Personnel: Brian Setzer (vocals, guitar); Matt Zebly, Charlie Peterson, Tim Messina, Eric Morones, Sam Levine , Jim Youngstrom (saxophone); Ron Blake , Mike Haynes , Sean Billings, Steve Reid , Steve Patrick , Jamie Hovorka (trumpet); Mike Briones, Kerry Loeschen, Jeremy Levy , Roy Agee, Barry Green , Robbie Hioki (trombone); Matt Rollings (piano); Tony Pia, Paul Leim (drums); Leslie Spencer, Julie Setzer, Shannon Brown, Jody Nardone (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Terry Christian.
Recording information: Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA; House of Blues Studio, Nashville, TN; Southern Ground Studio, Nashville, TN.
Billed as the Brian Setzer Orchestra's first Christmas album in a decade, Rockin' Rudolph arrives five years after Christmas Comes Alive! and seven years after Christmas Rocks! The Best Of Collection, but the distinction is, this 2015 set is the first studio non-compilation holiday release in ten years. No matter how you count it, Rockin' Rudolph deserves to sit proudly alongside the Brian Setzer Orchestra's other five Christmas albums because it serves up snazzy seasonal swingers, tunes that revel in their retro-kitsch. Setzer's sensibility reaches its zenith with "Yabba-Dabba Yuletide," which spins the Flintstones into a big-band holiday blaster, and if that sounds like fun to you, the rest of the record will satisfy because it delivers more of the same: it's all high-octane, bold and brassy Yuletide fun, bouncing along to a beat that swings back and forth between rockabilly and ersatz Vegas. If anything, this particularly Setzer holiday excursion seems to adhere a bit closer to the neon lights than normal -- often, the music seems like it could've shown up on a Jerry Lewis Telethon from 1981 -- but that's also part of its charm: this is old-fashioned music for an old-fashioned season, so it's bound to conjure warm, toasty nostalgia for those who share Setzer's sensibilities. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine