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It's Christmas at CHIRP Radio, and we're looking for a cure for the common carol. Instead of bending to the will of the average 24-hour holiday muzak stations, we're spending the season unearthing a bunch of winter-approved tunes that you probably haven't heard for a while (or maybe even ever). Today: Louis Prima buys Santa a brand new zoot suit.
Louis Prima & His New Orleans Gang - "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')" (1936)
Louis Prima's been a source of fascination for me ever since I picked up my first greatest hits comp in high school. However, since those collections usually give the lion's share of the tracklist to his big-band and Vegas showman incarnations, I'm still pretty rusty on his pre-'40s output. At least, that's the excuse I give myself for not discovering his contribution to the Christmas canon until just this year. Recorded with his New Orleans Gang band in 1936, "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')" redirects the power of Prima's 1936 triumph "Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)" into a North Pole setting. I almost wish we'd gotten this one later in his career; although it's a delight, and a great artifact of its time, it's also a fairly straight-ahead recording. I'd love to hear a version of this done by an older Prima even more secure in his bombast and zaniness (not to mention backed by Sam Butera, Keely Smith, and other latter-day heavyweights). That said, this is still essential listening for anyone even remotely interested in pre-rock pop music of the 20th century.
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