THE ALBUM -- Starland Vocal Band's "Christmas at Home," Breaker SVB 100. THE SHOWS -- Several benefit performances to be held at various locations around Washington this Christmas season.
OK, OK, I know you've heard Elvis' "Blue Christmas" a thousand times this week, and the local stations have played that dog yapping "Jingle Bells" until you're tempted to call the pound if your own mutt so much as whimpers before the 26th.
But Starland Vocal Band has this new Christmas album, see, and it's a very nice Christmas album, as these things go. No barking dogs, no chipmunks, no sappy tremolos dripping with seasonal depression.
It's called "Christmas at Home," and it's made up of the kind of songs people actually like to hear and sing at this time of year: "Joy to the World," "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Deck the Halls" and "We Wish Ou a Merry Christmas." Stuff like that.
And it's beautifully done. Starland doesn't give in once to whatever weird temptation causes some people to put a reggae beat on "O Holy Night" or dub feedback onto Handel's "Messiah." It's an album that fits just as comfortably at a family reunion as it does in a romantic Christmas Eve setting.
The only drawback about "Christmas at Home" (if there is one) is that there's nothing in a gospel vein, which seems a loss since Taffy Danoff and Margot Kunkel are natural-born shouters whose vocal harmonies could make the angels blush.
My favorite track is "The Two Days of Christmas," a lovely variation on "The Twelve Days, etc." Starland sings only two verses of that time-honored but interminable chestnut for which nobody can ever remember all the words. God bless 'em every one.