Monster Ballads Xmas (2007, Razor & Tie Records)
Tracklisting (song – artist/band):
- Jingle Bells – Skid Row
- Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – Winger
- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Jani Lane
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Twisted Sister w/Lita Ford
- White Christmas – Queensryche
- Run Rudolph Run – L.A. Guns
- Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Firehouse
- Naughty Naughty Christmas – Danger Danger
- Blue Christmas – Tom Keifer
- Jingle Bell Rock – Nelson
- Silent Night – Faster Pussycat
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Dokken
- Happy Holiday – Enuff Z’nuff
- Winter Wonderland – Stryper
- Christmas Love – Billy Idol
Total Time – 55:49
Want a little Hard Rock injected into your holiday season? Razor & Tie Records has the answer…..Monster Ballads Xmas. The result is a combination of the multi-platinum Monster Ballads CDs and Twisted Sister – A TWISTED CHRISTMAS (2006) with some of the biggest names in ’80s Hard Rock: Skid Row, Winger, Queensryche, Dokken and many more.
Skid Row does a Hard Rock/Punk-ish version of ‘Jingle Bells’ while Winger keeps ‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over)’ almost exactly to the John Lennon original. I’m very impressed with Kip Winger’s voice, it is still strong through the years and he really does a great job on this track keeping within the original framework of the song. The Skids are just having fun and that’s what it’s all about on this record.
Jani Lane (formerly of Warrant) performs ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. He starts of slow and ballady and then rocks it up. I was a little surprised that he sang the song so well because I always took him as a yelper with Warrant. Twisted Sister and Lita Ford appear after Jani with ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ from last year’s A TWISTED CHRISTMAS. There had to be a song included from that album because it was a surprising success this time last year. I’m just glad that this song was included instead of last year’s single ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘I’ll Be Home…..’ was one of the highlights of that album and it’s good to hear Lita Ford back on record.
Queensryche’s version of ‘White Christmas’ is extremely good and stays almost exact to the original, save for the electric guitars of course! Geoff Tate hits the high notes with ease and lends this traditional song a power it’s never had. I could do without the L.A. Guns version of ‘Run Rudolph Run’…..it’s good but I just can’t get around Phil Lewis’ voice. The song itself isn’t bad, just a matter of personal taste I guess.
‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, sung by Brenda Lee, is one of my favorite holiday tunes and Firehouse add some guitar solos to beef the song up. A couple of quick lyric changes and you have a new Hard Rock version a holiday classic. Danger Danger’s ‘Naughty Naughty Christmas’ was featured in the movie Santa Clause 2 in 2002 and now featured here on this album. It’s a play on their big hit, ‘Naughty Naughty’ (1989), and it’s pretty good but all I can think about is the original song. Another fun song though.
Tom Keifer (Cinderella) does a bluesy Hard Rock version of ‘Blue Christmas’ that’s much better than the Elvis version you hear all the time. Is it me or does Tom’s backing band sound like the Saturday Night Live Band with G.E. Smith? I’m not cracking on the band here, I’m paying a compliment actually because I always thought that band was solid! Just like ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is another traditional favorite of mine this time of year and the Nelson brothers really Rock it up. Very uptempo with some big drums and solos, the guys still have great harmonies.
So far the album is solid, even the L.A. Guns track, but every album has one dud on it. In this case, it’s the slow industrial version of ‘Silent Night’ that Faster Pussycat turn in. Would anyone want to hear Nine Inch Nails do Xmas tunes? What about a bad NIN cover band? That’s what this sounds like. Aside from the lyrics, there is no sense of the original song. The album seems to be interrupted by this song but there’s always the SKIP button!
Dokken metalizes ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ with the main riff from ‘Dream Warriors’…..kind of a creepy combination but unique. Dokken is a personal fave of mine so I dig it but the harmonies aren’t there like they used to be. The harmonies are present in Enuff Znuff’s ‘Happy Holiday’, an song that was written originally for the Home Alone 2: Lost In New York movie soundtrack. Decent tune, tons of melody and harmony. The song isn’t on the original soundtrack (I actually have a copy!) so I’m not sure if this is it’s first release, damn good though.
Stryper’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ comes from the 2003 live album 7 WEEKS: LIVE IN AMERICA 2003 and is also on the 2000 reissue of TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL (1986) and the REASON FOR THE SEASON E.P. (1985). Not sure what the original sounds like on the the E.P. or the reissue but the song is OK live. ‘Christmas Love’ was previously released last year on Billy Idol’s holiday album, HAPPY HOLIDAYS: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS ALBUM. Odd to hear Billy doing Christmas tunes but it’s cool and one of my faves on this CD. Now I have to go out and track that holiday CD!
MONSTER BALLADS XMAS is a fun record for the holiday season much in the same way A TWISTED CHRISTMAS last year. I like all the songs except for the Faster Pussycat – ‘Silent Night’ industrial fiasco and the L.A. Guns song is good just not a favorite due to personal taste. Overall, a fun addition to get into the holiday spirit. Favorite songs: ‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over)’ – Winger, ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ – Twisted Sister w/Lita Ford, ‘White Christmas’ – Queesryche, and ‘Christmas Love’ – Billy Idol.