Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Beach Boys: The Beach Boys' Christmas Album

Review # 56
Artist: The Beach Boys
Title: The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
Format: LP
Label: Capitol Records
Year: 1964
Songs: 12

Happy Holidays, 30,000 Songs readers!

Sorry about the long delay since my last post. I've been travelling and otherwise very busy for a while and only today have I had enough time for it to occur to me to write a post. I'm going to try to do a couple of holiday record reviews this week, and return with some classic hardcore next week.

The Beach Boys' Christmas Album is a record that my wife and I picked up at the Fremont Sunday Market around this time last year. This record is full of the Beach Boys' distinctive harmonies as they perform original songs like "Little Saint Nick" and "The Man With All the Toys" and Christmas classics like "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town" and "Frosty the Snowman."  I'm not the biggest Beach Boys fan, truth be told, but I like them in small doses. Maybe that's part of why I really like side one of this record, but by the end of side two have had enough. Side one is full of upbeat tunes, mostly their originals, that showcase the harmony intensive take on the Chuck Berry sound that made the band famous. If you like the Beach Boys and don't hate Christmas music, there's really nothing not to like here. These are all the songs you hear on oldies radio stations in December.

Side two, aside from maybe just being more Beach Boys songs than I need in a row, is just less fun. They save all the slow numbers for this side of the record--it begins with a version of "We Three Kings" that drags so much, it feels like my record player is on the wrong speed.  It's twice as long as anything on side one and juuuuuusssst drrrraaaaaaaaags. Even the version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," a song which is typically an upbeat number, on side two of this record feels sort of flat or sad or something. It's sandwiched between "Blue Christmas" and "White Christmas," and I think is meant to pick up the mood a bit between those two rather dour Christmas songs, but it doesn't really clear the bar.

The one moment on side two that really cracks me up is the very end. Like many Christmas albums, this one ends with a rendition of New Year's favorite "Auld Lang Syne." At the very end of the song, the band gets turned down in the mix and Dennis Wilson gets on the mic to wish all the listeners at home a happy holiday season. And he stumbles over his words: "we hope you will treasure it the way we do, and if you hap... happen to be listening to this album right now...." Now, this could hap... happen to anybody, but seriously, why didn't they do another take? Did they have a midnight deadline to get the record done in order to get it in stores in time from Christmas? By 1964, there really isn't an excuse for this sort of thing from a famous band on a major record label. They weren't exactly recording on wax cylinders. It just feels too sloppy for the Beach Boys, and it makes me laugh, every time.

Check it out: "Auld Lang Syne"

Total songs listened: 707

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