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Reindeer RockMost Christmas compilations are shabbily packaged and, even worse, carelessly compiled, consisting of the same rote songs by Bing or Brenda or whoever. The track listings on the worst ones seem selected virtually at random, as though the record label turned a clueless intern loose in the vault with instructions to fill up 30 minutes by December (which, sadly, may actually be the case). Anyway, every great now and then I run across an album made by and for guys like me - filled with rare and wonderful Christmas surprises. Reindeer Rock (Sony, 1994) is almost one of them. True, it consists of a measly 10 songs and is about as well annotated as a Burma Shave sign. And, one of those songs is an album cut from Elmo & Patsy so execrable it makes the listener pine fondly for the duo's abominable hit "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer." But, the other nine songs on Reindeer Rock are quite rare (several appear only herein) and most are equally wonderful - at least to guys like me, and you know who you are.

Foremost among these treasures is Barry Richards' top-notch novelty "Baby Sittin' Santa" (1962). Prior to digging up Reindeer Rock, I had only ever seen this swell track on an old Rhino LP, Rockin Christmas: The 50's (1984). Not only does Reindeer Rock capture a cleanly mastered digital transfer of a song I consider one of the Top 100 Christmas records of all time, it rescues the actual ending of the record - something Rhino had (perhaps erroneously) edited out! Wow, Sony has good interns....

But, the fun is just beginning. Reindeer Rock also includes a number of obscure tracks from artists known for other Christmas records, including "77 Santas" by Gayla Peevey (best remembered for "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas") and "Reindeer Rock" by Jimmy Boyd (who popularized "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"). Add to that a lovely rendition of "The Christmas Song" from late in Les Paul & Mary Ford's career as well as an absolutely arcane girl group track by the Orchids, England's answer to the Crystals. I have goosebumps! Ultimately, Reindeer Rock is way too esoteric for the average Christmas enthusiast. For guys like me, it is (nearly) nirvana. [top of page]

Albums Albums

SongsSongs

  • Baby Sittin' Santa (Barry Richards, 1962)
  • Christmas Is The Time To Be With Your Baby (The Orchids, 1964)
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) (Les Paul & Mary Ford, 1963)
  • Kissin' By The Mistletoe (Aretha Franklin, 1961)
  • (Look At The) Reindeer Rock (Jimmy Boyd, 1955)
  • The Only Thing I Want For Christmas (DeJohn Sisters, 1955)
  • Rock 'n' Roll-y Poly Santa Claus (Lillian Briggs, 1955)
  • 77 Santas (Gayla Peevey, 1955)

Further ListeningFurther Listening

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