December 2006

The Mighty Echoes - Doo Wop Around the Christmas Tree
Brooklyn International Records BOB 0302
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

While cynics may complain about Christmas being nothing but an excuse for commercialism, the holiday season resonates deeply for many of us. Aside from its religious significance, it is a time of fond memories, even for those who recall many bad things about growing up. Nothing brings out the sentimentalist in us more quickly than Christmas music. Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, Nat Cole’s The Christmas Song, and The Beach Boys Christmas Album hit my disc player more than any other music in my collection. As soon as Thanksgiving Day is over, I haul out my seasonal CDs, LPs, and cassettes.

I’m adding the Mighty Echoes’ Doo Wop Around the Christmas Tree to that four-week lineup, between A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and 1968’s Soul Christmas on Atlantic Records. Christmas tunes sung doo-wop style carry with them the suggestion of earlier, simpler Christmases. The songs on this disc are all performed a cappella, and producer Tommy Dunbar’s vocal arrangements recall earlier rock‘n’roll versions of old chestnuts like "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "White Christmas." As Eddie Gorodesky points out in his liner notes, John Lennon would undoubtedly be pleased with the group’s version of "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," given his love of early rock.

Dunbar, who engineered and mixed the disc, puts each lead vocalist right in front of you, the supporting singers arrayed behind him. At less than 30 minutes, Doo Wop Around the Christmas Tree leaves you wanting more music, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a disc with more Yuletide spirit.