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Holiday classics go clubbing

Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remixed-
Various Artists

(Capitol Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 8, 2005
Merry Mixmas

Review by Tony Bonyata

What many may view as blasphemy of the sacred - taking holiday standards from original artists, such as Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, and drastically reworking and remixing them - a bevy of contemporary DJs and producers have come together to create Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remixed - a fun and hip collection of holiday chestnuts.
Producers Thomas Golubic and Gary Calamar have assembled a wealth of talent that somehow manages to keep the traditional flavor of the originals intact while updating and injecting a heavy dose of modern electronic club blips, beats and chest-thumping bass lines.
Songs such as Ella Fitzgerald's "Sleigh Ride" and June Christy's "The Merriest" are spiced with trippy Latin-jazz flavors, while the arrangement of Johnny Mercer's "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" break-dances behind the footlights with a splashy hip-hop-on-Broadway bravado. On Nat King Cole's "All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)" MJ Cole maintains the cute-factor of the original while stringing listeners along with a driving, hypnotic bass-line and sampled hand-claps. Billy May's "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" is gleefully morphed into a brassy Big Band mambo delight, and even Christmas' quintessential crooner, Bing Crosby, is given an updated overhaul on "Winter Wonderland," a song with enough glittery high-end sheen to outshine an aluminum tree with silver branches, tinsel and bright white lights.
Perhaps the one misstep here is the spacey, disjointed retooling of the Vince Guaraldi Trio's beloved "Christmas Time Is Here," where the otherworldly blips and noodling electronic rhythms work against the grain of the angelic voices of the children singers and Guaraldi's own simple, understated piano. With so many refreshing holiday updates here, however, this number does little to diminish the hip sense of fun that fills out this spirited Christmas collection.
This stuff may not work around granny's holiday turkey dinner, but slip it on at your next party and see if it doesn't get the martinis flowing and your guests grooving.

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