Review: Various Artists - A Blackheart Christmas
Label: Blackheart Records
Released: November 18, 2008
Every year at Christmastime we're treated (or subjected) to another collection of rock artists' takes on our favorite holiday songs. These albums tend to be a mixed bag made up of songs that will appeal to fans of the particular artists at least as novelties and others that are real bombs. The best case scenario might even include one or two renditions that are truly special.
A Blackheart Christmas does not have any real misses, but most of the tracks don't really transcend happy novelties for fans of the bands appearing. The Vacancies take on "Father Christmas," perhaps the best rock Christmas tune ever, is a fine listen, but doesn't go anywhere special. The drunken swagger of the Cute Lepers' "Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You" is a fun option for a non-traditional holiday. The rough edges on Thommy Price and Nefertiti Jones' "Winter Wonderland" give it punk appeal without losing its "happy holiday" sentiment.
Unlike most holiday comps though, A Blackheart Christmas has a pair of really special tracks that, in a (less-than-perfect) perfect world, might become Christmas classics. The Dollyrots give "Santa Baby" a snotty punk treatment, in lieu of its traditional sexy swing, as if it was meant to be about a down-and-out misfit rather than a well-to-do diva. Better still, Girl in a Coma turn "I'll Be Home for Christmas" into something dark and foreboding rather than hopeful. These are the Christmas carols for the "other half" in a sense.
Will this album replace Bing's "Little Drummer Boy" or Nat's "O Holy Night?" Probably not, but there's always room for a few more Christmas classics, especially when the might reach out to listeners whose world may not be so idyllic.
If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.