I know this is The Cheap Trick Collection Series, but I have to do this one album even though I don’t actually own a copy (yet) so I am able to complete an album rankings of all their studio albums. The album I don’t own is their Christmas album called ‘Christmas Christmas’. I am not a massive fan of Christmas albums so I will do my best to not be too biased on this one…I can’t promise anything. The album was released on October 20, 2017 and actually has 3 original songs written by the band which is Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson with Daxx Nielsen on drums. The remaining 9 tracks are covers with only one of those being a full on traditional song. The album is their 19th Studio album and went to #93 on the Top Album Sales and #5 on the Holiday Charts…not too bad for a Christmas album.
And one other thing. We are reviewing this in May for a posting in June and it is so not time for Christmas music, so getting in that frame of mind is difficult. I watched some Christmas movies, wore a Santa hat, wrapped some presents to give to my kids, made some eggnog and all that jazz to get in the mood and it worked!! So, let’s get going…(note: none of that is true!!)
The album kicks off with an original, “Merry Christmas Darlings”, and let me tell you…it is a great Christmas song. Robin sounds amazing, joyful and all in the Christmas spirit. The song is bouncy and has little rocking edge so don’t expect sleigh bells but lyrically it does touch on a lot of the cliches and there are a lot of “la la la las”. Robin, Rick and Tom actually wrote a decent song. And to keep it the rocking edge going we get “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Roy Wood and the Wizzards. Another upbeat track that sees Cheap Trick go full glam with lots of angst and yuletide fun.
Then we get a very unusual and welcomed pick from a Saturday Night Live skit called “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” written by Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz. Cheap Trick really rock it out and make it feel like a punk-filled Cheap Trick song. The drumming and guitar work are both exceptional by the Nielsen men. Robin sings it with energy and aggression and the band make it their own. Then we go back to the glam with a cover of Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody”. We are four songs in and this doesn’t feel like a Christmas album per se, it feels like a fun, energetic rock album with songs about Christmas!! I can dig that!
Then we get to the first misstep for me with “Please Come Home For Christmas” which is a cover of Charles Brown 1960 song. That isn’t why it is a misstep for me though. It is more from the fact Bon Jovi covered this one and it isn’t one of my favorite songs on top of that. Trick jazzes it up with a lot of blues influences. Robin tries to sing all bluesy as well and I don’t feel it. “Remember (Christmas)” by Harry Nilsson is up next and it is a piano based ballad. Robin sounds great and accompanied with the piano and a string orchestration and sleigh bells, we get a more traditional sounding Christmas song. It isn’t bad at all…although I prefer the more rocking tracks.
Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” brings back the rocking as the band picks up the tempo and the drums drive home a great beat. It has some great harmonica in it and the band seems to be having a lot of fun with it. The guitar work is great and Rick goes all Berry with it. Then we get to one of my favorite Christmas songs, the punk-filled Kinks song “Father Christmas”. A song about a Mall Santa being mugged by kids is totally awesome!! The humor is fantastic and sometimes you have to laugh at the silliness of it all. By the way…Matt Nathanson did a great cover of this song for his Christmas album.
The only true traditional Christmas song on the whole album is “Silent Night”. They don’t punk it up or rock it out, it is done like it was intended. There is an organ and little instrumentation at first, but add the guitar and other elements. Robin sings it with passion and of course he sounds totally amazing as he could sing the phone book and sound good. However, he does over do it a little. With all the other songs on here, it does feel a little out of place and doesn’t fit the mood of the rest of the album. We get the punk back with the last cover song on the album. This time around they tackle The Ramones’ song “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight)”. Now this is more like it. A rocked out Christmas song is what this whole album should be like as it makes it interesting and fun when usually Christmas music is trivial and boring.
The final two songs are both Cheap Trick originals. The first one is “Our Father of Life” which actually sounds more traditional to start with a choir of little children that goes in to an acoustic guitar and it sounds like they really wanted to do a true traditional Christmas song and they succeeded, but then again…this album is more fun when it is rocking out. Although a beautiful song in its own right, it is out of place as well especially with the children’s choir singing throughout. The final song is “Christmas Christmas” and it is more punk-filled craziness that is pure Cheap Trick. They throw in a lot of cliches, but make it fun with the blistering guitar work and pounding drums of the Nielsens and the bass beat of Petersson. Zander attacks the vocals with all his energy and attitude he can muster. At only 2 minutes they go out with a bang. At the very end of the song, they start singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and they all sound like they are drunk and having a good ol’ time.
- Merry Christmas Darlings – Keeper
- I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Keeper
- I Wish It Was Christmas Today – Keeper
- Merry Xmas Everybody – Keeper
- Please Come Home For Christmas – Delete
- Remember (Christmas) – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Run Rudolph Run – Keeper
- Father Christmas – Keeper
- Silent Night – Delete (only because it doesn’t fit the tone of most of the album).
- Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight) – Keeper
- Our Father of Life – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Christmas Christmas – Keeper
The Track Score is 9 of 12 or 75%. I have to say, I really enjoyed this one, but only on the songs that were rock and punk all rolled in to one. Give me the fun, crazy songs and that will get me in the Christmas spirit as Christmas is a crazy, nuts filled time to begin with. I have to say I was surprised how much I did like it, but again, it was only when the songs sounded like Cheap Trick which was most of them. If they would’ve done all traditional songs and the ones most every covers, this would have been a pile of…well..you know. Going the punk way and picking some non-standards they made it interesting. My Overall Score is a 3.5 Out of 5.0 Stars as I think it is a Christmas album worth having. I might actually need to run out and buy this one when I can find it. I can’t believe I just said that!!
UP NEXT: ‘ARE YOU READY? LIVE 12/31/1979’ (2019)
The Cheap Trick Collection Series:
- Cheap Trick (1977)
- In Color (1977)
- Heaven Tonight (1978)
- Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978)
- Dream Police (1979)
- Found All The Parts (1980)
- All Shook Up (1980)
- One On One (1982)
- Next Position Please (1983)
- Standing on the Edge (1985)
- “Tonight It’s You” (1985) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Mighty Wings” (1986) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- The Doctor (1986)
- Lap Of Luxury (1988)
- “The Flame” (1988) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Ghost Town” (1988) – CD Single Promo (Bonus Edition)
- Busted (1990)
- Woke Up With A Monster (1994)
- Sex, America, Cheap Trick (1996) – Box Set
- “I Want You To Want Me” (Alternate Version) (1996) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Cheap Trick (1997)
- Cheap Trick at Budokan: The Complete Concert (1998)
- Music For Hangovers (1999)
- Special One (2003)
- Rockford (2006)
- The Latest (2009)
- The Epic Archive, Vol. 1 (1975-1979) (2015)
- The Epic Archive, Vol. 2 (1980-1983) (2015)
- The Epic Archive, Vol. 3 (1984-1990) (2015)
- Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello (2016)
- We’re All Alright! (2017)
- Christmas Christmas (2017)