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Winter Dance Party - Holiday Greetings to You

Holiday Greetings to You

Winter Dance Party

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The idea here is great, the execution not so much. This is essentially John Mueller's gig, abetted by bandmates Jay Richardson & Ray Anthony and then nine sessioneers (including Wayne Peet!). The Winter Dance Party combo is enamored of 50s era music, particularly Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. Unfortunately, that devotion is slavish and the performance the result of much enthusiasm but just as much an uneven recording. I'd say the vocals are the chief culprit but that would be wrong: pretty much everything is.

A tribute is supposed to call into play the current musicians' interpretational talents, not tear elements tooth and jowl from the originals with heedless pointless abandon. One of my fave modern Xmas songs is Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad, which here is set to La Bamba, a collision so jarring that the listener never recovers from the first few measures. Little Town of Bethlehem is forced into a Becky Sue cadence, the guitar horrifically recessed and the rhythms skewered. Some of the other takes are pretty straightforward, Silent Night and such, and a couple aren't bad, but, overall, ouch!

I mentioned Wayne Peet, a cool jazz and fusion player (check out 1994's Fully Engulfed), but his engineering here is mostly mediocre, occasionally bad. My only advice would be that he stick to the keyboards and tackle the pan pots only on his own own stuff. A little hint for the rest of the cats: if you want to see one of the few times 50s music was handled well outside its own time (an era we're very thankfully rid of), listen to Willie and the Poor Boys, where Gary Brooker and Co. rock the living hell out of the medium in a dynamically updated context.

Track List:

  • Let It Snow
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Feliz Navidad
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The Christmas Song
  • We Three Kings
  • Run Rudolph Run
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • Santa Looks a Lot Like Daddy
  • Silent Night
  • Sleigh Ride
  • Twelve Days of Christmas
  • O Come Little Children

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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