Various ‘Wish You Too the Best Christmas Ever’ (Trikont) 4/5

Christmas. That joyful time of year when everyone rushes around like demented rabbits in search of the perfect present and one has to suffer the annual ravings of the in-laws. For a truly alternative take on the Christmas message and to celebrate the less savoury, and some one say more realistic aspects of the festive period, Trikont have unearthed a second volume of festive rantings and one which is the audio equivalent of cinema’s Billie Bob Thornton’s ‘Bad Santa’ meets Will Ferrell’s ‘Elf’.

The compilation covers the whole gamut of Americana focusing predominantly on classic soul and blues, but not forgetting the rootsy side of country with bluegrass ably represented. From the Stax vaults comes a timely reflection by the Staple Singers in ‘Who took the merry out of Christmas?’ and a superb ‘Gee whiz, it’s Christmas’ from Carla Thomas whereas Big John Greer in full festive mood affirms ‘We wanna see santa do the mambo’. More unusual are the countrified takes on the festive period with a downside ‘Blue Christmas’ from Ernest Tubb’ and a more upbeat ‘Christmas time’s a-coming’ from Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. For the truly esoterical, however, sample the French language questioning of Santa’s very existence on ‘Je et tu ne croient plus au Pere Noel’ by Marianne Dissard and Ampiro Sanchez, the alternative disco of ‘Christmas Wrapping’ from the Waitresses (later massacred by the Spice Girls) and the melodic punk of Japanese duo Coconami on ‘Sleigh Ride’. Add in some gospel courtesy of Sons of Heaven, blues from Jimmy Witherspoon and Sonny Boy Williamson respectively, and you have a genuinely eclectic interpretation of Christmas that will have the relatives running for cover.

Tim Stenhouse