Friday, December 14, 2007


I didn't do a Terrell's Tune-Up this week, but I did review a couple of Christmas albums. So here's slightly different versions of those. At least one will be in Pasa Tempos in today's New Mexican . (Pasatiempo of course) The other one might not be in until next week, but I'll give you blog readers an early Christmas treat.

But before we get to those, I just want to say I'm real happy, in fact GLAD ALL OVER, that The Dave Clark Five finally made it to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. They've virtually been written out of most official versions of rock history, but I think they're the most seriously underrated of the British Invasion bands.

I never saw The Beatles but I saw the DC5 twice in Oklahoma City as a kid. I believe The Shangri-las were part of the package show for one of these concerts.

And back in 1964 or so I had this cheesy magazine titled something like "The Beatles vs. The Dave Clark 5." The premise was that The Beatles were threatened because "Glad All Over" had displaced "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as number one in England or something. There were these phony quotes under the photos of all the musicians. One of The Beatles , John I think, supposedly was saying "Five against four is no fair!"

Eat it, rock snobs, this is long overdue.

Here's those Christmas album reviews:

A Twismas Story with Twitty Bird & Their Little Friends
(Conway Twitty United / INgrooves)

You find them in the bargain bins at supermarkets, drug stores, truckstops discount stores everywhere this time of year — Christmas albums by Nashville stars, available now at humiliatingly low prices. Some of the greatest names in country music are among them, each offering disturbingly similar over-produced, under-inspired twangy takes on the same 20 or so holiday chestnuts.

Granted, there have been some great country Christmas tunes: Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” Dwight Yoakam’s “Santa Can’t Stay,” Buck Owens’ “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy” and Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains” are timeless masterpieces. But most of the rest of the country Christmas universe consists of useless nasally versions of “Silver Bells” and drawling renditions of “Frosty the Snowman.”

However, this album by the late great Twitty so tacky, so cheesy, so overstuffed and over-the-top with Christmas corn, it’s a perverse classic. First released in 1983, it’s been re-issued this year to shock a new generation. Twitty Bird — who was Conway’s Tweetie-like cartoon mascot (How did he not get sued by Loony Tunes?) — is portrayed here by the singer’s granddaughter. The “Little Friends” are sped-up “Chipmunk” voices. They all chatter insanely and sing about Santa, Frost, Rudolph and new holiday characters like Happy the Christmas Clown and Ding-A-Ling the Christmas Bell. Some of these are weird enough to be included on a future volume of A John Waters Christmas.

Just remember: Friends don’t let friends take hallucinogenic drugs and listen to A Twistmas Story at the same time.

Christmas in Larryland
(Warner Brothers)

The War on Christmas rages — or so Fox News would have you believe — and Larry the Cable Guy is fighting back valiantly. In true compassionate holiday spirit, Larry’s new Christmas album takes square aim at liberals, Moslems, the American Civil Liberties Union, environmentalists, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and people who don’t think fart jokes are all that hilarious.

Sometimes I wonder if Larry — in real life a guy named Dan Whitney, a Nebraska native who doesn’t have a Southern accent and never worked for a cable company — is actually trying to make conservatives look bad by playing them as dimwits. But that’s too Machiavellian. There’s probably less than meets the eye here.

On this album there’s not one but two parodies of “The Night Before Christmas.” There’s “Liberal Commie Environmental Poem” is full of hybrid sleighs, non-toxic toys, a Santa with a nose like “pesticide-free cherries” and other enlightened jabs at “political correctness.” Then in “Patriotic Poem” we don’t get Santa but the ghost of Ronald Reagan, who comes back because Christmas has been banned. But all Ronnie does really is complain about Michael Moore, John Kerry and Rosie O’Donnell. I’m just disappointed that the Gipper never says “get ‘er done.”

There’s a lengthy skit in which Larry and some friends are in a living nativity scene in front of their church just to rile the ACLU. (Apparently someone forgot to tell the Cable Guy that the ACLU doesn’t have any beef with religious displays at churches.)

The album kicks off with Larry fantasizing about hosting an “old-time radio Larry the Cable Guy Christmas spectacular” with guests including “Santa, Rudolph, the prophet Mohammed, the June Taylor Dancers ...” I’m fantasizing about Larry taking this show on a world tour. They’d love him in Sudan.

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