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Friday, December 5, 2014

A Ridiculously Irrelevant Music Review: The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album

I make a lot of noise complaining about Christmas and about Christmas music – but the fact of it is, somewhere deep inside my grinchiness there is some trace particle of myself that wants to appreciate the holiday.  So when I saw the Beach Boys’ Christmas Album on sale at a nearby pawn shop, I bought it.  (hey, for $1.25 what’s it going to hurt?)

The original recording was released in November of 1964.  What I bought was one of the many re-issues of the album, this one on CD in 1991.

The first five songs are Beach Boys’ originals, written by group leader, Brian Wilson. And they sound like you’d expect a Beach Boy’s Christmas album to sound like.   The first song, “Little Saint Nick” borrows its melody and rhythms from their earlier hit “Little Deuce Coup.” It tells the story of Santa tooling around in a suped-up cherry red toboggan instead of a hot rod.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” is a light-hearted Christmas break up song, a bit of bubble gum pop music.  “Christmas Day” is a little do-wop number celebrating the nostalgia of Christmas – with a great organ solo in the middle.

Tracks 6 – 12 are schmaltzy arrangements of traditional Christmas songs like “Frosty the Snowman” and "We Three Kings of Orient Are” with the Beach Boys trademarked harmonies dropped in over top the strings and horns.   And the two don’t mix well; they just don’t fit together.

For $1.25 I’m quite content to listen to just the first five tracks, and to ignore the mawkish tracks that fill out the rest of the album.

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