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Music Review: A John Waters Christmas

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In my personal list of keen improbable things that I'd like to do with celebs, one of the biggies would be to spend an afternoon with John Waters' record collection. As he amply demonstrated in the original Hairspray, the man has a far-reaching personal library when it comes to rock and pop novelties, so who could resist the opportunity to riffle through his platters? (I've long wanted to hear what the full "Waddle" sounded like.) John, you wouldn't even need to stay in the room – I promise I won't scratch anything!

Makes sense that Waters the Avid Pop Nerd would be given the opportunity to stamp his imprimatur on a disc of holiday music. (Heck, if scenester/comedy writer Eddie Gorodetsky could release Christmas Party With Eddie G., why not the man who gave us Cry Baby?) A John Waters Christmas (originally released in 2004 on New Line Records) contains everything you'd expect from the Sultan of Bad Taste:

  • Disturbing kid-centered kitsch (check out Little Cindy's stumbling "inspirational" recitation, "Happy Birthday, Jesus" or Roger "Little Deuce Coupe" Christian's sentimental crippled kid tear-jerker, "Little Mary Christmas");
  • cheery weirdness (Tiny Tim and the Chipmunks – the latter with a sprightly rendition of "Sleigh Ride");
  • cool obscure R&B (Dee "Happy Being Fat" Irwin and Little "Locomotion" Eva's cuddly duet on Goffin-King's brazenly derivative "I Wish You A Merry Christmas") or doo-wop (Stormy Weather's smooth a capella "Christmas Time Is Coming");
  • genial fat jokes (Baltimore deejay Fat Daddy's gallumphing impersonation of "Santa with Soul");
  • a theremin instrumental (the Coctails' "First Snowfall") as well as
  • an obscenity-laden country rant (by "Rudolph and Gang") against "Fatty Claus" and the stress of seasonal debting.

Can't get any more Xmas-y than that.

If I have any grinches to offer re: Waters' collection, it's with the relative sparseness of the selection – only twelve cuts? (Couldn't you have added a lesser-known track from the Sonics' Xmas record or somp'n?) The over-reliance on kid vocalists can be pretty deadly at times, too. But even this last is made right by the album's finish, Akim and the Teddy Yann Production Company's "Santa Claus Is A Black Man." Opening with a tuneless Akim warbling about mommy kissin' a black St. Nick, the song suddenly transforms into a soulful romp – as a group of gospel divas begin to sing over the excruciating Akim, who's driven to wishing us all a Happy Kwanzaa instead. War against Christmas? Why fight it when you can celebrate the John Waters Way?

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About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.
  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Congrats! This article has been forwarded to the Advance.net websites.