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Unless your prison nametag reads “Phil Spector,” you almost definitely haven’t put together a more useful compilation to end year after year with than this one. The unifying theme is Christmas in the big city, so there’s the Waitresses, of course; Cristina’s “Things Fall Apart,” co-written by the Was bros, hangs some even sleazier trust-fund-slumming tinsel on a lousy 12 months (she trims the cactus with the earrings they’ve yet to pawn, then her boyfriend licks her like a candy cane). Was (Not Was)’s doubly bummed-out “Christmastime in the Motor City” documents Yuletide poverty and unemployment; tracks from both Alan Vega and his duo Suicide (whose ZE-released, Ric Ocasek-produced 1980 second album just missed this survey) communicate a different sort of seasonal depression. And not everything’s downbeat — the celebratory Material/Nona Hendryx collaboration “It’s A Holiday” may well be the blueprint for then-NYC DOR hopeful Madonna’s “Holiday”; August Darnell’s sublime “Christmas on Riverside Drive” might make even New York-haters salivate for the subway. And while later reissues shuffle selections and add inferior substitutes, the original set list did the job best. Finale: sometime critic Davitt Sigerson’s throat-lumpingly unironic and (for ZE) uncharacteristically singer-songwriterly “It’s a Big Country,” a Christmas card from a New York couple to an aunt in Oklahoma, an uncle in Beverly Hills, sheep-raising cousins in Montana, and a growing niece down in Virginia. If you’re not careful, you will cry.

DIgital Booklet LP16

24 Pages

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01 • LISI • My Silent Night  • 3:16
Written by Lisette Linares Published by ZE Multimedia Music
Recorded in Miami 2004 & South Factory Studio
All Instruments by Lisi, Overdub & Mix by Michel Bassignani
Produced by Lisi & M & M
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 2004

02 • ALAN VEGA • No More Christmas Blues • 3:09
Written by Alan Vega  Published by Revega Music Inc Ascap
Produced by SUICIDE
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

03 • CRISTINA • Things fall Apart • 4:31
Written by Cristina, David & Don Was  Published by Los Was Cosmipolitanos Ascap
Produced by the Was (Not Was)
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

04 • MISS OD & GENTLEMEN LEAGUE • Bells of Christmas • 2:48
Written by Alan Jardine& Ron Altback 
Recorded South Factory Studio
Lead Vocals by Miss OD
All Instruments, arrangments & Mix by Michel Bassignani
Produced by M & M
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 2004

05 • THE WAITRESSES • Christmas Wrapping • 5:20
Written by Chris Butler  Published by Future Fossil  Music/ Cri Cri Music BMI
Produced by Chris Butler
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

06 • LIO, HELENA NOGUERRA & MARIE FRANCE • Sleigh Ride • 2:30
Written by Anderson & Parish  Published by EMI Music Publishing
Produced by Michel Esteban
Original Sound Recording Made by Michel Esteban  © 1988

07 • CHARLELIE COUTURE • Christmas Fever • 4:49
Written by Charlelie Couture  Published by Blue Mountain Music Ltd
Produced by Charlelie Couture
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

08 • DAVITT SIGERSON • It's a Big Country • 2:50
Written by Davitt Sigerson  Published by Mez Publishing Ascap
Produced by Davitt Sigerson
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

09 • AUGUST DARNELL • Christmas on Riverside Drive • 5:04
Written by August Darnell   Published by Unichapell / Perennial August  BMI
Produced by August Darnell
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

10 • MATERIAL & NONA HENDRYX • It's a Holiday • 3:26
Written by Laswell / Beinhorm / Malher / Drayton / Hendryx   
Published by by Cri Cri  Music / Mez Publishing Ascap
Produced by Material
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

11 • WAS (NOT WAS) • Christmas Time in Motor City • 2:57
Written by James White  Published by Copastatatic Music BMI
Produced by James White 
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

12 • JAMES WHITE • Christmas with Satan • 6:12
Written by David & Don Was  Published by Los Was Cosmipolitanos Ascap
Produced by the Was (Not Was)
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

13 • SUICIDE • Hey Lord • 3:27
Written by Martin Rev & Alan Vega  Published by Revega Music Inc Ascap
Produced by SUICIDE
Original Sound Recording Made by ZE Records © 1981

Original Art cover by Tony Wright
Digipack & Booklet Design by Michel Esteban

Remastered by Charlus de la Salle at South Factory Studio
Original Sound made by ZE Records 1981,1988, 2004 ℗ & © ZE Records 2015

This Album Is Respectfuly Dedicated To Brian Wilson

Christmas albums are a tradition as old as Rock & Roll itself but I have always thought that principles of Christmas: family, the tree, gifts, peace in the world, etc. were slightly contradictory to a certain vision of Rock & Roll. I found it hard to imagine John Cale and Lou Reed sitting around a Christmas tree exchanging gifts with Nico and tucking into a turkey dinner, the same goes for the members of the Stooges or MC5... Only the painter Guy Peellaert could have imagined such a scene. And yet my teenage heros all took part in the Christmas song tradition: Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, Elvis. Berry Gordy got the whole Tamla Motown group at it, even James Brown, who wins the prize for the kitschiest sleeve, got in on the action. All of them made an album of Christmas songs, some better than others!

In 1981 and 1982 ZE Records published its own Christmas album under the supervision of Michael Zilkha. All the American artists on ZE answered the call and came up with a Christmas track. Cristina, with the two Was false brothers, went to Detroit to record « Things fall Apart », David & Don Was also recorded « Christmas Time in Motor City » with their band WAS (NOT WAS). August Darnell drew inspiration from New York for his « Christmas in River Side Drive ». Chris Butler composed a piece for his band THE WAITRESSES entitled « Christmas Wrapping », which became their biggest Hit (later covered by SPICE GIRLS). MATERIAL, Bill Laswell’s gang along with Disco Diva, NONA HENDRYX, recorded « It's a Holiday » during the « Bustin’ Out » sessions. James White, in the 1982 version, spent « Christmas with Satan ». Charlelie Couture as a French guest interpreted a track in English: « Christmas Fever », the only recording by this artist for ZE Records. Davitt Sigerson shared his angelic version of « It's a Big Country ». Alan Vega and Martin Rev offer two magnificent variations on the same theme: « Hey Lord » by SUICIDE and « No More Christmas Blues » by ALAN VEGA.

In order to add a personal touch to this adventure in 2004, I have added three new songs to the original track list: « Sleigh Ride », which I recorded in 1988 with LIO, HELENA NOGUERRA & MARIE FRANCE, during a TV show with LIO at the Lido in Paris. This year also Miss OD and GENTLEMEN LEAGUE pay indirect homage to Brian Wilson, to whom the present album is dedicated. LISI, also a new recruit in ZE team, generously offers us the gift of a very personal and utterly contemporary version of a Rock & Roll Christmas.

It goes without saying that the traditional greetings accompany this improbable and delicious offering.

Michel Esteban Paris, October 2004.

Track List
  • 1
    My Silent Night - Lisi
  • 2
    No More Christmas Blues - Alan Vega
  • 3
    Things Fall Apart - Cristina
  • 4
    Bells of Christmas - Miss OD
  • 5
    Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
  • 6
    Sleigh Ride - Lio
  • 7
    Christmas Fever - Charlelie Couture
  • 8
    It's a Big Country - Davitt Sigerson
  • 9
    Christmas on Riverside Drive - August Darnell
  • 10
    It's a Holiday - Material & Nona Hendryx
  • 11
    Christmas Time in Motor City - Was (Not Was)
  • 12
    Christmas with Satan - James White & The Blacks
  • 13
    Hey Lord - Suicide
  • 14
    Christmas is Coming - The 3 Courgettes