5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The good, the bad and the slightly weird,
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This review is from: Christmas: The Collection (Audio CD)
Forrest Gump once famously said that life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get next. That just about sums up my opinion of this triple CD collection. It's a real eclectic mix, which admittedly many Christmas compilations are with their blend of pop, classical and ratpack crooning that share little or nothing in common besides their yuletide theme. But you should be aware of what this offering is, and what it isn't.
It isn't, for example, your standard rundown of UK pop classics, even though it starts off very much that way. If you just scan the first few tracks on CD1 you'll see the Pogues, Wizzard, Chris Rea, Mud, Cliff Richard - but don't be fooled because that isn't typical of most of the rest of the collection. For example you won't find Slade (gasp!), Band Aid, Shakin Stevens, John Lennon or many other classic Christmas pop songs. So if you're after the definitive, complete seasonal party CD, you should probably look elsewhere. Even less is it a carol or crooner collection, though there are examples of the latter in particular (and there is a rather interesting take on Hark the Herald Angels Sing).
However, if you already own most of the above then this collection might be worth a look for the other things it has - some different, original stuff, much of which you may never have heard before. And the slightly eccentric nature of the selection made me smile at times. One moment you're listening to East 17, then next to someone warbling away in Latin.
But I have to say the quality is uneven at times. CD1 is pretty good, starting on a high with Fairytale of New York, and much of what follows are well-known songs usually by the original artists. Though towards the end some hysterical woman just about murders Last Christmas; why this version was chosen over the Wham original, I can't imagine.
CD2 starts well with a good version of Santa Baby by the ever-reliable Kylie Minogue, but quickly goes downhill after that, and for me this is easily the weakest of the three discs. This is kind of the crooner section (along with a bit of rock-n-roll) but you won't find Crosby, Sinatra or Martin here. Some of the covers of classic songs are pretty good; others make you yearn for the original. Many of the tracks are less well known, and frankly some of them fully deserve their obscurity.
Things pick up a lot in CD3, however. Again, many of the tracks I'd never heard before and most of the better-known ones are covers, but there are some nice surprises. I was pleased to hear a rousing effort by the Pet Shop Boys (It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas - how true). Then there's an excellent soulful take on Silent Night that you might enjoy if you don't expect anything like the original, and a decent cover of A Winter's Tale. But then near the end is the awful Lonely Pup, just to remind you that obscure pap is never far away in this collection.
In conclusion, if you're looking for the failsafe, definitive Christmas classics collection, this probably isn't for you. But if you want to take the risk and are prepared to skip a few (or on CD2, quite a lot) of naff filler tracks, I think you'll find enough gems to make it worth a punt for a fiver. I was originally going to give this three stars, but decided to give it the benefit of the doubt with four. The first and third CDs just about deserve it; the second I could have done without.