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Roasting Chestnuts

Chipmunk Alvin picks and pans

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Before the Gregorian-chanting monks there were the squeaky and debatably annoying animated ‘munks. That would be Alvin and the Chipmunks, whose 13-year-old A Chipmunk Christmas is, along with Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas, one of the best-selling yuletide discs of all time. This month, Alvin and his cohorts (Theodore and Simon) release additional holiday cheer, A Very Merry Chipmunk, which includes duets with Celine Dion, Kenny G, Alan Jackson, and the Boys Choir of Harlem. ”It’s the only Christmas album you’ll ever need,” says Alvin, who, nevertheless, agreed to review some of his competition.

The Christmas Album Vol. II Neil Diamond (Columbia) ”Last year’s Christmas album did so well, he decided to do a new one. I’m sure it will be a big hit, but Neil, have you ever heard the word evergreen? That means you don’t have to record another new Christmas album for about 13 years.”

Christmas Spirit Donna Summer (Mercury) ”Personally, I would have called this Summer in Winter. That said, who knew the disco diva had such a spiritual side? There is real fervor here — perhaps a little too much. Donna, sweetheart, lighten up. Get down with your bad self.”

A Tejano Country Christmas Various Artists (Arista Texas) ”This infectious Latin-based music from Texas adds some beans to Christmas. If this album takes off, look for Alvin Goes Tejano some time next year.”

Come Rejoice! A Judy Collins Christmas Judy Collins (Mesa) ”If Christmas had a voice, it would sound like Judy. It’s hard to be crass and greedy during the holidays when you hear this album, but I’m still going to try.”

Giant Country Christmas, Volume 1 Various Artists (Giant) ”Carlene Carter’s ‘Rockin’ Little Christmas’ and Daron Norwood’s ‘The Working Elf Blues’ are lots of fun. As for the rest, I’ll take the fifth.”

Christmas Gonzo Style Jerry Jeff Walker (Rykodisc) ”Some Christmas albums are made for large gatherings. Others make you feel like you weren’t invited to the party. This album has that intimate, one-stocking-over-the-mantle feel. Should be a big hit with singles and hermits.”

The Sweetest Gift Trisha Yearwood (MCA) ”I was going to be flippant, but the first song, ‘Sweet Little Jesus Boy,’ knocked it right out of me. Every cynic finds his salvation.”