The holidays are here, and so are the holiday albums. There’s more of them this year than any other year I can remember, which would be great if they were all awesome. Which they are not.
Some are, including Verve’s excellent Christmas remix album. But Billy Bob Thortnton and Sarah Brightman? I’d rather stuff a turkey in my stocking. I tackled these three wannabe kings for Metromix.
Various artists, Verve Remixed Christmas
Since 2002, Verve Records has opened its storied vaults to producers, DJs and composers with an eye for reinvention. This time around, the storied label has handed over some of the winter holiday’s greatest tunes from Count Basie, Nina Simone, Louis Armstrong and more to digital virtuosos like the Orb, Wax Tailor and Oh No. The result? One of the year’s coolest Christmas compilations. MORE @ METROMIX
Sarah Brightman, A Winter Symphony
As a classically trained dancer and singer, disco star, and one-time wife and muse of Andrew Lloyd Webber, pop soprano Sarah Brightman has led a gifted life. Small wonder, then, that she has decided to tackle holiday spirituals and standards, as well as songs by Neil Diamond and Vince Gill, which have been orchestrally upgraded by composers Carsten Heusmann and Frank Peterson for those who love swelling scores. MORE @ METROMIX
The Boxmasters, Christmas Cheer
If you like your holiday standards filtered through high lonesome and gritty country, then this may be the disc for you. Boxmaster originals like “My Dreams of Christmas” and “Slower Than Christmas” don’t really have a lot of good cheer to spread around; Thornton moans that Christmas is “the day of hell” in the latter tune, and he doesn’t even plan on showing up at all in “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas.” Billy’s Boxmasters make up for these morose anti-standards by burning through boogie upgrades of “Silver Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” Add in covers of Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song,” John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison” and Lennon and Ono’s “Happy X-Mas (War is Over),” and you have one of the odder holiday offerings in recent memory. MORE @ METROMIX