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Dave Rudolf's Bubba Christmas

**** Four stars out of five

January 30, 2008

Fans of Mr. Rudolf, if any survive, will argue vigorously about whether "Bubba Christmas" equals his 2000 collection of holiday spoof songs, "Completely Cracked Christmas." It is darn close, and that's quite an achievement for the modestly talented Chicago-land minstrel, whose career, after all, has only lasted 20 years or so. "Cracked Christmas" in my view was just as good, if not better, than the much more famous Bob Rivers' production "Twisted Christmas." As for this new Moneytree Records production of Dave's ravings, if you do not laugh your butt off at Dave's impersonation of Johnny Cash in the opening track "Flue of Fire" you might as well check into the nearest cemetery: Your body might be breathing, but your soul has expired without your awareness of it. What is it about the word "flue" that inspires Dave to the summit of his lyrical powers? The best tune on "Cracked Christmas" to my ears was "Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney Flue" and now here is a second "Flue" song that does not suck. Not even Mozart could write two hits with the word "flue" in them. Other strong tracks on this generous 16-song album include "Cajun Christmas", "Out to the Outhouse", and "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Xmas" which is a worthy successor to the late, great Stan Freberg's half-century old classic "Green Christmas."

I also loved "Here Comes Bubba's Cows" and "Holly's Poison Ivy" and "I Saw Three Pickups". The next five tracks are not quite on the high level occupied by the first seven, but Dave's tribute to the assets of Dolly Parton, the idiotically titled "Hey Ya All" is brilliantly phrased. Also good is "Adolf the Brown-Nosed Reindeer." The last track with words, "Here We Come ‘a Rasslin" is for fans of the WWF and seems a hair dated to me, but then, I don't like "wrestling" anyway. The CD closes with an instrumental "Carol of the Bells." Dave likes it, and he ran out of verbal wit, so he stuck it on there, and it is OK, although if I wanted wordless Christmas songs I could have bought a "Mannheim Steamroller" disc instead of this one.

Dave is in better voice on this album, I believe, than on any of the dozen or more of his releases I have owned since I met him ten years ago. Although I call him my friend, we live more than 1,000 miles apart, have never been to each other's home, and I had to pay for this new thing on CDbaby, so this is truly an objective critique. Sucking up to him does me no good at all. I already own all the stuff that would make him any money.

In a just world, "Completely Cracked Christmas" and "Bubba Christmas" would have tracks getting hundreds of hours of airplay around the country every holiday season. However, we live in a world dominated by formula radio programmed from New York City, and run by humorless ad salesmen. I don't know if Dave has ever thought of doing November and December concerts devoted just to the holiday songs, but since they are a fine mixture of unsophisticated jokes for kids, and sly wordplay for adults (except for the ones about being drunk, which are kind of slurred) it may be an idea whose time has come.

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