Three Christmas Albums That Don’t Blow

24 Dec

I have always liked Christmas as a holiday.  Gifts, booze, family–in the opposite order of course.  Though, I absolutely loathe pop Christmas music or pop artists covering classics.  For instance, I would happily euthanize Dominick the donkey.  If I were a witness to a grandma getting run over by a reindeer, I wouldn’t appear in court.  And I could kill a man to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You.”  Pukey pop renditions of “Sleigh Ride” by say, She & Him, turn my stomach.  The songwriter behind “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” should be publicly stoned.  I could go on and on…

There is no question that this distaste was born and continues to be exacerbated by those choice radio stations that play only Christmas music from Turkey Day until the blessed Mass of Christ.  I had a friend in high school who insisted on blasting Christmas-only music radio stations in his car for weeks with the unnecessary heat blasting even harder.  Even songs that I don’t hate, like “Christmas Wrapping” by  The Waitresses, churn up memories of profuse sweating in late November.

In dissecting this yuletide revulsion I have also noticed, oddly enough, that those albums which do manage to get me in the Christmas spirit are all produced by artists with decalibrated moral compasses.  Let us visit three Christmas albums which I do enjoy and the artists/producers behind them.

*     *     *

Luciano-Pavarotti-O-Holy-Night-cover-artLuciano Pavarotti’s O Holy Night (1997) has been a family favorite for a number of years.  1997 was only a few years after my parents sold the turntable that used to rest in our living room hutch and purchased a CD player and speaker set for our family room.  Pavarotti’s rich tenor is backed by the spritely vocals of the Wandsworth Boys Choir and the fact that the lyrics are sung operatically and partially in Italian make for a entirely cathartic experience.  I have listened to this album so many times that I can tell you when Pavarotti falls barely flat, or point out the boom from the upturned microphone in “Panis Angelicus.”

Luciano Pavarotti was a generous philanthropist who supported several non-profit organizations.  He was also, despite his rotundity, a notorious womanizer who dumped his first wife for his personal assistant.   Come his passing it was discovered that his first wife was written out of his will entirely.  I suppose she could have been a mega bitch…

Bing-Crosby-White-Christmas-cover-artBing Crosby is for many the voice of Christmas (unless of course it’s Frank Sinatra who was another bastard).  Crosby’s White Christmas (1949) was the album that played on the aforementioned turntable during Christmas time.  There is no denying the splendor of Crosby’s velvety croon and I find it highly unlikely that there will ever be a recording of “White Christmas” that will top his.

There are, however, multiple accounts from his children that the quintessential patriarch used to beat the living shit out of his kids and so Christmas was more likely red at the Crosby residence.  His absence of emotion also played a part in his first wife’s development of a drinking problem.  His one son, Gary, was most vocal about the horror that was adolescence in the Crosby household in a published memoir.

A-Christmas-Gift-for-You-from-Phil-SpectorFinally, the man behind the “Wall of Sound”: Phil Spector and his immaculate 1963 A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector.  I know that I said that I hate pop artists covering Christmas classics, but The Ronettes, Crystals and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans are Brill Building pop stars from a bygone era.  Thus, the covers have a proto-R&B charm to them accented by Spector’s production genius.

But, let’s start with the cover.   I would love to see the modern PC reaction to three African American groups standing in presents as though they themselves are gifts.  Now that we have that out of the way, there is the more recent, obvi0us charge against Mr. Spector: murder in the second degree.  After two trials, Phil Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his California home.  He is currently serving a sentence of 19-years to life in prison, a term which he should have been served for his egregious fashion during the trial itself.

*     *     *

A very Merry Christmas to all of you and yours!  That of course is not meant to alienate those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, and so Happy Holidays to the rest of you that have likely already celebrated!  And I leave you with a gift to you from the Self-Hating Hipster!

Phil Spector

Phil Spector’s Wall of Hair.

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6 Responses to “Three Christmas Albums That Don’t Blow”

  1. bobdoesthings December 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Bing Crosby was also a noted pothead and an early activist for the legalization of pot (this according to his Wiki page..) but later gave up the cause due to public criticism.

    My family’s favorite X-mass cd is Peter, Paul, and Mary (all Jewish) doing some classics. Being that I have heard it ad nausea since birth – it’s my go to Christmas album.

    I recall seeing a post somewhere on the interwebs on how a large majority of Christmas traditional songs were in fact written by Jewish songwriters. Not sure where I came across this (most likely Reddit…) but upon a quick search came up with some linkage:

    http://www.interfaithfamily.com/arts_and_entertainment/popular_culture/The_Jews_Who_Wrote_Christmas_Songs.shtml

    (Not sure how to add html link in comments.)

    Johnny Matthis is also a dreamboat.

    happy birthday jesus. (If you ever actually existed in the first place..)

    Happy End of the Year to you and all! Let’s not be so shitty next year, if we can avoid it. Peace

  2. bobdoesthings December 25, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Chris wanted me to share this updated version of Mariah Carey’s version of “All I want for Christmas Is You” with The Roots and Jimmy Fallon..

    Hate it or Love it.. Happy Shit and whatever.

    • bobdoesthings December 25, 2012 at 3:21 am #

      Black Thought is soooo deep.. in Black Thought..

      • bobdoesthings December 25, 2012 at 3:28 am #

        ?uest Love is so in love.. with the Quest..?

    • the self-hating hipster December 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      You should have been castrated on Christmas, Bob. Chris gets a pass.

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