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I Got Yule Babe, Joel Kopischke (Joelkster)

If that's Joel on the back cover, he gives off the vibe of being a lounge singer. But don't worry, this isn't a Richard Cheese thing, just a straight-out old-school novelty album full of parodies, like the title song, which you probably already figured out is the Sonny & Cher hit. Rock fans will especially be interested in the holiday parodies of Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," reimagined as "Shopping Mall of Broken Dreams," Violent Femmes' "Blister In the Sun" with the blister swapped for "Christmas," and Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had $1,000,000," retitled "If I Had a Secret Santa." Hanukkah Alert for "That's A Menorah," formerly "That's Amore." Some originals keep the hijinks going, like the polka "Criminy Cripes, It's Christmas," "A Harry Potter Christmas," "I'm Your Snowman Baby," "Ring-a-Ding-Ding, It's Santa" and "Merry Tourette's Christmas," which gets censored when the bad parts come in. Seinfeld and hockey fans will especially like "O Festivus," set to the Canadian national anthem.


Elves Gone Wild!, Robert Lund (self-issued)

Lund's a jingle writer with a sideline doing hit parodies (nine full CDs of them in fact), and this is the only one dedicated to Christmas. It's from 2003 and I probably wouldn’t have it to this day if the author hadn't gifted me with a copy. Lund covers some of the same ground as Bob Rivers, and this CD is right up there with some of Rivers' comedy classics. There's a lot of chart material on this -- "Every Toy You Break" is the classic Police tune, "Santa" plays off R.E.M.'s "Stand," "Milk For My Reindeer" takes off from Toby Keith and Willie Nelson's "Beer For My Horses," and "Who Let the Elves Out" is self-explanatory. "Nuttin' But Spam" brings in a guest performance from the AOL mail guy, "I Want Some Plastic Surgery For Christmas" is a rare takeoff on Gayla Peevey's ode to a hippopotamus, and Lund brings aboard his pal Billy, whose "Ding Fries Are Done" is all over the Web. A minor misfire is having two songs about going broke buying presents -- "Maxed Out Credit Cards" and "I'll Be Broke For Christmas" -- and the four bonus tunes aren't holiday numbers, though they're good examples of his non-Christmas work, including a takeoff on Coldplay's "Yellow" and Kermit the Frog's version of Five For Fighting's "Superman" called "SuperFrog."


"Christmas is Awesome," Reuben (Hideous)

Well, yeah! Reuben is a British punk/hard rock outfit and this single was fresh for 2007, plus the YouTube video seemed to be making pretty good dent in the zeitgeist this year. Unfortunately, some sort of paperwork hangup got this song pitched from consideration for the U.K. charts, no doubt a heartbreaker for a British band if you've seen "Love Actually." Lots of thrash, featuring the message "we're off work today, hang the mistletoe, a child is born, sorry about all that nailed to the cross business, let's party and oh yeah, Christmas is awesome." Can't argue with that, now can we? If the video isn't enough, the song is on iTunes, and probably other online stores.


"She's a Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas," Patent Pending (We Put Out)

And she'll be spreading her Christmas cheer again this year. Yes, it's a single entendre, and it's a pun that's getting pretty old, but you gotta giggle about her stalking the mall Santa all liquored up, especially at the double time tempo these guys put it to. Good fun, downloaded this one from Amazon in 2007, haven't seen any hardcopy version.


"Give the Jew Girl Toys," Sarah Silverman (Interscope)

Not exactly a Hanukkah Alert, the popular comedienne threw together this poppy little foul-mouthed tune about present envy on the part of her people for 2005. There are "clean" versions, though they simply mute the bad words. But there are plenty of laughs here, and if your mix disc audiences can handle a Parental Advisory sticker, I'd say go with it.


Silent Nightclub, Richard Cheese (Surfdog)

Richard is the Weird Al of lounge lizards, making his bones doing cocktail jazz arrangements of your favorite 80s New Wave tunes. For 2006 he turns his talents to making a Christmas album, and the results are just as tasteful as you might imagine. Speaking of "Imagine," his swanky rendition of the John Lennon tune may frighten or appall Beatles fans. Note that some of these tunes aren't actually Christmas songs, but I suspect the choices were made deliberately — "Holiday in Cambodia," "Like a Virgin," "Ice Ice Baby," "I Melt With You," "Personal Jesus" and "The Trees" come to mind, though I can't explain why he picked Beyonce's "Naughty Girl." But he does squeeze in some more appropriate titles like a merengue version of "Christmas Time Is Here," plus "Silent Night," "Jingle Bells," "Do They Know It's Christmastime," and his own original "Christmas In Las Vegas." Beware of the version of Wham's "Last Xmas" though, as it's only 20 seconds long and ends in an insult.


Christmas at the Arcade, LF (I Records)

Keeping strictly to the requirements of the Truth in Packaging Act, this 2006 EP is composed of Christmas carols mashed together from original coin-op arcade sound effects. You haven't lived until you've heard "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" backed by the sound effects from "Donkey Kong." Many's the Christmas party that will come to a stop as revelers try to identify which games all the different bleeps and bloops come from. There's a bit of real percussion and synth used to tie the sounds together into something recognizable, of course. "Carol of the Bells" appears to be based on the old room-escape game "Berzerk," a blast of "Galaga" kicks off "Let It Snow," and, well, let me not spoil it any further, except to note there are versions of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Jingle Bells vs. Here Comes Santa Claus" on here too. Only on iTunes, as far as I know.

  Guessing what arcade game the sounds are from could be a fun game if you were a big arcade fan. Probably a lot more fun than the traditional party games, like charades or pictionary.  

The Nutcracker Suite Electronique, Brete (self-issued)

This is pretty much as advertised, a synth-beatbox rendition of Tchaikovsky's holiday classic. The liner notes offer genre tips as well, from electronica to house to progressive rock to ambient. It's good fun and a change of pace for folks who appreciate classical music and want their friends to know they're "with it." For the rest of us, there are surely some mix disc opportunities here, though the whole thing in one sitting may be a bit much. Oh, mustn't forget the bonus tracks, most of which are titled with variations of "Mozart Gone Mad" and are, in fact, familiar melodies by the composer. And the last bonus track is a drum-heavy version of "Sabre Dance," titled here "Dagger Dance." Found this at CDBaby.


A Dreaded Xmas, Those Dreaded Gnats (self-issued)

The Gnats are the nom-de-novelty of Harry Kopy and George Simonovich, who wrote all the tunes on this except the reggae version of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" (hmm, didn't I just write this elsewhere?). This 2005 collection is a decent novelty collection, though to my ears many of the gags are fairly obvious. "Santa Takes Da Rap" is a fairly obvious rap parody full of the jolly elf in the drive-by crossfire with white-guy hip-hop accompaniment, "Merry FXmas" simply adds to a growing list of four-letter holiday greeting songs we've chronicled here (with sanitized version closing the disc), and "Down With Xmas" is the usual anti-shopping lament. "Xmas Everyday For My Kids," however, is a fairly witty observation about overindulged children who treat gifts as an entitlement, "I'm Not Your Santa Claus" might just be the answer record to "Santa Baby," "Who Took the Jingle (Out of My Bells)" is a holiday hangover song, and "Just Say No to Christmas" takes a poke at overly PC reactions to the holiday. This disc definitely has its moments, though it falls a bit short of the best novelty outings.


Jackie Beat Is Coming to Town, Jackie Beat (self-issued)

Jackie Beat is a drag queen who does pop parodies, which makes him/her a good candidate for a holiday disc. This one gets the Parental Advisory sticker, however, as there's a fair amount of gratuitous seven-words-you-can't-say action on here, as the second cut, "Merry F-ing Christmas," tips you. Getting a lot of these lately, but this at least is witty -- it's a takeoff on BTO's "Taking Care of Business." "Do You Believe in This Guy Santa Claus" is a parody of Cher's "Believe," "Here Comes the Reindeer Again" spoofs the Eurythmics' hit, and then we get classic carols like "Silver Bells" reimagined as "Go To Hell," "Sleigh Ride in Leather" is the carol minus the leather, and so on. This is essentially a burlesque act with some cringe-worthy moments, but some of these parodies are spot-on and worth hearing.


"Zombies Eating My Brains," Daddy Bone (self-issued)

This indie singer-songwriter secreted this wacky little number away at the end of his self-titled album on CDBaby.com. It's a ukelele-driven Christmas number about how he just wants zombies eating his brains for Christmas. A nice little holiday non sequitur for your mix discs, Daddy helps us out by letting us download it for free off his website.


Merry Christmas From the Trailer Park, Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadors (DPR)

With a title like that, how can anybody resist? This Tennessee-based ensemble has several albums of red-state novelties to its credit, and this year they've moved on to Christmas. Nashville journeymen have a history of collaborating with this bunch, possibly attracted by Antsy's songwriting skills. The leadoff batter for this batch, "Christmas at the Trailer Park," is good fun, a more in-your-face version of Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From the Family." "The King of Christmas" invokes Elvis without resorting to a bad EP impersonation, "She's Underneath the Mistletoe Again" invokes suspicions of a faithless girlfriend and "Mary Lou's Christmas List" is the saga of the singer's mom, who does her holiday shopping year-round with the help of the lay-away plan. (Mom's probably passed on by now, 'cause if natural causes didn't get her then Wal-Mart's ending its lay-away plan probably did.) Good novelties, but since this involves country music folks we get a big blast of bathos and excess sincerity on the traditional carol covers like "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "Auld Lang Syne Revisited" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," not to mention the things-were-better-in-the-old-days message of "The Elves' Strike." Available from their site as a disc or a download.


"Nine Inch Noels," Lore Sjoberg (self-issued)

Sjoberg is an author and humorist who has blogged and written for Wired magazine and founded the online magazine Brunching Shuttlecocks. Here he puts together a fairly cheap-sounding medley of standard Christmas carols, only he sets lyrics from Nine Inch Nails' songs to them. Requires minimal familiarity with the band to achieve maximum laughs, but I'm sure that won't be a problem for most readers of this site.


Yulenog 3: Hardest Workin' Man in Christmas, Nathan Kuruna (self-issued)

Nathan Kuruna is a Philadelphia artist and filmmaker who also makes his own Christmas albums. This one for 2007 is actually his third, made with the help of a pretty wide circle of musical friends, and he makes donations to Toys For Tots from the proceeds. There's a wildly amateurish vibe to this that seems deliberate; for example, his version of Mel Torme's "Christmas Song" features a variety of cheap flutes and perhaps even kazoos that seems designed to distract from the sincere vocal and piano in the foreground. Other highlights include "I'm Going to Spend My Christmas With a Dalek," for you Dr. Who fans, and covers of James Brown's "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto," They Might Be Giants' "Santa's Beard," and a version of "The Chipmunk Song" in which the vocals start out two octaves below normal, rather than above, as with the 'Munks. And of course, there's the original "Let's All S**k D**k On Christmas," for those looking to clear the room of excess relatives on the holiday. You'll have to decide how much of this variety of ironic detachment works in your world, but there are enough fun moments to make a visit to his website worth your while. Check out his two previous discs while you're there.


"Santa's Monster Bash," Rick Ryan (self-issued)

I'm throwing this 2006 tune out there as a novelty since we don't do country here, and the backing track is definitely mainstream country, not the country of today's bastardized Southern rock retreads but more like the 60s and 70s. Lyrically, it revisits Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster's Holiday" without being a sequel to a previous tune. The lyrics could be a couple of verses shorter, but then Rick does name-check more monsters than Pickett did. If you can abide the heavy steel guitar backing, you might just enjoy this. Getting a copy will be tough though, as this is the only place I can find on the Web that mentions it.


Pull My Finger, Jingle Smells (Oglio)

Now THIS is a one-joke album, the Spike Jones of Christmas farting. This has Flatulena beat all hollow in terms of overkill, if nothing else. Orchestral versions of Christmas carols with people farting along in rhythm, if not quite in pitch. Except for the "unplugged" versions of "We Wish You a Smelly Xmas," "Jingle Smells," and "Soil the Halls," in which, yes, the orchestra remains silent. Strangely enough, there's one original song, "Farts Under the Mistletoe," and I suppose we should issue a Hanukkah Alert for "Stinky Dreidel." I was originally going to write this like it was a New Yorker review of something quite substantial, then I wised the hell up. Update: There are actually belches and burps on this album as well as farts, so I guess technically this is a TWO-joke album.


Merry Fishes To All, Trout Fishing In America (Trout)

Just as I usually take the last exit before we hit Nashville and skip the A train lest it take us into jazz territory, I'm fairly firm about avoiding stuff that's aimed mainly at the pre-teen audience. But these guys, who are the Beatles to the ankle-biter set, done wore me down; they're musically eclectic and lyrically sophisticated enough to keep an adult's attention, in small doses anyway, especially if you're a fan of pop-folk music. I'll probably file this 2005 CD under novelty, myself. Some of these tunes are a little cloying for anyone but kids -- I'm especially thinking "Eleven Cats of Christmas" and "Bob and Bob" -- but chocoholics will like "Chocolate Christmas," "Just Because Mrs. Claus" has a kind of "Your Mother Should Know" groove to it, and has anybody ever gotten over the disappointment that "Santa Brought Me Clothes"?


Where Will You Be Christmas Day?, various artists (Dust-to-Digital)

This 2004 collection of antique recordings takes us back before even Charles Brown, presenting Christmas songs that, with the exception of "Jingle Bells," are neither traditional favorites or popularized holiday hymns. There is a vocal quintet rendition of "Children Go Where I Send Thee" called "Holy Babe" here, and that one has been popularized in recent years. As for people you may have heard of, there's Bessie Smith, Lightnin' Hopkins, Lead Belly, and McKinney's Cotton Pickers with Coleman Hawkins and Fats Waller. Everything else here progressed as far as making a record, but not much farther. Christmas is the only unifying concept here -- we have a lot of gospel, a little jazz, country, some blues, folk and ethnic music, including Spanish, Italian and Jamaican sounds, and even a little vaudeville. Not being an ethnomusicologist, I call your attention to this disc because something on it just might jump out and grab you, or may inspire a modern-day cover version. Oh, and it's OK when antique recordings have surface noise on them.


"Hooray For Santy Claus," Senor Tonto's Christmas Combo (self-issued)

This 2004 one-off direct from Italy is a cover of the hit tune from the soundtrack of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," the legendary bad movie that is reputed to be legendary bad actress Pia Zadora's first film. It's easy to describe: imagine if Petty Booka got rid of the ukeleles and went synth-pop. Or don't imagine — simply go and download this sucker. There's an all-instrumental version there too.


"Bo Selecta's Proper Crimbo!," Avid Merrion (Bellyache/BMG)

This was out in 2003 but I had no idea it was a Christmas record. "Bo Selecta" is a British TV show starring Avid Merrion on independent Channel 4, in its third season on Friday nights. Haven't seen it, being on the wrong side of the Atlantic to do so, but I'm told it's sketch comedy with lots of celebrity impersonations. This bit of whacked-out rap-rock makes a right cheeky noise, guv'nor, and if you can stand the singer's references to being so happy he wet himself, you might just get a kick out of this. Can't quite explain how Christmas becomes "Crimbo," but I assume it's the same impulse that causes the old country's tabloid headline writers to dub Sir Paul "Macca," Michael Jackson "Jacko" and anybody named Gary "Gazza." British import only.


The American Song-Poem Christmas: Daddy, Is Santa Really Six Feet Four?, various artists (Bar None)

You taste-tippers may know all about the American Song-Poem Project, but other readers may not, so here goes. Remember those tiny ads buried in the back of tabloid newspapers, movie magazines and comic books that offered to take your poetry and set it to music? Many of these ads were actually on the level, and thousands of songs were set to music and recorded "professionally." Now you can buy collections of the "best" of these recordings, including this album dedicated only to Christmas songs. Because access to the master tapes is limited, these CDs are mastered from the best copies of vinyl records the curators of this project could find. Surface noise is common, and future 5.1 mixes of this material are unlikely. The liner notes explain that true aficionados of this genre of music even have favorite artists among those who cut these records, and the band Yo La Tengo has actually covered "Santa Claus Goes Modern," two versions of which appear on this album. The 21 cuts represent a fair spread of themes, many deeply sappy, others as off the wall as Superball, and feature some of the best-loved song-poem performers, like Rodd Keith, Teri Summers and Gene Marshall. Lyric writing credits are scrupulously included as well, although the melody writers are presumably lost to the sands of time. My favorites from this album include "Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile" by Heather Noel, the Rod Rogers and the Librettos' version of "Santa Claus Goes Modern," the title song by Kay Brown, "The Rocking Disco Santa Claus," the slightly deranged soul ballad "Baby, It's a Cold Night in December" and the spoken-word "Ole Year Christmas," all by The Sisterhood. Take your irony supplements if you decide to check this one out.


Hung for the Holidays, William Hung (Koch)

I mostly punted on "American Idol" related stuff this year (the same goes for the Jessica Simpson holiday collection) under the theory that George Huff and Clay Aiken need little help from me to promote their network-friendly fare. Also, it wasn't as if anybody wrote in to thank me for backhanding 2003's American Idol holiday collection into the cheap seats anyway. Now as for William Hung, well, this was the guy everybody loved to hate on "American Idol" last season, and now he not only has a regular album, he has this nine-cut holiday CD to his name in 2004, although three cuts are just him emoting holiday platitudes over a musical bed. I'm at a loss as to why anybody would give this guy good money to record — in terms of singing ability, he's about equal to the runner-up on karaoke night in any small town in America. Nor is this album as absolutely terrible as some of the outraged denizens of the Amazon message boards would have you believe. You could put this on during a Christmas party and no one would pay any attention to it. So it's neither good in the conventional sense, nor does it have that so-bad-it's good thing going on that might win it a slot on a future John Waters holiday collection.


"I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping at the Mall," Housewives on Prozac (B.T. Puppy)

This all-soccer-mom band lays a fun novelty single on us for 2003, just in time for the lady who got mowed down on Black Friday at Wal-Mart while trying to buy a $20 DVD player. (Subsequent coverage of that story suggests the victim has a Selma Bouvier-like hobby of filing lucrative nuisance lawsuits.) Anyway, the H-on-P's tell us about the "small stampede/on aisle number three" that resulted in the title. The vocal is kind of talky, which makes it more of a novelty than a rocker, but so many people, especially the female variety, will sympathize. They've also released this tune on a 2004 album that's mostly live and includes another holiday tune, "Naughty Santa," and a bunch of non-holiday songs.


Christmas Everywhere, Petty Booka (Weed)

A little research following on from the Annoying Music Show Holiday CD led me to this 2003 CD. This ukelele-plunking Japanese duo did a bluegrass "Material Girl" for that album, and that led me to their website and to their very own Christmas album. What seemed like inspiration of the slightly deranged variety on the above-mentioned song ends up being just mildly quirky when spread across a whole CD. Two Japanese women singing folk-country fusion in their second language ends up being a one-joke concept. Still, you will definitely enjoy their Latin-flavored (yes) "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and it's up to you whether to choose the version they sing in English or the one they do in Japanese. The pair likes to play around with Hawaiian music, so no surprise, they cover "Christmas Island" and "Mele Kalikimaka." The traditional "Christmas Coming" is done as a round, and they do Steve Goodman's "Colorado Christmas." I suppose this album's "Material Girl" would be their version of John Prine's "Christmas in Prison," in that its presence is incongruous compared to the rest of the material. Overall, it sounds mostly like a pop-country-folk thing in the Kingston Trio vein, except of course for the girls' distinctive singing and accents.


Jobe Bells, Afroman (Hungry Hustler)

The "Because I Got High" guy gets all Blowfly on us with this Christmas collection, giving us the holiday 411 from the point of view of all the gangstas, hos and chronic aficionados out there. A lot of this sounds like Afroman just let the recording equipment roll while he dreamed it up, but what the heck, right? Among the better cuts are "I Wish You Would Roll Me a New Blunt" — "and pass me a beer," it continues; "12 J's of Christmas" describes the many ways you can get hassled by The Man; "Death to the World" is Afroman's way of rocking the vote, a bit late unfortunately; and who could miss "O Chronic Tree," right? Don't forget to visit the music and video section of Afroman's site, where four bonus cuts are waiting for listeners — "Frosty the Snowman," "Afroman Is Coming to Town," "Let Her Blow" and "Police Blow My Wad."


Fifty Grand For Christmas, Paul Holt (Sanctuary UK)

Now this 2004 single is an "American Idol" Christmas record I can get behind. Don't know if this is a true story, but Simon Cowell himself allegedly told Holt he'd write a check for 50,000 quid if Holt ever made it to the top of the charts. From there originates this song and its associated video, in which Cowell himself puts in an appearance. It's your basic 70's hard rock performance of a hooky little tune. I think this is only a British release.


The Annoying Music Show Holiday CD, various artists (Annoying Music Show Records)

Jim Nayder has carved out a nice career for himself with this concept, which should make me jealous since I was doing something similar to this on public radio a quarter century ago. But let me get the caveats out of the way first. By "Holiday CD," he means songs for all the holidays of the year, not just Christmas. Which may make this more or less valuable to you. I have to admit I have a quibble with Nayder's approach, which is sort of Dr. Demento with a much more pathetic record collection. Back in the day when I used to do this -- along with several friends who taught me radio -- we used to drop unspeakable tunes of the kind Nayder peddles right in among the regular music, with only the mildest acknowledgment that the listeners actually heard what we had just foisted off on them. We didn't get a franchise out of it, but the reactions from listeners were priceless. Anyway, of the Christmas stuff, he gets Tiny Tim out of the way early with "O Holy Night," "Hanukkah Rocks" by Gefilte Joe and the Fish crosses over from Dr. Demento, Larry Nestor's "Santa Claus Doesn't Smoke Anymore" is a hoot, but Dan Blocker's Ponderosa take on "Deck the Halls" somewhat less of one. "Jingle Bells" by Jeff St. Pierre is performed entirely with rubber bands, and Nayder seems hooked on this John "Bowtie" Barstow guy -- he gets to mangle "Do You See What I See," "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night." The non-Christmas tunes are better, particularly the bluegrass "Material Girl" sung by Japanese act Petty Booka (see their Xmas CD, elsewhere) and the 30s pop arrangement of "MacArthur Park." Oh, and Nayder likes vinyl record-style surface noise way too much.


"Carol of the Meows," Guster (Palm/Reprise)

Now this 2004 single is a novelty. The Boston rockers essentially sang "Carol of the Bells" a cappella, substituting "meow" for "ring." A one-joke song, true, but well done and begging for a slot on your mix CDs. I found this on iTunes, but not on disc so far.


"Merry F#%$in Christmas," Denis Leary (Comedy Central)

The popular actor and standup makes his second foray into music (since his popular tune "I'm an Asshole") with this, an appropriately sing-songy holiday tune written by the album's producer Chris Phillips. The music is intentionally mall and elevator quality and the lyrics are, well, no surprise given the title, but plenty of fun. There's a live version on the same-named CD along with a bunch of Leary standup riffs. Great fun, but only some of you will be able to put this on a mix disc or tape.


Christmas Comedy Vol. 1, American Comedy Network (Laugh.com)

The ACN does pre-packaged sketches and songs for radio, and this 2002 collection is apparently a collection of their greatest hits. There's 41 cuts on this CD, all under two minutes, many under one, and though you might not want to be bothered listening to the whole thing, there's plenty of change-of-pace items for your holiday mix discs and tapes. The song parodies fall a little short of the Bob Rivers standard, but there's plenty to laugh at, including "Wrap That Gift," a parody of "Whip It"; the consumer warning disclaimer of "Beware All Ye Faithful"; the lament "No Rest For Married Gentlemen," about gift-giving to wives; "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer Again" and "Tired of the Hanukkah Song," skewering two excessively popular novelty tunes; and the Sinatra parody "That Present Is Just Crap," set to "The Lady Is a Tramp." The sketches run the gamut as well, although the ones with celebrity impersonators may require you to check the liner notes to see who they're supposed to be. Given the age of some of these bits, it's remarkable that they all seem to hold up pretty well.


Mr. Cork's Totally Off the Wall Whacked Out Christmas Songs, Mr. Cork (self-issued)

Unlike the folks who sold us the Iraq war, Mr. Cork will never be accused of misleading anyone with the title of this 2003 CD. It's novelty all the way, and probably isn't for everyone, though it's not quite as far beyond the pale as John Valby. It's basically homemade pop rock with fairly obvious drum machines and attitude substituting for talent on the vocals, but there are some fair giggles here. Mr. Cork definitely isn't speaking to the medical marijuana crowd with "Roll Me a Big Ass Joint for Christmas," "The Christmas Tattoo" brings us an ode to "Merry Christmas to you" plastered on his butt, and he's kind of glad "My Wife Left Me for Santy Claus." "Diarrhea on Christmas Day" could probably have done without the extended spoken word parts, as it was funny enough on its own. But Chipmunks fans will get a kick out of "The Squirrels Go Beserk at Christmas," and you'll quickly understand why "I Got Messed Up at Christmas," though you won't want everyone to hear. And "A Recycled Christmas Story" discusses the re-gifting phenomenon in somewhat different terms. Not bad, but some of this probably could have stood to bake a little longer.


I Saw Hanukkah Harry Beat Up Santa, Hal Singer and Georganna Barry-Singer (SPS Records)

We're always looking for good stuff for the Hanukkah page, and the Harry vs. Santa thing looked promising. Harry carries his eight days' worth of goodies in a flying Cadillac and one night Santa pulls a hit 'n run on it with his sleigh, causing Harry to chase him down to a kosher deli in Los Angeles and take a poke at the jolly elf. Funny the first time, but it carries through with the usual boatload of cliches, including the obligatory Jewish accent. The other nine songs include seven Christmas originals, nothing likely to bowl you over. As rock as it gets is (wait for it) "Rockin' Christmas Stocking," not too bad but put over with an Elvis impersonator so that we'll know it's a "rocker." Then we get the fat Elvis a little later with "My Warm Christmas Heart." If you're a Hanukkah Harry fan, you'll probably want this, but otherwise it's no great shakes.


"Yep-Py-Ki-Yo Christmas," Hanley Johnson (JerJamHan)

Thanks to the fine folks at the 365 Days Project (scroll down) for this, and a couple of others from beyond the pale. Don't know what year this originated, but curator "The TOD" fills in the cracks: "Hanley is from Pontiac, Mich., just down the road from me. I figure Hanley must be about 75 or he has passed into eternal sleep." You can download this from 365, and you probably should; this bit of amateur country boogie definitely stands up to anything on the American Song Poem Project. It's originally from the album Merry-Go-Round of Life, and the download actually includes two songs, the first one being "Cotton-Tail Boogie."


A Very Larry Christmas, Larry the Cable Guy (Jack/Warner Bros.)

You "Blue Collar Comedy" fans know all about Larry, whose routine is less suburban everyguy, as his name might suggest, than the redneck humorist he actually is. This is mainly spoken word comedy with just a few short musical interludes that Larry sings a cappella and off-key. So the verdict on this album comes down to whether you find Larry funny in the first place. There are 28 cuts, none of which are more than two and a half minutes long and many that are less than half a minute, so you might want to sprinkle one or two cuts among the songs on your mix tapes and discs. There are some laughs here, mostly of the red-state variety, but there are plenty of universal observations as well. A few of the bits, like the opening "Christmas Commentary," with its overdone pokes at "politically correct" straw men, didn't make me laugh because I've heard people in my community say the exact same things in all seriousness. But Larry gets plenty of screen time nowadays, between the WB and Comedy Central, so you can feel free to make up your own mind about him. Update: For 2007, Larry takes another dip into the Christmas snuff with Christmastime in Larryland.


"Merry Christmas (I'll Have a Broke New Year)," Guy Smilee (self-issued)

I was a little wary about this tune because the PR materials billed it as one of those pre-feminism numbers about the wife maxing out the credit card. Turns out the lyrics spread the blame around as a general lament about overdoing the gift-giving, so we're all cool with it now. (But the folks promoting this might want to adjust their pitch a tad.) It's a mid-tempo number with that late Seventies/early Eighties album rock sound, so fans of Journey and Night Ranger will be real comfortable with this one.


"Hava Nagila (Christmas Arrangement)," Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (Fat Wreck Chords)

This is a short number that sets the Yiddish folk song to the music for "Feliz Navidad" and then cranks up the tempo to full punk. It's the last cut on Ruin Johnny's Bar Mitzvah, and we're not sure whether it deserves a Hanukkah Alert or not, as it's not really a Hanukkah song. But it's good for laughs, as is the rest of the album, in which they portray a semi-obnoxious cover band with tunes like "Superstar," "Come Sail Away," "Delta Dawn" and "Stairway to Heaven," along with hidden cuts "Sloop John B" and "Seasons in the Sun." There's also a thrashed-out "Auld Lang Syne" on here, too. From 2004.


Rudy and the Surf Kings Do Christmas, Rudy and the Surf Kings (Righteous Rude/Rockingdale)

This is pretty much self-explanatory — more surf music versions of Christmas standards. The band has other albums out, so they're apparently deep into the genre. From 2002, they give us "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Deck the Halls," "Silent Night," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "What Child Is This," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Nicely played, but if you already have something like this there isn't much new here. Just made available to iTunes.


White Trash Christmas, Bob Rivers (Atlantic)

Back again in 2002 with a fresh batch of parodies, Rivers gets topical with "What If Eminem Did Jingle Bells," "Merry Christmas Allah" with a Karen Carpenter takeoff, "Have Yourself an Ozzy Little Christmas" (the earlier parody "I Am Santa Claus" is more fun, though), and "BeClaus I Got High." "Osama Got Run Over By a Reindeer" is a year late, though, since Saddam is this year's evildoer of choice. His satires of classic tunes are always worth waiting for, and this time we get "Aquaclaus," based on the old Jethro Tull hit, and the Billy Paul homage "Me and Mrs. Claus." The risque angle is handled happily this year with "The Little Hooters Girl," and the remaining tunes are the title song, "Shoppin' Around for a Christmas Tree" and "I'll Be Stoned For Christmas." As usual, it'll be hard to pick just one cut for our mix tapes and CDs. Update: Rich Lewis points us to this Flash video for the title song.


A Six Degrees Collection: Christmas Remixed, various artists (Six Degrees)

OK, this is where I came in. This music originated as the stuff that started me collecting rock Christmas records. Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, the Cathedral Brass, and so on -- strictly Columbia House holiday collection stuff. With the advent of Pro Tools and the rise of the DJ as visionary artist rather than some guy with two record players, we now have this trend toward disassembling old swing 'n sway records and reassembling them into new club dancing ones with the help of beatboxes and rhythm loops. I will admit to a belief that Charles Brown didn't need to be fiddled with in this way, but otherwise this is kind of fun in a faddish sort of way. (I wonder what the reaction would have been if my generation had access to this kind of technology -- would we have chosen to deconstruct our parents' music this way, and if so would there have been heavier repercussions from offended adults?) My suspicion is that within a few years this will be looked at in the same light as the Salsoul disco Christmas album -- at which point I may have to evaluate whether to file this as pop/dance or novelty.


St. Nick's Christmas, The Lonely Hearts Band (Not Lame)

More Beatles-related tomfoolery, this all-instrumental album recasts 12 Christmas standards as the tunes on a Bizarro World version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Essentially, Tom Marolda of the band The Toms lays the arrangements from the various songs off "Pepper" over the Christmas songs. So we get "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" done as both versions of "Sgt. Pepper," "The Christmas Song" as "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" as "Getting Better," and so on, until we get to a medley of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Good King Wenceslas" in place of "A Day in the Life." He maintains the playing order of the original album for dramatic effect as well. While this is an imaginative idea and the album is listenable, the dramatic effect of the juxtapositions is minimal to these ears. Possibly this is the site's prejudice in favor of vocal music manifesting here, but there's a certain "Eureka!" factor we get when listening to the Rubber Band doing "Mary's Boy Child" as "Nowhere Man" that none of the songs on this album can duplicate. Nevertheless, this is fun to have around, and two bonus tracks, "Fake Christmas" by The Toms and "Surviving Christmas" by Horizontal Ladies Club, are good power pop that add value to this CD.


"S&M X-mas," McCallGirl (self-issued)

This is your basic folksinger's novelty song with sound effects overlaid to spice up the performance. It includes just enough in the way of specific references to convince you the singer didn't spend long evenings in the library looking up things to rhyme with "ball gag." You'll enjoy lyrics like these: "Each time that I spank you, I expect a please and thank you." This will jump out of the background on your holiday mix tape or CD. Two additional tunes are non-Christmas bonuses on this CD single.


Mr. Mojo's Christmas, The Wise Men (self-issued)

Somebody e-mailed me about this item and I managed to track it down to NPR's website, complete with a Real Audio copy of it. The Wise Men are McCrea Adams and Robert McClenaghan, and this is a complete Doors takeoff, a medley of several of the band's tunes combined with a medley of carols, complete with a re-enactment of the spoken interlude of "The End": "Rudolph," "Yes, Santa," "I want to kill you." Absolutely indispensable for Doors fans like myself. Since I originally posted this review, The Wise Men have contacted the site to let us know that CD singles are available for $6.99 (shipping included) from H.M. Adams, P.O. Box 17131, Encino, CA 91316 (Checks, money orders payable to H.M Adams). Something different in the same vein is the Bing/Doors hybrid "We Three Kings" on Blame It On Christmas.


Flatulina's Fabulous Holiday Spectacular, Flatulina (Fabulation)

If this had come from somebody in the Howard Stern orbit, I would have probably dismissed it out of hand. But I have to give Flatulina credit for shameless promotion, myth-making and plagiarism beyond the call of duty. Some examples: Her dad was Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap. Her boyfriend is noted film director Alan Smithee, whom she met when she composed the musical score for the film they both were working on, "Rochelle Rochelle." Her previous boyfriend was Chris Gaines. She played the role of Maris Crane on "Frazier." And so on. John Lennon said it best: "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal." You can decide which one she is when I tell you what's actually on the CD -- nine cuts of classic carols in which she farts the melody lines, except for "Dance of the Reed Pipes." There also are some examples of "singing fish" on the CD, but you'll have to wade through the enhanced CD portion of this album to learn what that's all about. While this is a one-joke novelty record, Flatulina manages to make the absolute most of the gag.


A Fab Four Christmas, The Fab Four (Laserlight)
Have Yourself a FAB-ulous Little Christmas, The Fab Four (Laserlight)

Wasn't this done a few years ago by the Rubber Band? Sure was, and it was fabulous. Nevertheless, the Fab Four, a fairly well-known Beatles tribute band, have met them on the field of battle, bringing with them not one, but two full albums of Christmas goodness for 2002. The Fabs take the same approach to their tunes, even attacking some of the same songs (inevitable, I guess) as the Rubber Band, but there's plenty to choose between the two, and Beatles fans won't be sorry to have all three in their collections. The Fabs cut a wider swath across the history of the Beatles -- the two CDs are even (coincidentally) color-coded the same as the famous Beatles 62-66 and 67-70 collections to tip off committed listeners -- and their vocal impressions, particularly of Paul and John, are more authentic. Some of the more inventive arrangements include "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" via "When I'm 64" and "Honey Pie," "Silent Night" as "Norwegian Wood," "The Christmas Song" as "Here, There and Everywhere," "Good King Wenceslaus" sung to "Tell Me What You See" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" as "Within You Without You." An extra treat on Fabulous is "Dear Santa," a cut from Ringo Starr's Christmas album done to the arrangement of "Oh! Darling." And if all that isn't enough for you, they're on budget label Laserlight, meaning that you can buy both of them for the cost of one regular CD. Happy Krimble, indeed.


Happy Holidays (Surrender People of Earth), Elks Skiffle Group (Happy Beat)

The Elks Skiffle Group are not a skiffle group, nor are they elks. They're a "puppet pop group from outer space" who traveled 32,000 light years to touch down in Blackpool, England and make pop records. Inexplicably, the return address on this was in Oregon. Imagine a sort of garage-lounge sound with lots of keyboards and drum machine, but less polished than real live lounge music, and you've got the Elks Skiffle Group. Their motto, "The Sound of Tomorrow Today," might better be explained as "The Sound of Yesterday's Version of Tomorrow Today." Some originals, like "Fluffly Wuffly Christmas," "Hey Ho For Christmas," "Christmas Elves Are We," "Christmas Bells" and "I Want a Teddy Bear For Christmas" mix in with some self-referential versions of classic carols, as in "We 4 Elks" and "I Saw 3 Spaceships." I haven't heard any of their non-Christmas albums, so there might be a bit of humor in the connections between those and this that I'm not getting. You definitely get value for money; this sells for $6 and includes a CD-ROM component with lots of silly goodies on it. High irony content assures that this isn't for everyone.


Hampsterdance Christmas, Hampton the Hampster (Koch)

There's nothing sadder than a fad that's run its course. (Apologies if you're still greeting people with "Wassup!") The Hampsterdance craze, once a staple of workplaces everywhere, or at least those with Internet access, has come and gone, but the fact that they managed to sell some copies of the original tune encouraged them to push their luck with this 2001 single. It's not actually terrible -- unless you're sick of the whole Hampsterdance schtick -- just a couple of carols, "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls," done in the Hampster beat with Hampster flourishes and augmented with Chipmunks vocals. Coming soon: "A Nigerian Investment Opportunity Christmas" and "Sleighride With Sircam": "I send you this Christmas card in order to have your advice."


"The Chanukah Song Part 3," Adam Sandler (Sony)

It was funny when he was singing it behind the anchor desk on "Saturday Night Live." It was great to have a copy on CD when it came out on What the Hell Happened to Me. Then he trots it out again for "Part 2" on Stan and Judy's Kid. Starting to wear us down, Adam. Now here we go again, with "Part 3" on the soundtrack to "Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights," a deeply vulgar and idiotic animated comedy from 2002 about Hanukkah. And all he's really doing is trotting out new versions of the verses about who is and is not a Jew. Enough already. Go pick on Kwanzaa for a while now, Adam.


It's Christmas (Let's Have Sex), Dr. Duke Tumatoe (J-Bird)

The Indianapolis-based Tumatoe is one of those guys with one foot in the blues and the other in comedy, and this is a solid effort, if rated PG-13. Most of the tunes are original, but then where else could he come up with the title song, or "Eat Me -- I'm a Turkey?" The only covers on the album are "All I Want for Christmas is to Lay Around and Love On You," the Chuck Willis tune (thanks to Art Spencer for identifying the originator), and "Santa Claus Santa Claus," originally done by James Brown. Christmas dinner goes wrong in "Christmas at Grandma's," and you might agree on "Christmas -- I Can't Take It" since flatulence plays a key role. Overall, good for some holiday giggles with a minimum of cringe-worthy lines.


"I Wish It Could Be a Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day," The Wombles with Roy Wood (Dramatico)

Back in the early 1970s, there was The Wombles, a British kids' puppet show that also released records like "Remember You're a Womble" and "Wombling Merry Christmas." Then there was Roy Wood, creative spark plug of The Move, cofounder of Electric Light Orchestra, founder of Wizzard and eccentric solo artist; his Boulders solo album from 1972, on which he played all the instruments, is one of the great lost rock albums of all time. And of course, Roy is the man who, with Wizzard, gave us "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day." Needless to say, this 2000 single is son of the bride of Frankenstein. It's cute if you get the gag, but, well, having taken this long to read the entire back story above....


"Even Squeaky Fromme Loves Christmas," The Rev. Glen Armstrong (self-issued)

Another one from the 365 Days Project courtesy of "The TOD," it's hard to tell whether this guy is pulling our leg or not. This holiday polka is rendered with gusto and a straight face. The TOD lets us know that Armstrong was a member of a Detroit-area band called The Dirty Clergy and that copies of this record were procured at a garage sale at Armstrong's mother's house, but I'll let you visit 365 Days and get the full story, as well as the download. Be sure to scroll down, and try not to get distracted....


"Poor Old Santa Claus," Jeri Kelly (MPI)

You'll come for the surface noise, you'll stay for what sounds like a child's vocal at first, but most likely is not, and the spoken word bit provided by a wanna-be hipster will close the deal on this 1960 single. And that's before the song's punchline puts the jolly elf in his skivvies. Yet another 365 Days Project archived this time by Bob Purse, available for download at the site. (Scroll down till you find it.)


Herniated Jingle Balls The Extended Version, John Valby (Laugh.com)

A strictly novelty item from 2000, Valby gives us 23 familiar carol parodies, all of which are pretty gross sex gags. Strictly NC-17-rated stuff, there's no Parental Advisory sticker, and worse, the song titles are toned down from what actually comes out of your speakers. There are some laughs nevertheless, but this isn't something you're likely to want on your Christmas mix. Sean Delany tells us he can trace this item to a version released on Gembok back in 1984, although this is possibly re-recorded and otherwise added to.


Mingle Smells, Clumpy (Clumpymusic)

From deep in the wilds of down-underest Australia, Bern McInerney and Tony Hennessy decided they'd rather cut an album than go Christmas shopping, and so this was their gift to all and sundry in 2001. Boy, I wish I'd thought of that. (I wondered whether I should feature something nobody will be able to get their hands on, but I figured my mailbox isn't exactly overflowing with DIY Christmas albums, so what the heck.) They even created an original song, "Toy Making Machine," and I'll let them describe it -- "A song which seeks to investigate the psychology behind a young Santa's inability to attain social acceptance and explores his encounter with gaseous alien beings from a planet many light-years away from our solar system who, taking pity on the big fat kid, present him with the greatest gift any kid could receive." The rest are popular covers, including what has to be the world's fastest "12 Days of Christmas," a slow-tempo "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that swings into a "Shaft" parody near the end, and a dirgey "Jingle Bells." There's also a helium-induced "Frosty the Snowman" that kicks off with a "Wizard of Oz" sample and swings into four minutes of heartbeat-electronic musique concrete, "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" done as country blues, "Little Drummer Boy" in your basic toy piano, bells and drum machine rendition, and all capped off with the NC-17 rated version of "I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus," an instrumental with lots of humping sounds.


Christmas Trim, Joel Clemons & the Lemons (Fleur de Lis)

Clemons and his band are a strong jazz combo, but the group unwisely -- in my opinion -- mixes a novelty music approach with their authentic jazz sound, and the result doesn't really do justice to the group's talent. When you consider the novelty component is juvenile sex humor mixed with sophisticated adult music, you end up with cognitive dissonance. That aspect is mostly limited to the title song, however, one of four vocal tunes on this 2003 album. The rest is instrumental music, mostly standards, although the original vocal "Christmas Alone" is a decent holiday ballad and a mambo "Auld Lang Syne" is always fun. As a jazz album it's more than listenable, but it falls way short as a novelty record. Update: Clemons cut another Xmas CD in 2006, Christmas Is Cool.


Mistletunes

Eras: The Beginning, The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, The 21st Century

Genres: Reggae, Soul/R&B, Rap, Blues, Punk, Surfin' Xmas, Tropical

Novelties: Fifties and Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, The 21st Century

Compilations: Regular Comps, Charity Comps, Soundtracks

Special Reports: Recent Releases, Hanukkah, Miscellaneous