I used to be a big Unwritten Law fan, particularly of their 1996 album Oz Factor and 1998’s self-titled disc. They’re another band from Poway, the same area where Blink-182 formed. Being in high school in San Diego in the mid-’90s, Poway seemed like it must be a punk rock mecca because that’s where these bands were forming, though really it’s just a suburb and only a few noteworthy bands came from there (Agent 51 was my other favorite).
I was sold on Unwritten Law when they played a free show with Good Riddance at UCSD during my first few weeks of college. I joined their street team and handed out tons of stickers advertising their next album, Elva, which was delayed several times and ended up coming out in 2002. The band kinda lost the plot after that, going more for a “modern rock” thing and having a lot of turnover. It seems singer Scott Russo has a way of alienating bandmates, because since 2002 all the other members have either been fired or quit, leaving him the sole remaining original member. I stuck with UL through most of the stylistic changes but lost interest when Russo started replacing people.
Anyway, in ’99 UL covered this Christmas classic for another KROQ compilation, Kevin & Bean’s Last Christmas. The song itself was originally recorded by blues pianist Charles Brown in 1960, and has been covered by a plethora of artists since including the Eagles, Bon Jovi, Willie Nelson, Cee Lo Green, Fiona Apple, and Kelly Clarkson.
Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby’s gone, I’ve got no friends
To wish me greetings once again
Choirs will be singing sweet, sweet “Silent Night”
Christmas carols by candlelight
Please come for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas
If not Christmas, then by New Year’s night
Friends and relations send salutations
Sure as the stars shine above
For this is Christmas, yes this is Christmas
Magic, the time of year for love
So you won’t tell me you’ll never roam
Christmas and new Years will find you home
There’ll be no more sorrow, no grief, no more pain
And no more happy, happy once again
Bells and happy New Year, Christmas and Christmas