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Furrball's Favourites Special: "CHRISTMAS IN DECEMBER!"

Here 'tis, the middle of July, and time for the annual ritual so near and dear
to the hearts of merchandisers and radio stations everywhere: Christmas overkill.

Actually, it's fess up time. That above statement is what I'd say if it were
the middle of July. But it's not far from the truth. Unfortunately. (Doesn't it
seem that way to you?) Call me old-fashioned, if you will (go ahead... I'll wait...), 
but I'm one of those folks who strongly believe that there's a time and a place for
everything... and the time and place for Christmas is not the middle of baseball
season, but DECEMBER! There. I said it, and I'm glad. (Thus, the title.)

What you're about to hear is my Christmas present to you; and even tho' it is unusual
in that the entire album is tied together by a unifying theme, you'll notice it has
one thing in common with other Furrball's Favourites: most, if not all, of these tracks
are not being shoved down your ears by your local radio conglomerate or Time-Life Music.
No, this just ain't the usual stuff you hear every holiday season. (Where else can you
hear, say, Stan Freberg or Riders In The Sky celebrating the holidays alongside Jethro
Tull or Queen? Not to mention The Moody Blues and VeggieTales™? Nowhere but here.) 
And the songs you have heard before are presented here in versions you may
not be familiar with. Okay, so it isn't "Phil Spector's Christmas Album" or 
"A Very Special Christmas 1", but by the same token, it isn't an American Idol™ 
album either! ;P

Ready? Here we go...

DISC ONE:
 1. SAVE ALL YOUR LOVE/Jon Anderson (Elektra)
    Admit it. You prob'ly didn't think the lead singer of Yes would have anything
    to do with Christmas, didja? Well, surprise: In 1985 he did exactly that, with
    "3 Ships". This is one of several cuts from that long-out-of-print holiday album
    (which has finally been reissued on CD this year).
 2. ELTON JOHN: Step Into Christmas (DJM)
    Maybe it's only me, but I live under the delusion that the British just do
    Christmas records better than anybody else... and this is one of the best 
    examples. Ever. (CD: Rare Masters [Polydor Chronicles])
 3. JETHRO TULL: Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Chrysalis)
    More of a winter solstice song than a Christmas tune, but what the hey? It is
    the month for that too, after all. Ian Anderson and the gang, whenever you're
    ready... (CD: The Jethro Tull Christmas Album)
 4. ROY WOOD'S WIZZARD: Rock And Roll Winter (Warner Bros.)
    Ah, nobody carried forward the Spector torch quite like Roy and the boys! This
    is the first of two appearances they make in this comp. (Okay, so it doesn't
    actually mention Christmas in the lyrics... but hey, neither do "Jingle
    Bells" or "Sleigh Ride"!) (CD: Roy Wood Singles [Connosieur Collection])
 5. CHRIS REA: The Joys Of Christmas (Magnet)
    The fellow referred to as 'the British Springsteen' recorded two Christmas
    songs during his long solo career. One of them, "Driving Home For Christmas",
    is (rare for a CR tune) nothing to get excited about. This one, however, is
    [dare I say it?] heavenly! (CD: Dancing With Strangers)    
 6. ELTON JOHN: Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who'd Be A Turkey At Christmas?) (DJM)
    And now, we have the flip side of track 2, featuring Elton and the guys at their
    absolute silliest. Sing along... if you dare! (CD: Rare Masters [Polydor
    Chronicles])
 7. JON ANDERSON: 3 Ships (Elektra)
 8. THE MOODY BLUES: Yes I Believe (Universal)
    To say that these veteran cosmic rockers were the LAST group you'd think would
    record a Christmas album is an understatement. Well... think again. The other
    surprise? It's not bad! Really! (CD: December)
 9. TRICIA ALEXANDER: Trishmas Carols
    Introduced by Jim Nayder, the host of public radio's The Annoying Music Show,
    here's Tricia Alexander frightening the children with her take on not
    one, but two beloved classics. I didn't believe it when I heard it, either.
    (CD: The Annoying Music Show's Music For People)
10. KINKS: Father Christmas (Arista)
    What can I say? I couldn't leave this song out! (CD: Come Dancing With The
    Kinks)
11. PAUL ALDRICH: Minor Christmas Medley (Broken Records)
    Had the pleasure of meeting Paul (who hails from south of the border - namely,
    Oregon) a few years back. There are very few Christian comedians, and he's one
    of the funniest. Here, he gives us a new slant on music appreciation for the
    holidays. (CD: Meet Paul Aldrich)
12. STEVE TAYLOR Y AMIGOS/Winter Wonderland (Sparrow)
    We're talking really south of the border now! (CD: Now The Truth Can Be Told)
13. BOB AND RAY: Einbinder Flypaper Commercial (RadioArt)
    Seems commercialism creeps in everywhere these days, and this disc is no
    different. Okay... when your advertisers are Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding,
    you can cut a little slack, I s'pose. I don't know which is funnier: the
    premise of this whole "spot", or Ray's break-up! (CD: The Best Of Bob & Ray,
    Vol. 1: Excerpts from their Public Radio Show)
14. JON ANDERSON: Ding Dong Merrily On High (Elektra)
15. NEIL INNES: Dear Father Christmas [edited version](Making Waves)
    No relation to the Kinks song, this is Neil's musical wish list, and as far
    removed from The Bonzo Dog Band, Rutles, and Monty Python as you can get.
    [NOTE: Neil's use of an inappropriate expletive in the lyric forced me to edit
    this. Sorry, all you lovers of free speech and like that.]
16. BUCHANAN AND GOODMAN: Santa And The Satellite Pts. 1 & 2 (Luniverse)
    Before Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman came along in the 1950s with "The
    Flying Saucer", at just about the same time rock and roll was really starting to
    take hold (Coincidence? I think not!), there was no such thing as a "break-in" 
    novelty record. Rock and roll and comedy would never be the same. They're 
    both long gone now, but their influence is still heard weekly in Whimsical Will's
    segments on The Dr. Demento Show. 
17. THE RAYMOND SCOTT QUINTETTE: Christmas Night In Harlem
    I remember Garrett Morris singing this back on SNL in the 70's, but I never knew
    it was written by the man who gave the world "Powerhouse". Here's the 6-piece RSQ
    (Ray picked the word "Quintette" because he thought it sounded crisp.) as it
    sounded when they played it Nov 11, 1939 on "Your Hit Parade". (CD: The Raymond 
    Scott Project Vol. 1: Powerhouse (Stash))
18. JON ANDERSON: The Holly And The Ivy (Elektra)
19. JONA LEWIE: Stop The Cavalry (Stiff)
    Last time we heard from Jona, we could always find him in the kitchen at parties,
    remember? :) So you may be asking yourself, how does a song called "Stop The
    Cavalry" qualify as a Christmas song? It's all about timing... and location...
20. BILL COSBY: Christmas (Warner Brothers)
    A pause while we rest our collective feet now, and listen to Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr.
    reminisce about what the holiday means to him. (CD: "i started out as a child..."
    (Warner Archives/Rhino)) 
21. LOST DOGS: The Chipmunk Song (BEC Recordings)
    I guarantee you, you've never heard this song performed THIS way before! Terry
    Scott Taylor, Mike Roe, Derri Daugherty and Gene Eugene put what you might call
    a "digital twist" on Ross "David Seville" Bagdasarian's classic... and I mean
    LITERALLY that! (CD: Happy Christmas Vol. 2)
22. DOUG AND THE SLUGS: White Christmas (Ritdong/A&M Associated)
    Simply put, there was NO band in the Vancouver, B.C. area that is as fondly 
    remembered as Doug And The Slugs. Doug C. Bennett looked more like he belonged 
    in a Joe Pesci movie than he did singing rock and roll... ah, but when he opened
    his mouth, all doubts were erased. (If you ever saw the TV series "Norm" starring 
    Norm McDonald, that was the Slugs doing the title song, "Too Bad".) In a career
    that ran an incredible 25 years, it has been documented that nobody ever left a
    DATS show without a smile on their face. Here, they put their stamp on the Irving
    Berlin classic. (CD: Slugcology 101 - A Decade of Doug And The Slugs [Tomcat])
23. QUEEN: Thank God It's Christmas (EMI)
    To come up with a song with that title, you had to be one of two things: 1) You
    had to be kidding; or 2) Queen... because nobody else could've possibly gotten 
    away with it! (CD: Greatest Hits III [Hollywood])
    And that wraps up Disc One... almost... but not before the dessert from Heck...
24. BILL ENGVALL: Fruitcake Makes Me Puke! [rock version] (Warner Bros.)
    I don't know about you, but I have never eaten fruitcake in my life. After a
    tune like this, I don't think I want to, either!! (CD: Here's Your Christmas
    Album)

DISC TWO:
 1. DERRI DAUGHERTY, RIKI MICHELLE & STEVE HINDALONG: Babe In The Straw (Via)
    Here's a Christmas song of recent vintage (1995) that sums it all up, courtesy
    of the main men behind The Choir (Derri & Steve) and the former lead singer of
    Adam Again (Riki). One of several cuts on this disc from a much overlooked
    album sinply titled "Noel".
 2. KATE BUSH: December Will Be Magic Again (EMI)
    If you've heard Kate before, then what I'm about to say will seem ridiculously
    obvious, but I'll say it anyway: THIS is not your typical holiday song! But it
    is typical Kate, so... there you go.
 3. VEGGIETALES™: The Eight Polish Foods Of Christmas (Big Idea)
    And the silliness continues! Larry the cucumber and Bob the tomato celebrate,
    in song, a part of the holidays you may never even have considered before.
    Maybe not again, either... (CD: A Very Veggie Christmas)
 4. BRENT BOURGEOIS, CAROLYN ARENDS & DERRI DAUGHERTY: 
     What Child Is This? (Via)
    The only known Christmas carol with music composed by Henry VIII. (CD: Noel)
 5. THE FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND/God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
    Yes, you're reading that right! The Canadian group who gave the world such classic
    70's hits as "Signs" and "Absolutely Right" regrouped in late 2001, pausing only
    long enough in their continued comeback to put their spin on this traditional
    carol.
 6. THE ROYAL GUARDSMEN: Snoopy's Christmas (Laurie)
    The Royal Guardsmen hail from Florida, and back in the 60s, you couldn't get away
    from "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" if you tried. (Actually, they had several followups
    that had absolutely nothing to do with Charles Schultz's beloved beagle.) Here, from
    1967, is their holiday offering. (CD: The Best Of The Royal Guardsmen (EMI Australia))
 7. STEVEN B. WILLIAMS & DAN HAWKINS: Happy Home Magician
    Here are the founders and original CEOs of the legendary military-industrial
    complex known as WHAMCO, Steven B. & The Hawk, with a last minute shopping idea.
    (LP: The Best Of WHAMCO (NBC Source))
 8. RIDERS IN THE SKY WITH KATHY MATTEA: Silver Bells (Columbia)
    Too Slim, Woody Paul, Joey The Cowpolka King and Ranger Doug, along with Kathy 
    Mattea (one of the best voices in any music!) on a song which first appeared 
    way back when in the Bob Hope movie "The Lemon Drop Kid". (CD: Merry Christmas From
    Harmony Ranch)
 9. NEIL INNES: Tinsel And String (MMC)
    A few more tracks like these, and Mr. Innes may just wind up being known as the
    thinking person's songwriter. Could happen. (LP: Off The Record (MMC))
10. DICKIE GOODMAN: Santa And The Touchables
    After splitting from Bill Buchanan, Dickie embarked on a long and occasionally
    successful solo career. This is the third of his singles based on the 1950s TV
    series "The Untouchables".
11. JON ANDERSON & SANDRA CROUCH: O Holy Night (Elektra)
    Another track from "3 Ships".
12. CAROLYN ARENDS, STEPHEN MURRAY & JENNY GULLEN: 
      Angels We Have Heard On High (Via)  (CD: Noel)
13. JACK BLANCHARD AND MISTY MORGAN: A Weird Little Christmas
    From the creators of the immortal "Tennessee Birdwalk," Jack relates a holiday
    adventure that could only have happened to them. (Listen for Misty breaking up
    in the last few seconds!)
14. GERRY RAFFERTY: Silent Night (Icon Music Ltd.)
    Who knew he had it in him? Gerry does a magnificent job of not only singing multi-
    layered harmony with himself but also playing keyboards on THE ultimate Christmas hymn. 
    Formerly available only on his website, www.gerryrafferty.com, but since that's vanished 
    from the web, this is the only way you'll get to hear it.
15. STAN FREBERG with Daws Butler: Green Chri$tma$ (Capitol)
    Stan says of his Capitol singles, "They weren't released... they escaped!". THIS
    one barely made it out the door! The whole story is (fittingly enough) recounted
    in his book "It Only Hurts When I Laugh", but here's the condensed version: Stan
    (a minister's son) was fed up with the increasing encroachment of Madison Avenue
    into Christmas. The final straw was when he saw an ad portraying a happy family
    coming down the stairs on Dec. 25th, and there beneath the tree, a set of... 
    tubeless automobile tires?!? That was enough as far as Freberg was concerned: 
    "At my advertising firm, Freberg, Ltd. (but not very)," Stan wrote in the 45's 
    liner notes, "I work every day with people who wouldn't touch the things Scrooge
    does in this record with a ten-foot yule log. Like myself, they realize that the
    commercialization of an essentially religious holiday simply does not have to be.
    In my book (in this case, the Gospel according to St. Luke), it amounts to sacrilege,
    and there ought to be a law. In lieu of that law, there is this record, which I
    hope will give many of my fellow toilers in the ad vineyard pause for thought."
    The situation hasn't improved any since, but one thing is certain: those tires
    did find their way into the record! (CD: The Tip Of The Freberg [Rhino])
16. ROY WOOD'S WIZZARD: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (Harvest)
    And is it a coincidence that the same sound that closes Stan's record also
    opens this one? Per'aps. Per'aps not. Maybe Roy (like the Beatles) is also a
    Freberg fan. Who knows? Anyway, here's 'Woody' and the gang with one of those
    British Christmas records that keeps getting re-released. For good reason...
    (CD: Roy Wood Singles [Connosieur Collection])
17. SLADE: Merry Xmas Everybody (Polydor)
    ...And here's Noddy and the boyz with the other. (Quick story: On their first
    release, the above-mentioned Wizzard single and this one were virtually neck
    and neck for top of the UK charts, with Slade finally getting #1 and Roy hitting
    #2. Roy's response was to hit Noddy in the face with a whipped cream pie while
    Slade performed their song on BBC's Top Of The Pops. Live! All good fun... [heh heh])
    (CD: Wall Of Sound)
18. GERRY RAFFERTY: Adeste Fidelis (Icon Music Ltd.)
    Here he is again, in Latin this time!
19. JON ANDERSON: How It Hits You (Elektra)
    And wrapping it all up, here's the grand finale from "3 Ships", with a cameo
    appearance from daughter Jade Genevieve at the end.    

And that wraps up Furrball's Favourites '06 for this year. I hope you've had as much fun 
hearing them as I've had putting them together (or something along those lines...)

Till next time, Meowy Christmas and a Happy Mew Year!

The madness continues with Furrb's Faves '07... coming in February...

Meowskis,
Jer.