Like a married couple (that we are not), Jeremy and I were having our age-old argument about music on the way to our annual tree decorating at the Kenney Krieger Festival of Trees. It goes like this:
Me: I don’t like when FILL IN THE BLANK ruins that Christmas music by making it all jazzy and weird. Whey can’t FILL IN THE BLANK just do it right?
Jeremy: What? This is a classic! It’s because you don’t understand music.
Me: That’s what Roger [my husband] says. You are both crazy.
Jeremy: (Audible Sigh) You just don’t get it. . .
So now that you are familiar with my credentials as a music critic, I bring you Ken Tucker’s review of four new Christmas albums, including Christmas at Downton Abbey, Earth Wind and Fire’s Holiday, the soundtrack for A Merry Friggin’ Christmas, and Living Sisters’ Harmony is Real.
You think this post is going to be a gushing recommendation of the Downton Abbey album. (The countdown to the next season’s first episode in America is just about as important to me as the Christmas Countdown itself–I keep threatening to move to England so I can get a jump on Season 5.) On the Ken Tucker review, I heard a snippet of Elizabeth McGovern’s rendition of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and it was lovely. I’ll have to do a bit more listening before I make a purchase, though.
What really caught my attention was Earth Wind and Fire’s “Joy to the World.” Here is a clear improvisation, call and response version of a standard that you would expect would elicit my standard complaint–“Just sing it like normal.” Instead, I was boucing a little in the driver’s seat of my car, thinking, “I need to get this album.”
Later, I pulled up the iTunes preview, and overall, had a lukewarm response to the rest. Part of me loves the sound because of my 70’s upbringing, but most of the standards are recorded just like that, standard–and there’s someone else out there that does it better . . .much better. Two of the songs on the album are slight revisions of their greatest hits, “December” and “Happy Seasons.” Yuck. Call me a traitor, but in this case, I don’t want to hear the “regular” version.
Still, as I change my radio station to “all Christmas” from tomorrow (Thanksgiving day) to December 25, I’m going to be listening for Earth Wind and Fire’s version of “Joy to the World.” I hope it gets as least as much airtime as my least favorite, “The Christmas Shoes” by Alabama. (I’m not hyperlinking that out of spite.)