Saturday, December 26, 2009

meet my christmas music: the digital collection

In July 2008, my car radio/cd player stopped working.  Later that week someone would tell me that it was a precursor to alternator trouble.  I would ignore that advice and the problem until my car would no longer permit me to ignore it about a month later.  In spite of being pretty frustrated with spending money on a new alternator, I was at least pleased with the idea that my radio would work again.  But it didn't, which was frustrating, to say the least.  I finally settled on a workable solution.  I began to listen to my mp3 player on a small battery-powered speaker.  It wasn't the worst solution ever.

So when Christmas rolled around, I was in the mood for some new Christmas music, but buying a cd wasn't going to be the simple solution that it had once been.  Plus I was kind of on a mission to own versions of a couple specific songs, and I went on a downloading mission.  After some searching and decisions, I ended up dowloading an entire album Family Christmas by Acappella, plus a couple from some other artists. Family Christmas is a combination of three different Christmas albums the Acappella Company has put out over the years plus a few new songs.  So it's got recognizable voices from Acappellas past as well as some tracks with kids and women and other folks than the four-man groupings that have been called Acappella. 
And because there are twenty-three songs to talk about here and there are several songs I've talked about multiple times already and because it's my blog and I make the rules, I'm only going to talk about the ones I want to talk about. (I'm also not going to apologize for ridiculous run-on sentences because of that aforementioned rule-making thing.)

Here's how the album has worked out for me:
1.  "Mary, Did You Know?" The first few times I heard this song (which I think was on country radio in the mid-90s), I made fun of it mercilessly.  I think some of that had to do with the particular version.  But sometime since then, I have really come to enjoy this song and its message.  This is a great version.

2.  "Away in a Manger"Gary Moyers.  That's all I want to say.  Thank you.

3.  "A Tiny Child"  I have no evidence that I'd heard this song before this album, but this exact version is so familiar that I feel I must have heard it sometime.  Perhaps I heard it live at one of the many Acappella concerts I've been to in my time.  It's Duane Adams singing lead, so it's from the right era for that to have happened, but I can't back that up.  Anyway, I love it.  That's the point I'm trying to make.

4.  "The First Noel"

5.  "Noel" Kids singing, which is risky, for me, but I like this one.

6.  "Silent Night" Wayburn Dean singing this, I'm pretty sure, but even that's not enough to completely redeem this mediocre song.

7.  "Joy to the World" This song is faster and with more vocal percussion than I would have expected, but I'll give it a thumbs-up anyway.

8.  "There Were Angels"  I don't know the origin of this one, but it sounds like it would only ever have been an Acappella song.  I like it.  It's either Wayburn again, or I just think everyone sounds like Wayburn.

9.  "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"  I don't like to pick favorites, but Duane Adams is definitely up there.  So's this song.  Brilliant combination.  Lovely.  Special.

10.  "Christmas Medley" Wordless renditions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and a very upbeat "Good King Wenceslas" layered with "O Come All Ye Faithful.  Definitely interesting.  Mostly fun.

11. "No Other Day" This album is the only place I've heard this song.  It's quite pleasant.

12.  "Here We Come A-Caroling" Kids again.  This is a medley by a kids chorus.  They do the title song, which I thought was wassailing not caroling, "Do You Hear What I Hear," "Silent Night," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Joy to the World," "Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing."  Then at the end, it turns out they're caroling for their grandparents.  Kinda cheesy.  The songs aren't bad, but I also think it's odd that nearly every one is repeated in a full-length version elsewhere on the album.

13.  "That's What I Love about Christmas"  This song is annoying.  The lyrics are annoying.  The phrasing seems weird.  It makes me glad the cd doesn't end here.

14.  "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"  There are some great things going on here--really, truly lovely acappella singing.

15.  "Angels We Have Heard on High"  This song used to be one of my favorites as a kid, and I'm not all that crazy about it anymore.  I don't know why exactly.  But since I've grown into liking so many songs as I've gotten older, I guess it's all right to grow out of loving one here and there.

16.  "Jesus Carol"  Kids again.  What's up with that?  This is a mostly wordless version of "Carol of the Bells," followed by a slow rendition of the chorus of "Jesus Is the Answer," which appeared on the AVB album Give Me Light

17.  "Merry Christmas"  I don't know this song.  It's upbeat, very Acappella-ish.  I have mixed emotions about it.

18.  "What Child Is This?"  I'm having a hard time determining the lead voice here.  I think it's George Pendergrass, which would thrill my soul.  This one's very stately.  And they do more than just the first verse (which is true, but thus far unmentioned, of most of the songs on this album).

19.  "Is Born a Savior" Kids again.  I don't know this one from anywhere besides here.  It's fine.  Nothing spectacular.  Done talking about it.

20.  "O Holy Night"  Nice.  Quite nice.  Better than nice actually, but I'm suffering from adjective overload after all this reviewing.

21.  "Little Drummer Boy"  This is the final song on Family Chrstimas, a pleasant ending to a lovely journey.  Thanks, Acappella.  It's been delightful.

22.  "Mary, Did You Know?" Kathy Mattea:  I mentioned earlier that I was on a mission for some specific songs when I went downloading.  Apparently, it didn't matter that I found them on the Acappella albumI still downloaded a couple other versions of the songs I wanted.  Obviously this is one of them.  Kathy Mattea did not record the version that was the object of my mockery.  So I can say that I paid for this one and listen to frequently without any lingering guilt.  It's a lovely version.

23.  "O Come Emmanuel" John Berry:  I may be one of about three people still living in the world that remembers country artist John Berry, but I still own two of his cds, and when I was looking for someone trustworthy to sing this song to me, I turned to him.  And he has not let me down.  Thank you, John Berry.  Thank you.

Thus ends our journey through my Christmas soundtrack.  I know you're sitting at your computer feeling just as fulfilled and accomplished as I.  I'm so pleased we could share this experience.

Now I have to find other stuff to blog about.  I will consider any suggestions offered.

P.S. I only missed having this done on Christmas by an hour and twenty minutes, so I'm not such a failure, right?

1 comment:

  1. I would continue reading this blog even if it were only ever about your Christmas albums. I would read whole books on your Christmas albums. I love your writing like nobody else!!!

    Suggestions though: Why not blog through your top 25 films of the decade. I've got 100 suggestions if you need help getting started....


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