Various Artists

Bummed Out Christmas!

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At long last, a Christmas album for the rest of us! Anyone who spends the month of December squirming as they hear a thousand trite and empty-headed musical declarations of holiday cheer finally gets a responsible statement of the opposing point of view with Bummed Out Christmas!, a collection of Yuletide music at its least cheerful. While some of these tunes are actually pretty fun -- most notably "Somebody Stole My Santa Claus Suit," with Dan Hicks fronting The Christmas Jug Band, and Sherwin Linton's "Santa Got a DWI" -- several really are truly depressing stuff, particularly George Jones' "Lonely Christmas Call," Johnny and Jon's "Christmas in Viet Nam" (in which the holiday cease-fire is violated mid-song), and the Everly Brothers' just-plain-miserable "Christmas Eve Can Kill You." But the rhythm and blues contingent really walk off with top honors here, thanks to Clyde Lasley's well-oiled "Santa Came Home Drunk," the Staple Singers' sincere "Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?," and the Youngsters' brilliant "Christmas in Jail" (which wouldn't make a bad public service announcement). So, put away that Kenny G holiday CD and give Bummed Out Christmas! a try -- it's a wonderful way to say "Bah Humbug!" to the special people in your life.

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