FDF Volume 3 Issue 251 - The Brian Setzer - Boogie Woogie Christmas
Album – Boogie Woogie Christmas
Artist – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Key Players – Dennis Farias, Kye Palmer, Kevin Norton, Will Murillo – Trumpets. Robbie Hioki – Bass Trombone. Craig Woods, Alex Henderson and George McMullen – Trombones. Don Roberts – baritone saxophone. Ti Misica, Ray Herrmann, Matt Zebley and Jim Youngstrom – Saxophones. John Hatton -bass. Bernie Dresel – drums. Brian Setzer – guitar, vocals.
Produced By – David Darling
Release Date – October 10, 2002
What caused me to blow off the dust? - It is the Christmas season, and who wants the same old same old right?
Overview – Brian Setzer made a name for himself in the 80's Rock-a-billy revival band “The Stray Cats”. After a few years he branched out with his “Orchestra” taking on swing music and finding a second wave of success with hits like the remake of “Jump Jive and Wail”. Setzer surrounds himself with competent players for a fun take on some of the songs of the season.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The album starts with the old standard “Jingle Bells” but quickly has the swing/poppy bounce to it. You can see and hear the band just snapping fingers and bobbing back and forth. The lyrics are quick and gritty with some fun play on words. Pretty true to the original, but a lot more “full” as you'd expect with an Orchestra treatment. Setzer himself is a great guitar player and has a great short solo before the horns come back in for the final verse. “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” is a little smoother vocally, but the band is having a great time with the big fills and strong bass line. The drums are kept it check so the horns really stand out. There is a saxophone solo mid song that the trumpets seem to get ignited by before Setzer takes a solo. “Winter Wonderland” is true to form, with the BSO twing to it. Setzer starts singing without much accompaniment, before the horns come in. Setzer has a longer, and earlier guitar solo before making way for the saxophone solo. The bass work from Hatton continues to be very strong and right up in the mix. Another classic comes in “Blue Christmas”. Setzer works with a percussive background and background singers rather than being surrounded by the band for the first verse and in to the second. Its not until the second verse is done do we hear a guitar section that lays nicely over the percussive back beat. Setzer has enough fun he continues the solo. The solo is strong, and to the point. The harmonies return at the start of “Santa Claus is Back in Town”. Once the verse begins Setzer has more of a growl to his voice, really reaching down with the 12 bar blues there for the dissection. The horns are back with full effect and seem to really come at the right time with big fills and then fade, before doing it all over again. The lyrics are sung slowly with, as noted, heavy feel for the blues. Ann-Margret joins in a duet on “Baby It's Cold Outside”. Ann begins the singing and its hushed with her taking the lead and Setzer offering a line here and there underneath her. The band is hardly in the mix as the two trade lines. You can hear brushes on the snare drum and a muted horn, to a strum of guitar, but we are focused on the vocals. Setzer has a short solo before the lyrics start up again. It repeats the style for the duration. “The Nutcracker Suite” is an instrumental medley of selections from the Nutcracker. It has the big band touch which really perks the track up fun. “(everybody's waitin' for) The Man with the Bag” has a staggered vocal delivery with focus on the downbeats and the horns are bright and round out the sound. The horns and saxophones again take solo runs which is refreshing and the band is able to showcase their talents. “Sleigh Ride” will have you longing for this version all the time. It just has your feet really moving and the horn accents are tight. Miss the whip cracks, but I'll take the saxophones for a nice mix up. “So They Say It's Christmas” begins with a flamenco style guitar and Setzer is very “loungy” in this vocal delivery. Tracks like this can throw off a listener of the whole record as it is very different than the others. The plus side is the diversity of the band, able to speed up/slow down and still sound great. “O Holy Night” has Setzer on guitar with a choir singing behind him. He does the first verse alone, and the second verse as just rim shots dropped in. Still has the BSO vibe, but also a pretty straight forward version (for these guys). “The Amens” closes out the record and it is just shy of a one minute track. It has a church feel to it, not the big swing track you'd think as an album closer. Pretty and nice, but sorta odd at the same time to close the record out with.
FDF Overall Take – You get the traditional, and not traditional all spend up and “swung” out. For all its good parts it does get old fast though. Toss a song on a holiday mix though, to perk things up.
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