This is my first contribution to the blogging event, "The Battle of The Bands (BOTB)" started by Stephen T. McCarthy and FarAwayEyes back in August of this year. This event occurs twice every month -- on the 1st and the 15th -- and each of the bloggers taking part offers readers a choice of two (or occasionally more) versions of the same song, performed by different recording artists.
Then the readers -- yes, you! -- get to vote for your favorite rendition.
I think it's a fun thing to do, and plus there are potential prizes involved! Well, not from me. But you can visit Stephen's or FAE's blog to get all the details.
Since discovering the BOTB, I've really enjoyed seeing the battles taking place. I love hearing how a single song can be given multiple interpretations. Sometimes it's easy for me to pick a winner -- many times it's very difficult. I often discover I like BOTH versions of the song.
I've enjoyed voting in the BOTB posts so much that now I've decided to chime in with my own battle-vids. As I take part, I hope to offer you some great music and some tough choices -- I will try as much as possible to pick tunes where I enjoy each of the options.
So let's kick off my first one!
Since this month is Christmas, I'm going to start my BOTB posts with a Christmas tune. It's very easy to find multiple versions of Christmas songs -- it seems like almost every artist has released singles and albums of Christmas music.
For this battle, I'm choosing a song that has had many covers over the years, and it is one of my absolute most-favorites songs of the season: "Christmas Time is Here," written in 1965 by Lee Mendelson and Vince Guaraldi for the animated TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas". There were two versions of the song created for the special -- an instrumental and one with a vocal. In this battle, I'm going to feature the instrumental version, and give you three alternatives to choose from.
For me, this song is filled with every emotion of the holiday -- when I hear it, it evokes joy, wonder, nostalgia, and bittersweet melancholy. Especially if the song is done well. And I think I've selected three versions which are done very well. Each feature some really great musicianship and playing. But I'm not going to say any more than that -- I don't want to influence your vote.
First up, here's the original, as performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio from the "A Charlie Brown Christmas" soundtrack (1965):
Next, a cover by John Zorn, from "Dreamer's Christmas" (2011):
Please give each of the above a fair listen (and you can also check out the links under the names above if you've never heard of Vince Guaraldi, John Zorn, or Steve Vai. By the way -- that's Vai holding the red guitar in the BOTB logo at the top of this post. It's from the move "Crossroads"). As you listen to the tunes, try to focus on the music rather than the videos -- the goal is to compare the songs, not the images. If it helps, shut your eyes while you listen.
Then after listening, please vote in the comments as to which version you think is best, or which speaks to you the most. Feel free to also share as much as you would like about how any of the above recordings strike you, even if it's less than positive.
And finally -- be sure to check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:
- Far Away Series (FarAwayEyes)
- Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends (Stepehn T. McCarthy)
- Tossing it Out (Arlee Bird)
- Your Daily Dose (Robin)
- DiscConnected (DiscConnected)