red lights

Christmas in the Garage

Flying Bomb Christmas

Surprise Package: The Collector's Edition - Various Artists
(Flying Bomb)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 7, 2002

Review by Tony Bonyata

Tired of the same old holiday classics from Bing, Nat and Frank, not to mention the whole holiday spirit in general? Detroit punk rock record label Flying Bomb is hoping so with the release of their limited edition Christmas CD Surprise Package: The Collectors' Edition, an album stuffed with angst-filled garage rock and unruly punk swagger, along with woeful tales of hopelessness, depression, and emptiness that the holidays can cause for some.
Like the East and West Coasts who each have their own distinct forefathers of punk which most have followed (East -The Ramones / West - Black Flag), Detroit punkers stick closer to the sounds of their own brethren, Iggy Pop & The Stooges and The MC5, as proved on this twisted collection of Christmas tunes.
While many of the messages here are either hysterical or just a downright bummer, the music doesn't follow suit, as most are classic examples of full-throttle, grease-soaked garage rock steeped in teenage angst.
The majority of the tracks featured here are from Detroit-based bands. The Von Bondies turn in an irresistibly scrappy number on "Ain't No Chimney In The Big House," which comes off like The Stooges groping their way to second base with Sonic Youth, while the revved-up punk of Bantam Rooster and Rocket 455, which features vocals so close to Iggy's even he may wonder if he cut this one, again both pay homage to their hometown heroes.
Fellow Motor City rockers The White Stripes were also scheduled to appear on this set with the inclusion of their holiday number "Candy Cane Children" as well as a number from Electric Six. Unfortunately, however, Flying Bomb ran into legal issues at the last minute and were forced to reprint new CDs - sans Jack and Meg's little chestnut along with Electric Six's. Hence the album's belated release date of December 16th.
No matter, though, since bands like fellow Detroit quartet The Dirtbombs and the raw, dusty acoustic blues from the Soledad Brothers more than pick up the slack. The collection is further filled with some great material from out-of-towners such as Winnipeg, Canada's The Paperbacks who put a Ramones chokehold on the number "Let's Get Lit," as well as Wisconsin's own Sagger, hailing from Wauwatosa, and Milwaukee's The Mistreaters, who likewise turn in explosive numbers. Even the Chicago boy/girl duo of Happy Supply turn in an interesting minimalistic new wave sound on "Young Snowman Got It Bad Cause He's Round."
If aggressive Detroit-stained garage punk is for you, then you just might want to give this crazy collection of spaz-rock a spin at this year's Christmas party. Better keep a mop handy though, for when Granny drops her eggnog.

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