Barenaked For The Holidays
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/06/2004
If there's one thing you can depend on with a Barenaked Ladies CD, it's that you get two CDs for the price of one. Even on this, their latest CD, a collection of holiday songs, there's two separate undercurrents going on. On the one hand, you have the quirky humorous side of the Canadians, and on the other side the sudden moments of sober, serious thought-provocation. The question is usually whether they can pull off both in the context of the CD; on Barenaked For The Holidays, they manage quite nicely.
You won't confuse this CD with any other, certainly. From the opening "Jingle Bells", which starts out as a minor-key Ben-Folds-like version and without warning mutates into a manic polka, to the cheesy Casio keyboard takes on "O Holy Night" and "Wonderful Christmastime", Barenaked For The Holidays keeps you guessing. The tongue-in-cheek labor rabblerousing tone of "Elf's Lament" and the truly incomprehensible "Deck The Stills" keep the fun coming. (The less said about "Deck The Stills", the better. It is, quite possibly, the most bizarre thing BNL has ever recorded.)
Of course, scattered through these Yuletide land mines of silliness are some really beautiful, serious holiday songs. There are some breathtaking originals like the wistful "Snowman" and the holiday love story "Footprints", as well as a great selection of Hanukkah songs - including the truly incredible "Hanukkah Blessings". (Now, asks the Pagan, where's the Solstice songs? Huh?) BNL even whips out their own take on the Mannheim Steamroller vibe with an instrumental "Carol Of The Bells". Add to that unique takes on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "I Saw Three Ships" (with mandolin, yet), and "Do They Know It's Christmas?", and you have a funfilled holiday smorgasbord of tones and tunes. The elegance of the closing "Auld Lang Syne" caps the CD off perfectly.
As far as I'm concerned, everyone should get Barenaked For The Holidays. (Except your Uncle Joe. That would just be disgusting.)