Saturday, October 31, 2009

Album of the Day #170: CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART - Bob Dylan

Artist: Bob Dylan

Title: Christmas In The Heart
Year: 2009
Label: Columbia
Songs: Here Comes Santa Claus [Gene Autry & Oakley Haldeman]/Do You Hear What I Hear? [Gloria Shayne Baker & Noel Regney]/Winter Wonderland [Felix Bernard & Richard Smith]/Hark The Herald Angels Sing [Trad./Arr. by Bob Dylan]/I'll Be Home For Christmas [Walter Kent, Kim Gannon & Buck Ram]/Little Drummber Boy [Kathrine Davis, Henry Onorati & Harry Simeone]/The Christmas Blues [Sammy Cahn & David Jack Holt]/O' Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) [Trad./Arr. by Bob Dylan]/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas [Ralph Blane & High Martin]/Must Be Santa [William Fredericks & Hal Moore]/Silver Bells [Raymond Evans & Jay Livingston]/The First Noel [Trad./Arr. by Bob Dylan]/Christmas Island [Lyle Moraine]/The Christmas Song [Mel Torme & Bob Wells]/O' Little Town Of Bethlehem [Trad./Arr. by Bob Dylan]
Produced by Jack Frost
Thoughts: When rumors of a Bob Dylan Christmas record started, I quickly thought it was a joke and didn't think it was possible. Then, it happened and I figured I would laugh through all 45 minutes of it and completely ignore the fact that it might just not be that good.
Simply put, it's not that good. The record is certainly entertaining, though. I don't think Dylan himself is probably thinking of it as a serious studio album that should be put in the same category as Blonde on Blonde, Blood On The Tracks or "Love And Theft". In fact, I don't think it should be allowed within a ten-mile radius of those's better off hanging out with Dylan And The Dead.
Now, I don't think it's as horrid or as unlistenable as that disgusting record, especially since Christmas In The Heart at least has some charm to it. There's the fantastic "Here Comes Santa Claus" opening, the terrific "Little Drummer Boy" (which definitely is the best track here) and the beauty in "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "Silver Bells".
Christmas In The Heart is definitely the first album since Under The Red Sky to not receive unanimous critical acclaim. The press seems divided into two camps: there's the people that think it's a complete joke or the people that think it's another example of Dylan exploring 'America's roots' and gave the album five stars. Personally, I'm a little half-and-half on it. As I said, there's some absolutely hilarious tracks ("Must Be Santa" is especially side-splitting, as Dylan name-checks every President since Nixon in the final verse) and then you have the religious Christmas tracks that Dylan appears to take completely seriously ("O' Little Town Of Bethlehem" is one of Dylan's great closing moments).
If you really like Christmas records, I say there's no reason not to get this, just so you can hear what a craggy old man sounds like singing Christmas carols (and you won't have to go to a retirement home to do it!). For those Uncle Scrooges of the world, you certainly won't want this. Oh, and if you are actually having trouble deciding if you should get the deluxe or the regular editions, get the regular. The deluxe just comes in a sleeve like Together Through Life, but the lone extra is a pack of five greeting cards with the album cover and envelopes!

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On behalf of Bob Dylan, many thanks for plugging “Christmas In The Heart”, the charity album benefiting Feeding America, Crisis and the World Food Programme … .. and, if your readers want good quality, non-pirated, previews, then “Must Be Santa” is available for fans and bloggers to post / host / share etc from and a special widget is also available from .. for further details of the album, on-line promotions, videos and 2009 / 2010 shows, check-out and .. and keep an eye on these official sources for details of further news and preview material.

Please do visit the official web-sites of Feeding America, Crisis and the World Food Programme for information on their charitable work and on how to make donations : help to make this Christmas special for those in need.

Thanks again for your plug.