Various Artists | The Classic Christmas Albums: Pop & Hard Rock (Legacy)

cd classic-xmas-pop“Carol of the Bells” is my favorite classic Christmas song, so although I have multiple renditions of it, adding another is a pleasure.




I’m a Christmas music junkie, so when Legacy Recordings announced a whole series of Classic Christmas Albums, I was almost behind myself. Here’s look at the two that caught my attention.

The Classic Christmas Pop Album

This one’s 15 tracks of pure bubblegum Christmas…and it’s great. There are a handful of names I don’t recognize, but more that I do. The album opens with covers of two not-as-classic holiday songs, Big Time Rush doing Wham’s “Last Christmas” and Big Time Rush putting a teenybopper touch on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” After the sorta skippable “Sleigh Ride” by Karmin (seriously…has the singer even hit puberty?), Hurts’ “All I Want for Christmas Is New Year’s Day” is a keeper, destined to be on my Christmas playlist for years and years to come. You can’t go wrong with Backstreet Boys at the holidays, and their “Christmas Time” provides the disc’s first ballad. Of course, New Kids on the Block are up next with yet another falsetto-branded slow dance in “The Christmas Song.” Eighties Brits Bros redefine “Silent Night” before B2K’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which is truly awful.

Jagged Edge’s soulful rendition of “This Christmas” is a keeper, as are Westlife’s classic delivery of “White Christmas” and the R&B-tinged take on “This Christmas” by Menudo (!). “Feliz Navidad” has never been one of my favorites, and here Los Lonely Boys push it onto the Naughty list for all time. A handful of indie bands close out the disc in fine form: Glasvegas’s “A Snowflake Fell” (the heavy Scottish accent making it even more endearing), Mew’s “She Came Home for Christmas,” and Phantom Planet’s “Carol of the Bells.” The latter is my favorite classic Christmas song, so although I have multiple renditions of it, adding another is a pleasure. B

cd classic-xmas-hard-rockThe Classic Christmas Hard Rock Album

I have to admit: I expected more from this. By which I mean I expected words. I can listen to Christmas music from all over the genre chart, including many, many artists whom I would never be caught dead listening to. But there aren’t a whole lot of instrumental Christmas songs that hold my interest (the above-mentioned “Carol of the Bells” excepted, always), and that’s almost all this is. There are 10 songs with absolutely no vocals; only the last track, “We Three Kings” by Halford, has any words, and even these are minimal. Unfortunately, my interest waned long before then. If you want to listen to a bunch of classic instrumentalists—including Neal Schon, Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, Alex Lifeson, Trevor Rabin, and Robin Trower—reinterpret Christmas, by all means, be my guest. But I think I have to wash my hair that night. D

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