I've got a problem. A big problem. A problem draped in tinsel, hung with mistletoe,
and wrapped in red and green - and rock and roll. Somewhere between a few dozen Christmas
albums and a few hundred, I had to come clean - I've got a Christmas music
monkey on my back.
Compared to my other musical loves - doo wop, disco, punk, power pop, bubblegum,
and so many more - my passion for collecting cool and unusual Christmas records
had gotten out of hand. My I found myself getting excited that Frankie Avalon had
once put out a Christmas album - and it was available on compact disc! Better
yet, Max Headroom once released a Christmas single, and I found the original 45
rpm record - in a picture sleeve! I obsessed for days about exactly how
many Christmas albums the Osmond Brothers had recorded, when they were released
- and what they looked like!
And here's the rub - all those records suck. They suck big time, and
I know it. I knew it when I first learned about about them; I knew it when I was
bidding for them on eBay like I'd just won the lottery; and I knew when I listened
to them - boy, did I know it! But I love them anyway, in an unconditional, red-headed
stepchild, good shepherd sort-of way. Hell, I love them the way Santa Claus loves
all the little girls and boys. These tacky, wacky records are the pure products
of an America gone plum crazy. I love them for what they say about my culture,
what they say about my music, and what they say about me.
Because somehow, even after working retail for over 20 years, I am still a huge
fan of Christmas. And being a hopeless rock 'n' roll collector, nothing gets me
going quite like a Christmas record that rocks - or rolls, swings, twangs, taps
its toes, or bangs its head.
Sometimes, rockers bring their own unique spirit to the festive proceedings -
witness Bruce Springsteen lending the sound of the Jersey shore to "Santa
Claus Is Coming To Town" or the Drifters rollicking lasciviously through "White
Christmas." Other times, artists translate Christmas into their own unique
language, as when Ray Davies wrote of class struggle in the Kinks' "Father
Christmas" or when Joe Tex taught us to "...make everyday Christmas for
The brightest moments, though, occur when Christmas lifts the banal or mundane
rocker to a higher plane. For instance, Bryan Adams (hardly a favorite of mine)
cut a fantastic, faux rasta record called "Reggae Christmas." Faceless
80's journeyman Billy Squier cut the loosest, best record of his career with "Christmas
Is The Time To Say I Love You." Jethro Tull, Queen, Emerson Lake & Palmer,
and Foghat - all bands that strained against the bonds of mediocrity - each recorded
Christmas singles that, well, weren't bad at all.
Thanks to my unhealthy obsession with these records - whether naughty or nice
- and my anal-retentive tendency to catalog and document nearly everything, I give
you this website. Initially, my free-floating devotion to music had spawned another website, Randy's Rodeo. But, when I figured out that the Christmas portion of Randy's Rodeo had become
more thorough, more exhaustive, and just plain bigger than the rest of
the website combined, I figured I should open a branch office. Ergo, Hip Christmas (dot com).
Here, you'll find a million weird and wild Christmas records to hunt down at flea
markets, dig for in dusty bins of vinyl, and search for on the vast internet -
and if anyone finds a 45 of Phil Moore's "Blink Before Christmas" (RCA, 1953), let me know! Conveniently,
however, there are plenty of easy-to-find classics and quality reissues to put
the finest of the season at the fingertips of the "regular Joe" record
collector - not to mention an ever-growing catalog of MP3 downloads at our fingertips.
The music on Hip Christmas is organized three ways for your browsing convenience. Generally speaking, the most extensive pages are Artist pages where you'll find an overview of each artists' Christmas career, so to speak, plus lists of their albums and/or songs. The Album pages include cover art, track listings, and (usually) my review. The Songs & Singles pages are, in many ways, the most intensive of the lot. They incude every song on every album I've reviewed, plus scads of one-hit wonders, album cuts, and other lost treasures. The individual song pages list all the artists who have performed that song, plus the albums the songs appear on.
Throughout it all, you'll see links to places to buy them (usually Amazon). And, if I do say so myself, it's a collector's bacchanal! However, if you still haven't found what you're looking for, use the Search
Engine at the top of every page. Neat! Remember, however, that as big as it is, Hip Christmas is still a selected discography. As omnivorous as I am, I deem many Christmas records unworthy
of my attention; for instance, look for Michael Bolton, Kenny G, Josh Groban, and Mannheim Steamroller
elsewhere on the web....
Finally, don't forget to peruse my Christmas
Lists - I made 'em, and I checked 'em twice! First and foremost are my Top
20 Albums and Top 100 Songs lists, wherein
I attempt (vainly, I fear) to distill the essence from my overstuffed record
collection. But there's also esoterica like Jews For
Jesus and Christmas In Vietnam, not to mention
my Wish List - Christmas records even I haven't
been able to track down. Lastly, don't overlook my Christmas Jukebox - hundreds of rockin' holiday classics, and still growing.
The staff of Hip Christmas (er, um, me) wishes you all the best for the holiday
and in the new year (no matter when you're reading this). Thanks for visiting,
and have a cool yule! If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or just want
to put a lump of coal in my stocking, I'd be happy to chat. Drop me a line...
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