.... And speaking of free stuff and Christmas spirit and all the rest of that holiday hockum, here's something to jump on before the season completely overwhelms you: It's a haunting from holidays past, holiday music for those of us who can't stand holiday music, or the holidays, especially, an album guaranteed to put the affect back into your seasonal disorder. Or get rid of it. Or something. It's "In the Christmas Spirit," 30 minutes of ramped-up seasonal selections from Zuni Fetish Experiment, Jeff Morris' gritty, in-your-face, improvisational power trio that wreaked sonic havoc at the nexus of jazz and rock, a kind of no-commercial-potential, Miles-meets-Jimi vibe, a band that morphed into the far more radio-friendly Death & Taxes after clearing venues for several sizzling years. Morris, the Port guitarist probably best known for his work with the Bruisers, blew town last year and set up shop in Chicago. He's put up "In the Christmas Spirit," and lots of other goodies, online for free download. But, given the clock ticking down on the most profitable, I mean the most wonderful time of the year, we're gonna focus on "In the Christmas Spirit," an album that teaches us the greatest Christmas lesson of all: that Christmas music doesn't have to be syrup, schmaltz and pseudo-solemnity, that it doesn't have to be endured, that it can be fun, that it can be smart, that it can sizzle.
This is the Christmas album for the rest of us, for people who want to get into the spirit, but can't because the music makes us so miserable. It's a collection of what Morris calls "Zunified" standards.They start with the theme and try to stay close to the hook. Because it's supposed to be a Christmas album, after all. The disc opens with a Ventures-inspired rendition of "Sleigh Ride" and closes with a cha-cha cover of "Winter Wonderland." In between, the band coaxes the melody for "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" from the intro to Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" - on this disc called "Slight Chance of Snow," which itself morphs into "Frosty the Snowman" during a slash-and-burn, feedback-laden blowout. The 30-minute EP, originally released in 2004, is rounded out with a cover of "Little Drummer Boy" that actually quotes the freakish Crosby-Bowie duet and famous counterpoint, and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," both of whose melodies are quickly appropriated for a high-octane joyride and left in a smoldering heap on the side of the road as the themes make an, um, slight return. You can download the whole thing here. There's lots of other cool stuff on Morris' Tattooed Hearts blog, which you can check out here.