Christmas CD Reviews


LES FRADKIN: Spirit Of Christmas
Les Fradkin delivers pulsing pop/rock excitement in Spirit of Christmas, a rollicking collection of largely original holiday tunes. This is music in the vein of the Beach Boys and the Beatles; in fact, the Beatles contributed two tracks ("Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by John Lennon, and "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" by George Harrison). The mood is brightly rockin', and the beat will have you bouncin' in your chair, if not gyrating on the dance floor. Spirit of Christmas opens well with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday." The memorable chorus hangs with you long after the cut ends. Fradkin's own numbers are equally memorable--his "Say You Love Me for Christmas", for example, had me singing the refrain the first time through. "Christmas Vacation" (no relationship to the National Lampoon holiday film classic) is another terrific Fradkin creation; its wonderful steel pan island vibe will transport you to the tropics in December. The Beatles' numbers are especially fine. George Harrison's Ding Dong, Ding Dong adds another dimension entirely. Although I am a big fan of the Beatles' work, both as a group and as separate artists, this number was unfamiliar to me. It's "Ring out the old, ring in the new; ring out the false, ring in the true" phrasing was a fun discovery. Fradkin's voice shines on "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", especially on the opening bars. He also provides expressive vocals on the ballad "A Christmas Gone Too Soon." Generally speaking, I wish the vocals had been given more prominence on this recording. The stars, however, tend to be the instruments--mostly, the Rickenbacker guitars. And Fradkin certainly knows how to milk those instruments for all they are worth! Les Fradkin's Spirit of Christmas is a strong choice for those who crave creatively-penned holiday romps with a 1960s flair. Very nice!


LES FRADKIN- "SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS" (RRO-1012) This felt so familiar on first listening that I assumed it was mostly covers, but no, seven tunes are by Les and Loretta Fradkin and two more are co-written with Les by Raven Kane and Diana Haig. The three covers are the Roy Wood and John Lennon classics plus the rarely covered "Ding Dong" by George Harrison. What's really familiar is the 70s pop-rock pomp, a Spectoresque wall of sound channeled through Jeff Lynne's mixing board. I had the feeling that Les was a one-man band kind of guy, and it turns out I was right, but what I didn't know was that he had a long pedigree in the business, working with everyone from Edison Lighthouse to the Godz (yes, the ESP Disk Godz), and a long stint in "Beatlemania" as George to boot. By the way, Edison Lighthouse was part of a continuum of late 60s-early 70s top 40 hits done by Flying Machine, Brotherhood of Man and White Plains. And you could easily justify this disc based on the nice job he does on the aforementioned songs, but his originals like "Say You Love Me For Christmas," "Christmas Sleeps Tonight," "Hello Christmas (Goodbye Year)," "Jangle Bells" and the lightly Caribbean-flavored "Christmas Vacation" argue for you to search this out at Not Lame, iTunes or CDBaby.