Santa Claws & the Naughty but Nice Orchestra,
Hell's Bells of Christmas: The Holiday Tribute to AC/DC
(Christmas Rock, 2007)

It's one of those ideas that could lead to something very, very good or very, very bad.

But sadly, Hell's Bells of Christmas: The Holiday Tribute to AC/DC is getting nothing but coal in its stocking this year.

The notion had to sound good on paper. Take the iconic songs of AC/DC -- or, on a series of companion recordings targeting Green Day, Metallica, Blink-182 and White Stripe -- and reinvent them for the holidays. That means keeping the melodies intact but messing with the arrangements to give them some holiday cheer.

Could've been cool. Could've been great. But this Christmas album is something I hate.

First, the musicians involved -- none are listed in the liner notes or their website, and I can understand why, but Jim Curtiss at least had the gumption to take credit as project coordinator -- didn't give the music any oomph. Instead, they (identified covertly as Santa Claws & the Naughty but Nice Orchestra) took the familiar melodies of "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Back in Black," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "Highway to Hell," among others, and watered them down to something even elevators would be ashamed to play. Then, to give them that special Christmas cheer, they added sleigh bells in the background. Yep, that's it. That's the big secret behind this daring recording.


This album commits the ultimate musical sin of being dull and uninteresting. Perry Como rocks harder than this. Burl Ives is more daring.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

15 December 2007

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