Holiday CD blends traditional music with rock, soul

richard drew/associated press


Daryl Hall and John Oates, seen performing recently in New York, have a new CD, Home For Christmas.

The video for Hall and Oates’ initial cover of the Christmas classic Jingle Bell Rock featured the two performers hamming it up as they hand out gifts to their pals.

Although released back in the 1980s as a promotional single, the pair’s rockabilly rendition has soared to such immense popularity that, to John Oates’ simultaneous delight and chagrin, it’s become even more well known than the original — penned by Bobby Helms back in the 1950s.

"It’s really become almost a standard," Oates says. "And a lot of younger people probably don’t even know there was a version of it done before us."

A re-recorded rendition of Jingle Bell Rock was a no-brainer to include on their first-ever holiday album, Home For Christmas, released back in October. But Oates, all too aware of the comedic angle ventured on their previous Christmas venture, says he and Daryl Hall, 60, "did not want to make a comedy-type record — no Christmas lite, pardon the pun. We wanted to stay away from the Frosty The Snowman-type songs," he adds, noting that part of the more serious tone to the album stems from the fact that a portion of proceeds from its sales will be donated to the U.S. Marine Corps charity Toys for Tots.

Along with traditional holiday fare such as The First Noel, O Holy Night and It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, Home For Christmas also includes two originals, Oates’ No Child Should Ever Cry On Christmas and the Hall-penned title cut. Among the other more notable covers on Home For Christmas is The Band’s Christmas Must Be Tonight. "I’m a huge fan of Robbie Robertson and The Band, and it was T-Bone (Wolk, our producer) who found this song. And when you hear a great song like this, you just want to go ahead and do it."

That was certainly the perspective one-time British sensation Paul Young took when he made Hall and Oates’ Everytime You Go Away into a No. 1 hit in 1985. And on a more urban level, the most successful duo in pop history seemingly have one of the most-sampled songs in R&B and hip-hop history — I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) — referenced by the likes of Heavy D & the Boyz , Tamia, 2 Live Crew, De La Soul, Plan B and Simply Red.

"Pop music has always beg, borrowed and stolen from its best," Oates, 58, says. "And with all the new technology available it just keeps the genre moving forward and we’re glad to be part of this new tradition, if you will. I say the more, the merrier."