Christmas is a time for stories. So, pull on that hideous Christmas jumper from your nan and join me by the fire with a large tankard of eggnog (that delicious festive juice made from the two key ingredients: egg and nog – I’m particularly fond of the nog), and allow me to regale you with a festive tale.
Back growing up as a snarling wannabe punk on the mean streets of Chesterfield, we had a fine Christmas Eve tradition. The town was something of a haven for punk bands and, on this special day each year, bands like W.O.R.M., Mybe (now The Little Million), and Underachiever would come together at The Green Room pub to joyfully mutilate popular Christmas tunes, warping them into a glorious wall of noise. The pub is now closed, the bands have now moved on, and there’s a hole in my little black heart where my Christmas used to ding dong merrily.
So does this new festive release from the American stalwarts fill that void like a heavy Christmas pudding drenched in too much brandy? Yes, it does, albeit briefly. What we have here is a smattering of traditional festive songs that you’ll be familiar with, all turned into distinctive Bad Religion tunes that will ring equally familiar to your earballs. It’s quick, it’s clean (perhaps a little too much for some), and over the customary guitars soars Greg Graffin’s sonorous vocals. As a bonus, you even get a delightful new mix of ‘American Jesus’. It’s a fitting inclusion because it is this track that one could argue forms a kind of blueprint for these new renditions of old timey-carolling favourites.
This kind release is nothing new of course, but where compilations like ‘A Santa Cause’ are often relatively hit and miss affairs, there’s a consistency here that ensures that if you dig one track you’ll dig them all. It is short though, and with only 8 Christmas tunes the full-price label may be a bit much for some (although to be fair the entire release is currently free to stream online).
Still, the tracks here are perfectly placed to sneak into a generic Christmas playlist to act as an antidote to all of the dreadful pop standards we hear year upon year, until the Pogues come on. If you need an antidote to the typical sugary Cliff Richard-heavy Christmas, and you find Christopher Lee’s metal Christmas album is a little too heavy, then this might just be the festive fun for you; at least until Me First And The Gimme Gimmes release a Christmas Album.