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VALLEY WEEKEND | BEST BETS

September 05, 1996

SATURDAY

'Tis the Season

The Bobs have recorded a Christmas album? This could be distressing news.

For 15 years, the a cappella group has been making records for loyal followers who appreciate their precise vocalise as well as their irreverent, offbeat humor. Their last album, for example, included typical Bobs-esque tunes "Bus Tour to the Outlet Mall" and "Kill Your Television."

The Bobs, who perform Saturday at Glendale's new Star's Theatre, were once described by this newspaper as a musical cross between Devo and the Mills Brothers. Is this new package of holiday songs a blatant attempt to appeal to a broader audience--to be more Mills Brothers, less Devo?

"We've been absolutely eager to sell out," says Richard Greene, the group's bass. "But every time we do, we just end up being ourselves."

The group started in Berkeley in the early 1980s when Greene answered a classified ad for a bass who wanted to join a "new wave a cappella group." Shortly thereafter, he met with Matthew Stull, Gunnar Madsen and new-recruit Janie Scott to try to figure out what "new wave a cappella" actually meant.

After a few years performing in local clubs, they recorded their first album and started touring, first nationally and then internationally. In gradual succession came a Grammy nomination, more records, more acclaim and television appearances. Joe Finetti joined the group in 1989, Madsen left in 1991, and they switched labels.

And now for something completely different: a Christmas collection?

"We just wanted to do something thematic," Greene says. "Rather than doing the Harold Arlen songbook, we looked at Christmas and let things go where they would."

Fortunately, that destination is familiar territory for Bobs fans. The album, "Too Many Santas," features some very Bobs-like material such as "Yuleman vs. the Anti-Claus," "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag," and "50-Kilowatt Tree," a musical celebration of that American suburban phenomena, the holiday front lawn extravaganza: My neighbors say I'm ostentatious / But I know they envy me / lighting up my yard like downtown Las Vegas / It's my 50-kilowatt tree.

"Too Many Santas" is due in stores in November. But you don't have to wait that long for a new wave a cappella fix.

* The Bobs perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Star's Theatre, 417 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Tickets are $25. Call (818) 244-SHOW.

*

Breathing Easy

You want to go out to a club or concert, but you don't want to come home smelling like an ashtray?

The American Lung Assn. just made your life a little simpler.

They've just published "Breathing Easy," a guide to smoke-free entertainment in the greater Los Angeles area. The booklet contains over 200 listings of restaurants, concert halls, coffeehouses, even bowling centers and pool halls that are smoke-free.

It also includes a brief description of each place and it devotes several pages to Valley venues with clean air, not just places over the hill.

For a copy of "Breathing Easy," contact the American Lung Assn. at (213) 935-5864.

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