You all think it's an easy life, being a music reviewer. Oh, I can hear you say, how cool, all those free CDs and DVDs, not to mention the concerts and whatnots. That's the life for me. Well, think again. Because, and I cannot stress this enough, over here in reviewer land, the Christmas releases start to arrive in October! Bloody October. Sheesh.
And one of the first out of the bag was the Chris Isaak Soundstage Christmas Special. Now I've always had a soft spot for Chris Isaak. I remember him playing a show in an old converted church in Edinburgh, way back in the day, and he was absolutely fantastic. Full of energy, sprinting up and down the pews, dashing to the balcony to play a guitar solo, in the midst of some red hot rock 'n' roll. But then he seemed to disappear into the grainy world of ballads, cable TV, and infomercials, so I lost interest.
But here he is, many years later, looking insufferably young, with a fabulous range of suits to go with his Christmas special. As always, this was filmed in the midst of a blazing hot California summer, which may explain the lack of festive cheer and decorations. Mr Isaak had also just recorded a Christmas album, so in amongst the old chestnuts, there are a handful of self penned Yuletide tunes.
Now, one of the things that annoys me, as a child of the seventies, is how dull Christmas songs have become since the glory days of Slade, Wizzard, and their ilk. So, I wasn't surprised to be sitting through a pedestrian, down tempo set of songs, with even "Let It Snow" being subjected to a snoozy rhythm. Which made it all the more surprising when the original material turned out to be the best on offer. Chris has penned some cracking wee tunes in the shape of "Gotta Be Good" and "Hey Santa". Songs with a spark about them, they deserve to be Christmas standards of the future.