Album Reviews for Dec. 14, 2012

FILE - This Nov. 5, 2012 file photo shows American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars posing for a portrait in New York. Mars is releasing his sophomore album, “Unorthodox Jukebox,
FILE - This Nov. 5, 2012 file photo shows American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars posing for a portrait in New York. Mars is releasing his sophomore album, “Unorthodox Jukebox," featuring Grammy-winning jazz singer Esperanza Spalding and production and songwriting work by Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker, Diplo, Paul Epworth, Emile Haynie and the Smeezingtons, the production trio that includes Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP, file)

Gary U.S. Bonds

CHRISTMAS IS ON!

Gary U.S. Bonds’ first hit, 1960s’ “New Orleans,” is among rock ’n’ roll’s classic recordings. Bonds returns to the city he celebrated so joyously in the song with “It’s Christmas In Nu Awlins.” Track three on his new Christmas album, the song struts forth to a second line-inspired beat.

Besides New Orleans, Bonds’ Christmas Is On! album travels the American music landscape and beyond. The title song, for instance, is a driving, piano-sprinkled, Chuck Berry-style rocker.

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” — a new holiday song written for the album, not the familiar song of the same name — co-stars a horn section and chorus featuring Bonds’ wife, Laurie Anderson, and daughter, Laurie C. Anderson.

Bonds mentions a bayou in “Christmas is a Phone Call Away” but the music’s more obviously based on the Bo Diddley beat. “Girl,” Bonds sings, “from here to Chernobyl, you can reach me on my mobile.”

The singer pleads for his baby in the reggae-decorated “Santa Bring My Baby To Me” and takes a rockabilly turn in “Why Don’t You Spend Christmas With Me.”

Laurie C. Anderson co-produced Christmas Is On! for her dad. It’s a well-crafted, fun addition to Christmas music discography.

John Wirt