Husky Team "Christmas In Memphis"
Featuring the songs:
"Christmas In Memphis" was born out of Dave Amels' and Dennis Diken's unswerving mutual jones for making cool records. Dave and Dennis, also known as Husky Team, are a recording and production duo. Together and separately, they have long dug classic Memphis grooves. They felt (and Confidential Recordings agreed) that the time was ripe to meld some of their yuletide faves with that classic R&B-fueled feel, as defined by the likes of Elvis Presley, Willie Mitchell and Stax Records.
In seeking material for this album, Husky Team drove themselves mercilessly. Dave and Dennis holed themselves up with two piles of seemingly mismatched records: Christmas LPs. And Memphis wax. And out of the chaos, a CD of rocking, organ-driven holiday sounds emerged. Dennis and Dave reveled in the simplicity of it, the pure noel-ish joy of doing "Auld Lang Syne" with a "Green Onions" spin.
"Christmas In Memphis" was recorded in breakneck fashion at in the funky Williamsburg 'hood of Brooklyn, NY. The fun, fast and furious two day session yielded twelve 100% live tracks. The track list includes versions of standards like "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (played with a Soulfinger inspired groove), "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (with thanks to Booker T & the MG's "Hip Hugger"), "Feliz Navidad" (echoing The Box Tops' "The Letter"), and The Beach Boys' "Little St. Nick" set to a Bill Black Combo groove.
In addition to the Husky Team boys, the album features the talents of some New York/New Jersey area semi-legendary session players. With Joe McGinty on additional keyboards, R. Stevie Moore on bass, Jon Graboff, Richard X. Heyman and Chris Bolger all adding guitars, and Joe Masucci on percussion, who needs jingle bells?
Dave Amels is an occasional DJ on legendary freeform radio station WFMU, as well a patented inventor of innovative VOCE & Bomb Factory brand products for keyboard instruments. He is also a session musician and has played and recorded with artists including The Dictators, Swingin' Neckbreakers, Jill Sobule and Lenny Kravitz.
Dennis Diken has drummed with The Smithereens on stage, screen and record for the past 23+ years. In addition, he is a session player and a writer, and has compiled, researched or authored liner notes for many CD reissues, including The Beach Boys, Dino, Desi and Billy, Joe Meek, The Four Freshmen and The Lovin' Spoonful.
Holiday spirits are running high on "Christmas In Memphis." From the sleigh bells jingling 'round Brooklyn to the frosted gables of Graceland, the Husky Team offers its sincere hope that this collection will continue to be a delight long after the Christmas tree has finally been put out on the sidewalk.
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CLICK HERE to check out an interview with the band on The Joey Reynolds radio show.
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Here's a review from the UA Journal:
Husky Team: Christmas in Memphis Out of the three recent Confidential Recordings holiday releases, the one I enjoyed the most this holiday season was Husky Team's Christmas in Memphis, a catchy set of twelve traditional and less-than-traditional Christmas songs set to the rhythms and melodies of well-known Memphis musicians and record labels. Sound strange? It is. Sound intriguing? Again, it is. Smithereens' member Dennis Diken and keyboardist/keyboard inventor Dave Amels teamed up with Jon Graboff (who released a Christmas album of his own this season), Joe McGinty, and a few other assorted friends to put together this collection of songs that will remind you of Stax, Elvis, and The Box Tops all in one sitting.
Among the more interesting interpretations is the Booker T and the MG's-esque take on "Auld Lang Syne," which sets the traditional New Year's tune to a "Green Onions" backdrop. The end result is mighty funky without detracting from either the parts making up the whole. Also noteworthy is the Beach Boys' "Christmas Day," which is set to the groove of The Box Tops' "Cry Like a Baby," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," funkdafied by "Hip Hugger," another Booker T classic. The album's closing take on "Feliz Navidad" (using The Box Tops' "The Letter") in also enjoyable.
Not all of the transformations work as well as the aforementioned ones, but none flop... some just linger as enjoyable background music, specifically "Little Saint Nick" and "We Three Kings." But, honestly, isn't that what most good Christmas music is: a backdrop for opening presents, shopping, or gathering with friends? Yeah, I thought so.
So while this holiday season has passed, you might do yourself well to pick up the Husky Team's Christmas in Memphis to give yourself a little extra soul and groove come next December.