Santa's Jukebox: 2023 Part 1

Santa sent us a note to let us know what tunes he and his elves are enjoying around the North Pole as they prepare for the big day. And it seems that St. Nick has pretty good taste!

Joe Bonamassa - Merry Christmas, Baby

Bonamassa is currently the hottest blues rocker on the planet and for this holiday season he's the coolest yule cat too. There's nearly an hour of seasonal blues music here as Joe covers some traditional tunes as well as newer favorites like the choogling "Christmas Boogie (One Little Kiss)," the evil woman lament of "Bring Back My Cadillac" and the swinging "Christmas Date Blues." Some of the chestnuts Bonamassa plays are two versions of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," one unaccompanied on acoustic guitar and the other an Irish version with fiddle highlights, two stunning electric guitar readings of "O Holy Night," one with orchestration, and a nice interpretation of the Leiber/Stoller favorite from 1957, "Santa Claus is Back in Town." Also performed is a new cut called "Hello Christmas," written by Dion and with Dion and Amy Grant sharing vocals.

Linda Ronstadt - A Merry Little Christmas (Vinyl)

Originally released in 2000, this reissue from the folks at Iconic marks the first time that the title has been available on vinyl. The record holds a real nice selection of familiar Christmas songs including sublime readings of Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "White Christmas" with Rosemary Clooney and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." There are cuts that are less-often covered too, like Joni Mitchell's delicate "River," the lullaby "Xicochi, Xicochi" which Linda sings partially in Spanish, and numerous traditional songs including "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," "Welsh Carol" and "Past Three O'Clock." Backed by a cast of stellar musicians and choirs from Tucson (Ronstadt's hometown) and Los Angeles, A Merry Little Christmas makes for a very relaxed listen. Available on metallic silver or evergreen vinyl and with an insert that includes lyrics.

Disney Jingle Bell Fun - Various Artists (Vinyl)

Here's one the kids will love as some of Disney's most famous characters present their versions of 10 famous Christmas songs. Mickey Mouse, Goofy and the raspy voiced Donald Duck open the presentation with a jazzy take on "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and Donald teams up with girlfriend Daisy Duck for an exceptionally cute version of "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" Mickey is joined by his sweetheart Minnie Mouse on "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," Donald and Goofy perform the great sing along "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Goofy goes solo on the traditional "Toyland" where he chokes up a bit at the end. Disney voice actor Randy Crenshaw sings a few cuts too including "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime;" Hailey Markman sings a few cuts too and she really soars on closing song "O Holy Night." Pressed on translucent red vinyl and including a mini poster with Mickey and the gang that the kids will love to tack up.

Lisa Biales - At Christmas

Blues singer Biales is well-established with 10 albums under her belt; here for her 11th release and first Christmas album she presents a set that's mostly original cuts, a nice take on the swinging Louis Prima-associated "Shake Hands with Santa Claus" being the one cover. Otherwise two cuts are written by Lisa's band members, the sexy funky "At Christmas" and the strutting "That's What I Like About Christmas" come early in the set while seven self-penned or co-written songs fill out the album. "When the Snowflakes Fall" is a mellow reminiscence while "Lulu Magoo" is a cute homage to the Christmas cookie-loving canine in the Biales family; "Mary's Little Baby Boy" is an electric guitar and organ powered slice of soulful blues. Closing cut "Christmas Cheer" is, as you'd expect, overflowing with holiday joy. A very nice change up from the usual Christmas music.

Reggae Christmas Classics - Various Artists

You'll be feeling irie this holiday season when you're listening to this set of Christmas classics performed by reggae stars. Shuga performs one of the most popular holiday songs these days, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" and Christopher Martin turns in a bright reading of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas." Also appearing are Mikey Spice, Olaf Blackwood, Thriller U, Ikaya, Lukie D, Nadine Sutherland and others. The one original cut on the album is the exceptionally mellow reggae groove of "Golden Nights (In December)" performed by Duane Stephenson.

Patricia Vonne - "Christmas is My Favorite Time of Year

Here's a beautiful piano and vocal number from Vonne, a sublime listen as mellow as a gentle snowfall, and you may even smell the fresh-baked gingerbread.

Eels - "Christmas, Why You Gotta Do Me Like This"

Well the title here kind of says it all; the fellow portrayed in this song is lonely and wondering just exactly why he's in this position. Kind of a "crying in my beer" song; a cool listen but hopefully most won't relate to the sentiment too much.

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