HomeAcapodcast #41, 12.20.07, Christmas Special

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It’s Christmastime again, all around the world. My gift to you this year is an hour and a half of almost uninterrupted music, suitable to put playing while you open gifts, eat dinner, or drive to and from the houses of friends and families this holiday season. There’s a little talking at the beginning and at the end, but except for giving you the artist and song name in between tracks, that’s it. All of the other conversational bits are here on the web page for you to read, as well as the usual track listing and the links to pick up copies for yourself. Thanks, and have a wonderful and safe holiday time.

Five O’Clock Shadow was one of the first groups to say yes to being on the show, and “It’s Christmas” from Misfit Toys is a stellar example of the rocking vocal originals. The lyrics make this the perfect track to start the show with.

The Blenders have put out several holiday albums over the years, and their latest is a two disc compilation called Christmas Collection, released at the same time as the new ‘Christmas with The Blenders’ DVD. This Minnesota group proves the ongoing power of the Midwest to produce fabulous pro groups. The group has been around since 1990, putting their own stamp on all sorts of songs. Here they are with “The First Noel“.

Tonic Sol-fa has a new holiday album, On Top Of The World. If you are lucky enough to live in some parts of the US, you can also catch their PBS special on TV. “Happy Holiday” is the first track on that CD, and Irving Berlin would be tickled by the direction they take with it.

I found OnCue on the web through a happy accident. I’d not heard of this Calgary group previously, but I love their originals. Drawn from alumni of the Youth Singers of Calgary, they pack a lot of talent! “Snow Angels“, from the album with the same title, is one of their excellent originals, celebrating one of the simple joys of kids and winter.

Basix is a Danish group that has gone out of their way to support the show, sending me a total of four albums from which to draw material. Last holiday show I featured a few tracks from their holiday album, Christmastime. How appropriate that this year I play their cover of “Last Christmas“.

The Coats were also one of the early groups on The Acapodcast. They’ve covered a lot of ground and a lot of material over the years, including this refreshing take on the traditional carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen“. I love traditional carols. I love new interpretations of songs. I love this song for being both at the same time.

I’ve been sitting on Joy by Four Shadow since they sent it to me this past summer. I was amused to receive a holiday album in the summertime, but knowing how good they are, I was happy to receive it, and pull it out for this show. Listening to them take on “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” has had me eager for this show for months!

Jim Goodrich e-mailed me after my guest appearance on Lynn Argent’s ‘Cultural Soup’ show, and Lynn recently pointed me to his own a cappella efforts which he has put up on The Podsafe Music Network. Jim is the only person you hear in this rendition of “The Wassail Song“. Modern technology has let him sing all the parts separately and then bring them together. Thanks Jim, your range and versatility is impressive!

With over two feet of snow in recent weeks here at the house, I’m not sure I should play a song called “Let It Snow“, but I’ll bet OnCue gets it worse up in Calgary! This also comes from their Snow Angels album. I look forward to hearing more from them soon.

There are a plethora of traditional Christmas songs in the world, and the nostalgia around them can make it hard for new Christmas songs to gain traction. Bravo to The Blenders for coming out with “Tiny Little Christmas“, and I hope it becomes a new standard.

M-pact’s Carol Commission is an album full of excellent songs, but “Caroling, Caroling” may be the cream of the crop. The Winner of a 2000 CARA award, I can’t be the only person to think so.

The GrooveBarbers are a group of guys who just like to get together and sing. The fact that most have them have been members of Rockapella at some point makes them different from other groups of guys out there singing for the fun of it. They might not be ’serious’ about it, but they’re certainly professional caliber. “We Need A Little Christmas” is just the sort of fun romp these four are known for.

Special thanks to Blue Jupiter for “Scattered Flurries“, the title track from their 2003 album. The incredibly rich harmonies are the perfect piece to sit in the middle of this show and bring it together.

Christmas is not the only holiday at this time of year, and although Hannukah has come and gone (without running out of oil!), I like to include at least one Hannukah song every year as a tribute to those of us who celebrate in our own way. This year I was sent South Park’s “It’s Hard To Be A Jew At Christmas” by Rutger’s Kol Halayla, making this one of two collegiate tracks in this show. Thanks to Bradley for sending this along.

One thing we might all wish for this season is for peace on Earth. It’s a common sentiment when people are bundled together for warmth and cheer. Peace is something to be desired year round, but especially when our minds should be on family, religion, friends, and the turning of the year, instead of on conflict. I know there are a lot of unfortunate conflicts at the moment, so let’s all join with The Coats as they sing “Let There Be Peace On Earth“.

Four Shadow comes around again, with “All I Want For Christmas Is You“, from their album Joy. Some of the lyrics in this make me question if the person expressing this is perhaps a bit misguided.

Snowfall” from M-pact is so wonderful, it makes me hope that there’s a Carol Commission 2 at some point in the future. You can be sure that if there is, I’ll have it in hand for the next holiday episode of The Acapodcast.

Is there any better excuse for a vocal percussion solo than “Little Drummer Boy“? And when Five O’Clock Shadow released Misfit Toys back in 1999, very few groups could claim the level of expertise in vocal percussion that they showcase here. This was their first release with Dave “Stack” Stackhouse, who is still rocking with the group, singing bass and doing VP with the aid of a thumper mic.

Tonic Sol-fa reminds us that Christmas might be a time of crass commercialism, but we shouldn’t forget it’s religious origins. “King of Glory” is their homage to the nativity story, and the arrival of a very special baby boy all those years ago.

But to acknowledge the reality, there is a lot of gift shopping and giving this time of year, and everyone likes to receive something. Have you ever participated in a “Secret Santa” in your office, your school, or your community? The Groovebarbers have a few comments to be made in this track.

If you look at A Cappella holiday collections, you’ll notice that “Mr. Grinch” may be a relatively recent song, but it is clearly a new traditional. I played one version last year, and I’ve a few more, so I think I’ll start a tradition of playing a version every December. My guess is that this is a popular one for A Cappella artists, because it gives the oft neglected Bass a great solo! Of course, this one coming from moosebutter’s dee’s ember, you’re guaranteed to be chuckling at their brand of musical mayhem.

Basix catches up with a timely song called “This Christmas“. As the song says, ‘This Christmas will be a very special Christmas.’ May it be special for you too.

Jim Goodrich shows once again his great range by singing all the parts to “We Three Kings” all by himself. Jim, do you really have that amazing range, or did you have to use some recording tricks to get that fabulously low bass line?

This very special take on “Joy to the World” by The Persuasions was sent to me by Jerry Lawson, former front man for the group. It starts off as the old chestnut, but about halfway through, they riff on it with that magic Persuasions flavor. I am honored to share it with you.

Our last track tonight is fittingly, “The Christmas Song” by the Yale Whiffenpoofs. The Whiffs have been invited to sing carols at the White House on a number of occasions. Coming up on their Centennial year (2009), The Whiffs are the oldest collegiate group, bar none (1909). They’re so rich and polished that it’s hard to think of them as a collegiate group. This track comes from their album People Who Need People, and as the iconic modern carol, it seemed only fitting to close out this show.

Thank you all for a great 2007. May you all stay warm and safe this holiday season, and may happiness and joy be all around. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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