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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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I suppose the Roches (Maggie, Suzzy and Terre) count as folk-rock singers, though really they defy musical classification. As I write this, I am not familiar with any of their other music, but this album clearly indicates that I am missing out on a lot.
Their lovely, clear, soprano voices combine to make brilliant harmonies to such great effect that they don’t actually need any musical backing. I would have been quite happy if they had recorded the whole album a Capella, but they wisely decided to mix things up by using a variety of instruments on some of the tracks.
Distinctive arrangements of old standards are another feature of this album – not everywhere, but on selected tracks. So the first time you play this you will never know quite what to expect but most of the arrangements are not too far removed from the standard.
Another aspect of this album that I particularly like is the choice of songs. Most of the really obvious ones have been omitted, although their harmonies are so magical that I’d happily listen to any Christmas song they choose to record.
The less obvious songs to be found here include Good King Wenceslas (the best version I’ve yet heard of this under-recorded song) and The holly and the ivy, both very popular in Britain but apparently less so in America. Also included are such wonderful songs as Angels we have heard on high, For unto us a child is born, Here we come a carolling and the opening track, Break forth o bounteous heavenly light. Two originals, Christmas passing through and Star of wonder, are also excellent.
Of the really obvious songs, their version of Away in a manger is truly inspired – it is one of the songs they sing without backing. I don’t know why, but that song often seems to bring out the best in America’s finest singers.
I agree to some extent with what others say about their slightly silly version of Frosty the snowman – but hey, it’s a Christmas album – loosen up. There are also a few other tracks where the song arrangements will upset some people.
This is the kind of Christmas album you either love or hate, but I suspect that most of you will love it, providing you enjoy great harmony singing and don’t need a driving rhythm section. On this album, the sisters’ voices are what make this album distinctive.
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on 30 November 2004
The Roches give the Christmas Carols genre a whole new twist - their vocal arrrangements lend interest to what can be [to the non-christmas-o-phile] an overfamiliar set of songs. Recommended, if you can find it.
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on 7 September 2005
OK, so I bought this CD based on hearing the track Good King Wenceslas on the Terry Wogan show on BBC Radio Two and the three Roche sisters really can sing and harmonise. The arrangements on some of the tracks is refreshingly diffent. others however, are not so good, seeing as this will only get an outing over the Christmas period it truly is a welcome alternative to traditional renditions.
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on 22 December 2002
This CD offers traditional and modern Christmas music with a distinctive up-beat sound and excellent word clarity which is a rare treat.
The 24 tracks provide some outstanding arrangements of well-known carols, such as O Little Town of Bethlehem and Good King Wenceslas. There is also an unusual version of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear which although an interesting arrangement, would have been enhanced by the use of the original words.
Overall this is the best CD of popular Christmas music I have heard in years. Hard to obtain, but worth the chase.
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on 30 December 2007
The Roches are one of the best vocal acts in the world, and here they take a bunch of hoary old carols and hymns, mix them with a couple of original compositions, and produce the perfect Christmas album. For Unto Us A Child Is Born is a stunning arrangement, the three voices spiralling off in totally different directions but somehow remaining tied to the central theme and each other. Frosty The Snowman is hilarious - the girls affecting exaggerated New Yoik accents and arguing with a bunch of kids along the way. A few of the songs are done straight, and that leavens the mixture beautifully, giving you a chance to get ready for the next surprise. Play this in your house at Yuletide - a wonderful Christmas atmosphere is guaranteed.
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on 9 December 2007
I was turned onto this record by Terry Wogan playing a couple of tracks over the years and I'm so pleased Amazon are making this brilliant Christmas record available again. It really is simply the most beauitful Christmas record ever made. The arrangements are truly a thing of beauty, even the wonderfully silly Frosty the Snowman, every track shines like a Christmas star. The Roches harmonies are perfect and with that New York twang just adds that bit of extra 'zest' to the whole thing. The record just makes you feel so joyous and at peace with the earth, it's that good. Truly a beauiful record. Thank you The Roches for bringing back the real spirit of Christmas.
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on 5 December 2007
I love this album. Anything that is a bit different, medieval, folk, classical, Victorian Christmas songs I've tried the lot and this album is one of my favourites. It's a great relief from the usual Slade-McCartney-Jona Lewie fare on every other Christmas album. The Roches will try anything, popular, trad and religious songs (yes folks, Christmas is a religious festival) and they do it with such a refreshing creativity. 'We Three Kings' is very Dire Straits, 'Frosty the Snowman', an over-the-top kiddie's song, 'Adeste Fideles' a subtle and sensitive carol, it's certainly a varied album. Occasionally they give the feeling that you're listening to a carol service in a snowy village square, it's that intimate. If you're open to new interpretations of both obscure and well-know Christmas songs you must buy this album.
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on 22 January 2010
I have listened to the album several times over Christmas and it will be added to my regular Festive favourites,especially the Radio 2 gem, Good King Wenceslaslas.The versions of Christmas classics on the album are on the whole harmonic and very listenable,although a couple sound slightly silly(probably intentional!)
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on 31 January 2010
I heard Good King Wenceslas from The Roches on Terry Wogan on Radio 2 and was so impressed I bought the CD. I was not disapointed and this is now my favourite Christmas CD. I did in fact download this from Amazon and was very impressed with the ease of doing this. I would recommend this CD to anyone.
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on 6 January 2010
Simply fabulous. Lot's of classic Christmas songs sung beautifully plus one or two quirky gems. I couldn't praise it highly enough.
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