One Track Mind: Iggy Pop, “White Christmas” from Psych-Out Christmas (2013)

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Appropriately subtitled “Guitar Stooge Version,” this meth-freak version “White Christmas” is enough to have Bing Crosby spinning at coffin-melting speeds.

Iggy Pop opens things up with a gravel-gargling intonement, making the most of a completely inappropriate (and, yes, completely delicious) buzz-saw riff, and already it’s clear: This ain’t your parents’ kind of carol. Then, somehow, it gets weirder — as Iggy switches from a monotone incantation that would have humbled Thurl Ravenscroft into a spoken-word segment that goes from dark to just plain weird. Can anybody else, really, make the words “white” and “Christmas,” as Iggy does in the fade, sound so much like a threat to bodily harm?

But, there’s more. “White Christmas (Guitar Stooge Version)” closes a newly issued compilation of trip-rock coolness called Psych-Out Christmas, issued just in time for a Yuletide binge by Cleopatra Records. Featured elsewhere are Psychic Ills, the Vacant Lots, Elephant Stone, Dark Horses, Sons of Hippies and others.

Together, they do similar damage to time-honored favorites (from “Frosty the Snowman” and “What Child Is This?” to “Jingle Bells”), as well as newer items (the Beatles’ “Christmas Time [Is Here Again]” and “Run Rudolph Run”) and original material (“Jul Song”). How crazy is this thing? This crazy: “Little Drummer Boy,” in the hands here of the Swedish band the Movements, is presented — well, of course it is — without even a single drum. And the Fuzztones’ wailingly demented “Santa Claus” simply must be heard to be believed.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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