I’ve always been a fan of the holiday season. This year I decided to cap off a year of 8-bit albums with my very own Christmas album! This album is 31 of my favorite (and least favorite) Christmas songs, one for each day of December. These will be posted on their corresponding December dates on Instagram and Twitter. You can also listen to the whole album on YouTube or download the album for free on Google Play.
1 Sleigh Ride
2 Last Christmas
3 It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
4 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
5 The Christmas Song
6 Little Saint Nick
7 Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
8 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
9 Blue Christmas
10 The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)
11 Frosty the Snowman
12 Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time
13 Lupang Hinirang
14 All I Want For Christmas is You
15 The First Noel
16 Christmas Wrapping
17 You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
18 Do they Know it’s Christmas At All
19 Holly Jolly Christmas
20 Feliz Navidad
21 Carol of the Star
22 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
23 Christmas Time is Here
24 Silent Night
25 O Holy Night
26 White Christmas
27 Happy Xmas (War is Over)
28 Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
29 Old Waits Carol
30 What Christmas Means to Me
31 What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
My father had an original copy of “Abbey Road” that I would listen to as a kid along with all the other Beatles albums. While this album was viewed as being “thrown together” by much of the group there is not much else by the Beatles that can top this record in my opinion. The medley of songs on the second side is just incredible and I tried my best to stay as faithful to that mash up as I could in 8-bit form.
The 1992 follow up to “Rust in Peace” was eagerly awaited, particularly by me. “Rust in Peace” is, in my opinion, the greatest metal album of all time. The follow up was quite different but I loved it. While it received much more airplay and critical acclaim it is difficult to top “Rust in Peace.” That being said I played this repeatedly during the summer of 1992.
Here I go again, pretending to be this great Bach scholar. This is a take on Bach’s “Leipzig Chorales” in 8-bit form using the sounds of the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m waiting for some classical music expert to swoop in and tell me everything I got wrong.
This is an album that was introduced to me by a close friend as I began to dive deeper into learning about classic rock. Everyone had an older brother or friends that was a little ahead of the curve and would broaden their horizons with such albums. The scene in “School of Rock” where Jack Black teaches the kids about about rock and roll history is not that far off.
This is a recreation of The Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach. Once again this Bach collection is being rendered using the sounds of the NES. While I’m not exactly a scholar of Bach I’ve always enjoyed his music and enjoyed bringing a new take to music hundreds of years old with sounds that are decades old.
Here’s another homage to an album that had a huge impact on me. This is one of the first cassettes I ever owned and I’d play it again and again as kid. I’m extremely poor at picking up on lyrics and often mishear lyrics to this day. The song “Wanna Be Startin’ Something'” is one song where I sang along thinking I was obviously singing nonsense only to find out later that I was 100% accurate with my lyrics.
Click above to listen on YouTube. My apologies that this video has been blocked in the United States. I’ve disputed the copyright claim but my dispute was rejected. Oddly Google allows it to be downloaded on Google Play but not YouTube which is also a subsidiary of Google.
In past 8-bit albums I’ve tried to make it as close as possible to sounds produced by the original NES. Here I’m trying to explore more of the tweaked NES instruments created by @AfroDJMac‘s pack. For the preludes I’m keeping it pretty simple then expanding to more complex patches for the fugues. I’m hardly a Bach scholar but “The Well Tempered Clavier” made an early impression on me as one of my first music teachers made me learn the bass parts on my old Aria Pro II bass, The action on that bass was so bad that I could put my fingers between the strings and the fret board. That bass was a pain in the butt but it worked up such strong fingers that when my teacher brought in an upright bass for me to practice he was a little surprised when I told him how easy it was to play.
As a kid I didn’t know much about Elton John other than that video he released for “Candle in the Wind.” For some reason I lumped it together with other songs I really despised at the time no real reason. I had no idea it was part of an incredible album from 1973, I thought it was just some weird guy who liked to dress like a French aristocrat from the 1700s. I would later gain appreciation for this song, particularly in the greater context of the album as a whole.
Written between 1935 and 1936, Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata based on a book of medieval poetry. This was a hugely important piece of music to me growing up. I’d like to say that it wasn’t Ozzy Osbourne using O Fortuna as his entry music while playing live that got me interested in this piece of work, however, I would be lying if I said that.
Later in life I would see this performed live at the Lincoln Center in New York City which would rekindle my interest in this piece of music and allow me to explore the other two works of this musical trilogy: Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite.
Working with large orchestral works tends to make the sounds of the NES resemble the sound of organs. Layering all the tracks over one another is often reminiscent of a work heavy with synths. I tried to keep these as 8-bit as possible but there’s so much going on with the layering and the dynamics that either I am desensitized to the 8-bit sounds or it loses a little of that NES feel to it.