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It's Christmas Time Again –The Hot House Combo

Released - December 1, 2023, on Homegrown Records.

Reviewed -5th December 2023 by Rockin Rebel

Members

Willy Briggs lead vocalist and guitarist,

Lisa Briggs on vocals, accordion, double bass, and washboard,

Tim Heming clarinet,

 Sam Massey trumpet.

Review

Seen this band as both the combo and previously the Hot House Four. they bring a unique style and sound with a mixture of swingier/jazzier sounds of the '30s and '40s, Based down in the Southwest of the UK. They first formed in 2019 and have been touring throughout the UK ever since. This is the Combo's first Christmas album and is set to be a big winner. So, let’s go track by track.

It's Christmas Time Again

Great start with the title track. the clarinet and a few jingling bells bring that festive warmth into the intro. Willy gives a wonderful vocal that’s just as warming as a mulled wine on a cold night. this track will get you into the Christmas spirit from the on set.

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

Written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie and was first recorded in 1934 by Harry Reser and His Band. A traditional favourite that has been covered by lots of bands from every genre known. To attempt this song and bring it a new style with a vintage feel is superbly done by the combo. The accordion and clarinet really work well on this cover. The outro is just stunning. Well done combo.

Jingle Bells

1850 saw the best and the most sung Christmas favourite of all time Jingle Bells was written by James Lord Pierpont. The song had no connection to Christmas until the late 1800. The combo gives another great rendition of this track with Lisa taking over on the lead vocals. The boys give a good backing vocal and harmony. Very jolly

Mele Kalikimaka.

Written by the legendary Hawaiian writer Robert Alexander Anderson and first recorded by the king of the crooners Mr Bing Crosby. The combo keeps this great cover very close to the original but give a great duet on the vocals. it sounds just a little bit faster than the Bing version but strolls away with a grin and cheer as it says Merry Christmas to you.

Dig That Crazy Santa Claus

Written By Albert Johnston, Jr, Leon René and Rafael Rene and performed by Oscar McLollie & The Honey Jumpers in 1954. I believe it also features on the Brian Setzer orchestra Christmas album. The combo keeps this a rockabilly style feel even with the accordion Rockin alongside the Bass. Great vocals once again from Willy.

The Christmas Waltz

Written for Frank Sinatra and released on the flip side of his version of White Christmas. Lisa demonstrates her tender vocals which I think are just wonderful. Up there with the delightful Doris Day. Really nice acoustic guitar with the clarinet keeps it nice and tender. Great cover.

Santa is on his way.

Nice and jolly track from the combo. Reminds me of Christmas and watching all the great tom and jerry cartoons from my childhood. Wonderful little track!

Let it Snow.

A festive treat from the combo as they put their brand on this great Christmas classic. The instruments really do change the feel of the track. the Bass strums out with hints of the clarinet. Nice vocals from Lisa.

Here comes Santa Claus

The combo giving us a treat with an original country Christmas classic written by the king of the cowboys Gene Autry. Jangling bells with a heavy bass open the track and Lisa brings in the vocal. Soon help along with Willy joining in. some great harmonies and a line each here and there. Nicely done.

White Christmas

A up-tempo version of the song that starts anybody’s Christmas. Willy brings a great vocal that seem to feature the styles of some classic artist that’s covered the track. the Clarinet takes the main stage on the break. Then a little guitar riff changes the tempo once again to bring this track to a rockin closure. Very nicely thought out.

Summary

Doing a Christmas album, you really do need to bring it home with personal touches and individuality to the style of the song. The Hot House Combo have just done that with this release. It has the Christmas traditional festive songs with a completely different approach. The instruments bring the joys of the season and play extremely well.

Recommendation

One for the collection. Listen to a new way on old tracks.

Bio

Exuding a giddy blend of vintage charm and captivating rhythms, The Hot House Combo will transport you to the colourful and carefree foot-tapping era of yesteryear. Inspired by the great musicians of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, this upbeat, exciting 4 piece perform songs they love and they create new ones in the same style! Their passion and energy will have you struggling to sit still - and they wouldn't want you to anyway!​ So, fasten your swing seat belt - you're in for a thrilling ride!



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