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Christmas in the Stars

Jon Bon Jovi’s Surprising Debut: ‘Christmas in the Stars’ Album Review

Rookie of the Week is a series of articles featuring “rookie” albums of rock stars, ideal for collecting, grading and authenticating.

Remembering the Vinyl Debut of one of the World’s Greatest Rock Idols

christmas in the stars star wars christmas album front cover
CHRISTMAS IN THE STARS: A STAR WARS CHRISTMAS ALBUM – ROOKIE DEBUT OF JON BON JOVI (AS JOHN BONGIOVI)

When I was six, my brother and I would lie prone, head in hands, and listen enraptured while a The Story of the Return of the Jedi spun on vinyl in our bedroom. The record was a 45 minute selection of dialogue and narration delivered over a boldly dramatic score. But it was one part, 1:45 in, that inexplicably and repeatedly left us in stitches.

“We shall double our efforts.” is a line delivered by the Death Star Commander in a breathless, rapid staccato, his accent making the actual words completely indecipherable to our ears. And we, the immature and culturally insensitive Americans, never stopped thinking it was hilarious. As stupid kids who never left our insulated neighborhoods, there was always something about British accents that made us crack up.

I can only imagine how much joy we would have had if we had owned Christmas in the Stars: A Star Wars Christmas Album, listening to Anthony Daniels – the immortal C-3PO himself – perform what is essentially 34 minutes of British-accented spoken word poetry over childish Christmas music and droid-ian boops and beeps.

The measure of a man is the effort he gives when everyone around him is mailing it in. And no man has ever measured up better than future Hall of Fame rock legend, Jon Bon Jovi, who makes his recording debut on this album, singing two verses with everything he’s got. He serenades R2-D2 with obscenely silly lyrics on an obscenely silly album. He’s determined to make a name of himself and it is, quite frankly, admirable.

There may never be a more inauspicious debut to the recording career of a bonafide rock legend than JBJ’s performance on “R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, track A5 on Christmas in the Stars. The album, released in 1980, is a Star Wars themed money grab by RSO Records, coming on the heels of Empire Strikes Back mania.

THERE MAY NEVER BE A MORE INAUSPICIOUS DEBUT
TO THE RECORDING CAREER OF A BONAFIDE ROCK LEGEND

Jon (here credited with his given name, John Bongiovi) apparently got the gig thanks to his cousin and the album’s co-producer, Tony Bongiovi, who had previously worked with legends like The RamonesThe Talking Heads, and Gloria Gaynor, and later mixed Ozzy Osbourne’s legendary Bark at the Moon album.

From top to robot-voiced bottom, the album makes little effort to distinguish itself as a masterpiece. The song writers’ lyrics are more consistent with those written by grade school students rather than for them. The musical arrangements start respectably on side A, before giving way to an utter lack of effort on side B. The narrative hook of the album, wherein C-3PO is guiding droids working as elves for a man named “S Claus”, culminates in a plot twist that makes no sense whatsoever.

And then there’s JBJ, whose voice is glorious amid the cacophony. He’s getting his chance and he’s making the most of it, with professional, melismatic vocal bends and beautiful tone that belies the amateur lyrics he’s being forced to sing.

Kudos to Jon Bon Jovi, a rose among thorns. Christmas In The Stars (1980) is a solid, if succinct, vocal effort for him, marking an interesting rookie debut as a recording artist and creating a coveted album that oozes with pop culture relevance. It is a must have for JBJ fans, Star Wars fans, and fans of droid-driven spoken word poetry everywhere.

VINYL SPECIFICS

The album cover is a beautifully rendered illustration of C-3PO and R2-D2 among droids and toys in a high ceilinged room, lit by the yellow glow of a fire. A bearded man resembling Santa Claus, but dressed as a hobo, huddles in front of the fire as the golden protocol droid lords over him somewhat menacingly. The Japanese version is adorned with an obi.

The vinyl is black. Labels are silver or tan and feature a red cow toy known as an akabeko, the logo for RSO Records. The akabeko is clear on the promo label instead of red.

Original Release Year:
1980 – USA (7), Canada (1), Singapore (1), Spain (1), Italy (1), Japan (1), US Promo (1)

*Most common variant:

US Presswell Pressing

*Rarest Variant:

Singapore Pressing

How to tell which US release variant you have:

A. Tan labels

1. Presswell Pressing – “Christmas in the Stars” are the first words at the top of the label

2. Richmond Pressings

a. Meco – “Meco” is first word at the top of the label; 72 is on the left side of the label

b. Original Cast – “The Original Cast” are the first words at the top of the label

3. Compton Pressing – “Meco” is the first word at the top of the label; 26 is on the left side of the label

B. Silver Labels

1. Compton Pressing – “Meco” is the first word at the top of the label

2. Richmond Pressing – “The Original Cast” are the first words at the top of the label

Highest confirmed sale price as of 3/3/23**:

12/2/21 – $199 – Sealed, Ungraded (Pressing uncertain as it is sealed – likely a US pressing)

*According to discogs.com “haves”
**According to popsike.com

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