December 24, 2023

Groovy Library's All-Time Favorite Super-Duper Christmas Gems, Vol. 4

Now how about that! One more before the big day, and a continuance of Groovy Library's all-time favorite Christmas gems. As mentioned in the previous volume, I have way too many favs and may have to end the series, but who knows for next year. Meanwhile, here's volume 4...

Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Linus and Lucy (drum overdub)" - okay, it's not an official remix, but someone who dubbed over drums and a distorted guitar (the latter is low in the mix, and at times sounds like a trumpet with the wah-wah effects). I love it but have no idea who they are.

Also included the 2022 mix of VGT's "Christmas Time Is Here," the instrumental version. REO Speedwagon's "Sleigh Ride" is probably my all-time favorite rock version. Pastor Brad's "O Come All Ye Faithful" should delight the fans of harder-edged rock. And yes, I am a big fan of Buck Owens' "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy." That tune can really stick in your head, lol. Dolph Chaney's "Jingle Bells" is a take on Van Halen's Panama. It's fun, and jolly too! And, you've probably heard it several times over the years in commercials, numerous tv and films, etc, the Boston Pops Orchestra's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." It's short and sweet, and love it still.

20 tracks in all. Merry Christmas everyone!

December 23, 2023

How About 20 Last Christmases!

There are a few hundred covers of Wham!'s Last Christmas, and that's the official count. I wasn't all that keen for the original tune when first released. It wasn't until I heard The Final's (first track) version when it finally clued in that it was indeed, a pretty decent tune. I now listen to several versions, and 20 to share with you all. I haven't heard every single version, so I'm sure there's gold out there. Fortunately, this collection should suffice.

A mix of genres in this collection - rock, pop, hard rock, pop-punk, dance, downtempo, etc. As mentioned previously, The Final's version is (probably) my favorite. I also love the drum-sampled dancey version by Whigfield. The Twang's take leans a little to revisionist country. Other versions by Rubber Band (a Beatles parody group), The Dollyrots, The Swingle Singers, Pullover (another fav), etc. 20 groups in all.

I'm not sure if I'll have another mix before the big day. If not, then a very merry Christmas to everyone! Take care of yourselves.

December 16, 2023

Snazzy Jazzy Christmas Jazz You've Never Heard! Vol. III

I'd say this set leans more to "I've never heard this before let alone the artist/band" than rare, considering most of the tracks are more modern. "Blitzen" (Joe Wilder on trumpet) by Leonard Feather & Ralph Burns is the earliest track (1954). The Modern Jazz Quartet's "England's Carol" is the other earlier track (1960). Other than a few 80s & 90s tracks, the rest are 00s.

I don't think I could pick one track over them all. Wynton Marsalis' "We Three Kings of Orient Are" would be right up there though, at a mesmerizing 9 minute tour-de-force. Nary a moment of boredom or reaching for the fast-forward button, for it'll pull you right in from start to finish. Gabriel Latchin Trio's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is another to take note. Tia Fuller's "Little Drummer Boy" is another worthy addition to the many covers.

Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Skating (#3, take 7)" is close to the original release that you may not even notice/hear a difference. Mark Shane's X-Mas Allstars' "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and Alban Darche's "Hark!" are a couple more excellent tracks. Enjoy!

December 12, 2023

A Little of That Funky, Funky Christmas

I started to work on this mix almost immediately after the last one, and got sidetracked. The original intent was for a mix of soul & funk, but decided to go all funk. However, I forgot to recheck all the previous tracks and missed one. The Emotions' "Black Christmas" (btw, is a great track) isn't quite funky, but more pop-soul. And because of just that one error, I had to alter the title. And in my usual fashion, the new title is vacuous sarcasm (a play on old sayings, eg. making a mountain out of an anthill, et al).

20 tracks (actually 21, the last track a very short bonus) with half from the '70s (tracks 1-10), and the other half '00s. My favorites? Most of 'em. Andy Mowatt's "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" should impress other guitarists out there. Funky Turkey's "Jingle Bell Funk" is fun. Just the name of the band and song title is worthy enough. The Clark Sisters' "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is an impressive take. Also, not one but two versions of  "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman." Milly & Silly's "Gettin Down for Xmas" is a good funky opener to kick things off. Hmm, Funk Machine's "Soul Santa" is another. They're all good. Enjoy!

December 9, 2023

Santa Can Kick Yer... ...and 22 Other Delights

This is all about Santy Claus, and what good tracks they are (from '34 to '69). It begins with what's considered the first official release of "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" by Harry Reser & His Orchestra from '34 (either the source was carefully remastered/equalized, or original acetate in pristine condition and ripped using exceptional equipment - I was vastly impressed compared to other rips, including my own). I've also included George Hall & The Hotel Taft Orchestra's version from the same year. And while on the subject of the Haven Gillespie/J. Fred Coots classic, I've included several other versions as well, most notably Al Hirt, and The Korn Kobblers, personal big favs respectively.

22 tracks in all, and I don't think I've ever heard any of 'em played over the airwaves. My favorite is Rocki Lane & the Gross Group's "Santa Soul." What an awesome track, and not surprisingly, a 'B' side. Tennessee Ernie Ford's "A Rootin' Tootin' Santa Claus" is a good 'ol tootin' track. Ty Whitney's "Surfin' Santa Claus" is another gem, and so is Poppa John Gordy & His Dixielanders' "Santa Plays the Trombone (In the North Pole Band)." They're all good and worthy. Enjoy!

December 6, 2023

Groovy Library's All-Time Favorite Super-Duper Christmas Gems, Vol. 3

I'll either end this series here or the next one. I have way too many favorites that'll stretch beyond the stratosphere. I'll probably stick to theme related mixes going forward. So anyway, what do we have here - lots of rockers and several 50s and 60s. Bert Kaempfert's "Holiday for Bells" is probably my most nostalgic Christmas shopping track. Chris Rea's "Driving Home for Christmas" has been a big fav for years and I'm pretty sure the first time I've heard it was sometime during the early 00s, over a dozen years since first released.

Chris & Peter Allen's "Ten Below" goes back to the early days of blogging. I no longer recall who posted it (and probably ripped at 128) but thank you regardless. It's still a favorite. Now, this may be sacrilegious, but I like Brenda Lee's "Papa Noël" just as much (and sometimes more!) as the "A" side - the big perennial seasonal smash "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."

I think you'll enjoy and maybe a chuckle(?!?) out of Vincent D'Onofrio's (yes, the actor) "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Aly & AJ's "Jingle Bell Rock" is one of the best rockin' versions, along with Slade's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Actually, this may be sacrilegious too, but I prefer the latter much more than their bigger holiday hit (Merry Xmas Everybody). And, I can't close the set without "Silent Night, Holy Night" this time by Percy Faith & His Orchestra. It's so beautiful. Anyway, all the tracks are good. Enjoy!

December 5, 2023

Snazzy Jazzy Christmas Jazz You've Never Heard! Vol. II

And once again, you've probably heard some of the tracks. Volume two begins with an awesome version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" by the George Shearing Quintet. If you love Brubeck's "Take Five," you should enjoy it. Cyrus Chestnut's cover of "Linus and Lucy" is another worthy addition. If you love bebop, you'll love Herb Geller's "Sleigh Ride."

Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "We Free Kings" is a well known track amongst the jazz aficionados. If you like stride, then you'll probably enjoy Butch Thompson's "Deck the Halls." Brad Mehldau's "Christmas Time Is Here" is imo, the highlight from the set. I absolutely love this rendition of the Vince Guaraldi/Charlie Brown classic.

One of my all-time favorite Christmas carols is "Silent Night". I prefer the renditions to be more serene and subtly melancholic. Fabrizio Bosso Quartet's "Silent Night" is quite the opposite and it works. It's jazzy, funky, and a worthwhile addition to the mix. Anyway, all the tracks are good. Enjoy!

December 2, 2023

Snazzy Jazzy Christmas Jazz You've Never Heard!

I'm actually a fan (or sucker, lol) of "you've never heard" and similar wordings in comp titles. Sure, the intention is to goad you in, but I've found in the majority of my cases, just a couple of rare gems still earns that title. And so, here we are with 18 smooth, upbeat, jazzy tracks you've never heard... or may have heard...

All tracks are instrumental sans "Last Christmas" by Till Brönner, but only briefly. Of all the cover versions of Wham's big hit, this is one of the better ones. It toys on a bossa-nova rhythm, and it works.

The comp begins with Fourplay's "Angels We Have Heard on High" and probably the best jazz-funkiest rendition I've ever heard (give it a week, lol). Another big highlight is Dirk K's "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas." Who is Dirk K? I have no idea. I know a lot of bloggers fill you in with lots of info, but as usual, I'm pressed for time. I'm sure a simple search should do the trick. Meanwhile, check out those monster guitar licks. I'm pretty sure you'll be hearing more of his work in later editions.

Don't forget to get wow'd by Marco Marzola's "O Christmas Tree." Listen to those drum breaks. Oscar Peterson's "Christmas Waltz" slows things down for a bit, but his piano runs makes up for it and then some. And please note the third track (Don Patterson's "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer") is a needle drop, and not that clean either. Well, it's passable but thought to let you know. I couldn't resist not adding it to the mix. Anyway, enjoy this set. And as usual, they're all good. Enjoy!