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John Lamb, Published December 04 2012

Lamb: Don’t listen to these turkeys for Christmas

The holidays are a great time to reconnect with people you seldom see. Then you can realize deep down you’re glad Christmas only comes once a year because seeing these people makes you cringe.

I’m not talking about my family, whom I love and respect and am eternally grateful that my siblings live in St. Paul and my mom isn’t on Facebook.

Rather, I’m talking about celebrities past their prime who record the requisite Christmas album.

Think of them as Ghosts of Christmas Past who aren’t interested in showing you the error of their ways, but rather more interested in vainly trying to relive their youth.

It’s kind of like unwanted but expected holiday visits from family members you wish were more distant and friends you can’t relate to anymore.

Like Rod Stewart. Much is being made that he “finally” recorded a Christmas album. Maybe he should’ve just done a sixth volume of his “Great American Songbook” series as he sounds really tired on “Merry Christmas, Baby.” (Guests Cee-Lo Green and Trombone Shorty show more life on the title track.)

The Stew is like the uncle who drops in once a year and only your mother is happy to see him. It’s not that he’s a bad guy or in any way offensive, or for that matter, even interesting. It’s just that you’ve heard the tales of his rakish youth every year for the past 20 years and they never get any better. And though you know it’s wrong, you can’t help thinking, “You were more fun when you drank.”

Plus, you should never trust a 67-year-old man who spends that much time doing his hair.

If Rod is your uncle, then John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are the couple from down the block, together only for appearances. When they show up for your Christmas party, he hams it up (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”) and she hangs back by the punchbowl happy to get a word in every once in a while.

When they try to rekindle what was (“I Think You Might Like It” feels like a desperate grab to revive their “Grease” chemistry), everyone else at the party gets uneasy and goes outside to smoke and avoid the awkwardness.

And that’s where you’d find Richard Marx, the John Stamos stunt double with the well-coiffed 1980s mullet.

The singer is like the quiet neighbor as he’s been busy behind the scenes since his hairy heydays, writing and arranging for stars like Keith Urban and Hugh Jackman. Unfortunately, on “Christmas Spirit” his biggest friend is Kenny Loggins on “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Sure, peace on Earth is a good thing, but so is having an interesting Christmas album to listen to. Couldn’t he get John Stamos to duet on “Blue Christmas”?

Which already has me looking forward to next year’s holiday discs and hopefully a very Stamos Christmas with the cast of “Full House,” the Beach Boys and other Ghosts of Christmas Past-Their-Prime.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533