A curious and wondrous gem, this anonymous effort takes 17 holiday favorites and transposes them into 17 international musical styles, each rendered to witty perfection. Thus “Joy to the 3rd World” might be an outtake from a recent Paul Simon record. “O’ White Christmas” is a giggly jig. “12 Arabian Nights” whirls to suit any dervish. It might be the Marine Corps Band performing “The Silent Night’s Spangled Banner.” One can picture Santa taking a Cancun vacation, sashaying to “El Pocito Pueblo de Bethlehem,” or twirling to “The Inexcelsis Polka.” Sly liner notes underscore the joke while giving nothing away. Since there are no real credits, the many nameless musicians cannot be praised for their impeccable playing. Especially inspired is the twangin’ “The Lil’ Endless Summer Boy,” and “Mr. Bob Francis,” or someone, does a spot-on Sinatra-circa-1960 on “That Swingin’ Manger” (and a slightly less successful Crosby on “We Three Bings”). Sample lyric: “The cows, they go moo-moo/They woke up the Kid!/But that little trooper/He never flipped his lid.” Oh, yeah! Truly, this disc makes the most tired songs in the universe fresh again. Volume II is already on my list for next year.
—Feliz Davinad Nuttycombe