Dusting 'Em Off
Revisiting an album, a film, or an event on its anniversary

Dusting ‘Em Off: Dr. Demento – Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time, Volume VI: Christmas

on December 24, 2008, 3:14pm

Oh what to say about Christmas music without coming across as a Scrooge. It seems that every year we hear a new regurgitation of the same old set of songs. Really, how many different ways can you hear “White Christmas” in a day? I haven’t seen snow anytime around Christmas since the mid-nineties, and even then it was nothing to sing about. I apologize if you love hearing “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time” ad nauseum from Thanksgiving through New Years, but when it comes to Christmas music, there is a need for a serious overhaul. There are those artists that take a stab at something new for the holidays, but really, all you need for a Christmas song are some sleigh bells, and any one of the key words (holiday, snow, etc). So who is to save the holidays from endless monotony? Why not the Christmas parody? Comedians have been doing it for decades, and to be honest, they are the easiest to listen to without having to grind your teeth or roll your eyes around too much. And this is where the grandfather of the parody comes in to help us out in this seasons musical vacuum, and provide us with some light-hearted fun from a few decades ago…

Dr. Demento has made a career out of never taking life too seriously. Since 1970, his radio show has been broadcasting the best in novelty music. Being the first to make it popular, he introduced us to the likes of Cheech and Chong, and the modern king of novelty, Weird Al to name a few. Now long past his heyday, the Doctor’s name still brings fond memories for those that grew up listening to him, and even though many of his collections have been long put aside, it is his 1985 Christmas record that still gets brought out every year to remind us of how ridiculous things can get around the holidays, and provide us a chance to laugh at ourselves with a little help from some old comedian friends.

The first track, the 1947 Spike Jones hit “All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”, is admittedly quite annoying. However, up next is the Allan Sherman take on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” in which he lists all the useless gifts he’s received to the old tune. This theme is reoccurring through out the record, and really, while some of the items may sound a little dated, the joke is still timeless for anyone who has gotten that awkward “what the hell is this” gift. Up next, Dickie Goodman provides us with a hilarious 1957 Cold War-era news bulletin based around the idea that Santa was held hostage in a Russian Satellite. Carefully placed sound bites from everyone who was big in rock back then matched with early news radio-style reporting make this sketch the funniest on the record. Closing out side one (for those listening to an original cassette release) is another skit, “Green Christmas”, in which Ebenezer Scrooge leads a New York City advertising meeting on how to milk the Christmas season for all its worth. The skit leads into a set of ridiculous commercials for useless products as one employee fights for the true meaning of the holidays, only to be crushed by greed.

You’ve heard it before a hundred times, and it might even be stuck in your head right now, but this radio show was one of the first places where “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” was played, and it is here for you on this record, but this one too is avoidable for the sake of your sanity. The collection of tracks spans quite a few decades, and while listening to it is even more obvious that this was created back when radio was at the top of its game. This is re-affirmed with The Three Stooges’ 1959 holiday classic “Wreck the Halls” as they destroy holiday decorations while beating on each other.

Now, have you ever wondered what your Christmas tree is thinking? Well that answer is loosely provided by Wild Man Fischer and Dr. Demento in a quick sketch during which they call St. Nick out for trespassing and traveling with out a passport, as well as providing us with the woes of being that timeless evergreen. Closing off the record is Cheech and Chong’s 1971 story of “Santa and His Old Lady”. Richard “Cheech” Marin tells the story while Tommy Chong asks all the stoner questions to help lead it along. Funk and lounge jazz provide the soundtrack for a story that takes Santa from the New York projects to running from the law. Who knew he had to go underground up north after getting picked up in Mexico? The collection is a classic in every sense of the word. Some of its tracks come from the late ’40s, with the most recent from the early ’70s. The compilation was finally released in 1985 as part of a Dr. Demento box set, and continues to be a source for some great off the cuff holiday tunes. So when you decide enough is enough with the same old overdone songs, give this collection a shot.

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