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CHRISTMAS (Buy CDs by this artist)
In Excelsior Dayglo (Big Time) 1986
Ultraprophets of Thee Psykick Revolution (IRS) 1989

On their first album, an enjoyable folk-rock escape into wry absurdity that owes an emotional debt to Redd Kross (repaid in 1990 when guitarist Michael Cudahy co-wrote a song for that band's Third Eye LP), Boston's kooky Christmas eulogizes Pee-wee Herman, "Tommy the Truck" and "Pumpkinhead." Drummer Liz Cox and guitarist Michael Cudahy alternate appealing lead vocals over simple, well-played music that is far from skeletal. If the trio comes up a bit short on identifiable personality here, considerable wit and ability almost make up for it.

Following a relocation to Las Vegas, Christmas released Ultraprophets, an across-the-board improvement with better songs, fuller production and a stronger Xmas spirit than the first record. The excellent "Stupid Kids," "This Is Not a Test" and "My Operator" are all catchy, melodious rock with Cheap Trick undertones and bizarre lyrics; the incongruity of Cox's Banglesque vocals (supported nicely by Cudahy's singing) adds both direct and ironic merits to "Richard Nixon," "Warhog" and "Great Wall of China." But as alluring as the record can be, Christmas never seems as off-the-wall weird as it ought to be, and half of the songs don't amount to anything.

[Ira Robbins]