling Wilburys.

“Christmas Medley,” the Midwesterners, 2009. A pleasant little instrumental featuring Richard Wiegel, the guitarist in this band out of Madison, Wisconsin. He was one of the guitarists in Clicker, the much-loved ’70s Wisconsin rock/pop/glam/show band we write about from time to time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Three under the tree, Vol. 21

As I wrote last night’s post, I heard Christmas carols coming from the living room. In the distinctive, occasionally off-key voice of our 12-year-old son.

“Dad, come out here and see!”

So I walk out to the living room to see Evan has discovered a karaoke channel on the digital cable system. Apparently one of several karaoke channels available to us — who knew? — it’s a holiday karaoke channel.

Evan is working his way through “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but he says there’s one big difference.

“It’s not the one by those two goofy guys.”

There you have it. The inspiration for tonight’s three under the tree. I’m not much for Christmas novelty tunes. This is as close as we get.

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“Twelve Days of Christmas,” Bob and Doug McKenzie, from “Great White North,” 1981.

I had this album during the ’80s, played it only at Christmas time, sold it at a moving sale, then bought another copy in the early ’90s. This is a pretty clever spoof of the traditional Christmas song. Yet other than “Take Off,” the tune Bob (Rick Moranis) and Doug (Dave Thomas) did with Rush’s Geddy Lee, I couldn’t tell you what else is on this album.

Bob and Doug McKenzie were sketch characters on “SCTV,” a show that was sort of Canada’s version of “Saturday Night Live.” It was syndicated in the States, often airing late at night on weekends, sometimes right after “SNL.” Bob and Doug McKenzie were a lot like guys we knew in Wisconsin, pounding beer and acting dopey, thus the appeal.

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“Santa Claus and His Old Lady,” Cheech and Chong, from Ode single 66021, released December 1971.

The premise, if you’ve not heard this: One stoner tries to explain Santa Claus to another stoner. Santa used to live in the projects, then started a commune, then got busted at the border, but is not a musician. Sorry. You really had to be there. Being under the influence helps.

A gem of truth tucked inside this bit: “We could sure use a dude like that right now.”

This bit never appeared on any of their albums. It’s available on CD on “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Cheech and Chong,” a 2002 compilation of their best stuff. (The flip side to the single was “Dave,” another stoner classic.)

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“Good King Wenceslas,” Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors, from “Horny Holidays,” 1992.

Certainly the rowdiest Christmas album I have. The liner notes insist it was “recorded at 3 Alarm Studio, Memphis, TN, December ’91, top to bottom in four days and 27 bottles of peppermint schnapps on the floor.”

I don’t doubt it. You won’t, either, especially after you hear Mojo and the lads get started on this traditional Christmas song, struggle to remember the lyrics, throw in the towel, sing “la la las” instead and rev up the pace before collapsing in a heap. What you’ve always wanted to do, right?

This album also features “Mr. Grinch,” perhaps the perfect holiday tune for Mojo, and a version of “Jingle Bells” that, again, is the one you’ve always wanted to do — “Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.” You get the picture.

Most of it is enjoyable except for the last cut — a profane take on “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” that’s in staggeringly, outrageously bad taste. Really not in the Christmas spirit.

That said, enjoy. More tunes to come.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds