Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Album - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Sadly, Zappa never released a Christmas anything, so I can't do Zappadon (but I do have a plan for next Christmas, or maybe an entire month. Don't worry you're pretty little head). This is the Christmas album, and last for this month (unless I decide to change my mind), by Herb Alpert. Now I feel he gets a bit of a bad rep, lots of people seem to know Whipped Cream & Other Delights only because of the cover. Well.... if you dig deeper the songs aren't that bad on that record. I own The Lonely Bull, !!Going Places!! and What Now My Love on vinyl. I plan to eventually get all of those records, plus sometimes he has pretty girls on the cover.... So that's a plus.
  1. Winter Wonderland: What can I say about this Christmas classic.....  Well this version is kind of fun. It isn't so overtly this song, I mean I hear it, but it doesn't just bother me to where I"m like shut this off. Maybe it's because it could be in a different key, or the choir, but I like the lack of vocals (lead vocals). This is a pretty promising opening.
  2. Jingle Bells: Fucking again with this song. You have to be joking at this point. It's unavoidable, and get no one has realized its annoying as fuck. This version of the song may not be as bad, but I haven't really heard a version I do like. This beginning reminds me a bit of Our Prayer by The Beach Boys (who's Christmas album will be for next year). I really like this rhythm, one which is very fun to hear. I kind of feel like this would be in the Christmas episode of Arrested Development. Odd thing to think, but that show has lots of horns and I could totally see this being in the show. It would fit quite snug. And I'm actually enjoying a version of the song.
  3. My Favorite Things: While I already have my favorite version, John Coltrane's 1961 title track version, I would still be interested in hearing what Herbie has to add to this song. I like his ensemble (or set up rather) of the group so I think this might be good. It's funny, a week or so ago this movie was on the tele. While this is a pretty nice version, digging that guitar, I have to say Coltrane takes the cake for best version. This continues that fun feeling with a very Barry string section for say a Bond film-esque feeling. Well technically, Monty Norman but still you get the idea. And that lone piano part, this is a keeper. 
  4. The Christmas Song: This is the first track to have vocals, and I guess it's a nice change of pace. I don't like this song, Merry Christmas to You, not a fan. But this version isn't terrible. It's not, even thought I do enjoy popping him on, Ray Conniff Singers, repetitious.
  5. Las Mananitas: I don't recognize this tune, but I do think it's pretty nice. I like the island feeling percussion (xylophone instrument). This song also has song great guitar and string instrument sounds. This is a very pleasant and would be a great finale to the record. There is a very Ennio feeling I get from this.
  6. Sleigh Ride: I mean I still enjoy this, it's just it's magic is beginning to loose it's magic. I don't really care for this tune, but you know at least it's different than Jimmy's album. Although that march part is pretty cool.
  7. The Bells That Couldn't Jingle: I can't say I know this song. I may have heard it but I don't know it by name. Eh, that intro is something that I'm not really feeling. All though, before he started singing, the rhythm brought to mind "Goodnight friend, but not Goodbye". That song from the Star Wars Holiday Special sung by Bea Arthur.
  8. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow: Well, at least I only have to hear this once this Christmas for a review. This is a pretty standard cover, and fits in with the rest of what was sonically going on here.
  9. Jingle Bell Rock: This is one of those, so fucking stupid what's the point songs. This is one of those, once is enough. Even hearing part of it once is enough. So I'm hoping this ends up being unique or different and not just a straight cover. This is a fairly straight version of the song we know, but an instrumental.
  10. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: I like this tune, like the actual composition. I'm glad it's here, I'vent seen it, to what I can recall, on a Christmas record yet. This is faithful to the original, even has a harpsichord. Though there are horns. This is a nice closer, though I wish the song mentioned earlier still closed the record.
Overall I have to give this record a 6/10. This was not as bad as some other records I heard, but still why can't Christmas records be unique, There was a lot of repetition in what I heard here, but I did enjoy this. I don't think I'll return, but it was fun if you subtracted a song or two. If you can, please point out any original songs Christmas albums for next year. Maybe like Hey Ameria or Santa Dog or something.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas with McGriff

This was actually originally the other release I planned on doing this Christmas. There are some covers and some originals here. At one point I planned to only do albums with originals, but I figured the chances of finding Christmas albums of all  originals is next to..... It's unrealistic. I just was lucky to stumble into that James Brown record. So I went with this, look at that cover.... I know I'd buy that in 1964.
  1. White Christmas: This was the opening track to the last album I reviewed...... What a coincidence. Well, to be completely honest I doubt you can hear this on just about every Christmas track. To be completely honest, I kind of like this organ, sax, guitar drums and bass. It doesn't specify if it's a Quintet but I like the set up. This has promise, and it probably my favorite version of this song I've heard.
  2. Christmas With McGriff: This is an original, and I think it sounds pretty good. I mean not to the point that I'd revisit it not around Christmas, but still. I think it's a pretty decent track. I think the star is the organ, but that's probably almost always may answer. I do have a very soft spot for theses Hammond organs (?, I assume it's one). This track isn't anything that blows me away, but it's a nice change of pace from the last review.
  3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: A song I normally dislike, here turned into a song that I think isn't terrible. I mean it doesn't have that cutesy feeling that irritates me. But on the other hand, I don't like the organs sound on this so much. I wish it was played on maybe guitar. And this is basically just a vamp with the organ playing the lead melody. While I probably shouldn't expect people to not do that, I wish it wasn't just that you know. Though I think it might drag on a bit to long. But lots of songs here may over stay their welcome.
  4. Hip Santa: This feels pretty fun, I mean it's not amazing, but it feels fun to hear them play. I feel like this was fun while they were recording it. I do enjoy the drumming here, but really I kind of forgot what was happening after spacing out for a second.
  5. Winter Wonderland: Of all the songs here this might be the least interesting. I'm sorry to say, but at this point I really can't say that the album is that interesting. I mean it'd be a much better EP. This kind of feels like it's the old "rich people play jazz as background music" stereotype.
  6. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town: This is two of three songs that also appeared on Christmas Songs by Sinatra, my previous review. Not this version, but song. This is very faithful to the sound of the rest of the album in it's rendition of this Christmas Classic.
  7. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer: Another song I don't care for, turned into another version that is just another track on this album. I can't really report anything of note.
  8. Jingle Bells: This is the last song to be featured on the Sinatra album I just did. Lets see if this version of the song is better than Ole Blue Eye's take. To be honest, I like the swing of this track. I mean it isn't perfect or anything, but much more fun than a standard vocal jazz verison, or really any other version I've heard.
Overall I have to give this album a 5/10. Don't worry I still got at least one more review for this month. Hopefully it'll have Auld Lang Syne or Ave Maria. Either that or be if all original songs. But this is exactly what you'd expect from a jazz organ player. I like this record, but I can't really say anything more that just like. You have no idea how bad I want to review Blowfly's Christmas Party (the single). I could do his Christmas record, but I don't really care much for it..... Maybe next year. Here's a little Christmas gift to you, since I need a lot more time to review these albums I'll just mention some Jazz records to listen to New Grass by Albert AylersPakistani Pomade by Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio, Pre-Bird by Charles Mingus, Out to Lunch by Eric Dolphy, Sextant by Herbie Hancock and one more review to do this year, unless I change my mind.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Songs by Sinatra

This is first Sinatra Christmas album. While I kind of know what to expect from this review, I decided........ why not, it's Christmas. I mean, I don't imagine I would have much to say, but I want to get another done for this week and need two more this month. So why not do an easy quick one. If you can see the cover the orchestra was directed by Axel Stordahl. This was originally released as a 78 and a 10'' Lp. There is a novelty I find in old 78 quality recordings.
  1. White Christmas: This has a very warm feeling, though his voice is not as warm. I think the strings and atmosphere is the key. I am not digging Frank's vocals so much. I'd love to hear this instrumental. It's a very Christmas song. I picture those old cartoons from Disney you were shown by your parents and grandparents. I love the horns and how it feels sort of epic. This is a great closer, but it also is a nice intro.
  2. Jingle Bells: This instrumental is nice, and it's a relatively faithful cover. Nothing about it shout original or different.
  3. Silent Night, Holy Night: Another Christmas classic, not as touching as I want it to be, but it still is. The arrangement here isn't an nice as on White Chrismas but this is the type of song that I feel should bring you to tears as Ave Maria in Fantasia does... and while I feel emotions it's nothing that would bring me to tears. Or even without any visuals, Feed The Birds.
  4. Adeste Fidles: Ah O Come All Ye Faithful, and this introduction is starting to feel like the epic I want. While it doesn't reach the level I want, it was promising. I don't think this has the type of power I was hoping for. Like power in terms of epicness and reach instead of guitar metal overdrive. 
  5. O Little Town of Bethlehem: This is probably the best song here so far. Now would I listen to this in the future, probably not, but I do like the horns and strings here. I wish they were through the song though. Although maybe because it was in mono they may not have had a choice.
  6. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear: I do actually like this song, this version if fine, but I like this song.
  7. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: I don't care for this song alone, so imagine my surprise when I had to sit through two songs I didn't like. Although that violin in the beginning did get my hopes up a bit. 
  8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: Even Bruce can't save this song. I think it's kind of stupid in my opinion. Big band couldn't even save this, though Frank is singing this best, and most appealing here.
Overall I have to give this album a 5/10. It's a pretty standard Christmas record. There isn't much more to say than that. It wasn't boring, but it wasn't mind blowing or the emotional journey In The Wee Small Hours is. At the end of the day it's a so so record, so I gave it a 5. I feel this was before he was himself, before he had that personality that made him Frank.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hey America - James Brown

To celebrate the month that brings us the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I decided to make December permanently Christmas month. That doesn't mean I'm going to do tons every year, but they have to be related to the holiday to be reviewed. This album, a pseudo-holiday record by James Brown, follows last years Santa Dog. This also happens to be studio record number 34, if math is correct, and was released during a period where some of his best material (IMO) was being recorded and released. This isn't a new record to me, i actually heard this thing last October. After being blown away by how, not a piece of complete shit it was, I knew I must review and spread it. Most Holiday albums are horse shit, no really they are. They are the same 12 or 15 songs and they are boring as shit. Seriously, I can't stand Christmas music. In fact the songs I like are Auld Lang SyneWhat Child is This and Oh Come Emmanuel. I might be forgetting some, but my point is very few songs I like. I mean I tolerate some tracks, but tolerate and enjoy are two different things. Maybe this'll become a new holiday classic, after my amazing review. Also January will be mostly reviews I did this month but put off because of the theme.
  1. Hello America: Opening the album we get this, a very funky and pretty intense song for a Christmas album. Like really, this is a solid song, in it's own right. That is a reoccurring theme on this album, songs that are genuinely good songs. Like I'd totally dig this if it was on another album, it's a solid track that's pretty tight. Nice string, that part when they crescendos makes this song so much tougher. The horns here are also pretty great, and that funky drummer.... damn what an opening. This is one of those, not you lame ass covers album feeling. I love how it just takes you there, it doesn't hid anything. This actually could be a blacksplotation theme, but the movie might have to take place at Christmas. And I don't think I need to comment on the Godfather of Funk. He's great as usual.
  2. A Lonely Little Boy Around One Little Christmas Toy:  That sure paints a picture. For me I imagine the boy comes from a poor family, why the could only afford one toy. Maybe he's an orphan and at the orphanage he only gets a small toy. Regardless of the story in the song, that title is a very powerful title. There is a really Christmas, jazz feeling to the organ here. The atmosphere really feels like a Christmas LP. Like I feel like if Brown wasn't singing, and the strings were out then Jimmy Smith might come in and start playing God Rest Yet Merry Men. I also feel like this song, if a little more intense would just fucking rip your heart out. While I like the kind of subdued feeling of this track, that track would be up there with Feed The Birds for most tear jerking songs but it is not quite there. I could totally see this being there though. This is another really solid track, though I wish it was more emotional. It's almost as if the album was recorded in one day, one long day, and this was the last song. That may not be true, but I kind of feel like this song should hit me harder.
  3. Go Power At Christmas Time: Finally, a good action sequence for us this Christmas. If you stripped this song of the extra instruments I could see this being an Aerosmith track. Maybe like a James Brown cover. This is a nice rocking track, thought I don't think the vibes/xylo/whatever-ophone isn't really necessary. The ending really reminds me of a better Blues Brothers.
  4. Christmas is Love: I thought Real is Love? That way Love Is Real? So Christmas must be Real, and Real must be is Christmas. The feeling of this song is one that you could talk over, or rap rather. I mean there is just something that I feel like I could tell a story over this rhythm. Maybe something along the lines of what he did on My Rapp. This song is really alive and it feels tight, thought the transition on the version I heard isn't that great. I mean the flow of the song was kind of chopped off. There is a very rushed feeling to the horns in this section. I feel like this song would be far better if it was written tighter, or with better resolution (?). The section changes are too abrupt, they don't just flow into each other. This is a good song outside of that, but for me personally it kind of puts the rest of the track out of wack. I do still like the song thought, just a little hard to "grasp", because of the in ability to really focus on the music. The reason is the one I said earlier.
  5. Santa Clause is Definitely Here to Stay: Opening side 2 we get the very heartwarming tale of Santa, becoming all our regular Saturday night things. There is something that really does melt my heart, even though the lyrics may not be the greatest. The music is so damn good, it's almost impossible to be cynical towards. There is no fabricated truths to what I said. This really does just get me on that gut feeling. This is the feeling I wanted to get from track 2.
  6. My Rapp: This is a pretty solid track, that really just consists of 6 minutes of just rambling, there is barley any singing. Just a few bursts here and there. But still, this is really a load more entertaining than say any Christmas record. The only complaint is, it goes a little long.
  7. I'm Your Christmas Friend, Don't Be Hungry: I don't really get this one. For the rest I can at least picture something or imagine the logic..... But this one. I can probably do a reviews length description of what I think this title could mean. I can only gather he's giving to the less fortunate, which helps them to eat. That's the only one that makes sense. This feels like a subdued version of Sex Machine or I Feel Good. I mean it's still exciting, I think the thing is he wasn't to see sincere. But I feel like he should be getting up and jumping around. Here he feels like he's barley moving. This 
  8. Merry Christmas My Baby and a Very, Very Happy New Year: This is the last track on James' third (if I counted right) Christmas record. This was also his last he released, and its a shame. But closing this we get one of the closer. This have a very vocal jazz feeling to the song. I close my eyes and see thing being played in a bar, with the subtraction of the strings. It's an appropriate ending to the album.
Overall I have to give this album a 7.7/10. All joking aside, check this out. This could be my favorite Christmas related music thing I've ever heard. This is fairly funky, and really easy to take. You don't have to like funk, or really even James Brown to like this. I think it's also kind of a novelty to it with Brown doing all original Christmas tunes. I know I'll play these JB Christmas records for my kids when they are growing up, as I will play them Yellow Submarine. Plus..... what's not to love about a soul-filled funky Christmas. You celebrates it your way, I celebrate it in my way. That's the beauty of the holidays, it's not one of those "My Way or the Highway" type deals. So Let's All Have A James Brown Christmas this year, by listening to this under-appreciated little record.