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"I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus," Kip Addotta (Laff)

Standup comic Addotta does this 1984 turnaround on the pop hit about Mommy and Santa and he does a wonderful job of selling a very simple punchline. Needless to say, if I tell you what it is, I'll have to kill you -- or at least you won't enjoy the record as much. It's still available on the first Dr. Demento novelty Christmas CD.

"I Won't Be Twisting This Christmas," Father Guido Sarducci (Warner Brothers)

The Blues Brothers are far from the only "Saturday Night Live" acts to make their own records. Don Novello, aka the good Father, did this tune, a bit of Brill Building boilerplate with the patented SNL Band sound, in 1980. Novello actually did two whole albums as Father Guido, now out of print, and he revisited the Christmas genre with "Santa's Lament," still available on Dr. Demento's Holidays in Dementia album.

"The Christmas Song," Billy Crystal (A&M)

The perennial Oscar host did a stint on "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1980s, and this is the Mel Torme chestnut, done as a tour through his stock SNL characters, from Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali to Sammy Davis Jr., Fernando and what's his name, the character he turned into a movie in "Mr. Saturday Night." It's OK, but it's more of a vanity production.

Christmas in the Stars, Meco (PSM/Polygram)

Concept albums are probably one of the more controversial issues in rock 'n roll; they suck, except when they're really really good. Here's a 1980 concept album that strains credulity: a Christmas album featuring C3PO and R2D2 from the "Star Wars" movies. No, really. Honest. And the songs they've given us here are worthy only of being used in a sketch on "Viva Variety" or "Mad TV." Try this song title on for size: "What Can You Get a Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?" And if that's not bad enough, they revisit the gag later in the album. Apparently they couldn't afford the actor who does C3PO's voice for the whole album, because two or three of the tunes feature absolutely no one worthy of being credited on the sleeve. This has been reissued a number of times and is still available today ever since they discovered that one of the backing musicians was the man currently known as Jon Bon Jovi.

"Christmas With the Devil," Spinal Tap (Polymer -- all right, it's really Enigma)

It's unlikely that anybody surfing this page is unfamiliar with Spinal Tap, the parody heavy metal band that was the subject of Rob Reiner's mock-documentary "This Is Spinal Tap" and has since recorded two albums, a TV special, a CD-ROM and this single. It's everything you would expect from a dunderheaded heavy metal band: "The elves are dressed in leather and the angels are in chains...." The comic actors who portrayed Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, also wrote and produced this backhanded Christmas tribute and went on to perform it on "Saturday Night Live." A great conversation-stopper when put on a mix tape, as long as there are no fundamentalists in the audience.

Twisted Christmas, Bob Rivers Comedy Group (Atlantic)

I Am Santa Claus, Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio (Atlantic)

Recorded at different times in the late 80s and early 90s, some of the cuts on these two epic Christmas albums are a little dated. Nevertheless, they are must-haves for any rockin' Christmas party. Rivers for years has been a wacky morning show DJ with an entourage to help him make these great novelties, and he has his own website, Twisted Tunes. Some cuts are popular Christmas songs and carols with their lyrics replaced, like "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear" ("Winter Wonderland"), "O Come All Ye Grateful Dead-heads" ("O Come All Ye Faithful"), "Didn't I Get This Last Year" ("Do You Hear What I Hear"), "The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen" ("God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen") and so on. The title song of "I Am Santa Claus" is done to the tune of Black Sabbath's "Ironman" and is alone worth the price of the album. Like most novelty-based albums, it is possible to wear these out quickly; nevertheless, they're worth your time. Caution: the first two are available in a 3-CD box set in which the third CD is a bunch of non-Christmas parodies from 1994; definitely dated, but there may still be some laughs if you're interested. Further albums in this series are reviewed here.

Dr. Demento's The Greatest Novelty Records of All Time Vol. 6: Christmas, various artists (Rhino)

Dr. Demento: Holidays In Dementia, various artists (Rhino)

The good doctor knows how to throw a rockin' Christmas bash, as these two albums attest. The first was originally released on vinyl in 1985 and was updated with four additional cuts in the CD age; the second came out in 1995. The first one swings between classic hit novelties like Allan Sherman's "The 12 Days of Christmas" and Spike Jones' "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," to obscure gems like Gayla Peevey's "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." There's also two classics by Stan Freiberg, "Green Christmas" and "Nuttin' For Christmas," and Cheech and Chong's "Santa Claus and His Old Lady." The vinyl version had the original "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," but the CD has the re-recorded atrocity heard more often nowadays. "Holidays" has more of the same but of more recent vintage, on average, including two Hanukkah tunes, "Hanukkah Rocks" by Gefilte Joe and the Fish, and "Hanukkah Homeboy" by Doc Mo She, a rap tune. Other top-notch novelties on this album include a Bob Rivers cut, "The Twelve Pains of Christmas," The Bob and Tom Band's "It's Christmas and I Wonder Where I Am," the Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping," and a truly demented piece by Mona Abboud called "The Pretty Little Dolly" that was actually recorded live on the Johnny Carson show (you can hear him laughing at the end). Also represented are Da Yoopers, Father Guido Sarducci and the unfunniest man alive, Ray Stevens.

"Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You're a Lovely Guy)," Max Headroom (Chrysalis)

The computer-generated sci-fi star was best known musically for appearing on an Art of Noise record, but he also got around to doing this single, which is fairly smarmy even for Max. It's actually pretty weak; you'd have to be an awfully big Max fan to tout this one. He's much better on television than on record.

"Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues," John Wesley Harding (Sire)

Harding, a guy who named himself after a Bob Dylan album and toured for several years with Elvis Costello's band, put this acoustic talking blues Christmas tune on a 12-inch single that also includes a half-serious cover of Madonna's "Like a Prayer" and a conversation with the late great Viv Stanshall, all obvious plays for collector's item status. We're mainly concerned with the Christmas tune, however, and it's a great holiday romp.

"Twelve Days of Christmas," Bob and Doug McKenzie (Mercury)

This pair of beer-swilling Canadian brothers, created by SCTV alumni Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, had such a cult following for their "Kanadian Korner" sketches on that show that they turned their success into a movie ("Strange Brew," rated by my old buddy Jim Damp as one of the great hangover movies, a genre that deserves its own website) and the album Great White North, from which comes this version of the holiday classic, in which they sing, "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a beer........." Subsequent verses concern their attempts to make this change to the lyrics scan correctly. Good fun if you're familiar with the sketches.

Meowy Christmas, Jingle Cats (Jingle Cats Music)

Here Comes Santa Claws, Jingle Cats (Jingle Cats Music)

Christmas Unleashed, Jingle Dogs (Jingle Cats Music)

The 50s novelty hit "Jingle Bells" by The Singing Dogs has an honored place in the hearts of many baby boomers and continues to turn up on the radio every Christmas. As a result, it's only natural that someone would attempt to update the legend, first with cats and recently with dogs. It's a lot easier nowadays; The Singing Dogs were created via tape editing and variable-speed oscillators, while these new ones simply mewed or barked into a sampler. These albums have their moments, but it's tough to listen to them all the way through; it's a one-joke concept. If you like to make mix tapes, like I do, one cut from any of these per tape is more than enough. The creator of the Jingle series also released Rockabye Christmas in 1997 by the Jingle Babies. Same concept, only with goo-goos and ga-gas.

Tree-side Hoot, The Christmas Jug Band (Globe)

Mistletoe Jam, The Christmas Jug Band (Relix)

It's Dan Hicks of Hot Licks fame, now gigging as Dan Hicks and the Acoustic Warriors, and this is old-style country-folk-swing adaptations of popular Christmas songs for the most part. Other names you might recognize on some of these recordings include Austin DeLone, Paul Rogers, Norton Buffalo and even occasionally Maria Muldaur. Tree-side is the better of the pair. On that CD, "Under the Mistletoe" is a Hicks original, and "Rockin' the Nativity Scene" and "He's on Holiday in His Mind" are originals by other band members. Some of the popular songs have had their lyrics rewritten by the performers here, for example, "Santa as Seen on TV" done to "The Sheik of Araby" and "S-A-N-T-A" to the tune of "Gloria." Based on the evidence from the better-titled Mistletoe Jam, however, one of these is enough for anybody. This one is less funny, in that there are more straight performances and the funny ones are more obvious, as in "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Christmas Card," for example, or "Rudolph the Bald-Headed Reindeer." There were four of these in total, including 1997's Rhythm on the Roof with its version of "Mr. Sandman" redone as "Mr. Santa," and 2002's Uncorked, which includes a cover of "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." In addition, San Francisco-area folks are likely to be able to see these tunes performed live at a local grogshop of their choice come holiday time.

"Together We Can Make a Merry Christmas," Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (Pacific Star)

You might expect this to be some sort of late 50s-early 60s beach movie artifact, but this was recorded in 1981 to capitalize on nostalgia for the Mousketeer era. It's about what you would expect, complete with orchestral backing, a children's choir and a dedication to Rodney "On the ROQ" Bingenheimer. Overall, it sounds like a 60s performance caught in amber 20 years later. Paired with "The Night Before Christmas."


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