Tony Wilkinson Review
'Rockin 'n' Rollin'
with Santa Claus'

Fantastic Voyage FVCD103
Total Playing Time 57.59 minutes - No. of Tracks: 25

Detroit Junior - Christmas Day/ Little Joey Farr - Rock 'n' Roll Santa/ Three Aces & A Joker - Sleigh Bell Rock / The Cameos - Merry Christmas/ The Youngsters - Christmas In Jail/ Jimmy Butler - Trim Your Tree/ Joan Shaw- I Want A Man For Christmas/ Big Bud - Snow Man Rock/ The Hepsters - Rockin' 'n' Rollin With Santa Claus/ Sandy Baron - Swingin' Santa/ The Shantones - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/ Toni Harper - Jingle Bells/ Ron Holden & The Thunderbirds - Who Said There Ain't No Santa Claus?/ The Marquees - Santa Done Got Hip/ The Moods - Rockin' Santa Claus/ Cathy Sharpe - North Pole Rock/ Patti Page - Boogie Woogie Santa Claus/ Jackson Trio - Jingle Bell Hop/ John Greer - We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo/ The Penguins - Jingle Jangle/ Tommy Lee & The Orbits - Jingle Rock/ Big Bud - Rock Around The Christmas Tree/ Dee Dee Ford - Good Morning Blues/ The Falcons - Can This Be Christmas/ Elvis Presley - Santa Claus Is Back In Town

This collection was put together by ex BBC Radio 2 disc jockey Mark Lamarr whose love of the wide church of the various constituents of rock 'n' roll is legendary. He has pulled together vocal group harmonies on the Latin rhythm 'Jingle Jangle' by The Penguins, the R&B drenched vocalising of the Falcons on 'Can This Be Christmas' and the relatively straight rockin' excellence of The Marquees with 'Santa Got Hip'. There are close harmonies from The Cameos on the up tempo 'Merry Christmas' whilst The Youngsters are more bluesy with 'Christmas in Jail'. Ron Holden of 'Love You So' fame is very much in a Coasters inspired mood with 'Who Said There Ain't No Santa'

Scattered throughout the set is a selection of out and out rockin' music. 'Rockin' Santa Claus' by The Moods is top notch rocker with strong piano and sax support behind the singer. 'Sleigh Bell Rock' by Three Aces & A Joker is an excellent mid tempo rocker. The title track 'Rockin' 'n' Rollin With Santa Claus by The Hepsters is as good a piece of rockin' vocal group output as you could hope to hear - a great record to dance to. Similar can be said of 'Jingle Rock' by Tommy Lee & The Orbits which, surprise surprise, is 'Jingle Bells' really rocked up. The same tune crops up with 'Jingle Bell Hop' by Jackson Trio. This is an R&B instrumental by a tight combo.

The only artist to have two tracks on this release is Big Bud and he is represented by the excellent 'Snow Man Rock' complete with a superb sax solo and the similarly inspired rockin ' of 'Rock Around The Christmas Tree'. The treatment given by The Shantones to 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' is in complete accord with this slab of rockin' excellence. However, not sure about the inclusion of 'Jingle Bells' by Toni Harper as this is straight forward big band music. One real surprise was the inclusion of the Patti Page track 'Boogie Woogie Santa Claus'. I had previously thought of this artist as a femme crooner, albeit one of the superior variety. However, this cut really cooks and is a very tasty slab of jump jive - wonder if she recorded enough material in this vein for a CD in its own right?

Both Little Joey Farr on 'Rock 'n' Roll Santa' and Cathy Sharpe with 'North Pole Rock' sound very young but the backing on both of these tracks is serious rock 'n' roll and makes up for the vocal deficiencies. The maturity of Detroit Junior cannot be in doubt and his 'Christmas day' is in the Bunker Hill territory of music, great dancing rhythm. 'Trim Your Tree' is one of those discs with double entendre lyrics, amusing first time around but does begin to pale on repeated listening. Joan Shaw delivers 'I Want A Man For Christmas' with a mambo delivery that bought performances by Ruth Brown to mind, it is that good. Don Gardner's singing partner Dee Dee Ford delivers a tasty slab of early sixties R&B set against a chugging beat, really cooks.

To sum up, probably one of the best rock 'n' roll Christmas compilations of recent years - very few weak moments in a sea of variety and excellence.

Tony Wilkinson
November 2011.