'Crazy for Christmas' delivers what it says

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By Mike Cote

If nothing else, no one can accuse Dan Hicks of taking his new Christmas album too seriously.
But even for those, such as myself, who like their holiday music with a touch of irreverence, “Crazy for Christmas” might be a little much for the ear. On several of Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks’ yuletide offerings, I found myself wondering just how many times they’d been dipping their glasses into the adult eggnog bowl.
While “Crazy for Christmas” is not without some fun, this CD can be a little much to take, even with a generous serving of that eggnog.
The middle tracks of the album are better than the beginning or end, so if you’re interested in listening, you might either hit the “shuffle” button or simply fast-forward past the first three tracks.
One might find the CD a little more palatable if Hicks had left the Lickettes to guard the Christmas presents instead of taking them to the studio with him. The Lickettes sound – sometimes intentionally, sometimes not — like the backup singers on a bad episode of “The Muppet Show.” No offense intended to the Muppets, by the way. “A Christmas Together,” featuring John Denver, Kermit the Frog, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, etc., is one of the great Christmas albums of all time.
The 69-year-old Hicks has been on the music scene in some form or another since the early 1960s, getting his start in the San Francisco coffee houses, then putting together Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks’ first album, “Original Recordings,” in 1969.
 “Crazy for Christmas” has its moments. If you can get through the first three songs, “Carol of the Bells” is worth a listen.
Having listened to the CD in order, I wasn’t really looking forward to “Carol of the Bells,” particularly since it starts with some sped-up vocal twitter that sounds very much like what you’d find on the Hamster Dance Web site.
Don’t however, be turned off (although that’s easier said than done ... I wouldn’t have given this track a chance if I wasn’t asked to write about it). As much as I didn’t want to like this song, it’s kind of catchy. Describing the song is a difficult task, but it’s a bluesy melody done entirely in scat. For a video of this song, which looks like it was made on an original model Video Toaster but fits the song perfectly, visit www.danhicks.net.
Immediately following is a pretty good version of the Chuck Berry classic, “Run Run Rudolph.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking all of the album’s takes on Christmas classics are good ones, however. “Here Comes Santa Claus” is one of the more disjointed versions you’ll ever hear, while “I Saw Mommy Kissin’ Santa Claus” had me wondering several times if Mommy and Santa were going to end up doing more than just smooching under the mistletoe.
For those whose Christmas music tastes are way off the beaten path, you might want to check out “Crazy for Christmas.” For those whose tastes don’t get much more offbeat than Perry Como or The Carpenters, this is probably one holiday album to skip.