Christmas. The day He was born. Santa Claus. Peace on Earth, goodwill toward people, spend money. Want to drown out those obnoxiously cheery-faced little carollers outside in the street? Try playing some records. We went sleighing over hills and dales, to grandma's and the North Pole, to find the best Christmas albums for you. And we found them in a stocking over a big fireplace somewhere in Greenland. But we lost them. So we reviewed these albums instead.
Merry Snoopy's Christmas
Definitely the "Sergeant Pepper" of Christmas albums, this one will be remembered years from now as the time Snoopy first turned on and went psychedelic. Maybe it was there all along and we never noticed, never wanted to believe it. Along with that little roundheaded kid and the Great Pumpkin and the Red Baron and Woodstock, this puppy has been on a strange trip for quite a while. But this time he lets it all hang out.
Consider: the album is ostensibly a story, a kind of opera, like "Sergeant Pepper." Everything sounds happy and clean and pure and good, but listen to what they're saying and the heavy drug overtones come through unmistakably. On "Kinda Looks Like Christmas," for example, you get:
Little heads are making plans To take a trip to Santaland Everything is green and red and silver
Wow, sit in the back with your head in the clouds and you're gone, man. Space out. Om.
Sorry. The album does tell the story of Snoopy fighting the Red Baron at the climax of World War I, but we stopped following it somewhere. You've heard it before, and you don't care. Listen to the great sound effects: whole squadrons of fighter planes taking off overhead, artillery shells bursting, Snoopy keeping warm behind the lines with the German frauleins (thanks to Donna Summer here), great aerial dogfights. Like Sensurround, only smaller. And quieter.
The music is charming, heart-warming, and endearing. The main singer, who does the Snoopy parts, sounds exactly like the lead from Pure Prairie League--very clean-cut, young, rural, smalltown America. Lots of fun. Clever lyrics, like
10,20,30,40,50 or more The Bloody Red Baron was rolling up the score 80 men died trying to end that spree Of the Bloody Red Baron of Germany.
Snoopy finally downs the bastard. Run him for President. Hell, it got Eisenhower elected. And at least Snoopy might clamp down on Iran.
Bing Crosby, A Holiday Toast
"Bing is Dead, Long Live Bing." If you play the album backwards at 78 r.p.m. and wear the headphones upside down, you can clearly hear this tribute to the king of orange juice commercials. Say, how old is Bob Hope anyway?
Inspiring. We all know Bing is dead. It's hard to listen to the music of a dead man, especially because on this album, he sounds so alive, just like he almost did when he was alive. He could be standing right next to you. Same crooning voice, sincerely telling you to "do drugs"--which you hear in the background if you play the cut "When You Trim Your Christmas Tree" super loud and with the bass turned down.
But go ahead, give this album to your mother. She won't hear what those tricky engineers did to the majority of the cuts. Played at its normal speed, A Holiday Toast is heartwarming, charming, endearing....Put it on while you hang up the mistletoe. It will make you want to kiss your maiden aunt right on the mouth. That's how mellow this is.
Then when no one is listening, play "A Time to Be Jolly" and hear Bing say, "I am a corpse." Kinda gives you the shivers, because he sounds so alive.
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