http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/e544bd89ef5d27a975ee3f1c929fb4a77d30c537.jpg The Beach Boys' Christmas Album

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys' Christmas Album

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January 21, 1971

Being based on essentially commercial grounds, the loosely — bounded field of pop-rock music adopted Christmas in the same way it managed to assimilate most everything else. At some time or another, most major artists have recorded either albums or singles devoted to the holiday season, and from there, it's only logical that a few would create classics in this manner. Tripping back along the golden memory years, we can find such as Brenda Lee with her "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," the Melodeers and their doo-wop version of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," and Bobby Helms' immortal "Jingle Bell Rock." The Beatles, in fact, would succumb to the holiday temptation once every year with their free Christmas records, religiously sent out to the collective membership of their far-flung fan clubs and featuring a variety of Yuletide nonsense, things like off-key renditions of traditional carols and ditties invented on the spur of the moment.

But if we were to choose just one out of the wealth of pop Christmas albums, it would have to be the Beach Boys' endearing effort of a few seasons back. If the Wilson family saw summer and the sea as a surfboard, and transportation as a little deuce coupe, then Christmas for them just had to revolve around "Little Saint Nick," also known as "The Man With All the Toys." And guided by this sort of freshly-scrubbed innocence, their Christmas Album is pure Southern California pop, a kind of non — winter wonderland holiday that can still be expanded to include such necessary phenomena as Frosty the Snowman. While the thrust of the album is directed at Christmas as a fun-time event, there are elements of (well ...) social commentary ("Santa's Beard") and straight emotionalism ("Auld Lang Syne"), all covered over with those uniquely transcendent Beach Boy harmonies and a "sonorous" (yep, that's what it says in the liner notes) 40-piece orchestra.

What else can we say? If you liked surfing and cars, you'll love Christmas.

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