I know. I know. I know.
A reggae Christmas album. I thought the same thing.
Visions of your drunken Uncle Ned at the family Christmas party, attempting karaoke in a bad Jamaican accent with a mop on his head after sozzling down a gallon of Bacardi 151-laced eggnog.
But it’s not like that. I’m here to tell you that this is not only a fun and cool little album to have around for the holidays – it’s a jim-dandy dub platter, to boot.
The bait that lured me into giving Yule Analog Vol. I a chance in the first place was that it came from the hearts, souls and ‘bones of those crazy Super Hi-Fi lads, whom we last visited about two years ago when their debut album Dub To The Bone was released. Trombone-driven melodies and fat rhythms, wrapped in clouds of good Black Ark-style smokiness … coming to you straight from Brooklyn, NY. That’s the good foot that Super Hi-Fi got off on with Dub To The Bone and the smiles (and infectious grooves) continue on Yule Analog Vol. I.
Bassist Ezra Gale leads the Hi-Fiers through a 10-tune set – a mix of dubbed-out Christmas standards; deeper dubs of a couple of those; the original title tune and a remixed version of that. Gale and drummer Madhu Siddappa are masters of syrupy grooves, applying them to classics such as “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”, “Go Tell It On The Mountain”, and “We Three Kings”. They lay the big drop on “Little Drummer Boy”, which features a fuzzed-out slithering lead by guitarist Jon Lipscomb (a master skanker when it comes to his rhythm work, as well).
The core of the Super Hi-Fi sound, of course, are the trombones – a cool Rico Rodriguez/Don Drummond-style mix of brash brass and sweetness. Here we have Alex Asher and Rick Parker teaming up, serving everything from punchy melody lines (“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”) to arm-in-arm last-call camaraderie (“Auld Lang Syne”, where they’re joined by Bryan Benninghove on tenor sax – along with a gale of kazoos courtesy of Mr. Gale).
The bottom line of all this is this: the essences of the old standards are there for your holiday ears to dig – but the playing and production of Yule Analog Vol. I make it an enjoyable listen anytime you’re in the mood for some fine, fine reggae-style horns and dub magic.
And, yes, Virginia: it does say Vol. I on the cover. Keep ‘em coming.
Brian Robbins grinds fresh nutmeg on his eggnog over at www.brian-robbins.com