Santa pays his yearly visit in different ways. Whether he's barreling down with his leather jacket and pony-tailed white hair flying in a sleigh pulled by Harley's, or being transported Star Trek-style into your chimney dressed in a patent-leather red jumpsuit, there are a variety of musical styles to herald his arrival.
Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh combines techno sheen and loungey schlock to produce a predominantly instrumental electro-fusion work that probably isn't what you'd slap on while opening presents with grandma and grandpa. In fact, except for tongue-in-cheek titles such as "Enough Xmas for All" and "You'd Better Watch Out ... ," and some jangling sleigh bells, this disc of original electronic compositions isn't very holiday sounding at all. Mothersbaugh's decidedly non-traditional approach is mirrored by the booklet's bizarre cartoons, illustrating short stories titled "Santa, the Sausage Juggling Fool" and "Nativity Kidnap Scene." It is however, the perfect accompaniment for trimming your cyber tree.
For those still living in the Southern rock '70s and jonesing for their own soundtrack to accompany yule-raising keg parties, there's Lynyrd Skynyrd's considerably more rootsy approach, Christmas Time Again. Enjoy an unpretentious, good-natured rocking time as those crusty, ruddy-nosed rednecks mix boozy versions of chestnuts such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with bluesy originals and call in like-minded hoary friends .38 Special and Charlie Daniels to pad this 35-minute disc. It's enthusiastically inappropriate "Free Bird"-style, lighter-hoisting stuff, but we can do without the sappy keyboard version of "Greensleeves."
Neither disc is for everybody, but both make a distinctive, unusual and, in their own way, apt accompaniment to a season whose conventionally bland music desperately needs a swig of spiked punch yearly to keep its appeal fresh.
-- Hal Harowitz
Santa will reportedly appear in various venues, Mon., Dec. 25. But only if you've been good.
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