Every year, Mike Viola threatens to record a full-fledged Christmas album – but he never seems to get around to it. It’s not that he doesn’t see the value in a Christmas record, in fact, he counts one Christmas record among the most influential of his childhood.
“My knowledge of harmony and arrangement is heavily influenced by “Christmas With The Chipmunks”. The console stereo in our living room had a bunch of different speeds. It even had 16-rpm speed so you could slow records down so I was able to pick out the tight, linear three-part harmonies and the music arrangements that went by too fast at 33 1/3 rpm. It’s brilliant!!! And if the Chipmunks piss you off for some reason you can just pan them out of it (either left or ght … and not on every song I don’t think). It’s the Wrecking Crew playing on this - Hal Blaine, Leon Russell, Tommy Tedesco, etc. The same guys that played on Pet Sounds a few years later….. Crazy right? Not really. They played on the Beach Boys Christmas record as well. I’d count that one, this one and maybe Nat King Cole’s Christmas record as the most influential records of my formative years, the soundtrack of my childhood along with AM radio. All that harmony and confidence. All that cartoon counterpoint.”
Until Mike follows through with his threatened album, we at ilvmv.com offer you this compilation of Mike Viola written or performed Christmas tunes. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
1. Give Me A Second Chance for Christmas (1996)
Mike never had any intention to write a Christmas song until his friend, They Might Be Giants co-founder John Flansburgh, asked him to write a song for a short holiday compilation for his “Hello CD of the Month Club” - a subscription-only cd service. The Candy Butchers recorded the first version of the song for this 1995 release but subsequently recorded this version for the widely released 1999 EP “Let’s Get Christmas”. It has become a Christmas classic.
2. Christmas In The City Of Angels (Mandy Moore and Rachael Yamagata) (2009)
Mike had just worked with Mandy Moore on her album “Amanda Leigh”. When they decided to write and record a song for a benefit compilation, Mandy brought along her friend, Rachael Yamagata. It was during the writing sessions for this song that Rachael and Mike first met. The song was recorded for a compilation album but was ultimately rejected for the compilation because it was "too upbeat"!
3. Freeze Miser (1996)
Recorded live at Fez in NYC. The track was released by Mike on a CDR of unreleased tracks usually referred to as “Idee Fixe”. Mike distributed the disc at live shows on the “Hang On Mike” tour.
4. Baby Come Find Me At Christmas (Rachael Yamagata) (2010)
Mike wrote this song with Rachael and produced it at his old studio called RedRoom on Selma in the old Hollywood Sound building. It was released on the 2010 holiday compilation “Gift Wrapped 2: Snowed In”, a collection of live and original songs from Warner Brothers artists.
5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (2012)
Recorded live in Mike’s living room. This was Mike’s contribution to the “Songs For Aidan” project, a collection of songs recorded to inspire and encourage Aidan Knox who was suffering from Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Aidan is now recovering from treatment and doing well!
6. Father Christmas (2009)
Mike covers the Kinks holiday classic with help from the Section Quartet. Recorded live at Largo in Los Angeles on December 1, 2009.
7. Miss Christmas (Mandy Moore)
Mike wrote this song for Mandy (with her help on lyrics) and produced it at his home studio, Barebones. The mixing was done by Ducky Carlisle. Brian Young from Fountains Of Wayne plays drums and Mike plays all other instruments.
8. All I Want For Christmas Is You (1995)
A raucous cover of a Mariah Carey classic. When Carey, who was a label mate of the band on Sony Records, first heard the recording, she believed it was a joke and was not amused.
9. Heat Miser (1996)
Recorded live at Fez in NYC. The track is only available in bootleg form.
10. Christmas in Venice (1995)
An instrumental track from the EP “Let’s Get Christmas” Written by Mike and Pete Donnelly with the help of Mike’s then-manager Danny Bennett.
11. O Holy Night (2009)
Recorded live in Mike’s living room for Christmas 2009.
12. Give Me A Second Chance for Christmas (original from "Hello Family Santa Special") (1995)
The original recording of the song from John Flansburg’s “Hello Family Santa Special” Christmas compilation released in 1995. Ironically, this was the first commercially available song from The Candy Butchers. With the first “Candy Butchers” album left in limbo by Blue Thumb and “Live at La Bonbonniere” scheduled for release in 1996, the band made their debut with this recording.