Review: “A Cabbage Patch Christmas” by Cabbage Patch Kids (Vinyl, 1984)

Today’s Christmas Pop Rescue from a festive fate unknown is the 1984 second album A Cabbage Patch Christmas by the American doll characters Cabbage Patch Kids. Will this album be top of your Christmas list, or does it belong in the garbage pail? Read on…

Cabbage Patch Kids - A Cabbage Patch Christmas (1984) album
Cabbage Patch Kids – A Cabbage Patch Christmas (1984) album

This 10 track LP opens with Best Time Of The Year, an introduction to the listener to the Cabbage Patch by producer and this track’s songwriter Tom Chapin. He’s joined by oodles of kids voices, resulting in a fairly nice, gentle, melodic opener that makes me think a little of John Denver, as the track is heavily country music styled. It’s a good start to the album.

Next up is Deck The Halls, ushered in by character and semi-narrator, Colonel Casey (played by John Henry Kurtz). As with most versions of this song, it’s somewhat of a belter, and the contrast between Kurtz’s vocals and the vocals of the Cabbage Patch Kids works well as the song races on. The country music style continues, as it does for most of this album, and at one point I found myself thinking of some of the tracks from Cery’s Matthews’ 2012 Christmas album Baby, It’s Cold Outside. The track is catchy, and the fiddle adds a nice little point of interest.

A piano leads us on to a medley, aptly titled Christmas Favourites, serving as a home to well known traditional songs including We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree, I Saw Three Ships, and Little Town Of Bethlehem. These are almost textbook in delivery, and it does the job well.

That’s followed by another original song, although the title Sleigh Ride made me think it was a cover. Instead we’re treated to a wonderfully playful song and the vocalists characters really get to stretch themselves and show their vocal range. They do this perfectly resulting in a cheerful, catchy, upbeat song.

Side One closes with the aptly sleepy One More Dream ‘Til Christmas, which ushers us in with tinkling keyboards to match the twinkling stars the song tells us about. The sickly-sweet vocals of some children opens the song but eventually this grows on you and delivers an almost lullaby ending to this side of the LP.

Side Two opens abruptly with a cockerel crowing. Wake up! It’s Christmas Day now… and clearly the Cabbage Patch has been waiting for this as Christmas Hoop-De-Do erupts into an almost hoe-down style romp. It races along with some catchy vocals from the kids, and serves as the perfect wake up for Christmas morning.

Next we’re in for a treat, as it’s Mrs Santa Claus. The song starts off as a nice plodding track, and a welcome injection of feminism and equality, acknowledging the role of Santa’s wife, and the reminder that she is why Christmas ‘turns out right‘. It’s a simply song musically, but its slow evolution with additional instruments and riffs makes it build nicely, and the song gradually gets faster.

The Cabbage Patch’s nemesis Lavendar McDade and Cabbage Jack get their own song now in the form of Gimme Gimme Take Take, and this really is a great fun song. The voice actors’ delivery is perfect, expertly conveying a wonderful evil sound. I can easily imagine UK kids TV baddie, Grotbags and one of her evil henchmen singing this. Brilliant!

That leads on to Children Go Where I Send Thee, which feels like a slightly odd choice here. Its title and tone is a shift, giving us a slightly odd country music-styled religious song. That said, it belts out, aided by the child voices, but this traditional African-American song sounds a little out of place alongside the rest of the tracks.

The album closes with, as perhaps you’d hope and expect, a song titled All One Family At Christmas. This is a heartfelt ballad, and a really nice warm song that builds up with lots of vocalists helping to show their togetherness, a bit like the closing number from your childhood school play. Colonel Casey returns right at the end of the track to wish us all a ‘Merry Christmas’, even though the target audience are too young to drink.

Opening track ‘Best Time Of Year’ by Cabbage Patch Kids (1984).

Verdict

Over all, this album is surprisingly good. I didn’t really know what to expect with this album – perhaps some really high pitched baby-voiced characters singing, talking, and basically murdering every Christmas song they touched, but actually it’s quite a different story.

Instead, there are fully rounded songs, with the character actors really only being heard at the hands of the baddies in the brilliant Gimme Gimme Take Take. Alongside that great tune, Best Time Of Year and Deck The Halls also really work the magic, but to be honest there’s little here that doesn’t work out right. The lowest point is probably Children Go Where I Send Thee, and that’s purely because it jars with the rest of the songs thematically, and not because it’s a badly delivered song.

The brilliant Home For Christmas by Dolly Parton proves that country music-styled Christmas albums can work well, and this album is no exception. This was a brand at its peak, even sparking Cabbage Patch Riots as people rushed to buy the merchandise. This Christmas album would certainly have added to that hype.

Don’t be scared, give it a spin.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2022 REVIEW RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1984 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Not released in the UK.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £9.00 from an eBay seller.

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