Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-12-16


Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: Crazy for Christmas (Surfdog, 2011) Crazy because he's always been pleasantly nuts, but also because he's crazy not just as a result of but about Christmas, which as all Christmas fans know is a combination with a shot at making the holiday as full of good cheer as it's supposed to be. Scatting "Here Comes Santa Claus" as one retro strategy among many, Hicks lays out an "Old Fashioned Christmas" complete with "Bethlehem scene on the lawn/And a picture of Rudolph in the john" as the elves in "Santa's Workshop" paint millions of wooden boats and planes. Remember wood? This is a good-humored sixtysomething who wants to teach his grandkids the old-timey verities. Then he'll take a nap. B+

Scott Miller: Christmas Gift (FAW, 2011) Easy once he thought of it, right? Appalachia-oriented American and Russian history degree holder Miller picks 'em (guitar-banjo "Ode to Joy," harmonica-piano "Holy, Holy, Holy") and picks 'em (John Prine's beloved "Christmas in Prison," Roger Miller's forgotten "Old Toy Trains"). Writes one, too--his very own "Yes, Virginia," about how there is a Santa Claus, and there are also lots of relatives. These are both good things as far as he's concerned. And for the duration of an EP, they are. A-

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