Charles Rice Goff III "Noel Porter's Holiday Collection (In Four Parts)" / "Laughing All The Way (Five Jingle Bells)" (Taped Rug Productions 2004)

From Aural Innovations #30 (February 2005)

Here's a split CD with some thoroughly untraditional Christmas music from the Goff archives. Noel Porter's Holiday Collection (In Four Parts) was recorded in 1983 but never released until now. It's raw stuff but will be of interest to veteran Goff fans who will enjoy hearing the young artist full of creative piss n vinegar. Charles jams away on guitar doing all kinds of wailing freakouts and some guitar stuff that sounds influenced by Fripp from his earliest excursions with Eno. But along with this is Charles singing Christmas songs in a variety of voices and lovingly demolishing them. It's a great mixture of sonic insanity and comic relief. The lengthy part 2 has a segment that sounds like The Residents' Eskimo album with Up on the housetop, good Saint Nick lyrics that abruptly transitions to multi-layered street carnival madness. Charles layers in the singing too, and does so in some pretty wild ways, at one point turning Christmas into a surreal ethno tribal tape mish-mash thing. We also get what must be the most frantic "Jingle Bells" delivery ever recorded. The young Charles is all over the place but clearly exploring the creative possibilities of the tape recorder and doing some impressively outrageous stuff. And as I recall where I was at in my listening (and substance use) in 1983, having had the chance to hear this would have been quite a mind blower.

Fast forward a decade and Charles is still paying his respects to Christmas traditions. Laughing All The Way (Five Jingle Bells) was originally released on cassette in 1993 and features... you guessed it... five uniquely Goff interpretations of "Jingle Bells". On the surface it sounds like "Classical Jingle Bells" is being played as a straight acoustic guitar song. But it's embellished by weird backup bits, and also some of Charles more passionate singing, an offbeat style which I happen to be a fan of. "Celebrity Jingle Bells" sounds like a twisted tape spliced version of a Bing Crosby holiday television special. And indeed the parade of voices that bob and weave throughout the mix sound like they were indeed pulled from TV shows or holiday song record albums. "Noisey Jingle Bells" is exactly as described. Ditto for "Spacey Jingle Bells". Can you picture Robbie the Robot in a Santa Claus outfit? Finally, "Joker Jingle Bells" is pure chaotic fun that includes the old Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg lyrics. This was really funny to hear because right around the same time I heard this my step-daughters 6-year old son was singing the same, having heard it at school, and was in stitches when I played the Charles version for him. The young reviewers laughing comment... That's silly papa!!

For more information you can visit the Taped Rug Productions web site at:
Contact via snail mail c/o C. Goff III; PO Box 146; Lawrence, KS 66044.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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