Review by Ian Savage
By all that’s holy and festive, Ronseal couldn’t have come up with a better album title. This is one of the West Coast’s longest-serving punk bands serving up a feast of Yuletide tunes in their own interminable style; the only question that can really be asked is, ‘cracker or turkey’?
The moment that the semi-choral intro to ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ gives way via massive pick-slide to Bad Religion’s trademark hundred-miles-per-hour melodic onslaught, it’s answered. Christmas Songs is an ironic (given frontman Greg Griffin’s publicly atheist views) take on a mere eight classic Noel tunes spanning traditional Christian hymns to modern seasonal standards – and it rocks like the nativity manger never could.
Whilst ostensibly a stop-gap in the band’s prolific output of original material, Bad Religion could scarcely have put forward a more vital and relevant offering over the holiday season; adding ‘American Jesus’ from 1993’s ‘Recipe For Hate’ as the non-Christmas-standard ninth track serves to underline the vitriol that the band clearly still feel about the USA’s Christian-led ethos.
Griffin practically spits out mantra like “come let us adore him” and “tidings of comfort and joy” to the point that even the most uninitiated layman would be hard-pressed to ignore the underlying message – over its mere 20-minute runtime ‘Christmas Songs’ provides an incredibly cleverly-done (and somehow totally ‘punk’) soundtrack to the thinking rock fan’s festivities.
To answer my own question: cracker. You need this album.
10 out of 10
Bad Religion are also giving away 20% of the profits from ‘Christmas Songs’ to SNAP, a charity to help survivors of abuse by priests. As if a Midlands Rocks 10/10 review wasn’t reason enough to buy it already.
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- Come All Ye Faithful
- Come O Come Emmanuel
- White Christmas
- Little Drummer Boy
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- What Child Is This?
- Angels We Have Heard On High
- American Jesus (Andy Wallace mix)