The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/06/2009
The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album has remained a tremendously popular album since its release in late 1964. It is also a short album, even by 1960’s standards, clocking in at just over 27 minutes.
I have to admit that while the disc does have some highlights, it is one of my least favorite pre-Pet Sounds releases. I think of it as a pleasant pop album more than inspirational Christmas music. But hey, that’s just me, and sales show that it was a huge seller.
The better songs were contained on side two of the original LP release. I purchased this LP when it was issued (what can I say, I’m old) and remember that I rarely played the first side.
The traditional “We Three Kings Of Orient Are” leads off with a Brian Wilson-Mike Love duet with overdubbed harmonies in support. The song is slowed down from the norm which gives it a different feel. The Beach Boys created one of the better versions of this old Christmas hymn, which has probably been recorded a thousand or so times.
Brian Wilson provides two great lead vocals on “Blue Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” His clear, high register voice has rarely sounded better and the other members provide subtle support. His interpretation of these two modern classic Christmas ballads remains poignant 44 years later.
The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album ends with a traditional New Years Eve Song. “Auld Lang Syne” is a perfect vehicle for The Beach Boys to show how well their voices fit together. Time had not yet eroded any of the members’ vocal power, and we are left with the group at the height of their singing prowess.
Side one of the original LP begins with the two Beach Boys Christmas singles. “Little Saint Nick” was released in 1963 and added to this LP. Brian Wilson and Mike Love coauthored this simple yet eternally popular Christmas ditty. It remains a radio staple every December. “The Man With All The Toys” features a lead vocal duet between Brian and Mike. This song is another simple one but does have an odd staccato refrain. Of interest is the song “Christmas Day,” which features the first Al Jardine lead vocal of his Beach Boys career.
Later album notes show that Brian Wilson was less invested in this LP than the regular studio releases. He even brought in an outside producer to work on some of the instrumental arrangements while he concentrated on the vocals. These divisions of duties show; the vocals are, for the most part of the usual Beach Boys caliber, but the instrumental backing is inferior and much more stripped down. It may be that Brian Wilson was just tired, since this was the Beach Boys fourth album release of 1964 and the eighth in 24 months.
Despite my personal feelings, The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album remains one of the group’s more popular mid-‘60s releases which is a testament to their vocal purity.
|"Merry Christmas Baby" is my favorite track!|