Too Much Hurry Ruins the Body

Some of my friends and I share music with one another while we work. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

Jethro Tull – The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2003)

Spencer shared some more Jethro Tull, and I’m not complaining.

My favorites were the instrumentals, like Holly Herald (which felt like the perfect blend of Christmas and Jethro Tull – the accordion was an especially nice touch), God Rest You Merry Gentlemen (which was a perfectly jazzy/proggy arrangement) or Greensleeved. My favorite was We Five Kings. I don’t think it’s one most people point to as their favorite, but after last week and this, there’s ample evidence of it lending itself to creative arrangements. Confession time: I once did my own arrangement of We Three Kings for three tubas. I know it’s not a great recording, but here’s the demo I put together to check the harmonies, etc.:

The vocals weren’t bad, but they just didn’t really catch my attention. I think my favorite vocal tunes were Fire at Midnight and Ring Out Solstice BellsJack Frost and the Hooded Crow actually reminded me of The Folksmen, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m just not sure what to do with that information – other than watch Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind again.

Some of the instrumental elements of Last Man at the Party reminded me of Blåmann Blåmann (maybe just because I’ve been listening to them recently). 3.4/5

Here’s what my friends had to say:

” – Chris

NSYNC – Home for Christmas (1998)

My wife has this album, but I can’t say I’ve listened to the whole thing before. This is not my style and as much as I try to be open-minded, this isn’t an album, band or genre I ever find myself coming back to. I’ve never been a fan of melisma – the extra vocal ornamentation – in anything but classical/religious music. Also, I don’t really like their breathy, sickly sweet voices. It’s all just so sappy.

The worst offender (in my opinion) is The First Noel, because I don’t feel like a song like that should be that dance-able. O Holy Night was new to me, and it was a much better cover. I even appreciated the original additions to the arrangement (even if they are still breathy). It’s Christmas was so bad, my browser shut down out in protest (no, really). That song does have moments where the melody reminds me of The BeatlesGood Night.

That being said, I get why people like music like this. I don’t love Orgy‘s music, but it does have a soft spot in my heart. Tim didn’t like that album for the exact reasons I used to like it. I get that the opposite is true here. Everyone can come up with the same assessment of music, but whether they think it’s a good thing or not comes down to the individual.

I don’t love the song, but I will admit that Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays is pretty catchy.

A side note: Earlier this month, my wife posted a video of NSYNC performing that song live to her sister’s Facebook page. Britney Spears was there, too. This is the ensuing conversation:

Brother-in-Law: Dad bought me Brittany’s first cd. It was my first cd too. I don’t remember why, but it was at Fred Meyer as a reward for something.

Wife: I remember the first cd you bought on your own was Backstreet Boys Millenium cd.

Brother-in-Law: and then B*Witched! Ce-la-vi baby!

Brother-in-Law’s wife: *c’est la vie

Sister-in-Law: you may not want to share publicly the cd collection you had as a tween!

Brother-in-Law: No shame here. [You] used to beg to borrow my cds all the time

Sister-in-Law: again….not something you want to brag about! That your older sister liked your music

Brother-in-Law: Again – no shame

And, while I’ve never really liked The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), their version isn’t terrible.

The one song I actually like is I Guess It’s Christmas Time. I like the message and the production doesn’t bother me as much. I don’t doubt I’d like it a whole lot more if someone else did it, but this makes my (relatively) short holiday playlist. Kudos to the songwriter, Shelly Peiken. 2.4/5

From my friends:

“Wow, what a treat to listen to. Beautiful voices from beautiful men. Clever arrangements, interesting lyrics. You can safely listen knowing it can’t possibly be a money grab, since the whole premise of the group itself was just a money grab. I’m really surprised people listen to anything else during the holidays, or at any time of year. 6.0/5” – Spencer

” – Chris

Mannheim Steamroller – Christmas (1984)

I’m surprised these guys haven’t been shared earlier. Mannheim Steamroller is a staple of Christmas music. Do I really have to introduce these guys/this album? It was hard to narrow down which album to share. I decided to go with their first Christmas album. It has my favorite Christmas tune of theirs, Stille Nacht.

Here’s what my friends had to say:

” – Chris

“this really is one of the greatest holiday albums of all time. The synth voices sound pretty dated by todays standards, but the arrangements and musicality of the album really is something worth listening to even if it weren’t a seasonal album. The opening line of Deck the Halls just has so much energy and carries throughout, no wonder it was the top Christmas party track of its time. Stille Nacht is great, and every track in between fills it in really nicely. Some of the later MS Christmas albums almost started to get formulaic, but this one really has that original integrity to me. I’ve been listening to it my whole life (well, 1 month of the year for 30 years), so there’s a heavy dose of nostalgia here, but listening to it again, there is cool stuff going on all the time through the tracks. Its not like they turned on a drum machine and mechanically ran through the obligatory holiday melodies.” 5.0/5 – Spencer

BONUS!

I worked the Tuesday through Thursday between holidays, and (unsure if my friends were working or not) I shared an album for them to listen to (and hopefully review) this last week of 2016:

The Wailin’ Jennys – 40 Days (2004)

Here is a band/album my mother and I discovered because of Pandora. These ladies have great vocal harmony. It’s folk rock, and sometimes they get a little country – like Dixie Chicks without the twang or the drawl. That is all. I hope you enjoy it.

Here’s what my friends had to say:

“I did give this a couple listens. Its got a couple things going against it for me. Even though its really not twangy, it still kind of came off pretty country like. It wasn’t irritating, but it did put a barrier for me getting into it. Second thing was that while they had great harmonies, for some reason, I just don’t really like groups fronted by female singers. Call me sexist but I really think all my favorite groups have male singers. I like duets and things between guys and gals or groups that have some sung by a woman some by a man, but in general I just seem to prefer dudes at the mic. I did really like their cover of Old Man though.” 3.2/5 – Spencer

Share your thoughts on any of these albums, or a Christmas album of your own, down in the comments section.

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