Who The F*ck Is Tommy London? The Dirty Pearls Frontman Talks With The Sexy Armpit!

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Tommy London art by Jonny Dambrosio

The Sexy Armpit has always been a little bit comic book geek, a little bit rock and roll. Through over a decade on the Internet, one of the staples featured on the site has been the reigning kings of New York City’s rock scene, The Dirty Pearls. They’ve amassed a monstrous, loyal fan base, tour the country, and even show up at swank clubs to sing and play with the rest of their NYC crew known as The Rivington Rebels, whose legend precedes them. Am I jealous that there’s no Route 9 Rebels? No, because I just invented it, and I’m Master of Ceremonies of the New Jersey Chapter, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to score this interview! Just ahead of their upcoming tour and forthcoming new album, our friend and lead singer of The Dirty Pearls, Tommy London, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of those classic “Jay” questions that I always have.

Continue reading Who The F*ck Is Tommy London? The Dirty Pearls Frontman Talks With The Sexy Armpit!

Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 27: TV THEME SONGS!

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To arrive at their optimum relaxation zone, some people listen to the soothing sprinkle of a rainstorm or the natural sounds of a tropical rain-forest. But, for my ears, there’s something about TV theme songs that I find strangely comforting. Maybe it’s little details like the “sha-la-la-la” at the end of the Family Ties theme or the hum at the end of the Diff’rent Strokes intro that make me have that extra fondness for them. If you consider yourself the same kind of wacko, then you’re reading the right website! This week, the Purple Stuff Podcast brings you a show entirely dedicated to a select bunch of TV theme songs.

To say that my iTunes is quite a hodgepodge of various types of music is an understatement. If you listened to one of my playlists while driving around with me, you’d likely hear one of hundreds of TV theme songs. Chances are, you’d know the lyrics to the majority of them. That’s what makes it fun. You don’t even need to be an avid viewer of a show to have the theme song stuck in your head, which makes the genre that much more incredible. This is one of the reasons why I felt so compelled to convince Matt that we should do a whole show about some of the TV themes that stand out most to us.

After an arm bar into an Irish whip, followed up by a flying forearm, Matt agreed that it was a good idea. I’m kidding of course, but it did take a little bit of convincing since it is so difficult to do a show like this and not be accused of leaving all the important themes out. Everyone has their favorites, but these are just a handful that we felt compelled to talk about. Some of your favorites are ours too, but we’d need 8 episodes to touch on ALL the good ones.

Personally, I think some of the best TV theme songs are the ones that work on different levels. Some TV themes are great for what they are and work splendidly as a theme for a show, yet other TV themes soar beyond that. There are TV themes that are so catchy that you wonder how the hell they haven’t been deemed required curriculum in music classes in schools. Others are so versatile that they could be covered by metal and punk bands. Most of all, the best TV themes are the ones that pop into your brain the minute you hear someone mention the name of the show that it’s from.

I demand equality for TV theme songs. Even though a show’s theme usually undergoes subtle changes between seasons, a TV theme has the power to bring to mind the full reel of scenes in the opening credits. I loved when the opening credits of a show were so ridiculous. You can sit there and pick out the episode that each scene was from. The theme will also make you reminisce and sing along. Some themes are cheerful or quirky while others are arena-ready and triumphant. In all cases, there’s a lot to discuss so check out The Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 27 and share some of your favorite theme songs in the comments!

Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 8: SPOOKY SONGS!

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Check out Episode 8 of The Purple Stuff Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Podbean!

To reference Ice Cube, today was a good day. Fall is officially in session and the temperature here in New Jersey has dropped from the mid-80s last week down to maybe 12 degrees today. Of course I’m exaggerating slightly, but the cool air is so comforting. I am not one for the heat and I’ve been waiting for it to get cooler outside so I can crack open the windows, hear the crickets in the background, and actually believe that it’s Halloween time. Trust me, roasting in 90 degree temperatures is not a way to celebrate the spookiest of seasons. It’s almost as if Halloween time arrived overnight here in Jersey, completely out of nowhere, like Santa Claus coming down the chimney last night. Before you start listening to this week’s episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast, let me update you on a few things.

Several weeks back, Matt broke the news that Burger King was going to start selling HALLOWEEN MOTHA’F*CKIN’ WHOPPERS! We discussed it on the podcast and ever since I’ve been waiting with extreme antici…pation. I’m a lifelong BK fan from an early age, and although they didn’t have the enticing playground and Officer Big Mac Jail Cell that scarred me for life, my Dad and I frequently got Whoppers at Burger King and those are some of the greatest, simplest memories of my childhood. Sitting there eating junk and bullshitting about toys and whatever else I thought was intellectual when I was 5 years old to my Dad who was always genuinely interested in what I was saying.

Earlier today, after several hours of editing a piece of the Halloween special, (that ultimately will only amount to about 35 seconds in the final cut) I decided to venture out to run a few errands. I’m a man of efficiency, so I decided to stop at the store that was near one of our BK’s. To my surprise, I spotted the poster in the window from about a half mile away. I can’t see that last line of a vision test, but sure as shit can see a Halloween hamburger poster from triple the distance. I’m going to leave the detailed review to Dino Drac, but I must say, the A1 steak sauce in the bun gives the entire burger an extra tang that it didn’t have. I wouldn’t say that I like it better than the original Whopper, but I would definitely eat them if they came around each year. Plus, the crown of bones is pretty friggin’ great. Thanks to Matt for bringing this to our attention!

In other news, I’ve promised to have a production blog posted, and unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet. The reason for this is because the production of the Halloween Special 2015 has sucked up every second of my personal life, hence leaving me very little time to write posts. I am going to be relaying my thoughts on this special and the process of making it very soon. It feels like I can’t write about it until it’s nearly completed because I might jinx it. That’s just superstition though.

To cap off an awesome day, grab yourself some pumpkin anything, a cold beverage, and join Matt and I for tonight’s episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast! This week we get into one of my favorite subjects: music! We count down some of our favorite Spooky Songs and try to formulate the type of playlist you would hear at a Halloween Party, but a party that only lasts about 45 minutes. We’d also like to hear your favorite Spooky Songs so tell us about them in the comments or on Twitter! Appropriately, we also premiere our cool new theme song from our friends Leopardactyl! Thanks so much to them for making it and thanks to all of you for listening!

The Dirty Pearls at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCyWZUz6vJw?rel=0]

My blogging time has dwindled as of late, so this recap should’ve been posted weeks ago, but it’s here now! Get ready to watch, listen, and read about The Dirty Pearls show at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ on April 11th, 2015. After their upcoming show at The Viper Room in West Hollywood on May 23rd, it’s onto their BIG New York City concert, Saturday June 20th! Tickets are available now.

The show at the Brighton Bar was basically a warm up for the band. When you’re prepping for a workout, you might want to stretch first so you don’t pull a muscle. Some people choose to contort themselves, others jog in place. Occasionally, you’ll see some crazy bastards doing thousands of jumping jacks. That’s all good if you’re exercising, but what if you’re a rock band preparing for a bunch of concerts in support of your new music? You can do all the vocal exercises you want, but you better be on point when you come to New Jersey. In this case, the crew from the lower east side of New York City, The Dirty Pearls, brought their A-game to The Brighton Bar  – no arm circles necessary.

Evaluating a band like The Dirty Pearls, who are constantly running on all cylinders, they don’t need much of a warm up. Just give ’em a stage to play on and they’ll blow the audience away, which is precisely what they did at The Brighton Bar.

On our way to the show, I realized that I hadn’t been to The Brighton Bar in about 10 or 11 years. This fact was shocking to me, and after the night was through, I already wanted to go back because it’s such an awesome place to see a show. The layout is perfect for seeing bands and the bar made me want to plant myself next to it for a few hours. I felt at ease there which is rare for me since I’d rather watch the concert via my couch at home.

Back to the DP concert!

These guys are always on, and I have no idea how they do it. Their fuel may very well be “Caffeine and Gasoline,” which happens to be one of their most potent tracks, one that will get you energized before you can even reach over and crack open that Red Bull to get you through the night. Naturally, it was included in their set list, among many of their other staple tracks, like their opener, “Whether You Like it or Not,” followed by “Bring on the Night,” “Sucker for a Sequel,” and sending it home with their signature anthem “New York City is a Drug.”
I always try to seize the opportunity to check out one of my favorite bands, The Dirty Pearls, when they’re playing merely miles away from my house. It was all the more awesome since they debuted some brand new tracks, some were never performed live previously! 
If you checked out My Top 6 Favorite Dirty Pearls Songs, you know that “Dynamite” made the list, and sure enough, they played it at the Brighton Bar! After talking with the band, that song will likely appear on their next release, along with the other tracks they premiered that night including, “Boom Boom Boom,” “Who Will Save Rock and Roll?” and “We Don’t Need Your Kind.” These new tunes planted a pop-rock punch while maintaining the booze splashed punk edge and Lower East Side attitude of their previous work. 
Smashing the kit and spinning his sticks, Mr. Marty E. looked like he was having a blast as he always is. That dude has fun whether he’s at a real estate seminar or rocking out on stage. Frontman Tommy London interacted with the crowd throughout their set. Always entertaining, London bestowed us with his definitive David Coverdale impression and even made a Friendster reference. Not many lead singers of rock and roll bands are gonna be making references to ancient social media sites, but leave it to Tommy! Along with telling amusing anecdotes about some of their popular tracks, he broke into a homage to Billy Idol with a bit of “Rebel Yell,” and also dedicated a cover of “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” to New York’s beloved Ramones.
This was merely an appetizer prior to their big New York City show at the Gramercy Theater on June 20th. Tickets are on sale NOW! GO HERE FOR MORE INFO!

My Top 6 Favorite Dirty Pearls Songs

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The Dirty Pearls are one of my favorite rock bands…ever. For me to put a band in such a prestigious category is a testament to just how damn good they are. About 8 or 9 years ago they began to pump blood into the New York City rock scene. Their kickass songs, showmanship, and rock and roll attitude elevate them from an independent band driven for success into what I consider legendary. If it sounds like I’m embellishing, I’m not. These guys have been friends of mine for many years and I’ve simultaneously been one of their biggest supporters from the very early days.

The Dirty Pearls flawlessly incorporate sleek guitar riffs and headbanging drums with pop hooks and serve it all up on a grand scale. Every time I witness them on stage it’s as if they are a masterful arena rock band who skipped a grade. To top it off they pull a Springsteen and refuse to leave the stage until you are 100% in awe.

Although they are primarily known for their NYC shows, once in a while, they’ve thrown New Jersey a bone. Over the years, they’ve played down the shore in Asbury Park at The Saint, The Stone Pony, and The Wonder Bar, and even up in North Jersey at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair. They’ve opened for KISS, and so many other giant acts, but their New York City shows are iconic.

In this post I’ll describe songs that I have memories attached to and that’s a lot to say for a modern, independent band. It’s easy to claim to have awesome memories of songs from bands you grew up listening to or discovered in your teenage years because they’ve lasted a lifetime. Those songs may have gone from the mix tape you used to play in your Walkman, to the mix CD you blasted in your car, to the iPod playlist you listened to while sharing earbuds with your favorite girl (or guy!) The impact that the ‘Pearls have had on myself and their fans is thanks to their tireless commitment to their music, and their fans. They perform unforgettable concerts and have created moments that will last a lifetime. Check this out, here’s one that I was front and center for. It was when the ‘Pearls and DMC joined together on stage for “Walk This Way.” It was insane. The place went nuts, the floor was literally shaking.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FtDIIvMwY4?rel=0]

These guys are amazing songwriters. It’s not often that modern bands get truly get commended for their songwriting abilities, but the ‘Pearls are an exception. What makes their tracks so original is that  it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly the influences because they love it all. The entire band are music fiends. You can’t call them a “junior” version of any previous band. The Dirty Pearls songs flawlessly intertwine their passion for the music they love and the music they want to hear which equates to truly original rock/pop tracks for this generation. I connect with these songs. All of The Dirty Pearls songs are staples on my iPod, but here are 6 of my absolute favorite tracks from The Dirty Pearls. 
6. “Sucker for a Sequel” The Dirty Pearls EP

There are 2 versions of this song. My preference is for the early version from the The Dirty Pearls first EP, not only because it was the one that I listened to for a long time before their full length debut album was released, but also because only some of the tweaks that were made in the latter version were better than the original. After speaking to frontman Tommy London about it, much of the changes were influenced by their debut album producer, David Kahne, but he won a Grammy so I digress.

The original version is some badass bombastic bluesy bar rock, you might pick out an early Aerosmith vibe and some booze fueled sleaze in the vein of Faster Pussycat. There’s also a brilliant breakdown that calms the mood only to leave you primed for the chorus again. The newer version, still great, lacks the natural flow of the predecessor and has a noticeable pop sheen, which is never a bad thing, but the irony here is that this song is actually a sequel to their song about being suckers for a sequel. If you understand that, then great, either way, I’m still a sucker for the original!

5. “Gimme Gimme” – The Dirty Pearls Volume 2 EP

This “oldie” from the band didn’t make the cut on their debut, Whether You Like It Or Not, but it still embodies the type of party rock with a punk streak that will blow you away at a Dirty Pearls show. This one will have your fist in the air and ready to rock out.

4. “Dynamite” – Unreleased (…so far!)

Not sure if frontman Tommy London will get mad at me for even writing about this, but they played this track at the Stone Pony back in May 2013 and I have no idea if it will surface on their upcoming sophomore full length album, but I’m really hoping it does. I recorded the song at the Pony so I’ve been able to hear the live version often, but for the masses, I’d love if you could hear a studio version! It’s a simple, energetic, hard rocking pop gem with a dash of the ’80s. Imagine a harder rock version of The Romantics if they were produced by Ric Ocasek. The result is nothing less than “Dynamite.” With the refrain “…Your love is like dynamite,” this one is sure to be the soundtrack to think about your crush, if it surfaces.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EOnzc0QgPA?rel=0]

3. “Who’s Comin Back to Who” from Whether You Like it or Not

Much of Whether You Like It Or Not was pop influenced, and I’m so on board with the pop/rock marriage, especially when The Dirty Pearls are delivering the vows. Infectious vocal harmonies, giant drums from Mary E., an insane guitar solo, and a phenomenal breakdown beat will make you clap your ass off. And a fun fact for ya: I WAS IN THE F’N VIDEO! It doesn’t get much cooler than that shit. It’s the unnominated winner of Best Video at the MTV VMAS in 2011. It’s such a kickass video directed by my friend, Jersey guy, and Starkiller lead singer, Jasin Cadic, check it out above. Finding me in the video is like Where’s Waldo. To read more about my experience in the video read this.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEgbn_OZJ9Y?rel=0]


2. “Static” from Whether You Like it or Not

The video for this song was directed by Matt Weckel and filmed with an Xbox Kinect! It’s one of the coolest videos since The White Stripes were big. The sick visuals merge perfectly with this track that’s a pounding pop rock assault with some sick grooves. Put this on when you’re alone and you’ll be singing and dancing in front of your mirror like a silly asshole in no time. I know from experience.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjH_Ik4nLIw?rel=0]


1. “New York City Is a Drug” – Whether You Like it or Not

This one was originally a single released to iTunes, but was a no brainer to be included on their debut album since it captures the essence of the band. I’d say it’s gospel that this is The Dirty Pearls signature track and there’s probably not too much debate on that. Although, with two EPs, a debut album, and another whopper of an album on the way, I bet they have a couple of other classics up their sleeve.

Take Sinatra for instance, sang about New York City. Old Blue Eyes was from Hoboken, just a short swim across the river, but still, Hoboken wasn’t the pounding heart of the world. Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” is bar none unbeatable, but it’s not inspiring any headbanging as far as I know, unless you do some serious audio editing. That brings me to KISS. They sang about Detroit, but they were from New York City, so go figure. Thanks to The ‘Pearls, we have our quintessential rock tribute to NYC. This atmospheric track will make you envision all that late night debauchery in the lower east side of Manhattan, but with a bit of drama and bombast.

This song hits home to so many people, you may not be one of them yet if you aren’t familiar with the band, but you will be soon. It’s dedicated the downtown New York scene, it’s for the crew of people at the bars who love to party, it’s for the crew at Jerome’s, it’s for their fans, the late nights, the fun, the booze etc, and conversely it’s not only for New Yorkers, it’s for anyone who loves and thrives off being with their crew on their own stomping grounds. Hell, if there was anything cool to do in New Jersey, this track would’ve inspired me to write a song about my exploits, but in the meantime I’ll just continue to live vicariously through The Dirty Pearls enjoy
The sentiments in this song and leaving a Dirty Pearls show always leave me feeling high on life. Or maybe it’s just the vitality of New York City? Sure I’m all about New Jersey, but they’re singing about a metropolis that looms over my town merely miles away in the distance – New York City is where it all goes down.

The rest of my favorites list includes tracks like “Caffeine and Gasoline,” “Whether You Like it or Not,” “Bring on the Night,” and “Love Sick Love.” Get their track on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, and their videos are on YouTube. Click Here for their official site!

The Dirty Pearls are LIVE! Tonight at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.83: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve

The holiday rock extravaganza that is the world renowned Trans-Siberian Orchestra left their mark here in New Jersey – Jersey City to be exact. The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, their made for TV concert special that originally aired on the Fox Family Channel on December 14, 1999, was filmed here in Jersey’s most famous movie house that opened 70 years prior in 1929.

As we’ve mentioned many times before here at The Sexy Armpit, the classic Loews Jersey theater, located in Journal Square, is one of our state treasures and it’s actually a star of this production in its own right. The beautifully shot special highlights glimpses of the theater’s cavernous ceilings, and the rich, finely detailed interior. It’s fitting that the concert is titled The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, because I wouldn’t be surprised if the Loews Jersey theater has some ghosts of its own.

It’s not just you average concert. What makes this stand out is the combination of the thunderous music with striking holiday visuals that help weave in the plot of a runaway girl who wishes she’ll be welcomed back into her home by her family. The story begins on Christmas Eve where we join the girl as she hides in an abandoned theater – the legendary Loews Theatre in Jersey City.

The TSO are incredible musicians and it translates into their concerts which often evoke a haunting quality, ultimately they’re very uplifting, but there are elements that conjure up memories and emotions, especially during the holidays. This spectacle may give you feelings of inspiration, forgiveness, and in this case, you may recall a lost loved one, like the runaway daughter whose story unfolds during the concert.

Ten songs are blasted through in just under 45 minutes, so there’s no time to be bored. Some of the highlights include “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “Joy to the World,” as well as several guest performances, two of which were Jewel and Michael Crawford. I’d forgotten how lovely Jewel is and her version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was equally as enchanting. Later on, perhaps the key moment in the special is a resounding performance of “O Holy Night,” from the former Phantom of the Opera, Michael Crawford. If that didn’t awaken the ghosts in the theater nothing else could.

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve is subtle yet bombastic, well crafted, and breathtaking. It will enhance your Christmas Spirit and it will also provide fare different than the typical stuff airing constantly on TV throughout December. It’s also perfect to play in the background while you’re putting decorations up or you have company over. Bonus if you have surround sound! You don’t have to be a huge TSO fan to fully enjoy this, but fans of rock music in general would get the most appreciation out of it, especially those from New Jersey. This special is still available on DVD.

WIN Tickets for Barnstorming The Bowery in NYC!

Barnstorming the Bowery is not just a concert, it’s really more of a music festival taking place on August 21st and it’s sure to be equally as entertaining as the name sounds. This jam packed night of music spawned from an innovative idea pulling together 7 local bands to make up one mammoth night in downtown New York City! On deck for this rock and roll party: The Dirty Pearls, Ten Ton Mojo, Mother, Killcode, J and the 9s, The Liza Colby Sound, and The Threads!

*What makes this show different? A lottery will take place throughout the night to determine the lineup of bands taking the stage! That’s some exciting shit right there! Who’s on first? I’m on the edge of my seat already! This approach adds an element of intrigue that you won’t get at any other concert!

This summer, why waste your time taking your significant other to the boardwalk to play a silly wheel game just to win a giant box of gum that’ll just lose its flavor in under a minute? Take your shot at winning tickets to Barnstorming the Bowery – right here…NOW!

WIN 2 tickets to see this massive merger of bands right here from The Sexy Armpit!

Contest Rules: 

All you have to do is correctly match each band to their song! It’s that simple. Send your answers to sexyarmpit@comcast.net and include your full name and the subject BOWERY. All correct answers will be pooled and a winner will be chosen at random. Winner will be notified by e-mail. Contest ends on 8/1 so get those answers in!

For more info and to purchase tickets head over to Ticketmaster:

August 21, 2014
Doors open at 7PM, show starts at 8PM
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancy St.
New York, NY

Sweet Fix’s GOLDEN AGE Revitalizes Rock

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Review of Sweet Fix’s latest album Golden Age. 
Sweet Fix is comprised of Tommy Walker/Lead vocals, Ivan Anderson/Guitars, Marco Santini/Drums, Bill Sapanaro/Bass, and Jeff Manian/Keys, Synth, backing vocals, 


Sweet Fix’s latest album is in my possession, and it’s apparent that the party is officially on. Although, for me, it’s a party of one. Yeah, just me sitting at my desk wearing my Sony headphones that I used every night when I was on the air as a rock radio DJ. That was before I became an astronaut and after I was a sanitation engineer. One major problem though, the disk drive on my computer is out of commission, I have no way of listening to the CD in the background as I write this. I don’t own a CD player. You’d think with all this professional experience that I’d figure out how to listen to rig something up with lasers Real Genius style to get it to play, but, shit, if it’s not in my iTunes I almost forgot what to do with it.

The Yoda in my life isn’t, well, Yoda, it’s Clark Griswold, and as he once so eloquently stated in 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, “Nothing worthwhile is easy, Ellen, we know that.” As such, getting to actually listen to Sweet Fix’s Golden Age wasn’t as simple as you would think.

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With the disc in my hands I felt like the ape in 2001: A Space Odyssey discovering bones from a rotted carcass for the first time. Before completely losing all brain functionality and smashing the disc into my desk numerous times, I was overcome with a brilliant idea.

About an hour ago the thought came to me that I think I might still have my old Discman. This was the same Discman that I had to connect in my car during high school because I’m so old that I owned a car that didn’t have a CD player, let alone Sirius or an iPod connection (Neither Sirius or iPods existed back then, so shush). I was going through old electronics and cell phones I had in my closet the other night to put on Instagram for shits and I could’ve sworn I saw my trusty old Discman. There may actually be people young enough reading this who legitimately don’t know what that is, so for them, it’s a portable CD player that is a little bit bigger than the size of an actual CD. It’s hard to believe that CDs are feeling as ancient as records are, and if anything, records have actually risen again to be more relevant than CDs, at least in my geeky circles. I don’t buy CDs often, unless they’re impulse purchases at Wal-Mart like The Jackson Five’s Five Greatest Hits. I don’t think that exists, but it probably will soon if it doesn’t already.

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YES! I found it, I repeat, I found it! It’s the Discman! Damn thing still works! I’m popping in the CD right now, but before I hit play, let me ramble on a bit more.
One thing is for sure, the Golden Age of music had nothing to do with CDs. Regardless, the title, Golden Age, is still appropriate. It’s obvious that the band arrived at this name for a reason. Dictionary.com states that Golden Age refers to “the most flourishing period…” in the bands case, it’s their most immense sounding and most passionate effort yet.
Golden age means different things to different people. Does it change and update as years pass? For instance, lots of people consider the ’80s Hulkamania era the Golden Age of professional wrestling, but what about the Bruno Sammartino era? Generally, there are widely agreed upon Golden Ages. Was the MEGO craze in the ’70s more impactful than Kenner’s Star Wars Toys of the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s? This is a lame journalistic thing to write, but it’s required: Golden Age is Sweet Fix’s Golden Age.
Rooted in New York and Northern New Jersey, I first heard about Sweet Fix four or five years ago.
I checked them out live and was impressed with a couple of EPs they released, but my main gripe was that they barely ever played in Jersey. Reason for that is, there’s basically no music scene here in New Jersey, let alone a rock scene. Since we are the sports bar capital of the world, how could there be? We have a couple of clubs here and there that feature bands, and we have the Starland Ballroom, but there’s no actual scene. Fortunately this is where the Internet comes in. Sweet Fix has all their music available on iTunes and for sale on their website and you can watch their performances on YouTube. Golden Age of the Internet perhaps? Ever since their inception, they’ve been moving full speed ahead, sculpting their sound and their look throughout, but it wasn’t until I saw their live show that I got the full effect of their unique approach.

Sweet Fix, photo by Janine Cheng
If you’re not familiar with Sweet Fix, their sound incorporates a lot of familiar influences. Upon first listen, you’ll notice their retro sounding hard rock with power pop sheen. My ears also make out inspiration and elements from bands like Queen, The Cars, The Killers, Marvelous 3, ELO, Van Halen, Weezer, The Darkness, all drizzled with a sweet electronic New Wave topping and a hairband flair for the dramatics. I suggest you give them a few listens and you’ll begin to discover all these subtle nuances like I did.
Let me take you on a track by track tour of Golden Age:
1. The album kicks into overdrive with “Showtime,” which builds into a BIG arena rock song. It’s best experienced by closing your eyes and imagining a packed club in New York City. I can almost feel the heat from the spotlights above the stage. The hypnotizing beat and crunchy guitar intro ascends at the command of singer Tommy Walker’s fluid vocals into a colossal Queen style chorus. Once kicked in, we’re riding a wild mouse roller coaster, taking bumps into the harsh turns, but just before banging into a corner, the sound softens and I feel like my cart is made of memory foam. Meanwhile, the layered guitar sounds in the background become a lost frequency desperately trying to get tuned in.
2. “I Think You Love Me” casts doubt on a girl who is trying to play it off like she’s no longer interested in the guy, but the dude is confident and knows differently. There’s an excitement knowing that it’s not over between them – there’s still feelings there as much as she denies it. Sporting an energetic, driving beat, Beach Boys-style background harmonies, and lyrics pouring with refined cockiness, this one is totally ripe for a music video (think Golden Age of MTV). I could see some hottie playing hard to get with Tommy Walker belting the lyrics at a rooftop party in New York City while the rest of the band is rocking out somewhere on the Hudson River just before night falls. Keep an ear out for an awesome dueling guitar shred, one guitar is swirling and full of effect while the other is a killer ’80s style rock solo.
3. “Do You Want It?” yes indeed, power pop and retro rock fans will certainly want it. This is some intricately crafted pop saturated with a delicious glaze of space age sounds and topped with a funky rock beat. Is that a theremin I hear? This track gets me all charged up. You can see the band perform it live at Six Flags Great Adventure here in New Jersey from back in 2012 below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSsLrWJNvhA?rel=0]

4. “Sometimes It’s All Too Much” highlights the immense production of the album. Sunny ’70s pop rock morphs into an arena rock anthem. This track will most likely prompt a few lighters to ignite in the crowd. The electronic elements from Jeff Manian are a special ingredient.
5. Next up is “True True Love” written by guitarist Ivan Anderson. Love songs are never my thing, but this is hands down the greatest song on the album. No exaggeration, it’s a superbly formulated throwback to the latter day crooner style of love songs. Feels like Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” had a one night stand with Extreme’s “More Than Words,” while the Beatles listened and nodded in approval. Lush harmonies and calm beautiful guitar work make this a standout. In the end, it floats back into space, or as I like to refer to it, the “Moving in Stereo Effect.”
6. Picking up the pace is “Bad 4 U.” The early Sambora-style intro sets the stage for this infectious head bopping rocker. “Now that I’ve got your attention, you’re my main attraction” sings Tommy Walker. That lyric makes total sense following the previous heartfelt love song. This is Tommy Walker’s best vocal performance since his range is on display as well as his Butch Walker influence. This is straight up hard melodic rock at its best, complete with Ivan’s sick guitar solo. This is Sweet Fix’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.”
7. Marco leads us in with a “Living after Midnight” style drum intro on “The Last Night of Our Lives” This tremendously chilled out rocker is Chicago on Ecstasy in Space. Puts me in a good mood which is probably exactly what they intended it to do. Possibly my favorite track, but I haven’t officially made up my mind yet.
8. Fitting that “This Aint Over” ushers this mammoth CD into the home stretch. The pulsing beat makes me feel like I was playing Super Mario Brothers and Mario jumped down a pipe into a secret Jimmy Eat World stage. The freaking vocal harmonies! I’ll say it right now, no matter how much I despise the show Glee, they need to do an entire episode with songs from this album. As Billy Joe from Green Day said in This is 40: “You got a song on Glee? That’s killer, man. That’s so much money, that’s good for all of us.” Not sure if they used a keytar here, but it sure sounds like it, and more of those awesome Beach Boys style background vocals are always welcome.
9. Yes, I’m really about to write this, and I’m actually not drunk or wasted in any way shape or form: The quintessential celestial instrumental that sends it all home is “Golden Age.” It sounds like guitarist Ivan Anderson birthed this while on his last vacation…on Saturn. The ethereal mood transported me into the another galaxy as I float amongst the stars. The sounds created sparkles and moved back and forth through my brain on a conveyor belt. It was either that or KITT’s red LCD display is trying to tell me something telepathically.

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Sweet Fix’s badass logo – Skull Pez!

As with many independent bands there’s often a distinct improvement from their early EPs and albums, but in this case, their previous efforts Sparks in the Dark, and FM Radio/Make a Move sound just as solid, but Golden Age is sprinkled with a dash of pop rocks and more synth, creating a hybrid that Ivan the guitarist refers to as “Cyber Rock.”
What I appreciate most about Sweet Fix is that they pull from various different genres and generations of music. Ironically, their own sweet fix isn’t for candy, it’s for the diverse cross section of tunes that help to create their musical mutation which resides far off in Candy Land where the band plays on top of the Gumdrop Mountain. It sounds preposterous, but they’ve somehow combined pop, new wave, glam, modern and classic rock into one concise album. Clocking in at under 30 minutes, it’s fast paced, memorable, and pretty f*cking epic thanks to the bands creativity and the outstanding production from Geoff Stanfield.
It’s been a while since the days when fun party rock reigned. I miss the days of over the top antics, colorful clothes, hot girls on stage, and David Lee Roth doing splits in the air.  Mainstream music is a bore. If you can recall the days blasting music in the car with your friends singing at the top of your lungs and when air guitaring at a friends house made you feel awesome and want to get a little crazy, then you know it’s high time to rock out like that again. Golden Age will help you do just that. Find your old disc man, get your headphones, and escape to a higher plane of existence, and listen to Sweet Fix revitalize rock music.
With their enhanced sound, SWEET FIX is a band to catch in concert. Their bombastic and flashy live show is a spectacle and it’s worth your time to check them out. See them at The Studio in Webster Hall in NYC tonight (2/1/14) for their first show of the year with more shows to be announced soon!
You can pick up Golden Age on iTunes and BandCamp

“I Really Gotta Take a Leak!” – Gov. Christie’s Traffic Jam

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKHV0LLvhXM?rel=0]

The stuff Jimmy Fallon has been doing since he got his late night spot has been tremendous and I’m happy to see him become host of The Tonight Show. I’ve usually been catching Fallon’s show on Hulu, but I really missed a doozy this time. Miss Sexy Armpit alerted me to Fallon’s recent Bruce Springsteen parody of “Born to Run” where he changed the lyrics to poke fun at Governor Christie’s “bridgegate” scandal.

Fallon’s impressions are always dead on, especially when they involve him singing or playing guitar (you must see him as Jim Morrison in The Doors singing the theme song to Reading Rainbow), but his wig and ’80s Springsteen attire put it all over the top. I didn’t think it could get any better until THE BOSS himself walked up to the adjacent mic, all duked out in the same ’80s Bruce-wear that Fallon was rocking. Even if you’re not a Bruce fan, you’ve got to give it up for the fact that he was game to do a parody like this. It shows he has a sense of humor about the old days and he’s also not afraid to take a jab at the Governor, even though it’s been well documented that Chris Christie is an obsessive Bruce fan. I’m sure the Governor has caught wind of it and feels like more of an idiot now. Anyway, it’s a phenomenal parody and I want to watch it like 30 more times right now.

This video is literally all over the Internet right now, but not everyone is on point with their reporting of it. The New York Daily News website reporter Chiderah Monde clearly knows NOTHING about Bruce because this is what she included in her report of this performance:

“…By the end of their parody, Fallon and Springsteen had the audience laughing and cheering, but maybe not everybody shared the sentiment on the “Bridgegate” scandal — towards the end, it sounded like they may have garnered a few boos.”

Seriously Chiderah? They were screaming BRUUUUUUUUUCE not BOOOO! Clearly she’s never seen him perform before. Can I wager that she’s never watched the New York Giants Victor Cruz score a touchdown before either? CRUUUUUUZ sounds like BOOOO as well. C’mon, she works for a tri-state news outlet. GET WITH THE FRIGGIN’ PROGRAM!

*Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s new album is called High Hopes and it’s available now

Top 30 Christmas Songs Chosen From My Holiday Playlist

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Blame Dinosaur Dracula for this whopper of a post. He created a holiday monster over here by listing his top 5 Christmas songs over at his Tumblr Mummy Shark and I immediately thought it would be cool if I continued that meme, although there was no way humanly possible that I could pick just 5 songs. That’s ludicrous considering the following introduction to the list of my Top 30 Christmas Songs is over a thousand words, so there was no way I could possibly cheat you out of the other 25 songs.

Just like during Halloween season, music is a crucial aspect of creating the proper atmosphere of my holiday season. Currently, I’m in the middle of a soft launch of my diverse and hefty holiday playlist. This week, I’ve been sprinkling in a Christmas songs into my regular playlists, with a full-on Christmas music bonanza most likely hitting the speakers tomorrow.

From mid-November until the very last bit of Christmas Day, I only listen to Christmas tunes. Yeah, I take it seriously. There’s never been a Christmas when it was any different either. My father started this tradition in our family once cassettes became standard in the household. He would record all of our favorite Christmas songs off the radio, essentially making mix tapes for us to listen to the entire holiday season. We had about 5 or 6 tapes chock full of awesome Christmas music. Once we got a more advanced stereo system we even started to “dub” (No, not dub-step kids. At one time dubbing referred to copying or recording) Christmas record albums (younger kids only semi-know what these are) onto cassettes.

My parents had an extensive record collection. A decent chunk of the collection included some pretty awesome Christmas records that provided me with an endless amount of musical discovery when I was really young. I remember going through stacks of records and finding a bunch of different Christmas compilations that my parents got through gas station promotions. For some reason gas stations used to give you full kitchen silverware sets, glassware, and LPs. It was a peculiar, yet f*cking amazing time in America. I guess gas was a tough sell back then? Now all you need to do is announce that there’s a gas shortage and there’s a line of cars 3 1/2 miles long down Route 9.

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And, no…”R2D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas” did not make the cut.

The moment November arrived, I hounded my parents incessantly for permission to bring the Christmas decorations inside. We used to keep all of it in the garage and being that we were one of the only families I knew who actually parked their car in the garage, it was sort of a bitch to get all the huge heavy boxes down off the shelves when there was a big brown Buick in the way. Plus, it always seemed to be very cold, not like nowadays when we’ve been getting random stretches of 65 degree weather. So, my parents took all that into consideration and they would attempt to dissuade me every time, but Christmas overcame me. My Christmas force power was too strong even for my parents who were firm when they wanted to be. As soon as they relented and gave me the exasperated “Go ahead…bring it in,” approval, I would instantly start playing Christmas records.

Christmastime was like a state of mind and a drug to me, and it still is. The excitement of the season overshadowed everything else. It was the fact that everything seemed different and better during the holidays. The music, the food, the decorations, the TV specials, the family get togethers, it was all a total blast to me. What was old became new again although this magical feeling would never work without the music.

On the wish list front, I would craft a very detailed list for Santa each year. Months prior to December, I’d cull from the jumbo catalogs that arrived in the mailbox from stores like JC Penny and Sears and very neatly copied down item numbers and descriptions – wouldn’t want those elves f*cking everything up now would we? Frankly, none of that really mattered, I just revelled in being caught up in the season. It was the one time a year when everyone seemed to honestly set aside their differences (for the most part), have a few drinks, and eat some Christmas cookies. I had so many great Christmas seasons with my family and friends and they were all set to music.

Back to those mix tapes. They lasted for years and we played them over and over again. We also started collecting the Very Special Christmas compilations when they started showing up in stores. To have those official releases were great, but Dad’s mix tapes were LEGENDARY. Songs would abruptly cut off and then pick up in the middle of another song, and then other songs would end and he’d forget to stop the tape, so for 8 years we were able to recite Casey Kasem’s post-song banter. Then there’d be songs toward the end of the tapes that were regular top 40 music so we’d go from “Last Christmas” into “Just a Gigolo” by David Lee Roth. It was quirky for sure, but we waited all year to listen to those tapes.

My Christmas music tradition was enhanced when I got my first iPod back in 2004. Christmas playlists were never the same. Gone were the mix tapes that my father made us, but they are fully reflected fully in my playlist. Essentially, this playlist is just a modern version of those old tapes.

Presently, just to give you an idea of what kind of Christmas freak I am, there’s 433 tracks in my Holiday Playlist, some are IDs with Christmas greetings from people like Kevin Smith, Alice Cooper, and others, and a few are sound clips from Christmas movies, but the majority of the tracks are songs. Keep in mind that I’m not one to rip full albums – especially Christmas albums because there’s usually a lot of filler. To clue you in, the only full album I have on my christmas playlist is Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift To You.

You can’t imagine the difficulty I had choosing these songs. What it came down to was, if I had to delete 400 some-odd songs, what are the 30 that I’d keep in the playlist? I tried to narrow it down to 10 and 20, but there were too many that I absolutely couldn’t part with. Once you get down to around the top 15 there’s a more solid rhyme and reason behind why I chose the songs in that particular order. Some are comedic, some are sentimental favorites, others are rockers, but all of them are nostalgic to me and bring to mind memories of the Christmas season. Not everyone is as anal about Christmas music as I am, so, below, I’ve shared my favorite songs with you and also my thoughts on each one.

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30. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Julian Casablancas – An actual, fully produced non-ironic song based off the SNL sketch with Horatio Sanz, Tracey Morgan, Chris Kattan, and Jimmy Fallon. Just the idea of it made me happy inside. I’m an SNL fanatic so this is great. Julian definitely put his own spin on it and it worked.

29. “Silent Night” by Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Not only is it a Jersey thing, but Aqua Teen is also hysterical, especially Meatwad. I love Meatwad. I wish he could be my real life meat-friend. I love his voice and his laid back nature. I also really love when he starts telling everyone how he’s “the Boss of music” in this version of “Silent Night” from Have Yourself a Meaty Little Christmas, the Aqua Teen Christmas album.

28. 12 Days of Christmas by Bob and Doug McKenzie – A staple for me every Christmas since it came out. I’m not really a big fan of any version of the 12 Days of Christmas because they’re usually pretty monotonous, but this song is never unfunny to me. It’s Canadian humor went completely over my head when I was a kid. I didn’t grasp it at all when this was all over the radio. I just knew they kept talking about beer and thinking tuques, which I thought was funny. Bob and Doug’s interaction set to the sounds of the ’80s keyboard always warms my heart. Hoser.

27. “Christmas Is All Around” by Billy Mack – Romantic Comedies are no friend of mine. I try my best to watch one with Miss Sexy Armpit every couple of years. I give it my best shot, but I usually wind up despising every second of it. One that I did appreciate was 2003’s Love Actually. It’s a good movie for the ladies and it’s more than tolerable for guys as well (i.e. there’s boobs). Plus Bill Nighy sings “Christmas Is All Around,” which gave him a “Do Not Pass Go – Go Directly To My iPod” card.

26. “This Christmas” by Christina Aguilera – This is the one time a year I will listen to a Christina Aguilera song. Aguilera’s cover of the Donny Hathaway song is an excellent update to the 1970 holiday classic and still gets a lot of airplay 13 years later.

25. “Best Part of Christmas” by American Angel If there’s a cult classic status for Christmas songs, this one is in the top 5 for sure. This Jersey band had some decent buzz on MTV in the late ’80s/early ’90s, but was predominantly know for their huge local fan base. You may not have realized it, but their first Christmas song is solid. It’s a bit schmaltzy, but probably the best Christmas song to come out of the 80s rock scene. Think Survivor meets Honeymoon Suite.

24. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” by The Whirling Dervishes Another New Jersey band with a kickass rock rendition of the Grinch theme. If you don’t have it, get it, you’ll love it.

23. “Christmas All Over Again” by Butch Walker Not much of a detour from the orignal, but this is a bang up job covering Tom Petty. If you are a Butch fan you will love this. Very fun and upbeat.

22. “Christmas Tree” by Lady Gaga – Coming off her fantastic performance on SNL and awaiting her holiday special with the Muppets, fill the void with her electro-pop Christmas romp full of double entendres the way only Gaga can do it.

21. “Silver Bells” by Twisted Sister – There was a trend several years ago where a lot of the popular metal and hard rock bands of the 80s began to record their own Christmas songs and albums. Twisted Sister was at the forefront of this trend. Their A Twisted Christmas album was well done, often tongue in cheek, and actually worked since Dee Snider and Co. didn’t make it a joke, they made a legitimately good rock Christmas album.

20. “I Wanna Rock You Hard This Chrismas” by The Dan Band – You may remember this band singing an expletive filled version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the movie Old School. They continued their legacy with an original Christmas rock song filled with F-bombs and sexual innuendos.

19. “Jingle Bell Rock” by 38 Special  – There’s a story about this one. When I was in my first year of college I was driving to class in my old Corsica and the stereo reception was extremely fuzzy that day. I was tuned into New York’s Classic Rock Station Q104.3 and I was making out little snippets of a rocking version of “Jingle Bell Rock.” With all the fuzz and the noise from the highway I couldn’t make it out well at all, but a small part of me thought that David Lee Roth was covering “Jingle Bell Rock.” If that was the case, it was imperative that I verify it. Why didn’t I know about this already? This began a several year quest to figure out what song this was. I called 3 DJs at the station about this. I researched their playlists, I scoured the Internet (which was not as advanced back then obviously) and I couldn’t find it. I searched every rock band’s discogrpahy that I thought it might be, but to no avail. Finally a couple of years ago, I was looking at a Christmas album on iTunes from a band who didn’t even enter my mind as a possibility back then. It was 38 Special. Definitely not anything like David Lee Roth, but with all the interference on the station I cut myself some slack. It is a really good rocking rendition of the song and I dig it eve though I still wish it was DLR. This mystery lasted almost 10 years, finally the case is closed.

18. “Rockin’ Christmas Time” by 40 Foot Ringo – You may know this band as a modern offshoot of the New Jersey band Trixter. This bouncy rocker just conjures up all kinds of awesome memories for me. The original Trixter lineup has been promoting their latest album Tattoos and Misery for the last year – check it out, it’s good stuff.

17. “We Need a Little Christmas” by New Christy Minstrels – This specific version was featured on an old album my parents got from a gas station. It’s upbeat with their signature folk sound and it gives me that nostalgic feeling. It was always the first song I kicked the season off with.

16. “Things I Want” by Sum 41 and Tenacious D – In this song there’s a ridiculous Christmas list that comes off almost like a bunch of weird ransom demands. “A Motley Crue Lunch Box filled with sticky buns.”

15. “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams I refuse to acknowledge that Scott Weiland recorded a cover of this. This is the Jaws of Christmas songs because it’s such a damn classic that it shouldn’t be remade.

14. “Back Door Santa” by Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi saturated this popular Christmas song with their ’80s pop metal sheen replete with silly banter, synthesizers, and guitar solos. This was when the band was having fun before it became a weird corporation run by an egomaniac with more interest in politics than rock and roll.

13. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Dean Martin – The kind of music to get snowed in to. And toasted.

12. “White Christmas” by Darlene Love – Possibly the ultimate Christmas song from the greatest Christmas album of all time, A Christmas Gift To You From Phil Spector. It’s pretty damn perfect from the arrangement to Darlene Love’s vocal performance. Many people prefer “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), but if I had to choose, I’d go with “White Christmas” in the end.

11. “Winter Wonderland” by Johnny Mathis Another case of not being able to choose just one, I love mostly all of Johnny Mathis’ Christmas songs but this one is the most memorable to me thanks to it’s superb production quality and the songs ability to literally make me feel like I’m sledding in the middle of Hoth.

10. “Oi to the World” by No Doubt An energetic cover of the Vandals’ Christmas song.

9. “Christmas Vacation” by Mavis Staples – In the vein of ’70s R&B that she was known for with The Staple Singers, this theme song to one of my favorite Christmas movies ever was an instant part of my annual celebration. It accompanies the fun animated intro sequence to Christmas Vacation. Originally, before I was able to find a good copy of it, I started playing my Christmas Vacation VHS tape and held my boom box next to the TV speakers and recorded the song while the movie was playing. I used that for a few years before I was able to get it on a real cassette.

8. “Merry Christmas Darling” by The Carpenters – The Carpenters can do no wrong. Karen’s voice was soothing and calm and brings to mind sitting by my Uncle’s fireplace on Christmas eve, staring at the tree and the stockings, wondering what Santa would bring me in the morning. Plus the line “Christmasing with you” FTW.

7. “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses – Belive it or not I grew up hating this song while my sister loved it. I would beg her to stop singing it. It didn’t take long for me to realize I actually adored it too and I was in denial. Originally it seemed kind of annoying, but I just looked past it. Sure it’s goofy, but it gets stuck in your head. It’s so familar now that it’s a holiday classic that you hear in tons of movies and commercials.

6. “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney – For some reason this song gets a lot of flack. First of all leave Paul alone. This song is an ’80s Christmas classic, in fact, there was a huge blast of Christmas songs in the ’80s that wound up becoming perennial favorites and this is one of them in all of it’s synth glory. Watching him perform it on SNL last year was awesome too. While listening to this track it’s tradition that I get a small paper cup of spiked egg nog and march around the apartment like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the intro to Real Ghostbusters.

5. “Christmas Celebration” by Weezer – I’ve been a fan of Weezer since they debuted, and to the opposition of many fellow loyal Weezer fans, I actually still really dig their modern output, maybe even more than “classic” Weezer if you can fathom that. They recorded a couple of early Christmas tracks, but years later, around 2008, they released an EP on iTunes called Christmas with Weezer. I love all of their renditions of Christmas songs because they maintain the traditional arrangements but plug in electric guitars and incorporate their signature harmonies.

4. “Christmas In Hollis” by Run DMC – I lost count how many times I’ve rapped along to every word of this song. Using a sample of “Back Door Santa,” Run DMC concocted the greatest rap/hip-hop Christmas song of all time. I can never get enough of this one.

3. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” by BRUCE Springsteen This song makes you feel like you’re down on the boardwalk in Asbury on a cold December day and you’re being introspective like Bruce would be…thinking of whether you’re going to be on Santa’s naughty or nice list. It’s a pure Jersey Christmas song and it’s a synonymous with the Christmas season for me.

2. “Last Christmas” by WHAM – Haters gonna hate, Sexy Armpit gonna love. Agree to disagree.

1. “All Alone on Christmas” by Darlene Love – Wall of Sound. CHECK. E-Street Band. CHECK. Recaptures the Phil Spector magic. CHECK. Tugs at your heartstrings. CHECK. Sax solo by THE BIG MAN. CHECK. References to her own song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” CHECK. Nobody ought to be all alone on Christmas. Tell ’em Darlene.