The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Ah, Santa. There's a whole vein of Christmas music focused on the Jolly Old Elf, from the comic ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus") to the lascivious ("Back Door Santa"), and everything in between. It's a handy out--if you don't want to sing about Jesus, focus instead on snow and reindeer and St. Nicholas.
The original version was recorded by Louis Armstrong in the mid-1950s, but as Christmas novelty tunes go, this campy tale of a midnight encounter with Saint Nick just begs to be covered. Last year I shared with you the video of this number by lounge lizard extraordinaire Buster Poindexter (a.k.a. former New York Dolls frontman David Johansen); now here's the Brian Setzer Orchestra giving it a whirl.
Setzer seems to have developed quite a fondness for the Christmas repertoire since the orchestra released their Boogie Woogie Christmas album in 2002; they've done a number of Christmas tours since then, all of them noticeably light on carols and sentimental standards. This performance is from their 2004 Christmas Extravaganza special, filmed live at L.A.'s Universal Amphitheatre. Setzer's vocals have gotten raspier since his rockabilly Stray Cats days, though nowhere near as growly as Armstrong's. But he's still rolling out a jazzy big band arrangement, and dig that sax player in the leopard-skin jacket.
The story is negligible; there's no point in wondering why Santa would decide to burgle this guy's house. The whole point, really, is that finger-snapping jump-jive rhythm, the kitschy horn fills, and the overall wacky sense of fun. Because if we can't have fun at Christmas...