Australian musical chameleons Furnace and the Fundamentals are celebrating the festive season with the release of their brand-new Christmas album A Very Furnace Christmas.
Credit where credit is due, this is a very imaginative take on Christmas. Furnace and the Fundamentals give us 16 tracks, mostly covers, but covers given a festive spin. From YMCA to Gangsta’s Paradise to Giving in the Name Of to Shout to Sweet Caroline and Bohemian Rhapsody. There are some interesting and clever ideas here but do they all work and just how festive feeling is this album?
It begins with the most Christmassy of tracks possible as Furnace and the Fundamentals rock up We Wish You a Merry Christmas. A catchy burst that is effectively an intro as it’s less than a minute and a half long. That’s no bad thing though as we’ve heard versions of this track dragged out to excruciating lengths.
We then get jolly renditions of YMCA, Gangsta’s Paradise and Pony, renamed Reindeer here. Each stays true to the original melodies and rhythms while having a festive spin. If you dislike the originals, you might not enjoy these as much as others will, even if they are well done. Though their passionate and super-joyous version of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise is a ton of fun.
A break from the covers sees Furnace and the Fundamentals harmonise their voices for a short and sweet Silent Night. Before the band point their candy canes in the direction of rock with fun, cheerful covers of AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long, Billy Joel’s The Longest Time and Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name Of. Renamed as Giving in the Name Of, it’s a track like this that will draw in listeners interested in what Furnace and the Fundamentals do with it.
Truthfully? Not a lot when it comes to the song structure but holy hell, do they wrap this up in a Christmassy bow. It’s a really strong cover with earnest and heart-warming lyrical changes.
More covers after that with Coldplay’s Yellow being turned into a less irritating version (just) and their version of Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al reminding you of just how upbeat this track is. Of course, the original featured Chevy Chase lip-syncing the entire song in the video which ties into Christmas as the actor starred in one of the best Christmas movies ever!
More upbeat festive covers with Furnace and the Fundamentals doing a fun version of Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough. Before making most laugh out loud with their Christmas changes to Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life. A track most well-known for appearing in the hit movie, Dirty Dancing.
It’s just fun. Stupid fun, but passionate and well put together fun.
Further proof of that comes with some huge covers at the end of the album. Furnace and the Fundamentals doing The Isley Brothers’ justice with a fast-paced and jolly version of Shout. Before going big and festively bold with Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, a track that would also feature as the finale in a ‘reprise’ format.
In between them? It’s only Furnace and the Fundamentals covering Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody! That’s pretty exciting until you see it’s only 49 seconds long. Yes, this a cover but only a partial cover as Furnace and the Fundamentals come in at the ‘head-banging’ moment of the track.
Disappointing, as it would have been awesome to see what they could have done with the full track, but they still make this small part sound jolly good fun. It also flows perfectly into the afore-mentioned Sweet Caroline reprise.
Overall, Furnace and the Fundamentals will surprise a lot of people with this album. It’s far better than it has any right to be and they really do a great job of covering and transforming famous tracks into festive hits. How you feel about a lot of the originals will certainly effect how you feel about these versions but one thing everyone can agree on is that the band are giving it their all and the end result is a ton of fun.
Furnace and the Fundamentals – A Very Furnace Christmas Full Track Listing:
1. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
2. YMCA (Christmas Version)
3. Gangsta’s Paradise (Christmas Version)
4. Reindeer (Pony – Christmas Version)
5. Silent Night
6. You Shook Me All Night Long (Christmas Version)
7. The Longest Time (Christmas Version)
8. Giving in The Name Of (Killing in the Name Of – Christmas Version)
9. Yellow (Christmas Version)
10. Call Me Al (Christmas Version)
11. Just Can’t Get Enough (Christmas Version)
12. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Christmas Version)
13. Shout (Christmas Version)
14. Sweet Caroline (Christmas Version)
15. Bohemian Rhapsody (Christmas Version)
16. Sweet Caroline Reprise (Christmas Version)
Furnace And The Fundamentals - A Very Furnace Christmas (Bird's Robe Records)
The Final Score - 8/10