Over the past year, Sesame Workshop has been very kind to us, providing us with oodles of classic Sesame Street DVDs which remind us of simpler times before Oscar was green, before Cookie Monster had a neck, and when Bob wore shirts that could now be used as road flares.
It’s almost amazing that the now 74-year-old Bob is still hanging out with the monsters and kids and monster-kids on that inner city street. You’ll be happy to hear that not only is he sticking around, he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon.
Bob has recorded at least 10 albums over the past 37 years, and his newest album #11 is Christmas Sing Along, filled with, you guessed it, Christmas songs. Now, as an uneducated Jewish boy, I was admittedly a little hesitant in buying this album. I can count the number of Christmas-related albums I’ve bought on one finger (that’d be Muppet Christmas Carol, for those of you keeping score). Growing up, we felt like we heard the same three Christmas songs over and over, and somehow we still never learned the words to them (seriously, a verse about figgy pudding? You’re making that up…) And while Bob’s new CD might not have much of a re-listenability factor for year-round enjoyment, he did make one heck of an album.
The very first thing I noticed about the album is that Bob has a wonderful wonderful voice. It’s smooth and light, confident and positive, yet devoid of arrogance. And considering Bob is pushing 3/4 of a century, he still sounds just as he did back in the 70s. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume that this was a reissued album, found in a time capsule left to us by the ToughPigs of yesteryear.
Likewise, his backup band is terrific. The only name I recognize in the liner notes is Blue Lou Marini, from the Saturday Night Live Band and the Blues Brothers Band, but they all do a terrific job when you stop to listen. There’s no MIDI files here, folks. I can definitely hear some jazz influence in the background of about half of the songs, giving parents a little something to appreciate in case your kids insist on listening to this album over and over and over. Which they might.
While many of the songs are pretty straight-forward Christmas carols, my favorite by far is the novelty song, “What a Great Christmas It Was,” which tells the story about Santa accidentally switching presents. So Grandma gets a yo-yo, the dog gets underwear, and Dad becomes a cross dresser. Um, you just have to hear the song. It’s greatness songified.
Also included on this album is the Sesame Street classic, “Keep Christmas With You.” And while it’s not the same without Linda signing the lyrics, it’s still nice to hear a new version.
Back on December 7, I was lucky enough to see Bob perform at a Barnes and Noble in promotion of the new CD. Being the technologically devoid person I am, I bought a disposable camera (which still has like 20 pictures left on it.. sorry, you won’t be seeing those for a while) and I took some video footage with my cell phone. It’s only 14 seconds, and there’s a kid screaming behind me, and the quality is like I’m shooting in an underwater smoking lounge… y’know what, I just suck as a cameraman. Enjoy the video of Bob singing “Keep Christmas With You,” and if you like Christmas, go buy this CD. You won’t regret it.
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