From Jim McGuinn, a baker’s dozen of Top 2013 Christmas CDs

Hot Poop owner Jim McGuinn.

Hot Poop owner Jim McGuinn. Photo courtesy of Jim McGuinn

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Jesus, I need to co-mingle voodoo and Christmas like I need to write an exposé on the Virgin Mary!

How do I escape the wrath of a 2,000-year-old religion by placing a reverent wreath on a Christmas album performed by a rock band that incorporates the unlikely heathen name of a rival religion?

If there is a heaven, I suspect that the musical landscape changed forever on the day that Cab Calloway, Gene Krupa and Frank Sinatra strutted in and high-fived Saint Peter.

Angels hovered above in search of a front-row seat and harp players rapidly rose off their hind ends to swing that thing! Even Harpo Marx exclaimed “Momma don’t want to hear no mo’ harp playing around here!”

One of the best byproducts of World War II was the popularization of Big Band jazz swing music.

Hitler feared the music of America more than he feared our troops.

While frantically working on V-J rockets, U-boats and artillery, he soon discovered that his goose was cooked.

Hitler was frustrated and eventually defeated because German composers couldn’t get the rest of the world to goose step to oom-pah-pah music.

If the Free World at that time could agree on just one thing, that had to be that “it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!”

I came to the same conclusion after spending more than 50 hours previewing highly homogeneous holiday music.

I actually liked the first track on every Christmas CD that I heard.

But it wasn’t long before Christmas starting skating on the thin ice of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” curse where I just knew that I had heard it all before.

And it just wasn’t deja vu for those 50 hours of holiday headphone hibernation either.

Most of the arrangements have been traditionally performed that way for more than half a century!

I guess that’s the comfort and joy of why they are called traditional songs and carols.

If you think you have never heard or seen Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, think back to 1999 when they performed at the halftime show of the XXXIII Super Bowl.

At that time they had been together 10 years perfecting their big band swing style music of ’40s- and ’50s-style jazz albums.

The 1990s swing revival era came and went but Big Bad Voodoo Daddy never left the scene or their passion. Almost a quarter of a century from when they formed, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has recorded the No. 1 Christmas album of the year. And they did it the way God loves and prefers it, with a backbeat!

  1. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy/It Feels Like Christmas Time/Savoy Jazz Records
  2. Nick Lowe/Quality Street-A Seasonal Selection For All The Family/Yep Roc Records Nick Lowe hits a new high with his “Quality Street” holiday album that shines an equal amount of Bethlehem star light illumination on Jesus and Santa. Lowe wrote two new originals and one is sung in the first person perspective of baby Jesus. His gently delivered acoustic “I was born in Bethlehem,” will live long past the shelf life of this album. New wave survivor Lowe delivers each traditional carol with the sincerity and conviction as if he wrote it himself. A stark reminder that not everyone enjoys comfort and joy at Christmas is Lowe’s “A Dollar Short For Christmas” that concerns the unemployed and is co-written with Ry Cooder. I’ve been enjoying this album since early September when it quickly became my first choice for the #1 Christmas CD of 2013.
  3. Joshua Bell and Friends/Musical Gifts/Sony Masterworks Grammy award winning violinist Joshua Bell has gathered the “A list” of musical guests for his classical and traditional collection of Christmas carols. Musical guests for Bell’s “Musical Gifts” include Allison Krauss, Branford Marsalis, Chick Corea, Chris Botti, Gloria Estefan, Michael Feinstein, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, Straight No Chaser and more! Joshua Bell has packed a collection of Christmas classics that smelters a solid silver bell ringing out a new Christmas classic.
  4. Jewel/Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection/Somerset Group “Let It Snow,” is Jewel’s second holiday album in twenty four years. Her first, “Joy,” has been certified platinum in sales status. Her voice has only gotten better over almost a quarter of a century of Christmas’.
  5. Kelly Clarkson/Wrapped In Red/RCA Records Borrowing from the Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound textbook, Kelly Clarkson’s first Christmas CD is solidly built from the ground up. Trisha Yearwood, Ronnie Dunn and mother-in-law Reba McEntire collaborate with Clarkson who was the first season winner of the television program “American Idol.”
  6. Mary J Blige/ A Mary Christmas/Verve Records. “A Mary Christmas,” is Mary J Blige’s first holiday album and it was delivered in a satin lined manger by producer David Foster. Blige sings Silent Night in Spanish with Marc Anthony and also sings in French on the French favorite Petit Papa Noel. She is also joined by Barbara Streisand with Chris Botti on trumpet for “When You Wish Upon A Star!
  7. John Fahey/Christmas Soli/Fantasy Records This is a pure distillation of John Fahey’s four previous Christmas albums. Fahey was an acoustic finger picking innovator of folk, jazz, blues and even international music. He never performed for money until the release of his third album. Oddly enough, he is best known for his Christmas albums. Christmas Soli really is the best collection of John Fahey’s Christmas music.
  8. Susan Boyle/Home For Christmas/Simco-Columbia Records This Scottish singer Susan Boyle’s second holiday album. Her first was entitled “The Gift” and it reached #1 in the United States and England. It was certified triple platinum in sales for sales in America alone! “Home For Christmas” features digital duets with Elvis Presley and Johnny Mathis .
  9. Robertson Family from Duck Dynasty/Duck The Halls/EMI Records, Nashville The songs “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas” and “Hairy Christmas” are the best descriptions of television’s Duck Dynasty’s Robertson’s Family’s Christmas Collection. Only “Merry Quackmas!” would be more accurate. My only question is who convinced the self-confessed righteous redneck Robertson’s to sing “don we now our gay apparel” from their “Duck The Halls”?
  10. Trace Adkins/The King’s Gift (TIODHLAC AN RIGH)/Caliburn Records Leaping out of left field is Trace Adkins’ Celtic themed country Christmas music. It’s country, just not this country. Adkins comes out of the Celtic closet with the help of The Chieftains, actor Kevin Costner and his daughter Lily.
  11. Tamar Braxton/Winter Loversland/Streamline Records This a banner year for Tamar Braxton. She recorded her first album in thirteen years and it has been nominated for three Grammy Awards! This is the first collection of holiday songs by Tamar who is the youngest sister of Toni Braxton. It was well worth the wait!
  12. Johnny Mathis/Sending You A Little Christmas/Columbia Records Johnny “mistletoe” Mathis has recorded more holiday albums than Madonna has bras. This one is different. More than half of the songs on this welcomed holiday album are duets with Billy Joel, Natalie Cole, Susan Boyle, Amy Grant, Vince Neil and Gloria Estefan.
  13. Bad Religion/Christmas Songs/Epitaph Records Is it really possible for a punk rock band to still be together after 34 years? Bad Religion is living proof that it has happened and they are still sticking to their punk rock convictions. This is Bad Religion’s first Christmas album and they will contribute 20 percent from their sales will got to SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Jim McGuinn owns Hot Poop on Main Street.

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