Yet another atrocious holiday season cash-in from the Star Wars money machine.
An uncomfortable truth for fans of Star Wars – the sort who like to believe that the film series was a work of some integrity from a creator with a grand plan – is the fact that George Lucas was clearly happy to allow the films to be linked to literally any old crap. He’s essentially the Gene Simmons of science fiction cinema (and thinking about it, how the hell have we avoided a Star Wars/Kiss cross-over?).
For many people, the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special represents the nadir of the series. Odd, not only because that TV special is a great deal more worthwhile than many of the actual films in the series, but because 1980 saw the release of something much, much worse. Christmas in the Stars is an LP that has to be heard to be believed. And even after hearing it, you might not be convinced that it isn’t some elaborate joke.
Produced by Meco Monardo and mostly written by Maury Yeston (who would somehow go on to have a career writing forgettable Broadway musicals), the album consists of a series of instantly forgettable, and somewhat painful Christmas songs performed by Anthony Daniels, Mr C-3PO himself, who was of course the only cast member involved in this abomination. Daniels has ridden the Star Wars gravy train for all it’s worth, and I doubt this was his lowest ebb in recreating his camp robot character. Sound designer Ben Burtt is on hand to provide the sound effects that pass as R2-D2 and Chewbacca dialogue, and Ralph McQuarrie was roped in to paint the cover, giving the whole project a touch more class than it deserves.
Also on hand to perform the track R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas is John Bongiovi, who would achieve fame a few years later as Jon Bon Jovi. The song did not become a staple of his live shows, unfortunately. Other tracks include the immortal What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb), which was also released as a single. None of this reaches the musical highs of Dorothée’s ewok songs, which is saying something.
The album reached number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100, which doesn’t sound especially impressive, but that meant that some 150,000 bought the damn thing, selling out the first pressing. You might be thinking that George Lucas was appalled at what had been done and wanted to wash his hands of it, but let’s never underestimate Lucas’ lack of taste and shame. In fact, he was insisting that he was given ‘co-creator’ credit on a second pressing, but label RSO went under before that could happen.
Make no mistake, this is dreadful, dreadful stuff. But for those of us who have never quite bought into the whole Star Wars hysteria, it stands as yet another example of just how shallow and commercialised the whole thing is once you peel back the surface. And with the equally soulless and greedy Disney now in charge of the franchise, who is to say that a follow-up album isn’t just around the corner?