Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby (Deluxe Edition)
2012, Verve Music Group
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
2. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
3. Winter Wonderland
4. White Christmas
5. Merry Christmas, Baby
6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
7. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
8. Blue Christmas
9. Red-Suited Super Man
10. When You Wish Upon A Star
11. We Three Kings
12. Silent Night
13. Auld Lang Syne
14. What Child Is This
15. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
16. Silver Bells
Producer: David Foster & Rod Stewart
For the past decade Rod Stewart has been content to become a crooner covering the “great American songbook” as well as Motown and rock ‘n’ roll staples. Despite having said in the past that he would never do a Christmas album, it was really only a matter of time before he did just that. Rod isn’t a rock star or a pop star anymore. He’s a crooner in the tradition of Crosby, Sinatra and Martin (just as Michael Buble is). You can’t be a crooner and not do a holiday album.
Rod has not been taking any chances in the past decade when covering the materials of others. The songs are played faithfully and in their traditional big-band fashion just with Rod’s raspy vocals laid over. A few exceptions would be songs like “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” or “Winter Wonderland” where the tempo is a bit slower. It’s easy listening background music at a Christmas party. Not that I’m complaining.
These songs are classics for a reason and in my opinion they don’t need to be remixed or refashioned into flamenco, country and dance songs. Just give someone with a great voice the mic and let’em sing. That’s exactly what’s been done with Merry Christmas, Baby.
As standard, there’s a few cameos on this album. Michael Buble appears on “Winter Wonderland”, Cee-Lo Green lends a hand on “Merry Christmas, Baby” and Mary J. Blige duets with Rod on “We Three Kings”.
While I can’t say I’ve ever really followed Rod’s career, he’s always had a great distinctive voice so it’s wonderful to hear to him put his vocal stamp on these timeless classics. There’s a couple of songs I didn’t really care for though. “Red-Suited Superman” being one and I felt the inclusion of “When You Wish Upon a Star” was out of place. Why not just save that for the next volume of his Great American Songbook series? That’s not really a Christmas song at all.
In any event, this is a good easy-listening Christmas album that’s well worth picking up for Chrirstmas traditionalists.
Highlights: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland”, “White Christmas”, “Silent Night”, “Auld Lang Syne”, “What Child Is This”
1. The Christmas Song
2. Christmas Spirit
3. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
4. Let There Be Peace On Earth
5. O Come All Ye Faithful
6. Little Drummer Boy
7. O Holy Night
8. What Child Is This
9. Silent Night
10. Christmas Mornings
11. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
12. White Christmas
Richard Marx – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Backing Vocals
Jerry McPherson – Guitar
Matt Scannell – Guitar
Mark Hill – Bass
Steve Brewster – Drums
Will Sayles – Drums
Michael Omartian – Piano
Jason Webb – Piano
Kenny Loggins – Lead Vocals (“Let There Be Peace On Earth”)
Sara Watkins – Lead Vocals (“Silent Night”)
Sara Niemitz – Lead Vocals (“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”)
Producer: Richard Marx
I’m a sucker for Christmas albums and Christmas in general. I don’t care who knows it. I’m also a sucker for Richard Marx. Great voice, great songwriter, he’s written some of the greatest rock/pop songs of all time. Everyone should at least own one of his greatest hits compilations.
Anyway, when I found out Richard Marx was releasing a Christmas album, I knew I had to check this out. There are some artists that toss out a holiday album as a cheap & lazy way to cash in on the holiday cheer of an unsuspecting public but that’s not what we get with Christmas Spirit. To be fair though, “Christmas Spirit”, ”O Holy Night”, ”Silent Night”, ”I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” & ”Alleluia” all appeared on Marx’s The Christmas EP in 2011.
The album is named after one of the album’s original Marx-penned songs. And it’s a good one. In fact, “Christmas Spirit” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s upbeat and sounds like something that could’ve come from Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album. It’s a contemporary Christmas classic, in my opinion. The second original track, “Christmas Mornings”, sounds like a classic Marx ballad to me.
The rest of the album is full of holiday standards which are sometimes played traditionally and sometimes not. “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” becomes even more of a haunting ballad in the hands of Richard Marx. There are now two truly great versions of this song: Bing Crosby’s and now Richard Marx’s. “Little Drummer Boy” is another song that has received a soft rock/pop makeover. This is really the only song on the album I find myself skipping over. It’s way too “light” sounding for me (and, yes, I know I’m discussing Christmas songs here).
Other songs such as “The Christmas Song”, “White Christmas”, “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are played pretty faithfully but still done quite well. I don’t mind hearing traditional Christmas songs played straight. For me, it has more to do with who is singing the song and it’s great hearing Richard Marx put his stamp on these timeless classics.
Christmas Spirit is a new holiday classic that is sure to get a lot more play in my house around the holidays as the years go on. Even radio seems to agree with me as I’ve already heard “Little Drummer Boy” numerous times on one of the local stations that is playing Christmas songs up until the New Year. I think they’ve played “Christmas Spirit” as well. The album is well worth picking up.
There is also an exclusive edition at Target that includes four bonus tracks: “Blue Christmas”, “Silver Bells”, “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.
Highlights: “The Christmas Song”, “Christmas Spirit”, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “O Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “Christmas Mornings”, “White Christmas”