Ventures – The Ventures Christmas Album (review)

Ventures – The Ventures Christmas Album (Real Gone Music / Universal Music Special Markets) review

The best rock n’ roll instrumental holiday album just got remastered

The holidays are supposed to be joyous. But nothing kills that spirit quite like hearing the same, tired old Christmas tunes, over and over. Well, let’s hear it for Real Gone Music, who have just reissued the Ventures Christmas Album, sure to brighten up even the grumpiest of Scrooges.

The Ventures were always great at giving their unique, twangy take on current hits. But here, they take things to another level. Each Christmas classic starts out as a completely different song – mostly popular hits of the mid 1960’s. So, “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” actually starts out as “Wooly Bully,” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” grabs the beginning of the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine.” Other examples are “What’d I Say” morphing into “Jingle Bells,” “Memphis” opening up the start of “Jingle Bell Rock,” and even the Ventures own “Walk Don’t Run” switching into “Sleigh Ride.”

The titles are ones you’ve heard a million times, but the band plays them with such energy and excitement that you really don’t mind hearing them again.

A big selling point here is that Real Gone has not only given us the original stereo mix, but also tracked down the super rare mono mix, making its debut on compact disc. The stereo version has the instruments spread out in the stereo spectrum, allowing generations of budding guitarists the opportunity to analyze what each Ventures’ member is playing. The mono mix is arguably more enjoyable – as everything is front and center, allowing for a more even listening experience.

Either version of the album clocks in at under 27 minutes, so it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome. The Ventures Christmas Album is the perfect cure for the holiday blues. –Tony Peters.