By Paul Snyder
The Christmas market is tricky. All the holiday CDs end up in the red cardboard bin at the front of Sam Goody. And, to be fair, Brian Wilson has had his chance.
The Beach Boys’ 1964 Christmas LP did spin off the charming “Little Saint Nick,” which, on last count, had surpassed “Up on the Rooftop” in Christmas party popularity and was closing in fast on “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Only appropriate that it would be revisited here, along with “The Man With All the Toys.” Maybe it’s my distaste for Mike Love that finds something gained in the retreads.
There’s nothing special about Wilson’s takes on standards like “The First Noel,” and his swing at “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” verges on clumsy. There is, however, an impressive surf-rock take on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” featuring plenty of Fenders and a great little organ solo.
Of the two new songs, the Bernie Taupin co-authored title track and “Christmasey” (with lyrics by Jimmy Webb) are pleasant enough and certainly less offensive than a certain Wham! holiday original.
What I Really Want For Christmas isn’t necessary, but neither is eggnog. At the right time of year and when ingested in tolerable amounts, however, both do no harm. You know Wilson’s not in this for the financial spoils, so it adds a genuine touch where a lot of other Christmas albums falter. After all, even “God Only Knows” had sleigh bells on it. VS