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Santa's Got A GTORodney On The ROQ (nee Rodney Bingenheimer ) is not a performer but, rather, an elfin, legendary Los Angeles disc jockey - the self-proclaimed "Prince of Pop" and "Mayor Of The Sunset Strip." Through his longstanding shift on Los Angeles' powerful KROQ-FM, Rodney figured prominently in the development of American west coast punk and new wave. His taste in modern music jives strongly with my own - aggressive but pop-friendly rock 'n' roll (cf. The Best Of Rodney On the ROQ, 1992). My interest was piqued, then, when I stumbled upon Santa's Got A GTO: Rodney On The ROQ's Fav Christmas Songs (1997) while surfing the 'net. Frantically searching, I finally scored a copy - though I half expected it to be the usual mixed bag of indie rock throwaways.

I was in for a very pleasant surprise, however, because Santa's Got A GTO is a true delight - a consistently pleasing mix of pop-oriented tunes sure to delight fans of the genre. If you, too, relish punky power pop and pithy alternative rock, you'll love Santa's Got A GTO (a tribute, by the way, to Rodney's late mother). Though the disc was given a limited release at best, copies aren't terribly scare - try Amazon.

Most of the songs on Santa's Got A GTO were recorded specifically for the CD, while a few (including the storied title track) were culled from Rodney's vast collection. These include Redd Kross' "Super Sunny Christmas" - as bright and irresistible as the title suggests - and the Jigsaw Seen's trippy take on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," which sounds like the Beatles channeling Aftermath-era Rolling Stones. The newer songs are as varied as Rodney's catholic tastes, from the horny ravings of Home Grown's "Christmas Crush" to the Cranes' hypnotic "Christmas Angel," highlighted by the prettiest use of the work "fuck" since Nilsson's "Moonbeam Song."

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All Year Party!Later, I discovered that Santa's Got A GTO had a prequel of sorts - Rodney Bingenheimer Presents "All Year Party!" (1984). With members of Blondie, the Ramones, the Go-Go's, X, and the Plimsouls all pitching in, the LP is more a testament to Rodney's impressive sway than a musical accomplishment. Mainly, it consists of local L.A. bands (including Nikki & The Corvettes and the Screaming Sirens) performing non-Christmas - though very festive - music.

One song alone, however, justified my purchase. "Every Day's A Holiday With You" features the percolating rhythms of Unit 3 (whoever they are) supporting the nearly atonal (but very sexy) Venus (whoever she is). Ms. Venus warbles enthusiastically about her lover - who's as good as Christmas, Valentine's, Easter, and Halloween combined! Hubba hubba!

Plus, we're also treated to Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon's "The Night Before Christmas," the b-side to their 1981 single "Together We Can Make A Merry Christmas." Whereas the a-side sounds like it was recorded for use in a Disney theme park, the flip is a rockin' recitation of Clement Moore's poem backed by - believe it or not - the Ventures. Sadly, All Year Party! has never been reissued on CD, but for students of the development of punk, it's an artifact worth digging up. [top of page]

Albums Albums

SongsSongs

  • - All Year Party (1984)
  • Every Day's A Holiday With You (Unit 3 With Venus)
  • 'Twas The Night Before Christmas (Annette & Frankie with the Ventures, 1981)
  • - Santa's Got A GTO (1997)
  • Christmas Crush (Home Grown, 1997)
  • Christmas Time (Boss Martians, 1997)
  • Christmas Here (Could Never Be Like That) (Wednesday Week, 1984)
  • Deck The Halls (With Boughs Of Holly) (Geolyn, 1997)
  • Frosty The Snowman (Frosted, 1997)
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Jigsaw Seen, 1990)
  • I Don't Believe In Santa Claus (Methadone Cocktail, circa 1993)
  • Like A Snowflake (Ride, 1991)
  • Mary X-Mas (Nina Hagen, 1997)
  • Runaway Christmas (Pencil Test, 1997)
  • Santa Doesn't Come To Little Jewish Children's Houses (Yid Kids, circa 1988)
  • Santa's Got A GTO (Ramonas, 1991)
  • Santa's Sack (Diaboliks, 1997)
  • Silent Night (Olivia Barash, 1997)
  • Ski Party (Wondermints 1997
  • Super Sunny Christmas (Redd Kross, 1993)
  • The Christmas Angel (Cranes, 1997)
  • 'Til Next Hanukkah (Velouria, 1997)

Further ListeningFurther Listening

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