Gather round the fire, kids, let’s roast some chestnuts and let Uncle Mojo tell you a story: Back in 1990, he was a blithely ignorant intern at Billboard, so happy to get any byline in the rag that he joyously accepted the retail section’s “Christmas in July” preview so all the purchasing pros out there in subscriberland could decide which holiday CDs would be featured on their shelves.
That was a job for suckers, he soon found out. There is nothing worse than country and rock holiday piffleÁ¢€”except having to hear the garbage in July. Just like Janis had her man take another little piece of her heart, this so-called music took another little piece of your sanity away with each successive play. Don’t believe me? Just keep watching Popdose after Thanksgiving. The semisane people among the ranks have already packed their bags and headed for the hills as you read this. Mojo’s about out the door hisself. You won’t believe who’s left behind and what they’re planning on doing.
Anyway, back to the story. Flash-forward two summers: Using his Billboard clips to hook-and-crook his way into an editor’s job for a thin, biweekly newspaper tab catering to indie record stores that ran on apparently a thinner shoestring than the actual stores themselves (but paid more than Billboard, which was still about on par with Burger King, by the way), Uncle Mojo got branded as “The Christmas Music Expert.” For several consecutive Julys, he was forced to listen to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Let It Snow” rendered in Irish Folk, dumb contemporary country, old Jass, new wave, acoustic folk, glass harmonica, undignified blues, sweet harp, dirty bass clarinet, dogs barking, people farting, theremins wheezing, and who can ever forget the insidious Dr. Elmo and his homicidal reindeer?
It chapped more than Uncle Mojo’s lips.
Since those days, Uncle Mojo has avoided 99-44/100ths of all Christmas music, not quite having finished working all the recovery steps. The damage was extensive, causing him to sometimes write entire essays about himself in the third person. Occasionally, however–and we’re talking three or four times in the last 15 years–a holiday record comes out that helps reverse the damage, an antidote to the saccharine flotsam that plugs up loudspeakers in all U.S. commercial spaces from November 1 to January 1. Such records have distortion, and typically have original compositions–sorry, it’s impossible to make “Jingle Bells” good, even if you’re Fatboy Slim remixing Jello Biafra and the Amphetamine Reptile Players (although Uncle Mojo wouldn’t mind hearing that).
So Mojo presents to you that once-or-twice a decade Christmas record that won’t further chap your–you get what he means. Here are legendary garage rockers The Fleshtones doing “Super Rock Santa” off their new YepRoc release, Stocking Stuffer. And oh hell, because Uncle Mojo’s in the spirit, he’s also tossing out Henry Rollins’ 15-year-old, perfectly aggro reading of “The Night Before Christmas” from an ancient Christmas record of modern rockers titled A Lump of Coal–the only real antidote to the junk playing at the mall. Don’t get your chestnuts roasted; crank these up and rip off the knob.