John Denver
& the Muppets,
A Christmas Together
(1979, reissued 1996)

This collection of standards and original works is a must for any family at the holiday season. The Muppets are entertaining in any case, and Jim Henson's spin on classic songs like "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and "Christmas is Coming" will keep you smiling. Even if you don't have children, it is a welcome change from many "standard" Christmas albums that are often overplayed at this time of year.

The Muppet version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is clear and joyful, and any Muppet-phile will do their best to identify the characters. Who can forget Miss Piggy's drawn out "fiiiiiiive goooooold riiiiiiiings"! Ralph the piano playing dog and John Denver sing a lovely duet version of the standard "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," poignant and sweet. "The Peace Carol" begins with Denver solo, then joined by Muppet voices, ending up in a chorus.

An old classic is given an island rhythm when Scooter, Gonzo and Robin join Miss Piggy on a round of "Christmas is Coming." Denver sings solo again with an original piece, "A Baby Just Like You," about the infant Jesus. "Deck the Halls" is performed in the traditional style, with our favorite Muppets trading lines. Robin and Denver sing lead on the next piece "When the River Meets the Sea," another beautifully slow song.

Our favorite Muppet rock band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, do justice to the Beach Boys classic "Little Saint Nick." The next song, "Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913," once again has Denver vocalizing a lyrical holiday story. Kermit sings "The Christmas Wish," about the spirit of togetherness at Christmastime. The next track is a medley, begun with Denver telling the story of Alfie: The Christmas Tree, followed by the song "It's in Every One of Us," where he is joined by the Muppet cast.

The classic carol "Silent Night" is beautifully rendered by the Muppets, with a spoken break about the song by Denver. The album is completed with a traditionally upbeat version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," complete with Miss Piggy's misunderstanding of "figgy pudding"!

For me, this is a favorite holiday album; one of the few that I can listen to regularly without being tempted to scream from overplaying. It's also a little sad to listen to, knowing that the talents of Henson and Denver are now gone. A Christmas Together is an album necessary for any holiday collection.

[ by Beth Derochea ]



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