With not your average line up. A collection of acts that veers from The Shins through to Paul McCartney. Once you are past Fun's synth heavy take on Sleighride the sounds are pretty cohesive too, and uniformly enjoyable.
Note that this is the re-titled UK edition of the American release Holidays Rule. If you have that, you won't need this as the track listing is identical. I would have bought the CD anyway, even if the UK release had retained the American title. It's the quality of the music that's important, not the title.
All the tracks were recorded specifically for this album, though at least some of the songs and some of the artists will be familiar to you. I think all the songs are covers; certainly most are, but I'm not sure about a couple of them. As for the artists, there are several who I don't recognize.
The artists I recognize from my CD collection are Rufus Wainwright (although his only previous appearance in my CD collection is via his contribution to The McGarrigle Christmas hour; he is, of course, a son of one of the McGarrigle sisters), Paul McCartney (who wrote one song here but performs a different song). Chris Thile (here as a member of the Punch brothers; he is in my CD collection as a member of Nickel Creek) and Irma Thomas (who recorded some brilliant soul music in the sixties; good to see that she is still active and in fine form). I'm sure I've heard of Holly Golightly somewhere, but I'll confess to total ignorance about the rest. Still, the music is of a high quality as I expected they would be, based on Macca's participation.
Macca's voice sounds better than one might expect of a man his age on a fine rendition of The Christmas song. Meanwhile, the Shins contribute a decent version of Macca's Wonderful Christmastime, although I still prefer the original.
I don't remember previously hearing Green grows the holly, apparently written by King Henry VIII. Elsewhere, it has been claimed that he is the writer of Greensleeves and / or What child is this (neither of which are featured here) and that he wrote other songs, but this is the first of those other songs that I've come across. Meanwhile, I see that the writer of Auld lang syne (Robert Burns, the famous poet) receives no credit, but although the very distinctive version of Auld lang syne (by Andrew Bird) took some getting used to. It`s wonderful.
Apart from Green grows the holly, the other song that I didn't recognize from the title was Senor Santa (Mister Santa) by Y La Bamba (with vocals by Luz Elena Mendoza), which is actually a version of the old fifties classic Mr Sandman (Chordettes) with modified lyrics - or maybe these lyrics are the originals and Mr Sandman came later.
It's great to hear another version of Everybody's waitin' for the man with the bag. I love Kay Starr's original, but I don't remember hearing another version. Sallie Fisher and Black Prince do the song full justice.
I also enjoyed Blue Christmas, given a country arrangement with a pedal steel guitar, with superb vocals by Erika Wennerstom. Her band's name is guaranteed to wind some people up, but at least it is unforgettable. That track is immediately followed by Santa bring my baby back to me, performed by another excellent female vocalist, Eleanor Friedberger, whose very name makes me feel hungry.
This is a magnificent multi-artist album that appears to benefit from having the same production team on every track. At some point, I hope to properly investigate some of the artists hitherto unknown to me, but for now I am pleased to have discovered them at all.
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