Customer Review

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great compilation of Christmas music, 10 Sep 2009
This review is from: Christmas Hits (Audio CD)
The first edition of this compilation was a triple CD, but this updated edition includes a bonus CD of carols, plus a few changes to the original compilation to include some more recent material. Wintersong (Sarah McLachlan), Silent night (G4), O holy night (Il Divo) and Pie Jesu (Angelis), all recorded between 2004 and 2006, replace tracks included on the original triple CD.

The first three CD's include plenty of songs that have become familiar during the festive season in Britain as well as some less obvious selections. Some obvious classics are missing; you'll find most of them on the triple CD Now That's What I Call Xmas, though I can`t help noticing that some classics (one example being Roy Orbison's Pretty paper) don`t appear on either, but they are not too difficult to find if you really want them. Comparison with Now That's What I Call Xmas shows some duplication of songs, but usually featuring different versions, so the original appears on one with the other featuring a cover. Four tracks appear in their original versions on both compilations, these being Fairytale of New York (Pogues and Kirsty MacColl), Rockin' around the Christmas tree (Brenda Lee) , Stop the cavalry (Jona Lewie) and Power of Love (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) Here, you'll find the original version of Santa baby (Eartha Kitt), All I want for Christmas is you (Mariah Carey), Mary's boy child (Harry Belafonte), Driving home for Christmas (Chris Rea) and Last Christmas (Wham), cover versions of which appear on the other compilation. Note that Mary's boy child, a number one UK hit originally for Harry Belafonte but later for Boney M, is represented here by both versions. Meanwhile, the other compilation has original versions of Merry Xmas everybody (here performed by Steps rather than Slade), The Christmas song (here performed by Christina Aguilera rather than Nat King Cole) and White Christmas (here performed by Michael Bolton rather than Bing Crosby), so there`s not a lot to choose between them overall. Another interesting song is Walking in the air. First performed by Peter Auty (in The snowman), it later became a UK hit for Aled Jones. You'll find the original version here and the hit version on Now Christmas.

Cliff Richard is represented by just one song here (Millennium prayer) but you'll find three of his Christmas songs on Now That's What I Call Xmas. Frank Sinatra (Santa Claus is coming to town, Let it snow let it snow let it snow) and Shakin' Stevens (Merry Christmas everyone, Blue Christmas) are each represented by two songs here. Other popular songs include When a child is born (Johnny Mathis), 2000 miles (Pretenders) and It's the most wonderful time of the year (Andy Williams) to name a few.

The compilation title tells you that there are tracks here that happened to be UK hits at Christmas in the year of their release as singles, but which otherwise have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but so does the other compilation. Conversely, I suspect that some of the tracks that obviously have a Christmas theme may not actually have been hits, but most of the tracks here are genuine Christmas songs that were hits in the UK singles charts, just as on the other compilation.

The music here is somewhat eclectic and even I don't claim to love every track; I've never been a fan of Britney Spears or the Wombles and their inclusion here merely serves to remind me why I'm not among their fans, but plenty of other people love their music so, in the spirit of Christmas, I don't object to their presence.

The bonus CD includes five carols recorded by the Norwich Cathedral Choir, with the remaining seventeen being recorded by the Westminster Cathedral Choir. Many of these carols will be familiar, at least to British ears, but there are some unusual selections, especially Come to the manger, Personent hope, Hail blessed virgin Mary and The seven joys of Mary. The compilers seem to have made a mistake by including Deck the halls, since Jackie Wilson's version is included elsewhere in this compilation and there are plenty of other great carols that could have been chosen instead, but that's a minor quibble.

If you don't have any compilation of Christmas pop and rock music and you only want one, you may have a hard choice deciding between this one and Now That's What I Call Xmas, but if you can afford to, you could buy both as there are only four duplicated tracks, though there is plenty of duplication of songs. I prefer Now That's What I Call Xmas, but only marginally; however, if I'd chosen to buy only one, I'd have bought this one because it contains more material that I didn't already have.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Nov 2009 11:06:52 GMT
Book Beaver says:
Do you not think that the reason that none of these Christmas reviews have a 100% 'success' rating with the readers of your intelligent, interesting & well-researched reviews is that it's because you have given everyone (as far as I can tell) a 5* star rating? It's difficult to believe that every Christmas record/DVD in your list is a 'star' rather than a 'turkey'!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Nov 2009 11:41:42 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Nov 2009 11:46:24 GMT
No, although that may be a factor. There are several reasons.

1) Some people don't like me for a variety of reasons, whether it's the reason you quoted, the fact that I'm ranked number one, the fact that they don't like the kind of stuff I review, or they dom't agree with my opinions.

2) Amazon UK refuse to use software to sweep away campaign votes (whether helpful or unhelpful). Amazon USA have such software and if you look there, you'll find that most of my reviews posted there this year are devoid of votes. If and when that software is allowed to operate here, it'll wipe away most of my votes - helpful as well as unhelpful - and that will make me VERY happy. Did you know that most of my 10,000+ unhelpful votes came in a three-month period early in 2005 and that most of the rest came this year? That hardly reflects casual customers voting on whether they find my reviews helpful or not. Soon after I posted those Christmas reviews in September, somebody went through and voted against every one of them. He or she clearly finds it unhelpful that I review at all, since that person also voted against most of my reviews posted earlier this year. I won't give up reviewing, nor will I give up on trying to persuade Amazon UK to clean up the votes, though I may not press them again on that issue for a couple of years. It is worth noting that the computer records every vote individually although we only see totals, so even if it's another ten years before Amazon UK use that software, the info will still be there. The computer never forgets, nor do I.

Oh yes, and if somebody pays me a reasonable amount of money to review stuff that I don't like, I'll do it. As I do these reviews for no payment whatsoever, I'll review what I choose to. But now I've joined the Vine system, I may be reviewing bad books or CDs more frequently than hitherto.

As for your basic argument, it's as old as Amazon. The five star system with no halves only gives a choice between 4 and 5 stars for stuff I like. Sorry I can't take that seriously. But as I always say, people should actually READ the reviews to see whether it's their kind of music. Christmas music comes in all different styles and anybody who is interested should find whatever matches their tastes and forget about the star ratings..

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Nov 2009 09:55:37 GMT
Book Beaver says:
Thanks for your interesting (& most informative) reply. BB

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Nov 2009 12:15:08 GMT
Paul GF says:
I just have a question as it is niggling me: Why do you do these reviews so much?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Nov 2009 20:28:00 GMT
Because I enjoy it, strange though that may seem.

Why do some people follow football teams, sometimes travelling hundreds of miles to see them even when they don't expect them to win?
Why do people climb mountains?
Why do people spend their evenings with their mates, all getting drunk?

In all cases, presumably because they enjoy it.

We all get our enjoyment in different ways.

But my reviewing is modest compared to some American reviewers. Harriet Klausner has posted over 20,000 on Amazon.com and continues to post at the rate of 1,000 every four months or so.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2009 14:04:30 GMT
Rich says:
I neither like or dislike you, how can I if don't know you. I find your reviews interesting but I do find it difficult to accept that everything you review warrants five stars.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2009 17:36:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jan 2011 22:07:47 GMT
If I were enthusing about crap, I would get lots of feedback from people saying that they'd bought something because of my reviews and it was crap. There was one customer several years ago who complained bitterly about sound quality. I hadn't mentioned the sound quality (I don't normally) but I replayed the music and modified my review to say that the sound quality was good for the age of the recordings.

Most of the complaints about my plethora of 5-star reviews (including from you) come from people whose own reviews are of products that rarely interest me. So I guess that the people who might buy stuff on the basis of my reviews are content with the service I provide.

But if you want to read one of my critical reviews, look up Hard Work: Life in Low-pay Britain.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2009 16:54:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Nov 2009 10:18:51 GMT
Rich says:
OK, but I love reading crime novels, love reading horror novels, I also love listening to most kinds of music. However that doesn't mean that every horror or crime novel I read warrants five stars. The same if I were to start reviewing all the CD's I buy.

I take your point about reviewing stuff that you don't like. Especially where music is concerned. Is there anything worse than listening to music you don't like? But surely even within the stuff you like there has to be some sort of objectivity. There are many authors and artists that I like, I don't however think that every book or CD they do is a five star one.
Based on your comments I do have a better understanding of where you are coming from.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2009 15:42:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Nov 2009 15:44:30 GMT
I didn't start reviewing until I was 48, and by the time I started reviewing seriously, I was 50. So I had plenty of years in which to decide what I liked and didn't like, though I have broadened my tastes further since then. I don't believe that every CD by my favorite artists is brilliant, but given the limited rating system here, I just can't take the system seriously as I said in one of the earlier posts. If one of my favorites puts out a sub-standard album, I mark it down. But five stars with no halves doesn't offer the scope I'd need. Really, a 3 star system (like, so-so, dislike) would be better than 5, because it's obvious that 3 doesn't mean perfect. From my perspective, the current system is the worst possible. But if people read my reviews and forget about the stars, they realize that there is variation that would show up under a system that would allow more grading.

Well, I posted my first Vine review and it was only a 3-star review. My second is unlikely to rate higher and may rate lower.

I have a pile of crime fiction, mostly Dick Francis but also some Edward Marston. I don't know when I'll get round to reading and reviewing them, but maybe they'll all be OOP by then anyway. I pick them up cheaply as the opportunity arises but I find it hard to set aside time for fiction. Hey, I just have to switch on the radio to hear what politicians and pundits are saying. Plenty of fiction there :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2011 18:16:37 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 4 Apr 2013 08:14:52 BDT]
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