Originally created 12/19/97

Christmas music comes in many flavors 121997 - The Augusta Chronicle



A Home For the Holidays (1/2, Mercury Records)

Aside from a cool cover, this CD is jammed with pop artists - Suzanne Vega, Bon Jovi and Joan Osborne, to name a few - singing the same Christmas carols as your third-grader.

But they're in tune.

The album, benefiting Phoenix House, which works with troubled teens and adult drug abusers, is "dedicated to all those who struggle with their demons. Happy Holidays . . . You are loved."

Maybe that's why the producers didn't change the songs too much. That might have upset people.

It doesn't matter that they commissioned big names to sing the songs. They could be taken off any old record and sung by any lounge lizard. OMC, the guy who sings How Bizarre, sounds more like Fred Astaire than a funky, jazzy guy groovin' down the highway in the hot, hot sun.

All of the songs are done well. But if you're looking for pop rock, keep walking.

Aaron Neville's Please Come Home For Christmas is nice. It has an urgency in the brass and piano. It sounds as though he really wants her home.

Vanessa Williams' duet with Bobby Caldwell, Baby, It's Cold Outside, is better than any song on her new album. It makes you smile. Until the middle, where they add some "woo-hoos" that didn't really need to be there. And the dance break runs a little too long, with a synthesizer a little heavy on the Lurch-like harpsichord.

Tony Toni Tone is the only rap that rocks with My Christmas. But this song is very bad. Here are the lyrics: "My Christmas, Oh! My Christmas Oh! My Christmas Oh! Uh-huh." Bad song. Skip this track.

Redd Kross' Mary Christmas sounds like the Monkees.

The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones X'mas Time (It Sure Don't Feel Like It) talks about the season's wintry bleakness. The college kids have all left town, and he's lonesome. "This time of year means nothing when you've got nothing you can spend. . . . It's the holiday season, and it's freezing cold. No one will have me, I've got no one to hold." On a track of typical hark-the-Harold-angel-sings songs, I like this lonely tune. (Well, I like the idea more than the actual song. Good try, guys.)

The Lovemongers' How Beautiful is on the wavelength, but she's not that upset. She's OK, even though she's broke. "Me I work long hours the first to come the first to go. I walk by Christmas windows full of things I'll never own. Things I cannot give you."

The song starts out well, but it just keeps repeating "How Beautiful" and you want to skip. "For some the table's laden, others are denied. It makes my love run deeper when I see how hard you tried. Just like you the snow falls silent in the night."

Overall it's a pretty good disc. - Wendy Grossman

Willie Nelson with Bobbie Nelson Hill Country Christmas (1/2, Mercury Records)

Aside from a cool cover, this CD is jammed with pop artists - Suzanne Vega, Bon Jovi and Joan Osborne, to name a few - singing the same Christmas carols as your third-grader.

But they're in tune.

The album, benefiting Phoenix House, which works with troubled teens and adult drug abusers, is "dedicated to all those who struggle with their demons. Happy Holidays . . . You are loved."

Maybe that's why the producers didn't change the songs too much. That might have upset people.

It doesn't matter that they commissioned big names to sing the songs. They could be taken off any old record and sung by any lounge lizard. OMC, the guy who sings How Bizarre, sounds more like Fred Astaire than a funky, jazzy guy groovin' down the highway in the hot, hot sun.

All of the songs are done well. But if you're looking for pop rock, keep walking.

Aaron Neville's Please Come Home For Christmas is nice. It has an urgency in the brass and piano. It sounds as though he really wants her home.

Vanessa Williams' duet with Bobby Caldwell, Baby, It's Cold Outside, is better than any song on her new album. It makes you smile. Until the middle, where they add some "woo-hoos" that didn't really need to be there. And the dance break runs a little too long, with a synthesizer a little heavy on the Lurch-like harpsichord.

Tony Toni Tone is the only rap that rocks with My Christmas. But this song is very bad. Here are the lyrics: "My Christmas, Oh! My Christmas Oh! My Christmas Oh! Uh-huh." Bad song. Skip this track.

Redd Kross' Mary Christmas sounds like the Monkees.

The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones X'mas Time (It Sure Don't Feel Like It) talks about the season's wintry bleakness. The college kids have all left town, and he's lonesome. "This time of year means nothing when you've got nothing you can spend. . . . It's the holiday season, and it's freezing cold. No one will have me, I've got no one to hold." On a track of typical hark-the-Harold-angel-sings songs, I like this lonely tune. (Well, I like the idea more than the actual song. Good try, guys.)

The Lovemongers' How Beautiful is on the wavelength, but she's not that upset. She's OK, even though she's broke. "Me I work long hours the first to come the first to go. I walk by Christmas windows full of things I'll never own. Things I cannot give you."

The song starts out well, but it just keeps repeating "How Beautiful" and you want to skip. "For some the table's laden, others are denied. It makes my love run deeper when I see how hard you tried. Just like you the snow falls silent in the night."

Overall it's a pretty good disc. - Wendy Grossman

Willie Nelson with Bobbie Nelson Hill Country Christmas (, Finer Arts Records)

Willie's on the road again with his sister (who's billed in very small print underneath him and just plays the piano like she probably does at church). They have the same hair. On the back cover Willie's wearing the Willie Nelson shirt just so you don't get confused.

I like this CD.

I like hearing Willie Nelson singing Away in a Manger. He sounds like Willie Nelson. And that's cool. You can see the Christmas tree and him in the center with a guitar on his knee and a bunch of smiling kids surrounding him.

When he sings Joy to the World he still sounds kinda sad. And tired. But sorta happy, too.

Who couldn't smile hearing him sing here comes Santee Claus. It just makes me think of every happy Christmas cartoon.

Great stocking stuffer. - Wendy Grossman

Deanna Kirk Mr. Grinch off the CD Where Are You Now? (, Finer Arts Records)

Willie's on the road again with his sister (who's billed in very small print underneath him and just plays the piano like she probably does at church). They have the same hair. On the back cover Willie's wearing the Willie Nelson shirt just so you don't get confused.

I like this CD.

I like hearing Willie Nelson singing Away in a Manger. He sounds like Willie Nelson. And that's cool. You can see the Christmas tree and him in the center with a guitar on his knee and a bunch of smiling kids surrounding him.

When he sings Joy to the World he still sounds kinda sad. And tired. But sorta happy, too.

Who couldn't smile hearing him sing here comes Santee Claus. It just makes me think of every happy Christmas cartoon.

Great stocking stuffer. - Wendy Grossman

Deanna Kirk Mr. Grinch off the CD Where Are You Now? (1/2, Elektra Entertainment)

In case you've lived the past decade without cable television, the Grinch is that large green Dr. Seuss character who sneaked into the cute little town of Whoville and decided to steal Christmas. He dropped down chimneys and took all the Christmas trees, presents and even the roast beast.

He was miserable, and he wanted everyone else to be.

Until he saw little Cindy Lou Who. She toddled out of bed thinking he was Santa. And she made his heart, two-sizes too small, grow three sizes bigger, God bless them all.

Anyhow, this cartoon's accompanied by a super cool song about how horrid he is.

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You're as cuddly as a cactus, as charming as an eel."

Deanna Kirk redid the song in a bluesy, jazzy flavor. Her smooth satin-lingerie voice sounds a lot like Fionna Apple's, her mmm's scream that she's looking to be a bad, bad girl.

"You're a monster Mr. Grinch. Your heart's an empty hole. Your brain is full of spiders, you've got garlic in your soul. I wouldn't touch you with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole."

I think she would.

They've got the Who's down in Whoville singing whatever their little welcome Christmas song is, interspersed with this jazzy rattly sound. - Wendy Grossman

A Very Green Christmas (1/2, Elektra Entertainment)

In case you've lived the past decade without cable television, the Grinch is that large green Dr. Seuss character who sneaked into the cute little town of Whoville and decided to steal Christmas. He dropped down chimneys and took all the Christmas trees, presents and even the roast beast.

He was miserable, and he wanted everyone else to be.

Until he saw little Cindy Lou Who. She toddled out of bed thinking he was Santa. And she made his heart, two-sizes too small, grow three sizes bigger, God bless them all.

Anyhow, this cartoon's accompanied by a super cool song about how horrid he is.

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You're as cuddly as a cactus, as charming as an eel."

Deanna Kirk redid the song in a bluesy, jazzy flavor. Her smooth satin-lingerie voice sounds a lot like Fionna Apple's, her mmm's scream that she's looking to be a bad, bad girl.

"You're a monster Mr. Grinch. Your heart's an empty hole. Your brain is full of spiders, you've got garlic in your soul. I wouldn't touch you with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole."

I think she would.

They've got the Who's down in Whoville singing whatever their little welcome Christmas song is, interspersed with this jazzy rattly sound. - Wendy Grossman

A Very Green Christmas (, Seventh Wave Records)

The jacket cover says these folks wanted to do more than compile a bunch of seasonal songs by wonderful artists (I haven't heard of one of these guys). They wanted to make a statement about the holiday season. Their statement is giving and sharing.

If you're a little too highbrow for Willie Nelson and a little too old for the Bon Jovi holiday blues, grab this up.

These are a bunch of tree-hugging, save the dolphins, planet people. The music's all classical stuff that you could hear in the mall. You know the tune, but they don't sing the words. It's elevator music with just a touch of tinkly, relaxing, new-age Enya.

It's good background music for holiday dinner parties. Or, if you happen to own an elevator in your home - snatch this one up. - Wendy Grossman