Do you know D.C.?
Get our free newsletter to stay in the know about local D.C.
Perhaps the high point of this collection comes when Robert Fripp’s solo slashes through the moody “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,” overwhelming the plaintive voices of David Bowie and Bing Crosby. Fripp’s masterpiece of concise wailing is an unsung gem from the Heroes period—mainly because I made it up. Actually, this adjunct to Rhino’s 15-volume proto-alternative series is characterized as much by sweetness as wigginess: Check XTC’s “Thanks for Christmas” and Squeeze’s “Christmas Day,” the latter of which name-drops everything from tree lights to British comedy team Morecambe and Wise. Closest to true New Wave sound and spirit is They Might Be Giants’ Farfisa-driven “Santa’s Beard,” but this eclectic mix succeeds at providing a listenable experience for WHFS fans, complete with D.C. content in Root Boy Slim’s rare 1978 single “Xmas at K-Mart.” Still, a couple of complaints: Why Miracle Legion’s dreary “Little Drummer Boy” instead of Joan Jett’s turbocharged one? And what about Dread Zeppelin’s “All I Want for Christmas,” one of their most inspired Elvis/Zep/reggae creations ever, rather than the similarly titled, politically correct Timbuk 3 cut, which has aged badly? But it’s churlish to complain about a record so well-meaning that it stacks up a blindingly good Los Lobos “Rudolph the Manic Reindeer,” a vintage single by Matthew Sweet’s early Buzz of Delight, and even makes me care about Throwing Muses for a few minutes. Oh, and “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl—whadda tearjerker.
—Rickey “the Red-Nosed” Wright