Artists | Songs | Various Artists | Lists | Annuals | Jukebox | About | Home Facebook

Support! Amazon Shop at Amazon, iTunes, and more...

NRBQThe holiday repertoire of the New Rhythm & Blues Quartet (aka NRBQ) is sprawling, diverse, typically twisted, and characteristically low-key - but full of good cheer. The compact disc versions of their album, Christmas Wish, actually manage to collect most of it - up to 19 tracks, including four from a 7-inch EP called Merry Christmas from NRBQ (Red Rooster, 1978) and eight from the original Christmas Wish mini-LP (Rounder, 1986). In all, the CD editions of Christmas Wish compile yuletide flotsam and jetsam spanning 30 years - from a 1969 home recording of "Here Comes Santa Claus" (badly played on what sounds like a mellotron) to a goofy, improvised 1999 live version of Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time is Here."

Amidst the band's delightful, casual chaos, the clear highlight is the title tune, one of just a handful of original songs on the album. In fact, the band presents three versions: the short "reprise" from the 1978 EP; a fleshed-out version recorded in 1979; and an instrumental "TV mix" from 1995. "Christmas Wish" is a simple, infectious tune that frames singer/writer Joey Spaminato's simple, utopian vision:

I look at all the toys all under the tree,
it makes me think about the way things could be
if people all over the world could just see them, too.

NRBQIn 1980, Rounder issued the longer version of "Christmas Wish" as a single backed with keyboardist Terry Adams' tight arrangement of "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," which I suspect Adams based on an earlier arrangement by Chet Atkins. The track is most notable for its loose adherence to Montana Slim's off-kilter original lyrics (or perhaps Eddy Arnold's later version). "As for me, my little brain isn't very bright," confesses the singer, asking "choose for me, dear Santa Claus, what you'll bring tonight." Not exactly the traditional holiday sentiments....

That sort of good humor and skewed perspective is present throughout Christmas Wish, but it's not what I'd call a substantial record. Hell, half of it was probably made up on the spot - NRBQ actually makes something of a sport out of improvisation. And, the band is equally fond of cacophony, electronic noise, and toy instruments. Even further, only four of the 17 tracks exceed two minutes, and four of them fail to crack a 60 seconds.

NRBQFor instance, one of my favorite tracks - Terry Adams' "Electric Train" - is a brief, impressionistic piece that clocks in at 1:09. And that's pretty typical. So, like most NRBQ albums, listeners may enjoy Christmas Wish as an album more than they enjoy its individual tracks. I know I do.

Consumer Notes. Best I can tell, Rounder only ever issued Christmas Wish on vinyl and cassette, and copies show up with regularity on the used market. Big Notes Records reissued Christmas Wish on CD in 1995 with four additional tracks, but good luck finding a copy - I've never seen one.

Luckily, it's been reissued again at least three times. Japanese label Dreamsville issued an expanded edition (17 tracks) in 2000, followed in 2007 by a deluxe edition (19 tracks) on Clang! Records (I believe the band is affiliated with the label). Then, in 2015, another Japanese CD appeared, with the same 19 tracks as the deluxe edition but with restored original artwork in a "mini LP" format. I own the 2000 Japanese version, and it's lovely - pristine mastering, nice cover art, and copius annotation (though much of it, not surprisingly, is written in Japanese). [top of page]

Albums Albums


  • Christmas Wish (1980) star Top 100 Song
  • Electric Train (1972)
  • Jolly Old St. Nicholas (1980)

Further ListeningFurther Listening

[top of page]

Navigation   Artists   Songs   Various Artists   Lists   Annuals   Jukebox   About   Home

Information   About Us   Feedback   Submissions   Books   Links   Mailbag

Support Me   Amazon   iTunes   Sheet Music Plus

© 1999-2018 Randall Anthony, and
5903 Belfast Drive, Austin, Texas 78723 (512) 454-2906

FreeFind NetFirms InternetSeer Wimpy Player