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Music Review: The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Christmas Comes Alive

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Brian Setzer’s career now stretches back to the late 1970s when he was a member of The Stray Cats. This modern rockabilly group was extremely popular in the early eighties, producing such hits as “Rock This Town” “(She’s) Sexy + 17,” and “Stray Cat Strut.”

Since leaving The Stray Cats he has forged two successful music careers. He has released seven solo albums, but it is as the leader of The Brian Setzer Orchestra that he has achieved his greatest fame. His orchestra can best be described as a swing or jump blues group. Counting live and compilation releases, they have issued 16 albums to date. He usually carries 17-20 musicians in his group. The orchestra continues to be anchored by drummer Tony Pia and bassist Johnny Hatton. At times he will step forward with them for a short rockabilly set.

Setzer has been in the holiday spirit quite often. He has previously released two studio Christmas albums and one live holiday DVD. They have sold close to one million copies all told. He has also played over 120 Christmas concerts, and at last count in front of 300,000 fans.

He and his jolly band have now returned with a new live Christmas album recorded in Knoxville, Tennessee, during last year’s holiday tour. The 15 tracks that make up Christmas Comes Alive are a rousing collection that comprises a very swinging Christmas.

He draws from his vast Christmas catalogue for a number of songs plus adds a selection of traditional and not so traditional holiday treats. “Santa Claus Is Back In Town,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Angels We Have Heard On High,” join such unique creations as “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus,” “Stray Cat Strut with You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “’Zat You Santa Claus,” and “(Everybody’s Waiting For) The Man With The Bag.”

If you want to hear him at his best just give a listen to “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” and “Run Rudolph Run.”

Christmas Comes Alive is a different type of holiday album as it makes you want to get up out of your chair and dance. Brian Setzer has managed to put the fun back in Christmas and sometimes that may be the best gift of all.

 

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