Asleep at the Wheel

Merry Christmas Y'All – 1997 (High Street)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

Asleep at the Wheel promises to add swing to any Christmas party with this. It starts with an accordion-packed rendition of "Feliz Navidad" featuring Tish Hinojosa singing a duet with Ray Benson. The band moves on to "Christmas in Jail," in which the singer gets bread and water for Christmas after a drunk-driving arrest.

Other highlights include "Twas the Night Before," a spoken story about some lonely cowboys whose only friend, the barroom jukebox, is broken down. Suddenly, dozens of musicians, from Willie and Waylon to Bob Wills and Janis Joplin, set up a stage to brighten the cowboys' Christmas.

The band performs some traditional songs that lend themselves well to western swing, like "Let It Snow," and reworks others, like "Swingin' Drummer Boy," a modernization of the Nativity story of "Little Drummer Boy." And to top it off, Willie Nelson sings "Pretty Paper" and duets with Don Walser on "Silent Night." Don't let the armadillo with the Santa hat on the album cover scare you off - this is a very enjoyable Christmas album.