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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Gary Hoey

The Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey

Review by Gary Hill

Gary Hoey is often lumped into the same category as the Yngwie Malmsteens of the world, but he really has a lot more soul, and is a heck of a lot more fun. Yes, he is a killer guitarist, and yes, he can be technical, but it is really the heart, soul and spirit of fun that separates Hoey from those other guitar slingers. On The Best of Ho! Ho! Hoey he has assembled various Christmas songs from different albums of his into one convenient place. That makes this a definite must have for fans of guitar rock looking for an exciting and energizing alternative to the same old Christmas music. The music on here ranges in style from 50's rock, to prog metal, prog, rap metal and even surf music. It is all fun, though. The disc is all instrumental with the exception of the closing track. Hoey provides nearly all the instrumentation on the album, joined only by two drummers and a vocalist.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
This scorcher brings us in in style - coming across as a take on Johnny B. Goode. It is a fun cut and a great album opener.
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
This one comes across as rather Hendrixish in the intro, but the guitar playing the vocal line brings in a more playful tone. It is quite strong, but feels just a bit silly for some reason.aggressive and gloomy.
The First Noel
An acoustic guitar dominated rendition, this one is quite strong and a bit proggy. I hazard to say that Hoey's take on the cut is one of the strongest around. It gets rather complicated.
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
This is another scorcher that rocks in fast and hard with a bass line that really calls to mind Pat Travers' "Boom Boom Out Go The Lights". This is definitely good clean fun.
Jingle Bells
With a strong country air, this one is a bit much for this review, but still fun.
This melody is perhaps better known as "What Child Is This". Hoey creates a progish, fusion oriented jam from the piece that is one of the strongest cuts on the CD.
Jingle Bell Rock
Lending some jazzy overtones, this cut is a bluesy rocking number that works quite well.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
This one is a metallic smoker that is quite effective.
Little Drummer Boy
Hoey adds a psychedelic Eastern texture to this one, ala Ravi Shankar. It definitely works.
Carol of the Bells
This track alone is worth the price of admission. Hoey takes this classic piece and makes it all his own. He turns it into a hard-edged, prog oriented number that is simply incredible.
Away in a Manger
Acoustically based, this one is pretty, but not all that earth shattering.
You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Bonus points are issued just for the fact that Hoey chose to do this one. He turns it, rightly so, into a metal scream fest that really works. It feels as if this was the way the song was originally intended.
Frosty The Snowman
A surf-textured drumbeat starts this one, but the cut quickly turns into fast paced jazz oriented textures. This one has an old time feel and is quite fun.
God Rest
The intro comes in in a dramatic acoustic mode, but Hoey quickly changes gear, taking the piece into a prog metal direction. It is one of the most effective numbers on the CD.
O Come All Ye Faithful
A child's "ho, ho, ho" starts this one, and acoustic guitar carries the track forward. It is a pretty and strong song.
Ave Maria
This has a bit of a '50's rock and roll feel to much of it, but more modern textures make up the verse.
'Twas The Night Before Christmas
This is the only non-instrumental piece on the album. Hoey performs the cut in yo-metal fashion. It is definitely some of the better music of that genre, but not the most potent piece on the album by quite a distance.
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