I was an instant fan after witnessing Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats strut their retro-stuff in their infectious high energy American television debut on Fridays. The date was October 16, 1981 and it would be another eight months before their "debut" Built For Speed (culled from their first two UK albums) would be released in America as the two singles (performed on Fridays) hit the charts in the Spring and Summer of 1982.
In November 1996, I bought the Jingle All The Way CD for a few of the Christmas songs it contained. Was pleasantly surprised to hear The Brian Setzer Orchestra's (BSO) four contributions as well and soon one or more of the tracks were appearing annually on my Christmas mixtapes with the Sammy Hagar penned "Deep In Heart of Xmas" featuring vocals by Darlene Love quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
Picked up the 2002 release of BSO's Boogie Woogie Santa Claus as part of my preparations for that year's holiday mixtape. Three of their Jingle All The Way contributions were reworked for this album. The following year, no less than four retailers (Target, Best Buy, K-Mart and Wal-Mart) offered their own unique bonus track exclusive versions of Boogie Woogie Santa Claus and the year after that (2004) Target re-upped and released yet another exclusive version of the album with two more exclusive tracks.
Dig That Crazy Christmas appeared for the 2005 holiday featuring some of the bonus tracks mentioned above as well as traditional favorites and two new songs written by Setzer. I liked it as much as the first release and by omitting just three of the lesser songs, I was able to copy both discs onto a single CD-R for extended listening and entertaining my co-workers during our long shifts together.
Setzer cherry-picked songs from Boogie Woogie Santa Claus and Dig That Crazy Christmas, sprinkled a few new to me songs in the mix and packaged them as Christmas Rocks! The Best Of Collection, once again earning a portion of my meager discretionary income in 2008.
Then in 2010, BSO came out with Christmas Comes Alive!, a live recording from a performance in Knoxville, Tennessee. Like his fellow Christmas old music is new music makers the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, BSO has been conducting small scale regional tours all along, adding to everyone's holiday cheer. In fact, Brian and the Orchestra are going to be here in Tucson eleven days before Jesus's Birthday this year on what is being billed as their 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour.
This year, thirty-four years to the exact day after that initial appearance on Firdays, Brian Setzer and his Orchestra released their third Holiday themed studio album, Rockin' Rudolph. I just listened to it three times in a row and am whole-heartedly recommending it as my first Christmas Gift of 2015.
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