Friday, December 22, 2017

Smithereens 8: Christmas With The Smithereens

Only a handful of rock (as opposed to pop) bands have attempted to devote an entire album to Christmas music, so it makes sense that one of the few to try, much less succeed, would be a combo with an overt retro sound. One of the more clever novelty projects of the Smithereens’ continued career, Christmas With The Smithereens finds the band bashing their way through a variety of Yuletide-related rock ‘n roll songs.
Their choices avoid the obvious ones, and their arrangements are fresh, for the most part. “Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me” is best known as a swaggering Elvis tune, yet these guys put a distinct Merseybeat bent on it, complete with harmonica. “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” and “Run Rudolph Run” aren’t carbon copies either. Rather than retread “Little Saint Nick”, resident Beach Boys nut Dennis Diken sings lead on Brian Wilson’s “Merry Christmas Baby”, and the Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” is reinforced as a modern classic. The three originals work too, working in references to It’s A Wonderful Life being on TV, and finding albums like Shut Down Vol. 2 and Rubber Soul under the tree.
There is some filler, like the recitation of A Visit From St. Nicholas over a swing drum solo, and a four-minute expansion on the single verse of Beatles’ “Christmas Time Is Here Again!”. Even “Christmas” by the Who is an odd choice, except for foreshadowing their Tommy tribute two years down the road. But again, considering the empty field of competitors, Christmas With The Smithereens is enjoyable both as a holiday album, as well as part of their catalog.

The Smithereens Christmas With The Smithereens (2007)—

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