Cooke takes one last spin of this year’s seasonal offerings, from Neil Sedaka to metal rockers
IT’S BEEN A bonanza year for Christmas CDs, seeing as it’s taken three separate articles to cover them all.
Now comes a look at this season’s pop-rock offerings, after jazz-blues and country, and looking at the stack in front of me it’s hard to think of a musical subgenre that’s not capable of coming up with something jolly. Although I haven’t come across it yet, I’m sure there’s even some heartwarming and headbanging solstice song out there by a pagan metal band.
But in lieu of that, there’s still We Wish You a Metal Christmas and a Headbanging New Year (Armoury), with an all-star array of shredders like the Kulick brothers Bruce and Bob (both formerly in KISS), Ratt singer Stephen Pearcy, dueting with L.A. Guns’ Tracii Guns on Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, of all things, and Styx’s Tommy Shaw doing John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over).
The track that really sleighs me is an over-the-top rendition of Chuck Berry’s Run Rudolph Run with Motorhead’s leather-lunged Lemmy, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl pounding the skins. Not far behind that for volumes of fun are Alice Cooper’s Santa Claws Is Coming to Town, and a version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Ronnie James Dio, who really sinks his teeth into the line “to save us all from Satan’s power.”
Melissa Etheridge gets in the spirit with A New Thought for Christmas (Island), and despite the evocative cover image of a peace symbol etched on a frosted windowpane, this is not an ethereal, wintry recording. Mixing original compositions with a few rock and roll favourites, Etheridge strikes a passionate note on the topical Christmas In America, while Light a Light says a not-too-silent prayer for the hope and change we’ve been hearing so much about over the past election year.
San Angelo trio Los Lonely Boys make like three wise men with two original tunes on Christmas Spirit (Epic/SonyBMG), the soulful ballad I’ve Longed for Christmas (bearing a slight resemblance to the aforementioned Lennon tune, especially with children’s voices in the background) and the Texican shuffle She’ll Be My Everything for Christmas. The rest of the disc is standards like Carol of the Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Feliz Navidad, but the Boys put their own modern Tex-Mex stamp on them to keep fresh and frosty.