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Christmas Time Again

The dB’s & Friends

Omnivore Recordings 2015

Review by David Bowling


The 1986 Christmas release by the dB’s is an album that not only keeps on ticking but it keeps on expanding as well. Originally a vinyl release, it has been reissued in 1993, 2006, and now 2015. The 1986 reissue added tracks by the dB’s and “The Christmas Song” by Alex Chilton. 2006 saw Marshall Crenshaw, Don Dixon, Whiskeytown, and Caitlin Cary climbing on board the Christmas wagon. Now an array of musicians have added tracks including Robyn Hitchcock, Lydia Kavanagh, Brett Harris, Skylar Gudasz, and Big Star’s Third bringing the total to a generous 22.

As can be guessed by now, this is not your normal Christmas album, nor will any of the songs ever grace a Church Christmas Eve service. The music is a cross between power pop and alternatives rock and should be approached as such.

It is also not very cohesive as tracks have been added without much thought of fitting together. Many are quirky, some approach Christmas from oblique directions, there are a few clunkers, but many are very creative pop and rock.

“Christmas Time” and the satire of “Holiday Spirit” are what one would expect from the 1980’s oriented dB’s complete with melodic and jangly power pop. Big Star’s Third, with vocal by Mike Mills, presents the most traditional track with their live “Jesus Christ.” Also live is a jazzy rendition of “I Saw Three Ships” by Don Dixon.

Exploring the odd side of Christmas, Alex Chilton twists the classic holiday tune, “The Christmas Song” all out of shape. “Houses On The Hill” by Whiskeytown is so depressing that it can suck the energy out of any holiday celebration. Add in the gunslinger classic “The Only Law That Santa Claus Understood” by Ted Lyons and you have music for just about any holiday occasion.

Christmas Time Again by the dB’s and their ever expanding circle of friends is the Christmas present that keeps on giving through the entire year.

Rating: ***1/2