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JOHN TRAVOLTA AND OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN - THIS CHRISTMAS
UMC

John Travolta and Olivia Newton John - This ChristmasAs if Christmas isn’t a stressful enough time as it is, from now on people will have to del with the fear that at any time in December, they might find themselves in a shop, mall or CIA torture chamber being forced to listen to this.

I mean, look at that sleeve. Doesn’t that just look terrifying, with John Travolta sporting what appears to be painted-on hair, and the pair of them seemingly joined like Siamese Twins?

The music within the package, for the crazies who venture that far, is equally unnerving. From the opening role-reversal version of Baby It’s Cold Outside (Newton John as the sex predator, Travolta as the one trying to escape her attentions – hmm…), it’s the sort of cheesy schmaltz that you hope to God is satirical, but suspect is actually sincere. I can only assume that Travolta has finally decided to abandon any residual coolness that might’ve lingered from the Pulp Fiction days.

There’s an emasculated version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, complete with guest appearance from Kenny G (what has this cracking song done to deserve the continual raping it gets from all comers?), and Barbra Streisand cropping up to help crush I’ll Be Home for Christmas underfoot (and it begs the question, what are a Jew and a Scientologist doing singing Christmas songs anyway?).

Things lurch into 1980s style smooth (to the point of flattened) jazz, courtesy of guest Chick Corea on This Christmas, before things are stripped down for Silent Night. It takes a lot to bugger that song up, but John ‘n’ Olivia (and whoever orchestrated this debacle) are up to the challenge. I’ll stick to Boyd Rice’s version, thank you very much.

The Christmas Waltz is ghastly to the point of incredulity, while Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a genuinely magnificent song that Judy Garland famously made a heartbreaking classic, is distressingly violated. Cliff Richard makes a guest appearance here, because of course he would.

Tony Bennett and the Count Basie Orchestra – who all really should know better – turn up on Winter Wonderland, which may be the ‘best’ track on the album. While Bennett is doing is bit, it’s almost acceptable, and at least has a bit of a swing to it.The saddest guest star to turn up here is James Taylor on Deck the Halls. Seriously dude – what were you thinking? The track does at least have a curious Olde English folk feel to it, making the whole experience all the more mind-boggling.

White Christmas is given the expected mugging, as is The Christmas Song, and it was at this point that I suddenly started to realise that the whole conceit here is that John ‘n’ Olivia are having a cheery Christmas singalong with a few chums – a bit like those fake party sounds dubbed onto Macc Lads albums, it’s fooling no one.

I assume that most of the sales for this album will be as joke gifts for people, or perhaps to fans of the tragically awful – I can’t honestly think of anyone, even fans of traditional Christmas sentimentality, who would actually think this was good. But what do I know? We should applaud the pair for donating their profits to charity I suppose, but if you really want to give money to the less fortunate, do it directly, unless you really feel that Christmas is a time for suffering.

One track here is called I Think You Might Like It. Wishful thinking I’m afraid. But the album may eventually become some sort of high camp cult classic. I certainly can’t wait to torment houseguests with it.

DAVID FLINT

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