We've entered December, so it's time to give you an overview of all Christmas 45s that, until now, have been released this year - as Christmas 45s, that is what this blog is about! I've counted 29 - that's only six less than last year (not counting lathe cut 7"'s and flexi's). Not bad at all, especially since some of the usual suspects, like the labels Kingfisher Bluez and Too Pure, have sadly been absent from this year's list of Christmas 7" vinyl.
It's a again a nice mixture of singles with completely new songs, with songs that have been around for some time, but have never been released on vinyl before and re-issues. A few big names and many artists and bands that I never had heard of before. Where to start? Well, I decided to start close to home, in Amsterdam.
It's a again a nice mixture of singles with completely new songs, with songs that have been around for some time, but have never been released on vinyl before and re-issues. A few big names and many artists and bands that I never had heard of before. Where to start? Well, I decided to start close to home, in Amsterdam.
The Sleigh Shakers: Jingle Hell / Christmas Chicken Blues (This Could Be Your Music Label, The Netherlands)
Both songs can be listened to on Youtube.
Jingle Hell on Youtube
Christmas Chicken Blues on Youtube
The High Five Four: Good Ol' Christmas / Hey Father Christmas (Tombstone Records, Netherlands)
The High Five Four recorded the Christmas song 'Good Old Christmas', that only was released as a digital single. This year, the band has released the song on vinyl through their own Tombstone Records (not be confused with the Dead Moon-connected US label of the same name). Unfortunately, the record was somewhat delayed - the band was planning to present the single on a release party on November the 19th - the release party did happen, but without the actual single available. But it was finally released December 4, so it is available now! 'Good Ol' Christmas' is a relax-sounding and gently swinging rock 'n' roll song that really fits the title well and brings early 1960 Elvis Presley to mind. B-side 'Hey Father Christmas', also an original, is in the same style. All in all a good rock & roll Christmas 7", worth owning, also for the nice cover art.
You can listen to 'Good Old Christmas' on Youtube and order the record through contacting Tombstone Records - see the Facebook page of the band.
Drs. P: A Few Thoughts On Sinterklaas / A Dutch Christmas (Topnotch, The Netherlands)
Dennis Tyfus & Kris Maes: Stevige Nacht / De Kerstdagen (Meeuw Muzak, Belgium)
Some of the weirdest Christmas singles released in the years 2002-2007 were released on a label called Meeuw Muzak. Meeuw Muzak was the brainchild of Jos Moers, nicknamed Meeuw (Dutch for seagull). The label was first based in The Netherlands, but moved to Brussels, Belgium, several years ago. After not having released any Christmas singles for almost ten years, Meeuw Muzak has released a new Christmas single, by vocalist and tape manipulator Dennis Tyfus and guitarist and 'cutter' Kris Maes, both from Belgium. The B-side has one of the most funny Christmas 'songs' that I have come across, that is, if you like absurdistic humour. Which I do. I guess only people who can understand Dutch will get the joke, so for those who don't, I give a short summary of the song: you hear a voice reciting (in Dutch with a Flemish accent): first day of christmas, second day of Christmas, third day of Christmas, etcetera, with some sound effects that extend the 'song', and after reaching the twenty-fifth day of Christmas, the voice sighs: 'one should not overdo it'. The A-side 'Stevige Nacht' (a play of words on 'Stille Nacht' - silent night) translates as 'Solid Night' is a totally different affair. It starts with some church bells, and then continues with a sort of minimalist melody, with echoing sacral sounding singing. Then a manipulated voice exclaims 'Kerst' (Christmas), and the melody continues with some Pink Floyd-sounding guitar playing over it. At the end the sacral sounding voices returns. It's actually quite listenable and beautiful. Unfortunately, the songs are not to be found on the internet yet, but you can order the single and also some of the older Christmas singles through the label.
Dr. Ring Ding: Christmas Again / The Christmas Song (Jump Up, USA)
Jump Up Records. This year, they have even put out two 7"'s. First is by the German ska artist Dr Ring Ding, a veteran of the European ska scene, who already has been involved making ska and (later) dancehall since the mid-1980s, first as trombone player in German ska band El Bosso & Die Ping Pongs and from 1992 on as singer of Dr. Ring Ding & The Senior Allstars. After that band dissolved in 2002, Dr. Ring Ding continued as a solo artist. In 2015, he recorded a Christmas album, 'Once A Year', that was originally only released as a CD on German label Pork Pie, and contained a mixture of originals and ska-ed versions of Christmas classics like 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' and even 'Petit Papa Noel'. This year, the album was re-released on vinyl by Pork Pie, as a LP plus a bonus 7". That bonus 7" is the same record that has been put out by Jump Up Records, and has the final track of the album, the midtempo brass-filled original 'Christmas Again' on the A-side and a laidback German language version of Nat King Cole's classic 'The Christmas Song' on the B-side. The single comes on red, green or white vinyl, and can be ordered through the Jump Up Record website.
The song can be listened on Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/track/0zf7XT9nJpI3znv2m4ych6
Leo & The Lineup / Napoleon Solo: Christmas Without You / Merry Xmas Everybody (Jump Up Records, USA)
Jump Up Records has put out this year is a split 7" by two bands from Denmark, Leo & The Lineup and Napoleon Solo. Leo & The Lineup, around for about five years now, represents the new school of Danish ska, while Napoleon Solo represents the old school, having started already in 1984, and after an absence of ten years, playing again in the original line-up from 2009 on. Napoleon Solo do a ska version of Slade's classic 'Merry Xmas Everybody', while Leo & The Lineup recorded a soulful original, 'Christmas Without You'. The Napoleon Solo song was already released as part of a two track digital single 'In The Midnight Hour' last year, but now gets its first vinyl release. The single comes on red or green vinyl. Listen to it on Youtube
By the way, Jump Up Records also repressed their Christmas singles of the previous two years, by Brooklyn Attractors (now on red vinyl) and Roger Rivas (now on white vinyl) and also have re-released The Toasters Christmas album on (coloured) vinyl. All can be ordered through the Jump Up Records website.
Radka Toneff: Julesang (Nordpolen Musikklubb, Norway)
Nordpolen Musikklubb from Norway. All three singles they have released, including that of this year, feature existing Christmas songs, but songs that never have been released before on (7") vinyl. The first one was of Norwegian sixties singer Sonja, the second was by contemporary Norwegian indie band Hvitmalt Gjerde and this year's single is by Norwegian jazz singer Radka Toneff. Radka Toneff is considered one of the most important Norwegian jazz singers. She debuted in 1977 with the album 'Winter Poem', not a Christmas album by the way, although the beautiful title track (only around one minute long) and 'A Child Is Born' definitely have a connection to winter/Christmas. But six years before her recording debut she already appeared on Norwegian TV, in the Peggy Fleming Chrismas special, that also featured international artists like Gene Kelly and Jose Feliciano, to perform her own composition 'Julesang' (Christmas Song). She was backed up by a band of veteran jazz musicians, although the song was definitely not standard jazz. It was a mixture of jazz, folk (Toneff's father was from Bulgaria and she put elements of the music of her father's heritage in her music), prog and soul. Despite it's Norwegian title, the song is actually in English. The B-side of the single features another early Toneff recording, the (not Christmas related) song 'When I Am Alone', that she recorded the same year for NRKs Erling Wicklund's radio program Åpent Hus. The single is an important document of Norwegian jazz history, packed in a beautiful cover. The record is going very fast, so if you want to acquire a copy, contact the Nordpolen Musikklubb trough their Facebook page, and don't wait too long. Radka Toneff's life ended tragically, as she found was in the woods of Bygdøy in 1982 with an overdose of sleeping pills in her blood. She was only 30 years old. Unfortunately, 'Julesang' is not to be found on the internet (yet), so instead, listen to the winter-themed title track of Toneff's debut album on Youtube
Johnny Jean & The Humdingers / Sarah Dee & The Foxhunters: Sleigh Bell Rock / Jingle Bells Boogie
Flipsville Records has released a split 7" by two Swedish rock & roll combos, Johnny Jean & The Humdingers and Sarah Dee And The Foxhunters. Johnny Jean & The Humdingers describe themselves on their Facebook page as 'authentic 50's style rockabilly with a touch of Hillbilly bop', and look like they have been transfered by a time machine right from some small town in the US, in, say, 1949, to now. Sarah Dee & The Foxhunters look slightly more modern, but that's mainly due to the tattoos on singer Sara Dee arm's. According to the band's Facebook page they play 'songs from early 1950s to late 1957-58. Hillbilly bop, rockabilly and even country sometimes!". Sara Dee and her band cover 'Jingle Bells Boogie', a song originally recorded in 1954 by Jody Levins And His Boys. Both in the original version and in Sara Dee And The Foxhunter's cover version the song a swinging boogie woogie influenced stomper, perfect for putting on your dancing shoes and getting wild on the dancefloor. Johnny Jean & The Humdingers cover another obscure rock & roll Christmas song, 'Sleigh Bells Rock', originally recorded by Three Aces And A Joker, as B-side of their 1960 single 'Booze Party'. Just like the A-side, it was written by the vocalist and drummer of that band, Hal Schhneider. If you want the original version of this single, that might take you some time and money, as there were only 600 copies pressed. So a better option is to go for Johnny Jean & The Humdingers' version of the song, as that single can still be acquired by contacting Flipsville Records through their Facebook page. The record is dedicated to the memory of fiddle player and record engineer Jonas Olpers, who worked with Sara Dee And The Foxhunters and, as it is put on the Facebook of Flipsville Records, 'left this world' in May 2015. The single comes on green vinyl, with nice Christmas styled labels. You can listen to a short impression of both songs on Youtube.
Graeme Miller and Steve Shill: Silent Night (Finders Keepers, UK)
Finders Keepers specialize in music that is, let's put it like this, different. In line with their labels name, they find obscure recordings from the past (although they sometimes the label also releases contemporary music) and re-release it on vinyl, always packed in very beautiful artwork. Quite some of the music that they re-release is music originally used for movies or TV. For RSD 2015 they released a 7" with the theme music of the 1980s versions of the Moomins children's series. The 1980s version of the Moomins was stop motion animation, produced in Czechoslovakia. For the broadcast in the UK, the original Polish-German jazz soundtrack of the series was replaced by music by Leeds postpunk avantgarde theatre composers Graeme Miller and Steve Shill. Miller and Shill used thumb pianos, backwards tape effects, wooden pipes and a Wasp synthesizer to create a surrealistic sounding soundtrack, that gave the series a completely different atmosphere. The record came in a special custom-made felt backed 7” sleeve depicting original production stills, in two different versions. Unfortunately, half of the pressing of 900 copies got lost in transport, so there are only 450 copies left. I think it was for my birthday (I must have been 10 or 11 I think) that I got a copy of 'Comet in Moominland', the second Moomins book, like all Moomins books written by Finnish writer Tove Jansson. It soon became my favorite book and I don't know how many times I have re-read it - but it have been many! And I am sure that if I pick it up today, I would again totally enjoy it. And now Finders Keepers is releasing a Christmas Moomins record, that again will be packed in a felt handmade sleeve! It will feature a version of 'Silent Night', created by Miller and Shill, that sounds haunting and beautiful, and mixes the Christmas carol with the typical Miller-Shill Moomins sound. The single is already sold out in the pre-order, so if you want a copy, I fear you have to try Eb-ay, after the record has been released. The record was already quite expensive in the first place, so it definitely won't be cheap when it appears on E-bay. Fortunately, the Moomins version of 'Silent Night' can be listened on Soundcloud - for free: https://soundcloud.com/finderskeepersrecords/graeme-miller-and-steve-shill-silent-night
Jethro Tull - Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Rhino, USA)
Rhino released a new version of the EP. A new version, as the two songs that had the least connection to Christmas ('March, The Mad Scientist' and 'Pan Dance') have been replaced by the band's 1989 single 'Another Christmas Song' and a alternative version of the title track, retitled to 'Magic Bells (Ring Out, Solstice Bells)' by Mike Batt, who also produced and arranged this version. Mike Watt is probably best known for writing 'Bright Eyes' for Art Garfunkel and for creating the Wombles, who had a big UK Christmas hit in 1974 with 'Wombling Merry Christmas'. Both this last song and the original version of 'Ring Out, Solstice Bells' have been remixed by producer and former Porcupine Tree-member Steven Wilson. The EP uses the artwork of the original EP and can be found in many record shops around the world (and of course also on Discogs or Ebay). The original version of 'Ring Out, Solstice Bells' can be listened on Youtube.
Rope Store: Never Had Christmas / A Winter's Tale (Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, The Netherlands)
Snowflakes Christmas Club, that happens to be the label that I run myself. The first of the three is by Norwich's Rope Store. A-side 'Never Had Christmas' brings bands like Wizzard, Slade and The Wombles to mind, bands that also knew how to write a catchy Christmas song, taking their inspiration from Phil Spector's legendary 1963 Christmas album. 'Never Had Christmas' has everything a Christmas rock song needs: catchy vocals, (glam) rock guitars, Christmas bells, a rhythm that invites you to clap-a-long, an instrumental break with a wall-of-sound production that blows you right out of your Christmas socks, and of course an important message: Christmas is all about the friends you love and the family you really get along with! For the B-side, Rope Store chose a song originally recorded by another star of the 1970s (althought the song was actually from the early 1980s) and written by Mike 'Wombling Merry Christmas' Batt (there is he again!) and Tim 'Evita / Jesus Christ Superstar' Rice: David Essex' hit single 'A Winter's Tale'. Rope Stope manage to turn the original, a ballad that sounds like it was lifted straight from a musical, into a sing-a-long glam rock song, without compromising the dramatic meaning of the song. You can order the single (that, like all Snowflakes singles, comes on snowwhite vinyl and is limited to 320 copies) through Big Cartel and listen to it on Soundcloud.
The Haywains: Who Needs Summer? / Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, The Netherlands)
The Haywains is the second Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club single. The Haywains already formed at the end of the 1980s, at the height of the C86/tweepop movement. The band released quite some 7"'s and a album (plus an album compiling the singles) until the mid-1990s, when they broke up. Reunited in 2013 to celebrate the birth of the band 25 years earlier, The Haywains started recording new songs and releasing 7"'s again. The A-side of their Snowflakes Christmas single, 'Who Needs Summer?', penned by gitarist Paul Towler, is a catchy indie pop song, sung by vocalist Jeremy Hunt in his distinctive vocal style, that celebrates the joys of being together with your newfound love around Christmas time – because, who needs Summer, if you can be warm and cosy with the one you love! The song has all the classic Christmas ingredients: festive keys, sleigh bells and even some children doing background vocals. The Haywains' version of John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie's classic Christmas song 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' starts rather unusual – with some merry whistling. From there, the song contiues in the jangling pop punk style The Haywains became known (and loved) for. You order this single also through Big Cartel and listen to it on Soundcloud.
The Manhattan Love Suicides: Look Who's Coming To Town (Please Let It Snow) b/w Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, The Netherlands)
Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club is the Leeds based band The Manhattan Love Suicides. The band was originally formed in 2006, and played music influenced in equal parts by the Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth and The Primitives. After a bunch of singles and a full length, the band broke up in 2009, to reform in 2013 and release a new album in 2015. On their Christmas single, The Manhattan Love Suicides show two different sides from themselves. A-side and original 'Look Who's Coming To Town (Please Let It Snow)' sounds like the script of a 1960s horror movie, but of the kind that you only find in that dusty cult video store somewhere in a dark alley of a mediumsized city. The song is an angry sounding snarling creature which picks up where the recent single 'Bikini Party / Birthday Kill' left off, and brings both The Primitives and Sonic Youth to mind. Listen to the song, and find out who is coming to town and why it is so important that it will snow. For the B-side, the band turn Elmo and Patsy's classic 1979 Christmas novelty 'Grandma Got Runover By A Reindeer' in an echo-drenched murder ballad, with instead of the loud uptempo guitars of the A-side of the single, subtile melodic guitar playing, which gives the song more of a pop sensibility, but pop with a distinct raw edge. I also saw it being compared to Darklands-era Jesus & Mary Chain, and that makes sense to me. Again, order it through Big Cartel and listen to the two songs on Soundcloud.
Hannah Epperson: Raise The White Flag b/w Dreaming Of A White Christmas (Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, The Netherlands)
release this year, we leave Europe and move to Canada. Hannah Epperson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but moved to Vancouver, BC, Canada as a teenager, where she started her career as a violinist and singer/songwriter. Besides the violin and her voice, Hannah's main instrument is a loop pedal, which she uses to built up an almost orchestral sound during her live performances. Hannah started playing violin at five, mastered classical repertoire, which culmilated in joining the Utah Youth Symphony for the Cultural Olympiad in 2002. After moving to Vancouver she further broadened her perspective on music by collaborating with all kind of musicians and performers. In 2011, Hannah debuted with a self-released 5-song digital EP, 'Home Batch', recorded and written at home, representing a wide array of influences, ranging from classical and folk to southern European music and Latin. In 2015, Hannah released her first 7”, 'Burn', that featured the tracks 'Shadowless' and 'Brother'. Now living in New York, Hannah recently released her debut album '/Upsweep', that features ten songs, five songs in pop versions (Amelia) and five different songs in neo-classic versions (Iris). A-side of her Christmas single, 'Raise The White Flag' is an atmospheric song in which silence is as much used as an instrument as Hannah's voice and violin. Hannah calls it 'a post-apocalyptic, deeply somber christmas song'. The poetic lyrics reflect on Christmases past – 'when we'd sled as kids' – and present – 'but now the snow is gone'. A song for the darkest of the dark days of Christmas. A few years ago, Hannah recorded a live version of the Irving Berlin classic 'White Christmas', during a session for the 'Fresh Independence' webzine. She reprises the song, retitled to 'Dreaming Of A White Christmas', on the B-side of the single. Hannah creates a neo-classical piece of music, over which she sings 'White Christmas' in a very fragile and delicate way. A single to be played in the middle of the night, when silence and darkness surround you. Order the snow white limited 7" through Big Cartel and listen to both songs on Soundcloud.
Sloan: Kids Come Back Again at Christmas / December 25 (Kill The 8, Canada) Sloan is a band that started in 1991 in Halifax, Novia Scotia, but now resides in Toronto. Sloan is not new to recording Christmas songs. In 2011, they recorded a split single with Canadian loudmouths Fucked Up, with Sloan doing a version of 'Twelve Days Of Xmas'. The next year the band followed it up with a version of Slade's 'Merry Xmas Everybody', as a digital only single. For their 2016 Christmas vinyl single, the band penned two originals, 'Kids Come Back Again At Christmas' and 'December 25'. The single was recorded in the middle of the Summer, when it was 39 degrees Celsius outside. So the perfect atmosphere to record some Christmas songs. 'Kids Come Back Again At Christmas' starts as a ballad, but after the intro speeds up a bit, it turns into a vivacious rock song. B-side 'December 25' sounds more merry, at least, as far as the music goes, has handclaps, woah-backups and invites you to sing-a-long. The single comes with four Christmas cards that feature seasonal messages in the form of lyrics from the band's catalog. You can listen to the single on Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/album/2TJf9Q2V6vUUo0UIV0hki0, but as it is unfortnately sold out, you can't order it anymore through Kill The 8.
Bob & Doug McKenzie: Twelve Days Of Christmas (Mercury, USA)
Youtube in a video that features some footage of the cartoon series that was based on Great White North.
Frank Sinatra: White Christmas / The Christmas Waltz (Capitol, USA)
The Regrettes: Marshmallow World (Warner Bros., USA)
The Regrettes is pressed in an edition of a few thousand copies on white vinyl. The 7" comes in a 'marshmallow-scented' jacket. What sets The Regrettes apart from many other bands is that the members are very very young. Despite that, and despite the fact they play loud music, they have been signed to major Warner Bros., that also released this 7". For their version of this classic winter song - as it is more a winter song than a Christmas song -, The Regrettes have clearly listened well to the Phil Spector-produced version by Darlene Love, that of course appeared on Spector's classic 1963 Christmas album. Not a bad idea to do, as the Darlene Love-version of the song is probably the best version of the song ever recorded. And the version of The Regrettes is definitely worth listening to! The B-side has a live version of the non-Christmas song 'Hey Now'.
You can listen to the song on Soundcloud.
Mike Adams At His Honest Weight / Mick Foley: Old Toy Trains (Flannelgraph Records, USA)
Mike Adams At His Honest Weight covers Roger Miller's classic 'Old Toy Trains' for a 7" that comes in one of the most beautiful sleeves of this year. The single is pressed on vinyl that is half red and half green, with white (snow) spots, and has pro wrestling legend, comedian, author, and Christmas lover Mick Foley talking about his love for the song on the B-side. Mike Foley we of course also know from his 'Crazy Christmas' 7" that came out in 2014. Mike Adams At His Honest Weight (curious but cool name, by the way) does the song justice with a fragile and heartfelt version of it. The single was put out by Bloomington, Indiana label Flannelgraph Records. Listen to the song and Mick Foley talking here, where you can also order the record.
The Toms: Fake Christmas (Frodis Records, USA)
The Toms, which is in fact a project of New Jersey producer Thomas J. Marolda. The song 'Fake Christmas' was not new, but already appeared as a bonus track on Marolda's album of Beatlesque holiday tunes under the St. Nick's Christmas By The Lonely Hearts Band moniker, that was released in 2004. In 'Fake Christmas', The Toms describe how everything is fake around the Christmas tree, 'except for the love you give to me'. The single can still be ordered through Frodis Records and is also available for your listening pleasure on The Toms Bandcamp.
Morgan Shaughnessy: Pretty Colored Lights (self-released, USA) Morgan Shaughnessy has a song that has been available before. 'Pretty Colored Lights' was included as a bonus on the digital version of Morgan's 2014 debut EP 'Makeout Scars & Breakout Stars'. Confronted by, as she calls it on her website, 'physical challenges', she recorded her debut while laying in bed. 'Pretty Colored Lights' features some powerful guitar work. The record comes in a beautiful sleeve, on red or green vinyl. On her website, Morgan writes she is 'a vegan and avid supporter of equality', and that she 'has a love, respect, and passion for all living things'. That is something I can only applaud, and fits in very well with the Christmas spirit! The single can be ordered from Morgan Shaughnessy's website and listened on Spotity: https://play.spotify.com/track/5mSxWj7zYkKP1GDIIGXCP1
Felice Brothers: Country Ham / Murder By Mistletoe (Yep Roc, USA)
The Felice Brothers. Started as a trio of real brothers playing the New York City subways, the trio developed in a real band, losing brother Simone along the way, and seeing brothers Ian and Felice joined by three other members, of which one, Josh Rawon, has the nickname 'Christmas Clapton'. I don't have the slightest idea where he got the name from, but with a name like that, it's of course no surprise that the band was going to record some Christmas songs eventually. 'Murder By Mistletoe' was already featured on their 2008 self-titled album, their first album for Team Love Records. 'Country Ham' appeared on the band's 2015 digital Christmas EP 'Feliz Navidad' and although from the title you wouldn't guess it is a Christmas song, it definitely is. It's a folky song, and talks about sleigh bells that ring and Bing Crosby that sings - Winter Wonderland. How more Christmas can you get? Well, it also talks about a snowman that is afraid of acid rain and a drummer boy that marches around the tree... Musically, it reminds me of the 1990s lo-fi scene, with some folk and country influences and a definite slacker attitude. You can listen to it on Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/track/7BzWno3RXA8xlW9W3R22Rp
Yellow Snow: Santa Claus D.W.I. (Greasy Records, USA)
Greasy Records, and sounds like a sleeping room recording. Which it probably is. The duo male-female vocals (by Jeff, who also does organ, bass and guitar, and Laura, who also takes care of 'encouragement') are all over the song. I don't know if this song is a cover of a song with the same name that was released in 1989 on a 7" by Portland punk band Alcoholics Unanimous, but it wouldn't surprise me. Still, despite it's shaky recording and performance, the song has its charm. You can get the 7" from the webshop of Greasy Records, in two different editions: one with a picture sleeve, depicting a boozing Santa Claus, and one in a Greasy Records company sleeve. And listen to it on the Bandcamp page of the label.
Insane Clown Posse: A Carnival Christmas EP (Psychopathic, USA)
Insane Clown Posse is not the band to call. I don't know if the duo is to blame for the trend of horror clowns, who have been scaring people in many countries this year, but if your music is labeled horrorcore and you dress up like scary looking clowns, some kind of connection should not be surprising. Anyway, the Insane Clown Posse released a Christmas EP in 1994, 'A Carnival Christmas E.P.', but only on CD and cassette. In 1997, two songs of the EP were re-released, again on CD and cassette. This year, the EP will for the first time be released on vinyl, as a 7". First it looked that the EP ws going to be part of RSD Black Friday, but it wasn't. In the end, it was released early December. As the original EP is almost 20 minutes long, I guess the 7" is a re-released of the 1997 verson of the EP, with only two of the four songs, With songs titled 'Santas A Fat Bitch', 'Red Christmas' and 'Santa Killas', you should know what to expect. If not, listen to the original EP here on Youtube.
John 'Elvis' Schroder: Christmas With John 'Elvis' Schroder (Voodoo Doughnut Recordings, USA)
John 'Elvis' Schroder from Portland, Oregon. The nickname 'Elvis' is no coincidence, as Schroder built a career as an Elvis impersonator - well, career, the title of his upcoming debut album '57 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong' says it all, I guess. The two tracks of this release were taken from a small run Christmas album that 'Elvis' recorded in the early 1990s. On the A-side, that I haven't heard yet, John 'Elvis' Schroder is supposed to croon himself through a version of 'I Saw Mommy Santa Claus'. The B-side is a quite psychedelic and weird sounding song called 'Gonna Be Your Santa'. Recording a psychedelic sounding song may be a bit unexpected for an Elvis impersonaltor, but well, that's what you get when you are joined by Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Peter Holmström of The Dandy Warholes. The single is released by local label Voodoo Doughnut Recordings. You can listen to the B-side 'Gonna Be Your Santa' on Soundcloud and order the record from the label.
John Oates & The Time Jumpers: Santa Be Good / Childen Go Where I Send Thee (Elektra Nashville, USA)
John Oates, who we of course all know from the succesful 80s duo Hall & Oates. But 30 years have passed since the 1980s, so John Oates does not make catchy pop rock songs anymore (at least not as a solo artist), but now plays a style of music that is maybe more in line with his life phase - Sinatra inspired jazzy sophisticated easy listening. Definitely not lo-fi, like some of the previous singles we discussed. For A-side 'Santa Be Good To Me' Oates is joined by swing band The Time Jumpers, while he is trying to talk Santa Claus in bringing him a new lover, with whom he can spend Christmas, as all his efforts so far to find one have been fruitless. A nice relaxed sounding song. On the B-side, John Oates covers 'Childen Go Where I Send Thee'. The single comes in a plastic sleeve, on transculent green vinyl, and can be bought from the webshop of John Oates' website. You can even get an autographed copy of the single, although that doubles the price. And check the lyric video of the song on Youtube.
Josh Groban: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas / The Christmas Song' (Reprise, USA)
Josh Groban can also be considered a 'big' artist, although I had never heard of him. But I guess that might have to with the kind of music he is playing and the fact that I am from Europe and I think he is mainly popular in the US. And with four solo albums that have been certified multi-platinum and having been the number-one best selling artist in the United States in 2007, I guess you can call him 'big'. Anyway, for his Christmas single, also on green vinyl (the most popular vinyl color this season it seems) and a Barnes and Noble exclusive, Groban has recorded two much covered Christmas classics: 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song'. To me, Groban sounds like a performer in a musical, given his somewhat theatrical way of singing. It fits these two songs well. Get the 7" from Barnes and Noble if Groban is your cup of tea, and if you, like I was, are unfamiliar with him, listen to 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' on Youtube.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: White Christmas / God Rest Ye Merry Gents (Daptone, USA)
Sharon Jones. She tragically died in November of this year, after losing her long battle with cancer. Sharon Jones left us many great songs, that she recorded with The Dap-Kings, including one of the best original Christmas songs of the 21st Century, 'Ain't No Chimneys In The Projects'. Last year, Sharon and the Dap-Kings released their holiday album 'It's A Holiday Soul Party', that of course included 'Ain't No Chimneys In The Project' and also 'Just Another Christmas Song', the 2014 Christmas single of the band and last year's single '8 Days Of Hannukah'. The album is now re-released on green vinyl as (another) Barnes and Noble exclusive, with as an extra a (old school black) 7" featuring two of the albums songs: the swinging version of 'White Christmas' and an funky instrumental version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' retitled to 'God Rest Ye Merry Gents'. The album including the 7" can be bought from Barnes and Noble. You can watch'the video of the high energy version of 'White Christmas' on Youtube.
Le'Trell: Silva Bells (Star Creature, USA)
Star Creature (or, to use the full name: Star Creature Universal Vibration). The label specializes in dancefloor heavy funky disco-influenced boogie music. To make 'Silver Bells', not exactly the most funky Christmas song ever written, sound more funky Le'Trell retitled it to 'Silva Bells'. The song sounds more like 1980s electronic disco/boogie than 70s disco/funk, although the vocals do give it a 70s vibe. The record is pressed on red vinyl. Le'Trell is a rather mysterious outfit, most probably from the USA, who only released two singles so far. You can buy the record through the Bandcamp of Star Creature and also listen to the A-side there.
There also have been some records that came out a couple of years ago, and that have been repressed: Jive Turkeys' 'Get Down Santa / Funky Jesus' on Colemine Records, originally released in 2010 and now available on red vinyl and also the split of Poison Idea and Angry Snowman from 2013, that seems to be available again.
Leaners: Christmas EP (KiliKiliVilla, Japan)
That's all for the moment. Let's see if some more Christmas 7"'s will appear at the sky soon!