december 2008

The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Surfdog Records
Released: 2005

In a more-than-worthy followup to his 2002 Yuletide fest, Boogie Woogie Christmas, Brian Setzer and his Orchestra return for a wild-eyed holiday treat via Dig That Crazy Christmas,. The whole troupe roars and swings through 11 evergreens, so to speak, and Setzer contributes two new originals: a horn-driven stomper titled "Hey Santa!" spiced with some sizzling vocal and instrumental interplay between Setzer and the orchestra; and a roaring blues grinder in "Santa's Got a Hot Rod," complete with blaring horns and a fine, growling vocal from Setzer describing the wonders of Santa's new souped-up wheels now supplanting his "rusty old sleigh." "White Christmas" gets a gently rocking arrangement graced by honking sax and robust guitar punctuations as Setzer delivers a rhythmically graceful reading a bit beholden to Elvis's approach. A midtempo instrumental version of "My Favorite Things" provides Setzer with a showcase for a jazz-tinged guitar solo, ahead of fanciful flights of brass and woodwinds. For comic relief, consider Setzer's mock spooked-out vocal on "'Zat You Santa?" and his generous serving of ham on "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," to which he adds a reverberant top-strings solo that pays homage to "The Munsters" theme song. On an ambitious note, he gets way out there on a breakneck treatment of "Angels We Have Heard On High," its soaring melody developed, variously by the hearty orchestra and a full-bodied church choir, with enough room for a burst of blaring horns, trebly rock guitar solos and, as punctuation, another guitar interjecting "Peggy Sue" licks throughout. Wind it up with a lush, dreamy rendition of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve," and there's some memorable Christmas fare from an artist whose heart is always in the right place.—David McGee

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024