Rod surprised me…

…with his Merry Christmas, Baby holiday album release (Verve) … it’s actually pretty darned good! This came as news to me so it seemed apropos to land this mini review in the VS News section.

I have nothing but respect for Rod Stewart. The attention, appreciation and new listeners he’s brought to the Great American Songbook is a beautiful thing.

That said, Rod’s raspy interpretations of the standards have been largely lost on me (no surprise to regular VS readers, assuming you exist) with his high “gravel & smoke” vocal style firmly set in the ’70’s rock scene of my personal music perspective … think “Maggie May”, “Mandolin Wind” and the like.

Ray shamed me…

My trombone wielding buddy Ray, rang me up gushing about how much he liked Rod’s new release … really? I gave the LP a cursory listen and then I played my typical “I can’t get my head around Rod singing the standards” card and moved on … cold heartless bastard that I am.

But then, while stuck in traffic and really not wanting to spurn by changing the channel, I actually LISTENED to a few tracks off the album as they came lilting across the radio waves and a funny thing happened … I, uh, liked it. Weird, I know, right! [Read more…]


© Tard The Grumpy Cat

I set out this week…

…to review a “blast from the past” holiday album from one of my favorite artists (NOT Tony Bennett despite the feature photo … just foreshadowing a bit).

I snagged the early 2000’s released holiday LP from iTunes and anxiously started listening … to make a long story short, it’s not very good; in fact it’s really pretty bad with significant deficits on the vocals, arrangements and some less than stellar production.

Though this artist is a recent find for me, he/she has been around many years and has released some great LPs; this particular album however is not one of them.

If he/she was proffering this LP this year as a new holiday release, it would be fair game; but the album in question was released ~ten years ago and I respect the artist  and their overall body of work too much to dredge up and flail this one anomalous poor recording.

It seems to be the season…

…for interviews, anecdotes, birthdays, holiday releases … I also have questions and notions frittering around in my head on the music industry, upcoming VS interviews and reviews, a Sinatra related DiningwithTheRatPack jewel … and a major new addition I’m considering, and I could use some feedback.

So … with a flaming hole in my content plan for this week, beaucoup newsworthy items in my inbox and a brain racing from too much eggnog, I thought I’d fire off a stream of consciousness piece and get all this stuff out of my head! [Read more…]


About this time last year…

Jonny Blu released a very cool single for the holidays.

JB’s 2011 single — “Holiday for Two” — is a fun and jazzy original number that I enjoy a great deal while cooking up some winter fare and watching my lovely bride pad around the house on her mission to cover every surface with  Christmas decorations.

Word on the street (OK, from his FaceBook page) is that Jonny’s baking off a 2012 edition Christmas single … very cool, I can’t wait to hear it!

Keep an eye out for Jonny’s new holiday number, and in the mean time go snag Holiday For Two for your holiday playlist!

[12/1 UPDATE – DivShare is back up! Sorry again for the delay.]

“Holiday for Two” – Jonny Blu*

[* Please remember that all songs streamed here are for REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY and are NOT intended as a substitute for properly purchased original record company product. Give a listen and then please support the artists via iTunes, Amazon or your favorite music store. Artists/Record Labels — NO DOWNLOADS ARE SUPPORTED on this site; please contact me directly regarding the removal of any potentially infringing material.] 



If I could only pick one…

After spending about three days trying to net out a “top five” album list from the seemingly boundless holiday section of the American Songbook, I had to give it up.

There is a vast amount of material from the Classic Artist and New Guard quarters … even the Fresh Face team has been throwing off some great holiday singles and albums. But that wasn’t the real problem with nailing down a “top five” list.

Listening to so much Christmas and holiday fare over the last month, I’ve come to realize that holiday music listening is a very personal and emotional affair … more so than normal music listening.

What and who I like in my studio during the day while writing fervently is all good and proper; but put a glass of wine in my hand, a fire in the fireplace, some steaks under the broiler and my lovely bride padding around decorating for Christmas and my whole perspective shifts … and with it my holiday listening preferences.

[Read more…]


SDjr didn’t shovel the holiday hits like Dean and Frank…

© Vladimir Gorsky

…but the few songs he did bring us were very cool, very Sammy.

It doesn’t necessarily surprise that Sammy Davis wasn’t as prolific with Christmas numbers as the other guys in the Rat Pack … he was Jewish for God’s sake (literally).

That said, I was still a bit surprised that only three SDjr songs appear on the hugely popular 2002 compilation album — Christmas With the Rat Pack.

It’s funny though… even with Sammy’s scant offering of holiday fare, the few songs he did bring are “best in class” hits for the season and worth highlighting on this first day of Chanukah 2011. [Read more…]


… with a little “Mistletoe and Holly”

This week Robert Davi released Mistletoe & Holly — an outstanding holiday single — through Sun Lion Records and he’s donating all of his proceeds to the Salvation Army.

What a great gesture from Davi at this time of year … in what has been a very tough year for many.

This is a great song!

It’s way cool that Robert is donating his winnings from the sales of this single, but donation aside — this is a great song! [Read more…]


The Leader of the ‘Pack…

…was Frank Sinatra to be sure — even one of his nicknames was “The Leader”. But when it comes to the holiday season there’s no arguing Dean Martin is the top dog (rat?).

Frank certainly compiled a sizable and very fine array of holiday songs but Dean ruled the Christmas roost with a slew of wintry love songs and  classic Christmas/holiday numbers.

So it comes as no surprise that Deana Martin followed her dad into the blustery holiday music arena with her new White Christmas – Deana Martin album. Deana does a swell job rendering many of Dean’s headline Christmas hits, but there’s one thing missing that would’ve made it perfect.  [Read more…]


Jonny Blu that is…

There are only two days left to vote in The Next Holiday Classic Song Contest and that vote needs to go to Jonny Blu’s superbly swing’n “Holiday for Two”.

Jonny’s far and away the class of this semi-final round, so hit JB’s website and give “Holiday for Two” a quick listen (it will kick off when you land on his site), then jump over to the contest page and vote!

Instead of voting for three different songs, you can vote for JB three times this week (voting ends on the 9th) so stop back a couple of times and get JB into the next round.