Merry Christmas, Traditional Carols Arranged as Traditional Rock Songs!
Peek in the stocking or rummage under the tree for a spectacularly fab package of Christmas cheer. Joy to the world! The always hard working and dedicated Frank Lee Sprague returns with his latest yuletide classic, Merry Christmas, Traditional Carols Arranged as Traditional Rock Songs! What do some of the most cherished Christmas carols of all time have in common with rock ‘n’ roll? Only a year after his highly regarded Merry Merseybeat Christmas, Frank Lee Sprague went back into the recording studio aiming to find out. What emerged was a song selection both spiritual and playful, a celebratory homage to some of Frank’s favorite music and musical styles. Listen closely for snatches of familiar songs, from “Thank You Girl” by the Beatles, to “Mr. Tambourine Man” as done by the Byrds, from “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, to “Love Reign O’er Me” by the Who.
The album opens with the lovely and timeless “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring,” by Johann Sebastian Bach, ingeniously rearranged as an instrumental in the style of the Ventures. There are several other instrumental standouts here, including an intense, pounding “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in which Frank manages to quote from Dick Dale’s “Miserlou,” and the Chantays’ “Pipeline,” while ending with the brooding coda from Bobby Fuller’s “The Chase.”
Noted for his mastery of British Invasion styles, Frank pays tribute to the Liverpool beat of the Swinging Bluejeans on “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” the intricate harmonies of the Hollies on “Away in a Manger,” and even takes us for a romp with the Beatles via the “Hard Day’s Night” style “O Christmas Tree.”
“Jingle Bells” will never quite sound the same once you hear Frank’s frantically rocking reinvention of “Jingle Bells” as a piano pumping Jerry Lee Lewis stomper straight out of Sun Records. “O Come All Ye Faithful” captures some ringing Byrdsian 12 string electric guitar magic along with a chorus straight out of “Turn Turn Turn.” Special guest Randy Fuller of the Bobby Fuller Four joins Frank for a rollicking “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” arranged to sound like Bobby Fuller’s 1966 hit version of Buddy Holly’s “Love’s Made a Fool of You.”
Merry Christmas, Traditional Carols Arranged as Traditional Rock Songs! closes with a surf instrumental interpretation of Handel’s “The Messiah.” This remarkable version is a stunning example of Frank’s ability to pay respectful tribute to a familiar melody, while creating a fresh and original arrangement. “The Messiah” quotes from “Mr. Moto” by the Belairs, and demonstrates once again Frank’s fluid, brilliant lead guitar playing.
Frank Lee Sprague loves Christmas. Frank Lee Sprague loves rock ‘n’ roll. Merry Christmas, Traditional Carols Arranged as Traditional Rock Songs! is a delicious and delectable taste of both – untie the ribbon, rip open the paper and please open this package first.
Known for his unparalleled ability to synthesize authentic rock ‘n’ roll styles into his own West Texas imprint, Frank Lee Sprague’s work has wowed reviewers in Rolling Stone, Playboy, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and many other magazines and newspapers. He has appeared on CBS nationwide television and National Public Radio, and performed live around the world, including several successful tours of Japan. Over the last few years, this charismatic songwriter and musician has recorded and released the critically acclaimed albums, Merseybeat, Cavern, Merry Merseybeat Christmas and Fulton Avenue, while also revered by fans for his long-time work as leader of the fabulous rock ‘n’ roll duo, the Sprague Brothers.