Brian Setzer Orchestra

Christmas Rocks: The Best of Collection

Surfdog Records; October 2008

In the world of Christmas compilation albums, there are hits (see above) and there are misses. What transpires on Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas Rocks is part big band holiday cheer, part kitschy celebration, and part nonsensical seasonal marketing. Lauded as a “Best of Collection,” Christmas Rocks is little more than a reorganized and slightly condensed version of the band’s simultaneously released double disk, The Ultimate Christmas Collection. Subtract a few songs from that beast, throw in a b-side or two from last year’s Wolfgang’s Big Night Out, and pow-new product. All industry Scrooge-ing aside, the collection does have its rare moments. “Jingle Bell Rock” comes alive with a little help from some vintage-sounding female backing vocals and Setzer’s signature guitar licks. But the choral-meets-swing strangeness of “Angels We Have Heard on High” is enough to make me say “no thanks.”

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