Big Boy Pete and Hilton Valentine – Merry Skifflemas! (2011)

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Now here’s a collaboration too good to be true: Two legendary guitarists from two legendary British bands of the early 1960s have teamed up and recorded a Christmas album!

Big Boy Pete (aka Pete Miller) of Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers and Hilton Valentine from the Animals are the deranged duo behind this delightfully demented disc, which supplies a giggle at nearly every turn.

Along with the smashing original tunes heard on Merry Skifflemas! (22 Records), a series of holiday classics are remodeled, attended by tweaked verse sprinkled with references to sex, pop culture and assorted eccentricities. A piping hot rockabilly take of “Silent Night” is one of the many chestnuts roasting on an open fire featured on the album. It’s hard to decipher all the lyrics, bellowed in a cool Carl Perkins-type voice, I may add, but it sounds like there’s something in there about raining beans.

Further rockabilly grooves arise on “Mistletoe Medley,” a brisk and bubbly instrumental that seamlessly melds “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman” and other tasty yuletide snacks into a swinging singular set before climaxing into a crashing jam. “The Twelve Lays of Christmas” is a kinky rewrite of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” while a mesmerizing treatment of “Little Drummer Boy” stirs feelings of peace and tranquility. Cribbing the melody and arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and changing the lyrics, “God Rest Ye Gerry Mulligan” is a rib-tickling tribute to the jazz great.

Big Boy Pete and Hilton rap and strum themselves into a skiffle-induced stupor on songs such as the finger-wagging “Naughty Naughty Santa” and the supremely catchy “It’s Skifflemas Time,” where “The Littlest Snowflake” is sensitive, quiet and thoughtful.

Although skiffle is the main course served on the wickedly delicious Merry Skifflemas!, side dishes of rockabilly and beat music complete the production. Big Boy Pete and Hilton revisit their roots with affection, enthusiasm and humor, and in the end they’ve created a crackerjack of a record. These fellows make wonderful music together, so let’s hope their partnership continues and they’ll soon gift us with more rocking fun.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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