::Gary Hoey :: Ho! Ho! Hoey::
Well, its just about Chri…er, sorry; holiday season so I figured a holiday album was necessary. Gary Hoey arrived on the scene in 1993 with the album “Animal Instinct
". Two years later (1995) Hoey recorded a Christmas album that was going to be unlike any other. Instead of cheery bells and happy vocals, he celebrated Christmas with a guitar pick in one hand and a fret board in the other. He would go on to make 3 of these albums, all with different Christmas tunes, and even go and make a “Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey
" in 2001.
The first album is the one I am reviewing here and it includes such Christmas classics as The Little Drummer Boy, Twelve Days of Christmas, and Jingle Bells. This is a really great album to listen to that Christmas morn. Unwrap your presents then give a screeching “Hell Yea!" It is a fantastic album nonetheless and a really nice change of pace that all other Christmas albums haven’t seemed to quite grasp perfectly. Lets get it on!
The Twelve Days of Christmas (4:20)
: The minute the song begins playing you cannot even guess that it’s a Christmas song. It begins with this hard riff that gets you into the mood and then without warning goes to the “On the first day…" melody. As each day progresses, he breaks it down with a nice distorted guitar with some superb drumming. When we get to the fifth day, he does the “Five golden rings" with a nice little harmonized guitar roar. The pacing of the drums is perfect leading into a little guitar solo before he goes on with the sixth day. This is a nice little showcase of his skills. Then he continues on to the twelfth day using the same riff, but breaking each day down differently every time. A fantastic opener that leaves you wanting more. And you are lucky because there is 10 more songs to go.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (3:28)
: This song begins with a more classic rock feel to it. With a nice little, almost bouncy guitar riff. It goes right into the song with the famous “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer…" melody. The drumming in here is simple, yet sweet and at the “Wont you guide my sleigh…" verse, he gives it a little breakdown that rocks your socks like chicken pox, buddy. It goes through and gives a nice, breakaway ending. Not nearly as good as the first song, but it gets the point across.
Away in a Manger (2:52)
: This has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs for its simplicity and emotion when singing it with the family. It is just one of those feel-good songs and when Hoey does it, it makes it a lot more…meaningful I guess is the word I am trying to get. It starts off with some nice strings. The secondary guitarist gets a lot more evident in this song. The drummer with some background accessory instruments (tambourine, maraca, etc…). Some more beautiful melodies are played and then he goes away from the song a little and plays even more beautiful tunes and then he comes back into the song and ends it with a nice strum. A highlight of the album, especially for a slower song.
Jingle Bells (2:55)
: This song begins with what appears to be a western country sound and he sticks with that throughout the song, which kind of ruins it for me. He starts the song off with the “Jingle bells…" rhythm that we are all familiar with. The drumming is simplistic but to the point. He does the Jingle Bells rhythm a few more times around before ending it. There really is nothing special about this song and the fact that he did it in western country chords made me angry. The ride up the fret bar ending sounded cool however. Not the best on the album.
God Rest (3:58)
: This song is a rocker. It starts off with an acoustic with some very light “God rest ye merry…" sound and then the electric just bursts through and it sounds, dare I say it, righteous. Then a riff comes in and the song comes into play. When we get to the “And tidings…" verse it sounds really cool. Around 1:40 he bursts out into a really kick a-- solo. He slides right back into the chorus an octave higher than before and it sounds really fantastic. He plays one more little solo to end the song and the drumming is right there behind him. Another great song.
Blue Christmas (3:31)
: This song has a little more of a bluesy jazz feel, which I guess is a good match. He starts off with a short little riff and goes directly into the song. The secondary guitar and bass play the off beats as the drums are just a steady bounce. There are a few solo’s put in here and there but nothing special. This is probably the most repetitive song on the album. Mainly because nothing ever changes. There’s no interesting solo’s and nothing to make the chorus sound different after it gets played 5 times or so. I like the song, its just I cant listen to the whole thing. The first minute is pretty much all you will get throughout the rest of the song.
O Come All Ye Faithful (2:22)
: The only song on the album with lyrics, if you can call them lyrics. Its just a young girl that says “Ho Ho Ho". It begins with the little girl and then a few string plucks of his guitar and then the goes into the “O come…" verse. The guitars are really mellow and no drums this time around. He goes through the chorus about twice and then another little “Ho Ho Ho". A little more playing the verses and then it comes to a slow stop with a few upstrokes to finish it off. Short and sweet. A great song.
White Christmas (3:14)
: Starts off with some string/synth stuff. Then it goes directly into “I’m dreaming…" and the effects are really cool. It takes its sweet time getting through the chorus and there’s some really cool riffs coming in between chorus and verse. He goes back to the “I’m dreaming…" line and the synth is still going. It is a semi-repetitive song, but you don’t mind too much because the effects make it really gentle on the ears and nice to listen to. It ends with a three point, rising stop. Really great song that’s different from everything else on the album.
Little Drummer Boy (3:44)
: This is my personal favorite Christmas song, plus I am a drummer, so I really like to play along to this song. It begins with a light guitar intro and breaks into some tambourine and floor tom action with the drum to make it sound like a marching band. The first time you go through the chorus, it’s nice and it picks a little bit with the last “Ba-rum-bum-bum bum, Rum-bum-bum bum…" He repeats the chorus once again. This time at the “Ba-rum-bum…", it’s a little higher and sounds really nice.
Silent Night (4:17)
: He begins with a few string plucks and stops right before he begins to play the actual song. It is nice and mellow, and very beautiful. After he completes one verse, the drums start to get some action and he picks up the volume a tad. The drums are very simple, which make this soft song still very easy and relaxing to listen to. He gets a little creative in-between verses and does little diddy’s to break them up, sometimes even to end the verse, while its still playing. The song ends with a repeat of “Sleep in heavenly peace…" the first time with the drums, as a part of the verse and the second without drums and comes to a slow, steady fade out. A fantastic song. Hoey really did a good job on this one.
Auld Lang Syne (4:17)
: Well, I don’t necessarily know why this is on Ho! Ho! Hoey when its more of a new years song, but its still a good song that Hoey does well. It starts off with a little intro on the guitar, simple but stylish. Then it goes right to the verse. The drums in the back holding the tempo. He changes it up a little later by going an octave higher. After one verse in that octave, Hoey reverts back to the original for one more round and then goes into a little solo, which goes directly into the verse yet again. He starts getting creative by doing some really cool riffs in the verses. Then it ends with a slow little “Wa-wa-wa" guitar ending, if you get what I’m saying.
This was the Christmas album I grew up on and it never really seems to get old for me. Incorporating some really awesome rock and roll to our favorite Christmas songs was a really nice change of pace. Now although I reviewed this one, there is still 3 more Ho! Ho! Hoey albums, and even a best of so if you thing due to my review, that you might like this, do not hesitate to give it a try. Download it or check it out on iTunes or something, because it is well worth it.
Gary Hoey is:
The rest of the band is just mixes. Drums, Bass, Sec. Guitar. Everything.