No tags :(

Share it




One of the eternal truths about Christmas is how commercially motivated it is. From presents to decorations, the whole point of the holiday sometimes seems to be to get people to spend money.

Advertisers have this practice down to a science of course, knowing just how to present the images of light snow falling outside the window while people are gathered around a fireplace with colored lights twinkling in the background on a perfectly symmetrical Christmas tree.

Add a few colorfully wrapped presents and stockings hung by the chimney with care and you can sell the masses anything from car batteries to cheese wheels.

The same is true with selling Christmas music. Put some sleigh bells on the track, give it a simple but catchy melody that’s easy to sing along to and you’ve got yourself a seasonal chestnut.

If not, no matter how well done that record may be, it sometimes becomes a really tough sell.


I Wonder What Santa Is Gonna Bring Me This Year
We have no problem mocking the awkward inclusion of musical quotes of songs like Jingle Bells in new Christmas songs to give it that authentic feel it needs to connect with people, but as shallow as it may be you can see why it remains such a go-to move for songwriters and producers… those five to seven seconds confirm the intent of the record much better than sticking exclusively to a new melody.

After all if you’re going to release a Christmas record it helps to let people know it IS a Christmas record beyond just the title.

Unfortunately I Want My Baby For Christmas doesn’t really follow this rule, featuring an arrangement that is more or less interchangeable with countless other Jimmy Liggins songs with no connection to any winter wonderland.

Without a holiday vibe being given off to associate it with the season it virtually ensures this one will have no lasting shelf life, that is if it even manages to draw interest the first year of release even though as a Jimmy Liggins record – subject be damned – it fits his persona and musical identity very well.


Ease My Every Care
Christmas in this song is basically a setting and nothing else.

It’s a good setting, one that every listener can relate to of course, particularly when it comes to dealing with loneliness at the holidays, but because we’ve come to expect more familiar musical touches to evoke that time of year it leaves us wanting more in the final analysis.

On I Want My Baby For Christmas Liggins gives us a universal theme about desiring his lost love and manages to incorporate Santa Claus early on and mentions plenty of recognizable seasonal touchstones like “peace on earth” and turkey dinners and expensive presents, so this isn’t one of those Christmas songs that forgets that subject after the scanning the title. But it also doesn’t play UP that connection enough to drive the point home better.

That being said though Liggins has steadily improved as a singer over the years and while he remains too nasal in his delivery and still has an affinity for a certain cadence and tempo, he’s perfected the limited nuances of that voice which works well here as he navigates this story. You see his endearing personality shine through with every line, a curious mix of hopeful modesty, and the lines themselves are somewhat creative even with a fairly standard story line.

The musical side of the equation is a little subpar for a Maxwell Davis led production too… not that it’s bad, but rather it’s somewhat unimaginative beyond just the lack of more Christmas touches to forge a deeper connection with its subject matter.

If It Don’t Bring My Baby Home
The opening horns are slightly out of date while the slowly swaying pace with the mild horn riffs and piano fulfill their basic job requirements without adding anything distinctive. There’s no sudden explosions of sound, no poly-rhythms to give it an ever-moving floor to try keep your footing, there’s no case of one instrument easing back while another moves in to take its place giving it a more three dimensional sound.

It’s basically a training wheels protocol for mid-tempo rock arrangements, reasonably effective without being noticeable… which is why the topic at hand really needs to be emphasized in the music more.

Because Christmas – and the majority of non-cartoon novelty type records – is tinged with nostalgia there are ways to suggest that here without going overboard. Those sleigh bells mentioned earlier will do the trick as well and if you want to subtlety slip it in the main melody of an uptempo holiday song like Deck The Halls and make it sound more melancholy to suggest that while others are enjoying the Christmas parties while he sits alone in his apartment and suffers in silence, by all means do so.

Instead this goes through the standard playbook of filler material completely unrelated to the seasonal spirit and if you weren’t paying attention to what Liggins was actually singing you’d have no idea what it was about. In fact, when you realize they cut this in May as the weather warmed up you surely aren’t surprised.

Taken in isolation I Want My Baby For Christmas is a fairly well done and enjoyable record… but it’s just when put back into the context of the Christmas record category that’s where it slips up due to the fact that you could conceivably swap out the lyrics for a song about the exact same topic taking place in the middle of July and not have to change a single other element to have it fit.


Like Showers Of Rain… Not Snow
All that criticism however shouldn’t detract from the basic listenability of the record itself. The performances are solid across the board, the lyrics are good and it suits Jimmy Liggins’ well-established persona.

But I Want My Baby For Christmas isn’t going to be judged strictly against other non-holiday fare, it’s going to have to fit comfortably in the playlist on Christmas Eve and in that sense it just misses its mark.

Most artists, certainly most rock artists, were not going to be releasing multiple Christmas records in their career… not at this point anyway… so you had to make them count and be a candidate for seasonal playlists year after year, otherwise why bother releasing it in the first place? So while we should be glad that Jimmy Liggins actually gives us a record whose components in a vacuum would qualify for an above average score (6) , we have to concede that nothing is ever released in a vacuum, least of all material designed for the twelfth month of the year.

When you factor in those far different expectations, this becomes one Christmas present you might even be inclined to return to the store for a refund.

That’s probably unnecessary, but I’m guessing you’ll at least take awhile before writing your obligatory thank you note to Maxwell Davis for it before sticking in the closet somewhere next to those 47 pair of mittens your grandmother knitted you last year in case you were caught in a three month long blizzard.


(Visit the Artist page of Jimmy Liggins for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)