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Brian Setzer

Christmas Comes Alive! – 2010 (Surfdog)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Brian Setzer

There is Christmas music for somber meditation, but there is also room at holiday time for Christmas party music, too. And The Brian Setzer Orchestra's "Christmas Comes Alive!" was created for the latter category.

Setzer particularly makes Christmas alive and lively during Boogie Woogie Santa Clause, which features a swinging big band arrangement, highlighted by a wonderful trombone solo. And if you like this one, you may also dig Stray Cat Strut/You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch, which gives his old Stray Cats hit a bit of the old big band treatment before he sings about TV's favorite Christmas green monster. Setzer also takes a shot in at video music television by saying Stray Cat Strut was played a lot on MTV, back when they used to show music videos. Little of this music would make it on MTV, however, even during the days when that channel featured Setzer's music. That's because this is music for those that love to dance and enjoy horn blasts from a powerful big band.

And just as Setzer loved the rockabilly he popularized with Stray Cats, this guitarist/vocalist truly enjoys fronting a big band. You can hear it in the character of his vocals. He's truly having a good time, and his obvious enjoyment is what makes these performances come alive. Yes, the carol Angels We Have Heard On High is also thrown into the set. But it sounds like these angels are surfing with The Ventures, rather than playing harps. Setzer just wouldn't have it any other way.