The Blind Boys of Alabama “Go Tell It on the Mountain” www.OmnivoreRecordings.com
Jane Lynch “A Swingin’ Little Christmas” Kitsch Tone Records
Jeff Collins “The Keys of Christmas” www.CrossroadsMusic.com
Tony Hadley “The Christmas Album” www.OmnivoreRecordings.com
“The Ventures’ Christmas Album” www.RealGoneMusic.com
" Christmas Albums "
On this edition of the Blind Boys of Alabama “Go Tell It on the Mountain” features very special guests: Solomon Burke, Tom Waits, Chrissie Hynde, Richard Thompson, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples and George Clinton coupled with Robert Randolph, too. This current 2016 version includes three new bonus tracks and updated liner notes as well.
Highlights include the late Solomon Burke adding his brand of Gospel soul on “I Pray on Christmas.” Tom Waits draws from the Blues on the title track that works extremely well. Aaron Neville is a natural fit for “Joy to the World,” as is Mavis Staples vocal addition with “Born in Bethlehem.” My personal favorite is George Clinton and Robert Randolph lending welcome assistance to “Away in a Manger.” As much as I was looking forward to Les McCann’s vocal support on “White Christmas” I found it lackluster and flat. The three “bonus tracks” are “My Lord What a Morning,” and live versions of the title track “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” and “Amazing Grace,” the latter is musically reminiscent of “House of the Rising Sun.”
Jane Lynch’s new album “A Swingin’ Little Christmas” has a “big band” feel. It was also funded by Lynch and her bandmates. All in all there are fifteen tracks including sentimental renditions of “Jingle Bells,” “The First Noel,” “We Three Kings,” and an instrumental version of “Silent Night.” (*) Five of these fifteen tunes are brand-new original (and refreshing) tunes.
For additional details visit: www.janelynchofficial.com/christmas-album.ht. Where you will find limited edition twelve inch vinyl versions, CD’s and download/samples too.
This is Jeff Collins’ second recording of Christmas music. This new one finds the pianist Collins backed by various drummers, bassists, guitarists, a sax player, organist, violinist, and a trumpet player.
All in all it’s a well-orchestrated affair starting with the opening medley “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and well-known classics: “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Joy to the World,” that are given updated and tasteful arrangements. I dug Collins heady take of “Linus and Lucy,” and the soulful and touching “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.”
Tony Hadley is the front-man vocalist for Spandau Ballet. “The Christmas Album” is his first Christmas recording – that was produced in Italy.
Checkout his cover of “I Believe in Father Christmas,” his rocking “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” a neat cover of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow,” plus his dramatic rendering of “Snowing All over the World,” and the kicking rock and roll classic: “Run Run Rudolph.”
Regarding their outstanding 1965 “The Ventures’ Christmas Album,” How the heck did I miss this excellent recording? I must have been lost in the frozen tundra – as this is one of the greatest Christmas recordings of all time. Hard to believe it took me over fifty years to get turned onto this killer recording!
All in all there are twelve tunes included, actually twenty-four as each of the original twelve are offered (both) in stereo and (for the first time digitally) in their original monophonic presentations. “Sleigh Ride” opens the romp, there’s a honking “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” tighten up for a rocking “Jingle Bells,” and a ripping “Jingle Bell Rock” that hints at “Secret Agent Man,” how cool is this? Or how about “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” notated with the Beatles “I Feel Fine,” and “Frosty the Snowman” with intro shots of “Tequila.” You’ll also enjoy “Scrooge,” “Blue Christmas,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and the tender finale “White Christmas.”
Also check-out the recent liner notes by writer Bill Kopp who (in 2015) tracked down original (now retired) Ventures rhythm guitarist Don Wilson for quotes, and the vintage photos that heighten the “The Ventures’ Christmas Album” celebrations. Originally issued on vinyl in 1965 by Dolton – a division of Liberty Records, “The Ventures’ Christmas Album” has never been out of fashion: as this instrumental classic was also reissued on CD by EMI and other distributor/manufacturers, and it’s (thankfully) back again for 2016 on Real Gone Music!
Seamlessly woven Christmas tunes riffs are dashed with classic well-known sixties songs. The jams are particularly focused, and are all filled with spiked eggnog that’s high octane fueled with fun and perhaps some 151 proof rum.
So there you have it, five recently released Holiday Stocking stuffers for your listening pleasure. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours: Ho, ho, ho!
For 17 years Bob Putignano has been pivotal with his Sounds of Blue radio show. Hear new Homegrown Sounds of Blue internet radio shows: http://soundsofblue.com/radioshowsmp3.htm
Previously a contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com & www.MakingAScene.org Bob was also the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting. Putignano can be contacted at: BobP@SoundsofBlue.com