There is something deeply disturbing about Bob Dylan turning his hand to Christmas standards. Of course it would have been a hoot at the time with some executives pushing the cracking idea of the influential Dylan singing lullabies for the world as it tucks into its Christmas fare – but the truth is quite the opposite.
From opener ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’, Dylan makes the worst excesses of Shane MacGowan sound like the gold standard in sobriety. As a heavyweight of popular culture, Dylan must be either traumatised by the memory of this recording or secretly regarding it as the finest stunt he has ever pulled on an unsuspecting public.
‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ sees Dylan have a crack at Latin – the language, not the style. Words such as “glacial” come to mind, because one should not expect any warmth here.
Featuring a selection of 15 Christmas songs you probably didn’t want him to sing, with hindsight, no one could say that this comes close to representing Dylan’s most cohesive work. However, in an odd way, a sufficient period of time has elapsed to enable a reassessment of this work. It still sounds strange, free-spirited and daunting. And it unwittingly sets the tone for a most demonic ramble around the Christmas tree.