Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mae in December - Mae West

Mae In December
Mae West
AEI  2104

It's that time of the year again, decorating the tree, hanging the stockings and plopping Mae West on the turntable for some yuletide cheer.  What, you don't think of Mae West when you think of Christmas?  Well think again my friend.  I received this as a gift a long time ago from someone who knew I liked records and old movies.  At the time I wasn't particularly thrilled about it, but it has become one of my favorite Christmas albums.  This is a reissue of the 1966 album "Wild Christmas" on Dagonet records recorded when West was 73.  It consists of 7 Christmas songs plus a cover of the Beatles' "From Me To You."  I have no idea what the latter has to do with Christmas but I'm the last guy who is going to complain about a Beatles' cover, every record should have one.  If you know anything about Mae West, you know you aren't going to be hearing "Silent Night" or "Noel" on this album.  She leans towards bawdier stuff.  The album kicks off with "Santa Come Up To See Me" which is a folk rock style tune.  She invites Santa to come up and see her some time.  She boasts that she has a present for him better than any that he can give, namely her good loving.  In the middle of the song she jumps up a couple octaves and sings so high you practically have to be a dog to hear her.  Next she covers Elvis' "Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me."  It is a jumpin' tune and she rocks pretty convincingly for a senior citizen.  Next up is the r&b classic "Merry Christmas, Baby" where she coos a "man under the mistletoe is worth two under the tree."  It is another strong performance, genuinely sexy.  The side ends with another Elvis cover, Leiber and Stoller's "Santa Claus Is Back in Town."  West is a decent rock singer, but she's better at the blues and this song suits her perfectly.  I like it just as much as Elvis' version.  "Put the Loot in the Boot, Santa" opens side two.  She advises Santa to put some "jack in the sack" if he wants to enjoy her company.  She'd like a uranium mine, but she'll settle for some some "cash on the sash."  A Christmas song celebrating prostitution, that's got to be a first.  She makes "From Me To You" a Christmas song by prefacing the song with a spoken introduction where she huskily announces that she has a Christmas present (love) for the listener that she will send "from Mae to you."  It's not the best Beatles' cover you will hear, but it may be the sexiest.  Over the top sexiness characterizes her cover of Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby."  Just as in "Put the Loot in the Boot, Santa" she wants some pretty pricey presents, a Dusenberg convertible for example, but this time she wants them because she has been good all year, not as a down payment for her company.  "My New Year's Resolutions" veers between folk-rock and an instrumental passage lifted from "Hang On Sloopy."  She sings the folk-rock section promising loving in the New Year and then she breathily recites her resolutions in the "Hang On Sloopy" section such as "I'm going to have goodwill toward men and the more men the more I will."  I've heard all sorts of Christmas records, traditional, sentimental, soulful and rocking, but I've never heard one quite like this.  With her cartoonishly overt sexuality, ageless enthusiasm and impeccable comic timing, she makes Christmas seem fun for adults not just the kiddies.  Try giving it a spin for your next Christmas party.  Recommended for lonely bachelors who dig cougars.   

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