The Smithereens

Christmas with the Smithereens

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After an eight-year lay-off from the recording studio, the Smithereens released two albums in 2007. However, it doesn't bode well for their creative process that the first of those albums was comprised entirely of Beatles covers, and the second was a Christmas disc. However, Christmas with the Smithereens at least features three original tunes (which is three more than Meet the Smithereens!), and as rock & roll Christmas albums go, this is good fun and admirably eclectic. The Smithereens are pretty broad-minded when it comes to what constitutes a Yuletide melody, given the presence of "Christmas," a not especially seasonal tune from the Who's Tommy, and they dig up the Beatles rarity "Christmas Time Is Here Again," as well as cutting a version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" that's a dead ringer for the Fab Four. Seasonal numbers from the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, and the Ramones also make the set list, and you get a snappy spoken word rendition of "The Night Before Christmas" as well as some rollicking proto-surf boogie on "Auld Lang Syne." The big surprise here is that Pat DiNizio shares the vocal mic with his bandmates for a change, and if guitarist Jim Babjak and drummer Dennis Diken aren't quite up to DiNizio's standard as a singer, they fit their selections better than DiNizio's often-gloomy tone. Fans waiting for a "real" Smithereens album will apparently have to wait a bit longer, but Christmas with the Smithereens is more thoughtful and intriguing than the average tossed-together holiday offering, and the best moments are a clear reminder of what makes this band worthwhile.

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