Strange Christmas Albums, Part 1
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Christmas is a peculiar holiday. It started off as a pagan solstice celebration, was co-opted by Christianity, then was co-opted again by the religion of consumerism. That strange mix of influences can produce some truly strange ways to celebrate the holiday.
For example: Christmas music. A lot of websites like to post strange Christmas albums this time of year. Here are some that I found especially noteworthy. I found these two albums at Bizarre Records.
A Star Wars Christmas
Yes! It’s Christmas in the Stars, the Star Wars Christmas album! Where, oh where, do I start? Well, for one thing, Jesus was an Earthling, so that’s a bit of a problem. Also, the Star Wars story happened “a long time ago”. Much more than 2000 years is my guess. Maybe Jesus was just on tour. It’s the Great Salvation Tour of the Developed Universe. After playing all the big venues in the inner galaxies (and getting crucified in each), he finally worked his way out to Earth.
But Earth is rinky dink! We’re a tiny blue dot out in the Western Spiral Arm of a retardedly-named galaxy (Other galaxies have cool names such as Sextans Dwarf, Canis Major, Large Magellanic Cloud, and Pegasus. And what are we? We’re a stinking candy bar!).
So what does that tell us about Jesus by the time he finally gets to Earth? Just that his career is over. We’re the county fair of salvation. Jesus is like some has-been rock star who is forced to play smaller and smaller venues, never admitting that his glory days are long past. Maybe Jesus will be lucky. He’ll start getting a lot of airplay in Andromeda and revive his career.
The other problem I have with this album is that even on paper this album had to look like a bad idea. But they did it anyway! Didn’t anybody at any stage of the project say “I have a bad feeling about this!”?
If you go to this album’s page at Bizarre Records, you’ll find three songs there (actually, they’re all just 90-second excerpts). I had a tough time picking which one to present here. They’re all atrocious. Since R2-D2 is popular, I settled on this one: “R2-D2, We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.
So now that you’ve heard it, please answer this: Why are C3PO and R2-D2 excited? They’re artificial life, so it’s not like they need a savior.
In the song, the kids sing “We look up at the winter star. We know that’s where you are.” This implies the kids are here on Earth. Again, we have this problem of Star Wars taking place a long time ago. Or is this like all of those Star Trek spinoffs, where they always found some contrived way to write in all of the characters from the original series, even though it took place way later? So R2-D2 is now some rusting tin can who has been sitting in a scrap heap orbiting Hauptanium 7 for the last 245 million years. Still faintly beeping. The only thing keeping him going is the knowledge that somewhere on a distant planet, some kids are worshiping him. Or maybe he’s just been stuck in a transporter loop since Return of the Jedi.
The Wikipedia article about this train wreck has some interesting facts. The kid who sang lead vocal on this song is Jon Bon Jovi in his first professional recording. I guess when you start at the bottom, there’s no where to go but up.
Wikipedia also tells us that the album was released in 1980. That year they released a single, “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)”. That thing reached #69 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart! I don’t know how I missed that. Oh that’s right. I wasn’t into listening to crap.
(BTW, I just discovered that the Star Wars wiki is called Wookieepedia! An elegant pun is a joy to behold.)
Six Million Dollar Christmas
Apparently Steve Austin was rebuilt from off-the-shelf parts. Six million dollars was cheap for a government project, even in the 1970s. Speaking of cheap, that’s exactly what this album sounds like. They didn’t even use Lee Majors or Richard Anderson. The recording starts off by telling us that there are only seven shopping days until Christmas. This is clearly a job for bionic powers! Maybe Steve Austin is the guy who tramples people to death at Wal-Mart.
Does it sound to you that Steve Austin is starting to flirt with the perfume saleslady? He doesn’t get very far with her, though, because she gets all bitchy about some crappy kid not getting what he wants. Her job would be a lot easier, if it weren’t for all of those damn customers!
Then the next thing we hear is what sounds like a 30-year-old woman complaining about someone stealing her Christmas present. I figured that she was trying to buy one of those $30 DVD players, which she could park her 4-year-old son in front of while she works nights as a stripper.
Then we’re introduced to the thief, who sounds like a reject from Central Casting. Even though this guy has the stereotypical hoodlum voice, Steve Austin is too dense to figure out who the heavy is going to be in this story. Apparently Steve doesn’t believe in profiling.
At this point, the thief and the 30-year-old stripper start arguing, and we realize that the stripper is actually some 6-year-old boy on hormone-replacement therapy.
The thief then pulls a gun on Steve, who makes the obvious statement that guns hurt people. The thief then tells Steve that no they don’t. Guns make excellent Christmas presents, and if you suggest otherwise, it is every reader’s obligation to leave a comment on your blog telling you that you’re wrong.
It isn’t clear what happens next. Obviously bionics are involved, because we hear that cool springy sound that they make every time Steve Austin runs in slow motion or lifts a car with his right arm (And why didn’t that ever crush his spine, BTW? All of that weight has to be supported by something, and his bionic arm isn’t what’s bearing the load!). But in today’s story, the load we have to bear isn’t a car; it’s a carload of crappy story.
Then there’s a transition, and we find ourselves at Steve’s job. Apparently he had to go back to work, because he had snuck out mid-morning when his boss wasn’t looking in order to do that last-minute Christmas shopping. The recording doesn’t tell us how Steve explained to his boss how he managed to foil a spy ring when he was supposed to be in his office finishing that spreadsheet.
So after Oscar docks Steve’s pay for a half day of missed work, they discuss the events of that morning. Steve says: “When I grabbed that guy, he dropped the package, and it broke open.”
No kidding, Steve! You grabbed him with your bionic hand, you dumbass! Be glad you didn’t crush his bones into powder. That must be where the figure in the title comes from. Six million dollars is probably the average settlement the government has to pay out every time Steve apprehends a crook.
But the funniest line in the whole record is the next one: “I could see the thing inside was no ordinary Christmas present. That’s why I picked it up and got it to you.”
So let me get this straight. A thief steals a Christmas present from a six-year-old. Then Steve Austin stops the thief and takes the present for himself! What a guy! That kid’s going to have some serious psychoses growing up. She’ll probably turn to stealing Christmas presents herself year after year, in a subconscious attempt to relive and rectify this trauma that Steve just inflicted upon her. Way to go Steve! You’re the George W Bush of crime fighters. You leave a huge mess that everyone else will be trying to straighten out for the next 60 years!