There comes a time in nearly every performer’s career, when, as a result of a whiskey-induced dare, a contractual obligation or a mad grab for cash, he/she/they grace the music world with a Christmas album. Over the years performers from every genre and musical style have either given thier take on standards such as White Christmas or Silver Bells or submitted their own contributions to the Holiday canon.
Not surprisingly, the quality of the music varies from timeless classics, (Bing Crosby, Vince Giraldi, Johnny Mathis) to novelties (The Chipmunks, Toolbox Christmas) to the downright unlistenable (Jackie Wilson, Kenny G). Even some amateurs have darkened the studio doorstep to lay down on wax their own version of Christmas cheer.
However, there are some artists who simply have no business writing, singing or even being associated with Christmas. Ozzy Ozbourne, Bob Dylan and Alice Cooper come to mind. Up until a few days ago I would have put Billy Idol in that category as well.
That was until I opened the Sunday ad for a locally based major electronics retailer, who by the who are a bunch of money-grubbing, profit-over-customer-focused bastards. But that’s another story. As FrankenKristin and I were looking over the ad, marveling at all the TVs and computers we can’t afford, we saw this picture staring back at us.
After cleaning up the coffee that had just been spit across the living room, we vowed to pick up a copy if only for the picture. Could it be that Billy Idol, the pin-up boy of Punk Rock himself, had gone all Perry Como on us? Surely this was a lark. Or better yet, a punk record disguised to send the Geritol set headlong into Depends territory.
After reading the Billy Idol website, as well as the liner notes, I was blown away by his utter sincerity. It seems that Billy Idol, Mr Flesh for Fantasy, fancies himself a regular Father Christmas.
What about the music, you say? Well, surprisingly, it’s not all that bad. The production is a little cheesy and some of the instrumentation sounds like it was done on a $79 Casio keyboard, but Billy does a pretty good job of not screwing around too much with tradition. The guy can carry a tune, which helps, and thankfully he knows how far so he avoids ruining a simple melody the way Mariah Carey might. He seems comfortable with most of the arrangements his gravely baritone voice is as strong as ever. In fact Rod Stewart should take notes because Billy’s voice sounds like what Rod can only wish for these days.
In addition to classics like “White Christmas”, “Frosty The Snowman” and “Silver Bells”, Billy has penned a few of his own including “Christmas Love” and the aptly named “Happy Holiday” (sure to piss off Bill O’Reilly). Both songs sound great and feature just a hint of that Billy Idol attitude. My only complaint is that the CD doesn’t come with more pictures. The sight of Billy Idol lounging in a high back easy chair next to the fireplace, donning a smoking jacket and slippers would be priceless.
Thanks Billy, and Happy Holiday to you too.