Something Old, Something New Album Review
Steve

Steve

Music Columnist

Something Old, Something New Album Review -The Christmas Edition

Happy Holidays NGCS! I’m back with another edition of the Something Old, Something New Album Review. Now full disclosure here, I’m not huge on Christmas. I love seeing family and friends, I love my kids being happy, but it’s generally a stressful and tiring time of year. If you’re one of those Christmasaholics with multiple decorated trees in your house that have have been up since November 1st, more power to you. One of the things that doesn’t make me excited about Christmas is the music. It’s the same damn songs over and over again. So I’m gonna check out some different holiday jams than you guys are used to. Maybe you’ll end up with some new holiday tracks to add to the playlist, or at the very least, maybe you’ll get a chuckle. Since there is an obscene amount of holiday records out there, while I’m gonna focus on two, I’m gonna shout out some honorable mentions at the end. Lets get at it!
 
Something Old
Various Artists – Christmas On Death Row
1996 Death Row/Interscope Records
Rating: 2.5/5
 
I had asked some friends of mine to recommend Christmas albums to me as they aren’t exactly albums that I seek out, and when this came up I was too intrigued NOT to listen. The thought of an album full of hardcore Christmas gangsta rap made me actually laugh out loud, and I was excited to hear it. But one thought kept bugging me. How had I not heard of this? I’m not the worlds biggest rap fan, but West Coast Rap is my favorite, and in the early 90’s, Death Row Records was one of the highest profile labels doing it, with Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggystyle” being MASSIVE hits. But then I listened, and now I know why I had never heard of it. The first track is great. Hard but smooth G Funk beat, Snoop Dogg starts the album with guests on “Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto”. And it’s a banger. But then track 2? Danny Boy (who is most well known for doing the hook on some Tupac songs) sings a forgettable Christmas R&B jam. Then it heats up again with Tha Dogg Pound doing “I Wish”. Then the album basically flatlines. After that it’s a mix of Christmas standards and a couple new tracks that are all R&B. Almost none of the West Coast Gangsta rap we know and love. And to boot, it’s done by artists I’d never heard of. It’s filled out by minor Death Row artists who did guest spots and hooks on other artists tracks and affiliates. I had to look when the album was released. December of ’96. By that time, Dr. Dre had left Death Row and Snoop was basically one foot out the door. Label owner Suge Knight was also in Jail, and Tupac had been murdered in September. 

How they were able to cobble together any sort of album is a miracle. Is the album terrible? No, musically it’s not bad. Some of the tracks are decent. It’s just not what I was expecting. It’s really not a good enough album to take center stage, it may be decent background noise for a holiday gathering though. Definitely dissapointing for what it could have been

Something New

Billy Idol – Happy Holidays
2021 Dark Horse Records(Originally Released 2006)
Rating: 3.5/5
 
This is another record that was recommended to me. It was originally released back in 2006, but has been reissued, remastered and given new cover art for 2021. Now like the last record, because of who it’s by you have preconceived notions of what it may sound like. I was picturing a snarling leather bound Idol ripping through Christmas tracks with his trademark “punk rock-lite” vibe. But again, I was wrong. What I ACTUALLY got was, wait for it…Billy Idol, THE CROONER. And the funny thing? It actually works. The instrumentation is sparse but nails the holiday sound well without being over the top. Billy sings the songs ranging from an almost hoarse quiet vocal to an energetic delivery that never gets too crazy for the material. The songs are really understated, and delivered in a subtlety different way than the originals that they are pretty refreshing. He didn’t reinvent the wheel, he just put some shiny rims on them. Nothing gets too rockin’ here, although the tracks you’d expect to have some guitar action, Jingle Bell Rock, Run Rudolph Run, do. I would definitely have to recommend this one as it’s different, but something you could still put on while decorating the tree with the family. Pretty decent Christmas album.
 
While doing research for this article I got bombarded with suggestions. I wanted to share 2 more honorable mentions. 
 
Twisted Sister – A Twisted Christmas
2006 Razor and Tie
This album is exactly what it sounds like it’s gonna be. A heavy metal Christmas album. For the most part, Twisted Sister takes traditional Christmas songs and makes them heavy. Now, as far as Twisted Sister goes, you’re getting more hard rock than heavy metal. The band is good and Dee Snider’s voice is excellent as always, and it’s definitely a fun record if you want something different. My favorite track is “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, which borrows heavily from their signature track “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.
 
Various Artists – Gift Wrapped – Tis The Season
2014 Rhino Custom Products
This one was another new one for me as well, however it was interesting. A lot of more indie flavored artists doing Christmas tracks. If you’re into that type of music, you’ll dig this one.
 
As always, thanks for reading! Happy Holidays everyone! 
If you like what you read here, come check me out on Instagram @Stevedestruct 
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