Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dr. Demento: Holidays In Dementia (Christmas Comedy Compilation)

This CD contains some of the best Christmas comedy songs, including "The Twelve Pains Of Christmas" and "The Pretty Little Dolly."

Dr. Demento is famous for his weekly syndicated radio show, which started in the early 1970s, and which had him playing all sorts of novelty songs. Several collections of these songs have been released over the years, including Holidays In Dementia.

While this compilation focuses on funny Christmas songs and parodies, it also includes a couple of Hanukkah songs, as well as two New Year's Eve songs. For the most part, these songs are clever as well as hilarious, but there are certainly a couple of weak tunes also.

"The Twelve Pains Of Christmas"

"The Twelve Pains Of Christmas" is probably the best of the many parodies of "The Twelve Days Of Christmas." It lists all (well, not all - only twelve) things that are very annoying about the holiday, including "Five months of bills, sending Christmas cards, hangovers, rigging up the lights and finding a Christmas tree."

As the song continues, more details are added, and that's when it gets really funny, particularly the guy who is trying to rig up the Christmas lights. He gets more and more frustrated, saying, "What - we have no extension cords?" and "Now why the hell are they blinking?" and "One light goes out, they all go out."

This is a song that most everyone can relate to. It was included on the album Twisted Christmas (1987).

"Gridlock Christmas"

The Hollytones' "Gridlock Christmas" tells the story of people who are stuck in traffic and unable to get home to their loved ones. While at first they're frustrated, they end up getting out of their cars and celebrating with one another.

The Hollytones actually have two songs on this compilation, the other being "Christmas Is Coming Twice This Year." Both songs are from their 1992 album Gridlock Christmas (which was re-released in 2007).

"It's Christmas And I Wonder Where I Am"

Ah yes, "It's Christmas And I Wonder Where I Am" is about that most wonderful of holiday traditions - getting completely sloshed. The vocals are sung as if by Dudley Moore in Arthur.

Here is a taste of the lyrics: "I had a beer at my brother's/Had eggnog at my mother's/Then two bottles of wine/Which automobile is mine?/It's Christmas and I wonder where I am/Someone caught me dancing with a snowman/A policeman came and put me in his car/He said, 'Are you drunk?'/And I said, 'No, man, but could you drop me off at the next bar?'"

"It's Christmas And I Wonder Where I Am" is by The Bob & Tom Band.

"Santa Claus Is Watching You"

"Santa Claus Is Watching You" is a song about the paranoia engendered by the Santa Claus myth. The best part of this song is the alarmed little child shouting out, "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"

This song also has Rudolph laid up from a busted hip (from a Twist contest), and his replacement is a camel named Clyde. Why not?

"Santa's Lament"

Father Guido Sarducci's "Santa's Lament" is a song sung from Santa's point of view, in which he tells people what he wants because he's sick of listening to what others want from him.

He sings, "I want out of the grind/I want some peace of mind/I want Christmas every other year/I want a Barbie doll/About five feet tall/I'm sick of being with deer all the time."

There are children doing backing vocals, demanding various items.

This song also makes fun of Rudolph, which is wonderful. "You know how long a reindeer like that would last with a nose like that in the woods come hunting season? About two minutes. He would be tied to the hood of some Pontiac, heading toward some recreation room in Michigan."

"Rusty Chevrolet"

"Rusty Chevrolet" is a parody of "Jingle Bells." Here is the chorus: "Oh, rust and smoke, the heater's broke/The door just blew away/I light a match to see the dash/And then I start to pray/The frame is bent, the muffler went/The radio, it's okay/Oh what fun it is to drive/This Rusty Chevrolet."

"Christmas Is Coming Twice This Year"

"Christmas Is Coming Twice This Year" is a wonderful little tune about how divorce affects selfish children. The girl, Ashley, says to her mom, "When we go to Dad's he gets anything we want. Are you going to let him do that to you?" She also asks, "Can't you afford to take care of me?" as she demands a larger television and a VCR.

Then it's the boy's turn. Brandon tells his father he wants a lot of pornographic magazines and weapons. When his father expresses dismay, Brandon says, "All Mom's getting me is a stupid new computer. She says that violent stuff warps my head. She never lets me watch any slasher movies like you do, Dad. You know, sometimes I wish she were dead."

The chorus is, "Christmas is coming twice this year/Once with Mommy, then again with Dad/They feel real crummy ‘cause they split up/I’ll get more presents than I’ve ever had/Grandparents falling all over themselves/To get me something really rad/Christmas is coming twice this year/And all I’ve got to do is try and look sad."

"Christmas Wrapping"

"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses is absolutely one of the best Christmas songs ever written (I would say second only to The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York"). It's totally fun, it has a great rhythm, and it has a sweet and happy ending.

It tells the story of a woman who's tired and has decided to keep the holiday low-key. She sings, "So deck those halls, trim those trees/Raise up cups of Christmas cheer/I just need to catch my breath/Christmas by myself this year."

But then forgetting cranberries leads her to sing, "So on with the boots, back out in the snow/To the only all-night grocery/When what to my wondering eyes should appear/In the line is that guy I've been chasing all year." And guess what? He forgot cranberries too. A wonderful, silly happy ending.

"Christmas Wrapping" was written by Chris Butler, and included on the 1982 record by The Waitresses, I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get The Parts. "Christmas Wrapping" was also included on the holiday compilation A Rock 'N' Roll Christmas (1994).

"Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town"

Joseph Spence does the absolute best version of "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town." He hardly sings it at all, just mumbles a few of the lines, and that's what helps to make it such a great version. Because, seriously, those lyrics aren't any good. And it's wonderful how he calls him "Santy Claw." And his guitar work is fantastic. This is a live recording.

For another good version of this song, check out Bruce Springsteen's rendition, which is included on the compilation, Christmas Of Hope.

"A Terrorist Christmas"

"A Terrorist Christmas" is another parody of "The Twelve Days Of Christmas," but it's pretty weak. It just lists the various weapons that the terrorist receives, and then ends in an explosion.

"The Pretty Little Dolly"

"The Pretty Little Dolly" is one of the funniest, silliest Christmas songs ever recorded. It was written by Jim Fisk, and sung by Mona Abboud. Here is a taste of the lyrics, sung in a little girl voice: "The pretty little dolly can sing/The pretty little dolly can shout/Hold her footsies high above her head, and she passes out/The pretty little dolly can plead/The pretty little dolly can beg/And she screams in realistic pain when you break her leg."

This version was recorded live at a performance on The Tonight Show in 1966. At the end, Johnny Carson can be heard laughing.

"Happy New Year"

"Happy New Year" is one of this compilation's best tracks. Spike Jones & His City Slickers take turns telling their resolutions. For example, "When I take a lovely lady out to eat/And she orders caviar instead of meat/I resolve to let the lady have her fill/And of course I'll also let her pay the bill/This is my New Year's Resolution." This recording is from 1948.

CD Track List

  1. The Twelve Pain Of Christmas - Bob Rivers Comedy Corp
  2. It's So Chic To Be Pregnant At Christmas - Nancy White
  3. Gridlock Christmas - The Hollytones
  4. It's Christmas And I Wonder Where I Am - The Bob & Tom Band
  5. Santa Claus Is Watching You - Ray Stevens
  6. Santa's Lament - Father Guido Sarducci
  7. Rusty Chevrolet - Da Yoopers
  8. Christmas Is Coming Twice This Year - The Hollytones
  9. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
  10. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town - Joseph Spence
  11. A Terrorist Christmas - James & Kling
  12. Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie
  13. The Pretty Little Dolly - Mona Abboud
  14. Hanukkah Rocks - Gefilte Joe & The Fish
  15. Hanukkah Homeboy - Doc Mo She
  16. Happy New Year - Spike Jones & His City Slickers
  17. New Year's Resolutions - Scary Gary Alan

This CD was released in 1995 through Rhino Records.

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