Once A Year
Dr. Ring Ding
Gecko Rex / Flat Daddy Records - Broken Silence
CD / Vinyl LP / Digital Release
December 4, 2016

Track list
  1. Once A Year
  2. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  3. Dumpa Ska
  4. Petit Papa NoŽl
  5. Rub-A-Dub Santa
  6. Lulajze Jezunju
  7. Twelve Elves
  8. All I Wanna Do (On Christmas Day)
  9. I Believe
  10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  11. Les Anges De Nos Campagnes
  12. The Christmas Song
  13. Christmas Again
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
MŁnsteraner ska, reggae and dancehall don Richard A. Jung a.k.a. Dr. Ring Ding began his professional career in 1987 playing trombone with El Bosso & Die Ping Pongs, one of Germanyís most famous ska bands. His experience in El Bosso led to his life long love for Jamaican music. By early 1993 he had formed his very own band, Dr. Ring Ding & The Senior Allstars, and over the next ten years they would release five albums, numerous singles, and two excellent albums backing legendary Jamaican vocalists Doreen Schaffer and Lord Tanamo. American releases on Moon Ska and Jump Up! helped solidify his fan base in the United States, and soon Dr. Ring Ding was enjoying a worldwide audience for his snappy vocal style and tremendous musicianship. Dr. Ring Ding is not only a popular live performer, he is a studio musician, arranger and producer in many different music genres such as swing, rhythm & blues, hip hop, rumba and punk, but, above all, in reggae, dancehall and ska.

And last year Dr. Ring Ding realized one of his musical wishes by releasing a Christmas album with yuletide music from Germany, France, Austria, Poland, England and America in a Caribbean style, including several self-penned Christmas originals. For me, an avid collector of Caribbean Christmas albums from Studio One Parang to Dancehall Christmas albums, this "Once A Year" came as a true musical blessing. Recorded with musical friends also featured on his latest regular releases, members of both Ska-Vaganza and Sharp Axe Band (and of course the on Dr. Ring Ding releases omni-present Markus Dassmann, member of both bands and musical companion for over 20 years ever since the earliest Senior Allstars days) and of German ska-outfit The Busters, the mix of mainly ska instead of reggae versions of classic Christmans songs with wonderful originals makes this one of the best and most treasured Christmas albums I own.

The album opens with the original titletrack of the album "Once A Year" that perfectly captures the (memories of children's years) Christmas feeling over a reggae beat, then american jazz-songstress Stephanie K chips in for a great duet version of the evergreen "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". Bouncing ska beats back the smashing instrumental medley of three traditionals, on which the horn section - besides Dr. Ring Ding himself on trombone Matthias Demmer on saxes and Benny Brown on trumpet - goes berzerk playing "Ska Dumpa" containing "Es Wird Scho Glei Dumpa", "O Tannenbaum" and "Am Weihnachtsbaum Die Lichter Brennen" and then it's back to a more serene delivery for the French (children's) traditional "Petit Papa NoŽl". The next original has got all it deserves to become a classic, old school deejaying over an appropriate beat telling the story like the JA-veterans would do about "Rub-A-Dub Santa", it's followed by one of my all time favourite Christmas traditionals, the Polish Christmas-lullaby "Lulajze Jezuniu" in a brilliant arrangement.

"Twelve Elves" is a great instrumental ska original and "All I Wanna Do (On Christmas Day)" is a very bluesy ska original with great lyrics, vocals and backings, before a return to tradition for another excellent duet with Stephanie K on "I Believe" (the first hit-song ever introduced on TV in 1953), Dr. Ring Ding's take on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", the instrumental "Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes" and the unavoidable but also irresistable "The Christmas Song" The album closes with another great original, yet not penned by Dr. Ring Ding himself but by his drummer Robert Weidkamp, "Christmas Again". It's a pity the digital release of "Once A Year" lacks the hidden Norwegian carol on which Dr. Ring Ding nephews and niece return - after providing the children's choir on its opener.

This is a smashing Christmas album that all lovers of Jamaican music must buy! There are a few gems I'd absolutely love to hear in a Dr. Ring Ding adaptation, so I can only hope there will be a Volume 2 somewhere in the near future. One of the most entertaining Christmas albums ever!