30 Burl: We Three Kings

As a concept band, Burl quickly discovered the benefits of guest artists.  When you have talented friends, including their work next to yours makes you look smart, if nothing else.

Here’s one by Clive “The Robot” Thompson, whom I would later collaborate with on a different project, the Greencard Cowboys.  Clive’s day job is as award-winning technology journalist.  But when he first got out of college in Toronto, so the story goes, he paid a lot of his rent by playing guitar constantly at various gigs all around the city.

He primarily plays guitar, but can also program drums, play bass, a bit of keyboard, and a killer harmonica.  Once I saw Clive teach himself banjo in a day, well enough to record a song with me in the evening.  So he’s a prodigy, the bastard.

Here he is making pretty instrumental Xmas music, like a prodigy should.

We Three Kings

30 Burl: Jingle Tard

During the production of Jingle Bell Jar, Spingo and Mark were playing in SF, in their band Lakeside Rebar.  (Good band, maybe Mark or Spingo will upload some tracks in the new year.)

Unlike previous years, when I flew into NYC to record at Spingo’s Palace on West 13th  St., I wasn’t going to be able to make it out to SF to record.  I forget why.  Probably money, or time, or work or some damn thing that seemed important at the time.

So, instead, Lakeside Rebar took on five different band personas, including their own, and knocked out 5 different version of Jingle Bells.  And I choose to believe that all of these were actually live in one take.

First one down the pike is by Bakesale Retard.  Please ensure that you turn it up for maximum holiday enjoyment.

Jingle Retard

30 Burl: Death Row Christmas

Another Burl original.

This one was ACTUALLY recorded live in one take. Or maybe two.

Some simple guitar noises, accompanied by lyrics that combine the warm comfort of December frostbite with the wholesome feelings of maximum security at the Michigan City State Prison.

Much like “Fluffy Christmas for Cuddles”, I can’t really listen to this one all the way through.  In fact, I think the only time I was ever to listen to it all the way through was when I recorded the damn thing.  Except this one started out trying to be something funny, and it turned into this.  Brrrrr….

Death Row Christmas

30 Burl: Big Red Blues

It didn’t always make it to final recordings, but there are three essential styles that Burl was prone to:  punk pop, surf, and a sort-of blues.

Of those, my voice is most suited to the blues shouter style.  You could imagine my voice singing on a Buddy Guy or a Charlie Musselwhite track, if you squinted hard with your ears.

Relatedly, I just heard Ella Fitzgerald’s “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney” again this season, and the lyrics to this song match that theme closely indeed.

“Big Red Blues” is also a Burl original, one of the few.  Please to enjoy, and as always:  live in one take.

Big Red Blues

30 Burl: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

We had a Freedy Johnston cover of this song which was really quite pretty.  But the rhythm of the song turns out to be a giant pain in the ass.  And really hard to program a good drum track for.

And we couldn’t figure out a good key.

So we just handed it to Mark, and made his life miserable.

I remember talking to Spingo about it, and thinking we would do a version of thius song EVERY YEAR until we got it right.

That was going to be a tradition, but we only did it once as the torment of this song was a “once enough”.


SONG:  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas