Too Many Santas

The Bobs

(Rounder CD 9060)
Rounder Records Corp.
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

A review written for the
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by David Schultz

Do you have enough Christmas albums? Too Many Santas, the Bobs' wacky parody of Christmas collections, may be one that should find its way under your tree. A large component of my music collection is Christmas music from a variety of different genres and media: 45s, LPs, and CDs. If I want to listen to the best popular Christmas album ever recorded, I'll likely choose A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector. If I want a serious, but different holiday release, I'll listen to Bruce Cockburn's Christmas. If I want soulful Christmas music, I put on Ray Charles' The Spirit of Christmas. If I want just plain drunken, stupid Christmas songs, I'll listen to Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors' Horny Holidays. The Bob's 1996 entry into the increasingly popular Christmas-record genre is different than just about any other Christmas album that I own. But then again, what do you expect from a quartet of vocal instrumentalists who boast in the liner notes that, "All parts on this record are performed by human or other voices."?

The twelve songs on Too Many Santas clock in at a total time of under 35 minutes and that is more than enough time for the Bobs to convince you that their perception of the world is a bit more cynical than most. As on their earlier albums where the Bobs skewer popular music with their vocalizations (for instance, Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, complete with vocal electric guitar solo), the Bobs this time set their sights on all the evil that the holiday season has become: malls, office parties, commercialization, and the overindulgence of holiday cheer, to name a few. The title track is about the overabundance of dressed-up Santas you can find during the holiday season "on every corner", "on a Harley", "makin' infomercials," and "slinging burgers." The Bobs lament that there are "too many Santas - and not enough Christmas".

Fifty Kilowatt Tree is about your neighbor who gets a little too carried away with his holiday decorations: "There's a star in the East, but it's only me with my fifty kilowatt tree." The Night Before the Night Before Christmas is about a wife serving divorce papers to her unsuspecting husband, thereby ruining the holiday season for him for the rest of his life. The CD has one instrumental (if you can call a vocal trumpet, an instrumental): Do You Hear What I Hear, Man?

A special treat on Too Many Santas is comedian Jonathan Katz providing his deadpan reading of James Brown's Santa's Got A Brand New Bag. The CD closes with perhaps the most traditional Christmas song on that CD, the lovely All I Want For Christmas, where the Bobs find themselves lamenting the Christmases of their youths in a White Christmas-sort of way.

Seven of the twelve songs are Bobs originals; three more have altered lyrics from their originals, so unlike many of the other run-of-the-mill holiday albums that sit on my shelf unlistened to each year, there is plenty of fresh new music here, so I won't have to hear another crooner churning out a mediocre Silent Night. So, if you're in a cynical Christmas mood this year, just sit under your artificial holiday shrub, open the presents, and listen to the Bob's Too Many Santas.

Edited by Jim Zimmerschied

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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