Stubbys House of Christmas       
 
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1. Intro
2. Viskar en bön
3. Ave Maria
4. Jag kommer hem igen till jul
5. Jul, jul, strålande jul

6. Gå inte förbi (duet with Sissel Kyrkjebö)
7. Gläns över sjö och strand
8. Snön föll
9. Decembernatt (Halleluja)
10. Guds frid i gode vise män
11. Marias sång
12. O helga natt (Cantique de noël)
13. Jag tror på dig
14. Stilla natt (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht)
15. Varmt igen

16. Änglar i snön (duet with Sara Isaksson)
17. Gott nytt år
18. Min bön (duet with Sarah Dawn Finer)
19. Jul nu igen (new song)


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BENGANS
GINZA

Peter Joback is perhaps the foremost male vocalist in Sweden.  He's also an accomplished musical actor, winning two Swedish Tony awards for his work in "Caberet" and "Kristina" (a musical written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA).  And, thanks to annual holiday tours and numerous Christmas recordings, he is also one of the artists most closely associated with Christmas there (sort of Sweden's Cliff Richard).  Most of what I've heard of Peter's is very much Adult Contemporary.  He does (I am told) genre jump from tome to time, but this Christmas album is a pretty AC affair.

Peter's most beloved Christmas record is "Jag kommer hem igen till jul".  Some of his most rabid fans refer to the 2002 release as "the ultimate Christmas album of all times".  If you're up on your Irish folk songs, you might recognize the melody in the video above as "Be Thou My Vision" (albeit in Swedish and with Christmas lyrics).  The album also features Peter's takes on "O Holy Night", "Ave Maria", "Silent Night", "What Child Is This" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".  For the 2012 "Tenth Anniversary" edition, there's a new 24 page booklet (which will include a forward from Peter, pictures, and lyrics.  The album will also be 4 tracks fatter.  Tracks 16-18 are drawn from a limited edition release from 2008, “En god jul och ett gott nytt år”, which paired new Christmas recordings with live recordings captured during Christmas tours.  That album was only available in ICA stores (and anyone outside of Scandinavia who has tried to track down Mans Zemerlow's recent Christmas album knows how "limited" that can be).  The final track, "Jul Nu Igen" ("Christmas Now Again"), is a new one recorded this year and expected to be Peter's 2012 holiday single.

Bengans shows a November 14 release date, while Ginza has it listed for the 21st.  Regardless, I am aware that Ginza will only sell within Sweden.  Not sure what Bengans policy is.  For a 14 track version of the original 2002 release, Amazon MP3 has your back.
 
 
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1. Last Christmas
2. Jingle Bells (feat.
Baihana)
3. Christmas Song
4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
5. Merry Christmas Darling
6. Grown Up Christmas List



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This was released last October and we're just now catching up to it.  But it definitely merits mention 'round these parts because Richard Poon is a singer of the old Jazz Standards, a la Michael Buble or Harry Connick.  He's a crooner.  And a good one.  And there can never be too many of those.  A Filipino of Chinese descent--which is apparently not the greatest thing to be in the Philippines--the nation has taken to him more than any singer of Chinese descent since the legendary Jose Mari Chan.

And, while I'm sure I could fill in a few more biographical details for you, those are available via Richard's web site, Wikipedia, you know, the usual places.  What you really want to know is "Can he sing?"  Richard, take it away...

 
 
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No cover art available yet
1.  ANOTHER ORION (String Orchestra version)
2. TOUMEI NINGEN
3. ENDLESS SNOW (Still Snowing Mix) 
4. SNOW CRYSTAL (Chamber Orchestra ver.)
5. KANOJO NO TAMBOURINE 
6. HESOMAGARI SWEET HEART 
7. OWARANAIDE CHRISTMAS EVE 
(GOTA Re-Mix)


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YES ASIA
AMAZON JAPAN
CD JAPAN

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No cover art available yet
8.[DVD] TRUE LOVE
9.[DVD] 突然に完全な空前の一目惚れ
10.[DVD] なんかいいこと
11.[DVD] 今、君に言っておこう
12.[DVD] Another Orion
13.[DVD] わらの犬
14.[DVD] 点線
15.[DVD] 愚か者の詩
16.[DVD] Life is Beautiful

YES ASIA
AMAZON JAPAN
CD JAPAN

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Now 50 years old, Japan's Fujii Fumiya is a bit of a musical institution in that country.  With his former band The Checkers and as a solo artist, the Sony recording artist became only the second performer to play Budokan more than 100 times.  The Checkers exploded onto the scene in Japan in 1983 and, by the time the band split up in 1992, they were Japan's biggest and most popular.  While people waited anxiously to see in what musical direction Fujii would go, he instead focused mostly on graphic art and design.  Even while remaining a recording artist, it would take Fujii another 10 years to determine that music was his true calling.  As he explained to Asian Beat in 2008:

“In my thirties I wanted to be a creator. I preferred going to book shops rather than record shops. But in my forties I started thinking that perhaps music was the best for me. For example, it takes a movie at least ninety minutes to entertain a person, make them laugh and move them. A novel is longer and will take a day, and people may not re-read them a lot. But it takes a song just three to five minutes to stimulate a person to cry, remember past loves etc., and they will listen to it over and over. Knowing this, I feel that I really have a special power (lol). It has taken me 25 years to find out the great power of music. Of course I like art, and movies are great, and I long to be a writer. But I think my true talent lies with singing.”

"Winter String" is an EP containing Fujii's classic Winter songs from 1996, "Another Orion" and "Snow Crystal", newly arranged with string accompaniment.  Also included are a remix of "Endless Snow" and "Owaranaide Christmas Eve" in a fresh arrangement from
Gota Yashiki.  Rounding out the program for the seasonal EP are three entirely new songs.  A Winter String concert tour will follow later this year.

The limited edition DVD version of "Winter String" contains the full CD-EP plus a bonus DVD containing nine songs recorded live at Billboard Tokyo this past July during the Life Is Beautiful Tour.  (DVD should be assumed to be Region 2 encoded and thus not compatible with US systems.  Region 2 includes Japan, Europe and the Middle East).

We don't have any samples available from the new record just yet, but we can play you the original 1996 version of "Another Orion".  Enjoy.

 
 
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1.  Miss Santa Claus
2.  This Mus Be Christmas
3.  Jack Frost
4.  Ice Ice Baby
5.  My Wish
6.  Cuddle Up
7.  Sleigh Rider
8.  Wintertime
9.  Get Festive

ARTIST WEB SITE
ARTIST WEB STORE
AMAZON (US)--NOT AVAILABLE


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1.  Miss Santa Claus

2.  This Mus Be Christmas
3.  Jack Frost
4.  Ice Ice Baby
5.  My Wish
6.  Cuddle Up
7.  Sleigh Rider
8.  Wintertime
9.  Get Festive

ARTIST WEB SITE
ARTIST WEB STORE

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Si Cranstoun
The stuff I miss far outweighs the stuff I find and one reason the search always goes on is to ensure that, eventually, I catch up with really awesome confections like "Get Festive" that I missed initially.  And, seriously, I cannot recommend this CD highly enough.  I mean, WOW.  Just WOW.  I can scarcely think of fans of any genre this wouldn't appeal to.

The Dualers are/were brothers Tyber and Si Cranstoun.  Based in the UK, their father was a Ska promoter, so putting together their own Ska band seemed a natural thing to do.  The brothers scuffled and even charted a couple of tunes.  In 2010, Si embarked on a solo career to move in a more Soul/R&B direction leaving Tyber to front The Dualers.  And you can probably hear the beginnings of that split in "Get Festive".  The Dualers release is from 2007 (that's the one I bought) and I have little doubt that the 2010 release of "Get Festive" credited to Si Cranstoun is the exact same record repackaged, since it's pretty clear that this is and always was Si's album.

While Ska rhythms certainly corse through many of these tracks, Si's voice is so incredibly soulful and the arrangements so well and carefully done that "Get Festive" is far more an homage to the history of Soul music than anything else.  Comparisons to Jackie Wilson are impossible to avoid, given Si's voice, energy and moves.  He breezes easily through a multitude of retro Soul stylings, Doo Wop, early Blues, R&B, Northern Soul.  And, on the album's ballad, "Cuddle Up", you might swear at times Si's channeling Nat King Cole.  All 9 tracks were written by Si--not a cover of Bing or Mariah or Wham in sight--and most are more than worthy of being, themselves, covered often for generations to come.

If you're a Ska fan, you'll probably like this album well enough.  But if you have any affinity at all for classic Soul--especially from the 40s, 50s and 60s--you're going to L-O-V-E love this one.  And, let me tell you, this sounds extremely cool on an extremely hot July afternoon, too.  Highlights include the upbeat "Sleigh Rider", the infectious "Miss Santa Claus" and the previously mentioned "Cuddle Up".  But there's not a slacker on the program.  Two of the tracks from "Get Festive" are available domestically from Amazon MP3 for 89 cents each--"Miss Santa Claus" and "This Mus Be Christmas"--but I heartily recommend you just get the full CD.

 
 
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01. Moke - White Christmas 
02. De Staat - Let It Snow 
03. Pete Philly - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 
04. Dotan - 2000 Miles 
05. Marike Jager - Frosty The Snowman 
06. Handsome Poets - Merry Xmas Everybody 
07. Shary An - We Wish You A Merry Christmas 
08. Rigby - Christmas Time 
09. Tim Akkerman - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 
10. The Medics - Christmas Alarm 
11. The Souldiers - You've Got Balls 
12. Makebelieve - Together As One 
13. Jah 6 - Eenzame Kerst 
14. Miss Montreal - Being Alone At Christmas 
15. Giovanca - On My Way (Christmas Time) 


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iTUNES (NL)
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This is a collection of Dutch artists covering the songs of Christmas or, in some cases, offering original tunes.  If you can find it anywhere, I did like the classic rock original from the Medics, the Spectoresque Pop of Miss Montreal, the retro soul of Giovanca, and Makebelieve sounded a bit like Sister Hazel to me (and I like Sister Hazel).  Marike Jager's "Frosty The Snowman" was also not without its charm.  I'd be a lot more excited about this release if there were anywhere you could find it other than Spotify (I'm not a fan).  This would be a great record to have in hard copy.  But as a Spotify thing, I find it hard to care.  Maybe by next Christmas, this will find it's way to iTunes domestic.  Speaking of which, while I haven't checked each of the artists here, Giovanca's "On My Way (Christmas Time)" was her 2010 Christmas single and, as such you can find that one at iTunes (domestic) or Amazon mp3 (domestic).  And I highly recommend that track
 
 
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01. HOTSQUALL:JINGLE BELL ROCK
02. BACK LIFT:JINGLE BELLS
03. MARGALINE:We Wish you a Merry Christmas
04. SABOTEN:Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
05. HOT DOG:LAST CHRISTMAS
06. Boobie Trap:STEP INTO CHRISTMAS
07. SpecialThanks & i GO:クリスマス 
08. S.M.N. : FELIZ NAVIDAD
09. PAN:ジンジンジングルベル 
10. PINKLOOP:Christmas Wish
11. Smash up:Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
12. NUGGET:I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS
13. T.C SPEAKER:ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU 
14. MISSPRAY:Wonderful Christmastime
15. MISS CAST AND THE LIAR LIARS:クリスマスキャロルの頃には                                                             

16. AFROHEAD 7 LINE:Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

YES ASIA
YES ASIA (Ltd. Edition w/ towel)
AMAZON (not available)

After some procrastination (mostly because of the price--$24.25, not including shipping) I bought this.  The regular version, not the one with the towel.  How could I not?  Japanese Punk?  I mean, c'mon, I'm an obsessive Christmas music collector, after all.  And it should arrive in plenty of time for Christmas, so think of it as a Christmas gift to myself.  I can't tell you anything more about this one than you can learn from the 13 minute teaser video.  I am, however, forever indebted to Imwan poster "masg1313" for bringing "Make Merry Christmas" to my attention. 
 
 
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1.  Engler synger høyt i sky/Hør den englesang så skjønn/Glory Praise
2.  Når klokkene slår
3.  Fields of Grace
4.  Behold This Child
5.  En krybbe vat vuggen (Away In A Manger)
6.  Little Lord Jesus
7.  Get Ready
8.  Praise the Good Lord
9.  Marias guttenbarn (Mary's Boy Child)
10. Det kimer nå til julefest
11. Sweet Dreams (with Steiner Albrigtsen)

ARTIST SITE
PLATEKOMPANIET
CDON
AMAZON MP3 (US)

Trine Rein was born in San Francisco but her mother and she moved to Norway when Trine was only about a year old.  Following a series of cover bands, when she was in her teens and early twenties, and a stint with the hip hop group WIP, Trine signed with EMI and struck it big as a solo artist.  Her 1993 debut, "Finders Keepers", not only sold a staggering 200,000 units in Norway (which translates to one out of every four households there) but more than twice that many in Japan.  Several years and hits later, Trine decided she needed to catch her breath.  She moved back to the states and took a break from music.  In 2004, rested and ready, Trine moved back to Norway and began her comeback.  2010 saw the release of yet another stunning album, "Seeds Of Joy".

"Julegaven" is a diverse and impressive set.  I've been looking forward to this release since June.  I was waiting to post here for some song samples.  Amazon (US) obliged and Trine Rein's Christmas album is available as a digital download there.  When she's not singing in Norwegian, there's nothing foreign about Trine's sound.  On "Julegaven", she alternates not just languages, but also sounds.  Some of the tracks have a rural sound and instrumentation and those are interesting.  But Trine really reaches me when she goes to her Soul and Gospel side.  Based on the 30 second clips, I can't wait to hear "Fields of Grace", "Get Ready" and "Praise The Good Lord" in their entirety.  Just a few more days now.

In the meantime, the single from the album is already out.  So feel free to indulge in "Når klokkene slår", which is a pretty straight pop vocal--American Idol-ish even--albeit in Norwegian.  The online dictionaries weren't much help on the translation either.  Something about bells, I think.
 
 
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1. Santa Claus In Coming To Town - Guy Sebastian & The Australian Girls Choir
2. Jesus O What A Wonderful Child - Jack Vidgen
3. The Christmas Song - Anthony Warlow
4. Hark The Herald Angels Sing - The McClymonts
5. Silent Night - Damien Leith
6. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - Jon Stevens
7. O Holy Night - Jessica Mauboy
8. Coming Home For Christmas - Leo Sayer
9. The Spirit Of Christmas - Ross Wilson & The Melbourne Staff Songsters of The Salvation Army
10. O Come All Ye Faithful - Gorgi Coghlan
11. Christmas Waltz - Lee Kernaghan
12. Blue Christmas - Lanie Lane
13. Sleigh Ride - The Wiggles

MYER STORES
iTUNES (AU)

Right off the bat, I think it was a mistake to abandon the instrument playing angels that have graced the covers of this Australian series for many a year.  Those angels were iconic.  That said...

"The Spirit of Christmas" CDs are a charity venture put out each year by Australia's Salvation Army and sold exclusively through Myer stores, with proceeds going to support at-risk children in Australia.  The series began in 1993 and they haven't missed a year.  They routinely feature a line-up of the biggest stars on the Australian music scene, across all genres, though many of the names might be unfamiliar to we here in the states.  Among regular contributors to the series are Glenn Shorrock (Little River Band), John Farnham (Australia's Cliff Richard), Delta Goodrem (star of the Australian soap Neighbors), Judith Durham (The Seekers), and Jimmy Barnes (Cold Chisel, Diesel, INXS).  Yes, Olivia Newton-John has been featured as well, as have Kate Ceberano and Kylie Minogue.  Even Tommy Emmanuel had contributed years before doing his own Christmas album for 2011.

Since you can't get this from any independent retailer, and since Myer doesn't sell them on line, and because iTunes (AU) doesn't sell to Americans, this is pretty much a window shopping exercise.  We get to ooh and aahh, but we can't take it home.  For those determined to add some of these babies to their collection, I can assure you the bidding on eBay is often fierce.  Might I suggest the summer time as less competitive.  The initial retail price is high and our dollar isn't at it's strongest, so you won't get them cheap in any event.  But there are usually some real gems on these collections that don't turn up anywhere else, making the pursuit a worthy one for the obsessive collector.

On this year's "The Spirit Of Christmas", the big draw for folks like us is likely to be Leo Sayer who wrote an original song with an anti-war theme.  And, while I didn't have high hopes for the track, Leo really knocked it out of the park.  The rest of the tunes are all solid as well, especially the tracks from Jack Vidgen, The McClymonts, and Ross Wilson.  But it's Leo's "Coming Home For Christmas" that's putting this album on my wishlist.
 
 
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This is the latest from J-Pop star 
Hyadain (Kenichi Maeyamada).  He's generally known as a composer of anime songs, but he also likes to cut loose with some original jams, like this one, which he composes on his PC.  "Xmas? I Don't Know Such A Thing" (also translates as"Christmas?  What's That?  Is It Tasty?") is about being single at Christmastime.  And it's not a happy song.  Hyadain isn't singing"Jingle Bells"; he's singing "Single Hell".  And, as I understand it, when you see the girls dancing around with the laptop computers, Hyadain is singing about free internet porn (and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "White Christmas").  It's all in good fun, though, kinda like Andy Samberg's Lonely Island tunes.  And it doesn't hurt that Hyadain recruited cute young actress Takayama Yuko for the video.  The song will be available, with numerous mixes, on an extended CD/DVD single due out November 23.  

 
 
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01. Winter Wonderland
02. Det Kimer Nu Til Julefest
03. En Stjerne Skinner I Natt
04. Hallelujah
05. White Christmas
06. It's The Most Wonderfull Time
07. I'll Be Home For Christmas
08. Joy To The World
09. Julen Har Englelyd
10. Adagio
11. Let It Snow
12. Have Yourself A Merry Little C
13. War Is Over Happy Christmas
14. O'Come All Ye Faithful


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GUCCA

Per Nielsen is a Danish trumpet player who has sold hundreds of thousands of records over the course of a solo career that dates back to 1987.  The music Nielsen plays would best be categorized as Easy Listening.  Fortunately, Easy Listening works well with Christmas music, so it's possible some folks who read Stubbys might enjoy the record.  "Christmas Joy" is Nielsen's second Christmas album.  His first, "Christmas Time", was released in 2002.  Also fortunate, both of Per's Christmas albums are available through iTunes (US).
 

    International

    When it's Christmas, it's Christmas all over the world. And I've long been fascinated by the holiday songs of faraway lands--so different and new and yet somehow so familiar.  

    Archives

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    Christina Jaccard 
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    Linda Lampenius
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    Sanna, Shirley & Sonja
    Aoi Teshima
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    VA-Christmas Cover Up
    VA-Fra Danske Hjerter
    VA-Make Merry Christmas
    VA-NOW Christmas 2010
    VA-NOW Christmas 2011
    VA-Santas Funk & Soul
    VA-The Spirit of Christmas
    VA-Spirit of Christmas 2011
    VA-Yule
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