Around mid-October, stores usually get filled with Holiday music. A lot of them are reissues from long-gone singers (but nevertheless great) like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole and others, which dispute space with new music from pretty much everyone under the sun (even Ringo Starr did a Christmas album a few years back, and this year even Bob Dylan jumped the bandwagon). Most contain the usual fare, with re-readings of classic tunes like “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Jingle Bells” and more modern songs like Mariah Carey’s smash “All I Want For Christmas Is You” or John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas – War Is Over.”
One release that deserves your attention is the eleventh volume of AIDS Non-profit organization Broadway Cares’ Carols For A Cure (RockIt Science Records, available now), which has assembled another compilation of Holiday songs featuring the casts of Broadway shows like Mamma Mia, Rent, The Lion Kind and Many others. While of the versions are played quite straight (like South Pacific’s take on “Silent Night”), many ensembles decided to go ahead and have fun with it, giving us songs for us to chuckle about. A good example of this is Jersey Boys’s “The Twelve Days of Christmas, played ‘Jersey Style’ with modified words: “My paisan gave to me/eight easy passes, seven ‘how ya doin’ …two pinky rings and a ride in his Lambourghini.” Another is West Side Story’s “Cool Jingle Bells” with an arrangement that makes the song unrecognizable yet fully enjoyable. Others include a ragtime take on “Ave Maria” from Avenue Q and Rock of Ages’ O Holy Night with an 80s hair band touch… quite an alternative for this time of year.
The best of it is that all the profits from the album’s sales go to various organizations that fight AIDS nationwide through education, research, social services, meal programs and more… Do check them out at www.broadwaycares.org