Written by Imran Mirza
Determined to leave as much of a mark on 2012 as possible, Jalapeno Records - following their excellent remix compilation by Smoove (of Smoove & Turrell) - sign the year off with The Olympic Cyclone Band's 'Season's Greetings': a Christmas album performed with a decidedly funky spin on festive classics.
Potentially a thematic style of release reserved for heavy sales hitters, Justin Bieber, Michael Buble, Beyonce, etc, but thinking about it - James Brown's catalogue bursts of Christmas-themed releases, including his three albums for King Records, 'Christmas Songs', 'A Soulful Christmas' and 'Hey America'. So bearing that in mind... why not?
The Olympic Cyclone Band are certainly a band whose experience lends itself to making a record like this a success - their musical proficiency having been honed from years of playing as a hugely in-demand lounge band bring to new life such Yuletide favourites including 'Away in a Manger', 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing' and 'Jingle Bells'.
What's instantly noticable is the fact that these interpretations don't sound like Christmas songs - they sound like funk and soul songs that just happen to be about Christmas, which is a nice touch as they lend themselves more to songs that don't require a specific calendar month to be played (having said that, when listening to 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing', it would be pretty hard to think of much else other than 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing'!). The album's guest vocalists, including Stephanie Davies and Fiona Egan, also take this approach on board, and when you hear Stephanie Davies sing '12 Days of Christmas', with that voice and that backdrop, it's performed with all the fiery sass of a woman laying down the law!
'Season's Greetings' marks the perfect stocking filler and soundtrack for this year's Christmas, so friends, make it a funky one!