Artist/ Band: December People
Title: Rattle & Humbug
Label: Magna Carta Records
Year of Release: 2010
Offical Artist/ Band Link
- The story goes that Robert Berry, the founder of December People, put together this band to perform Christmas ( or Holiday music in the politically correct term ) not only as various rock bands might sound if they did them, but also to make these songs popular all year round. This is the 2nd release by December People doing Holiday songs in which they attempt to sound exactly like a certain rock band such as ELP, Sting, Boston, ZZ Top, Queen, Yes, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Peter Gabriel etc. I will hereby refer each song as the artists name and the word ‘pretend’. I think this list alone tells you that it is a mixed bag of styles. All the songs on ‘Rattle & Humbug” actually do sound a lot like the bands they intended to portray especially “Joy to the World” ( done in The Who vein). I didn’t think I’d like this disc due to it’s huge possibility of being a commercial joke of some sort, but I was wrong. My only regret was that I did not get this review out well before Christmas.
December People really have worked incredibly hard on making these songs sound not only like the band they list after each number, but they make them sound GOOD! Not just some flimsy copy tune that sounds like U2 or the many other bands listed, but the songs are written super well. ‘We Three Kings” ( Sting pretend) I think sounds even better than if Sting really did so this copy. Now that is something. A complete surprise to me. As a prog fan, I like many styles, and I explored the classic rock genre all through the 70's so even those songs on this disc are acceptable to me. I did kinda laugh a little at the “Little Drummer Boy” (ELP pretend ) as the beginning was a bit lame, but then the end really took off sounding like ELP. The Queen pretend song called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was missing Mr Mercury’s vocal pretend, but the harmony on it was real nice. The instrumentation of it was surprisingly realistic. This amongst a few other cuts on the CD were really nicely extended songs done in the progressive rock manner. Most songs have a familiar keyboard part at the beginning like the Boston pretend song “ God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen-The First Noel”. This once again, depicts the sound of Boston extremely well. Some might even be fooled if they didn’t know better. Anyone who loves Boston’s debut album, will love this 2 sound melody. And don’t let me forget the
ZZ TOP pretend “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. They do “La Grange” with first part. I figure December People must have to get some permissions from the original artists to do these, as many songs are almost if not all the way, cover tunes from these guys.
So wrapping this up, I had a blast listening to the CD , even if I didn’t think I’d like the songs beforehand. The ‘Stairway To Heaven’ lead off to “The Night Before Christmas” was cool.
The Peter Gabriel pretend “ Angels We Have Heard on High” really sounds fantastic! Best song on the disc for me. Of course, it was no Peter Gabriel but it sure did grab the general sound and spirit of Gabriel. The last cut is a Yes pretend “Carol of the Bells” and was not instantly recognizable as such, but worked its way to the sound as it played. The vocals being the hardest thing to copy if you are doing a band like Yes. It sounded a good deal more like Queen in the middle but back to Yes instrumentally at end with a great nod to Topographic Oceans and a grand ending.
The musicians of December People are of high caliber. Also, the thinking, planning, composing and arranging of these songs are easy to applaud. I actually look forward to the 3rd release, if they produce one for next year. I do need to make a note and say that many of the songs on this 2nd disc are on their 1rst disc, but one here is remixed, and some new ones here on 2nd. So all in all, I think people will really enjoy this and even listen to it all year round, just like December People do.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on January 8th, 2011
- 01. What Child Is This
- 02. Joy To The World/Jingle Bells
- 03. We Three Kings
- 04. Little Drummer Boy
- 05. Up On The Rooftops/Feliz Navidad
- 06. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
- 07. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/ The First Noel
- 08. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
- 09. The Nigth Before Christmas
- 10. Angels We Have Heard On High
- 11. Carol Of The Bells
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