An entry for the 2003 Christmas season was a natural move for Kenny Chesney after the blockbuster No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems made 2002 his banner year. But in typical Chesney fashion, his holiday album tries to be a little more easygoing than the usual Music City rehash of tried 'n' true yuletide chestnuts. The sunny south of the border vibe that lit up the video for No Shirt's title cut is alive and well on All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan; the album's own title track is a nice, swaying number that approximates the Cascades' "Rhythm of the Rain" into its breezy Buffett feel. Like Chesney's best material, it's a contemporary country number crossed…
This high powered quintet, made up of some of the finest musicians from some of the worlds biggest bands, is a classic rock holiday tradition in the making. December People plays familiar Holiday songs in the styles of the top bands of our time like Santana The Who, Led Zepplin, Sting, ZZ Top, Boston, U2, ELP, Queen and Peter Gabriel just to name a few. The group consists of five top players from well known bands.
A Ghost Story for Christmas is a strand of annual British short television films originally broadcast on BBC One between 1971 and 1978, and revived in 2005 on BBC Four. With one exception, the original instalments were directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark and the films were all shot on 16 mm colour film. The remit behind the series was to provide a television adaptation of a classic ghost story, in line with the oral tradition of telling supernatural tales at Christmas.
Broadcast in the dying hours of Christmas Eve, the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas series was a fixture of the seasonal schedules throughout the 1970s and spawned a long tradition of chilling tales which terrified yuletide viewers for decades to come. This expansive box set collects over 13 hours' worth of content, including all 12 episodes of the classic A Ghost Story for Christmas series, the entire Classic Ghost Stories series (presented by Robert Powell), the M R James episodes of Spine Chillers (presented by Michael Bryant), and three of the Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee instalments from 2000.
Just about all of the seasonal favourites are here on a disc of carols that exudes a decidedly Christmassy glow. What makes this one stand out from the crowd of festive offerings is the standard of the performances from the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, which sings with a superb sense of ensemble, perfect tuning and crystal clear diction under Richard Marlow. The solo treble who begins "The Holly and the Ivy" gently eases the listener in to the 80-minute-long programme. Marlow takes an almost devotional approach to some carols (notably "Away in a Manger" and "While Shepherds Watched"). The account of "God rest ye merry, gentlemen" is warm and affectionate, traits that could be said to characterise the disc as a whole. The various arrangements by David Willcocks are as familiar and welcoming as an old pair of slippers: one never tires of their imagination and finesse. A disc of traditional Yuletide offerings, this disc is admirably recorded and performed with real affection by one this country's top choirs.
Stile Antico's 2015 release on Harmonia Mundi, A Wondrous Mystery, is a sublime collection of Renaissance choral music for Christmas, presented in a pleasant mix of familiar German carols and a mass, with tracks interspersed for the sake of variety. This makes sense in consideration of the group's broad audience, which may know such popular hymns as Michael Praetorius' Ein Kind geborn in Bethlehem and Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, or Johannes Eccard's Übers Gebirg Maria geht and Vom Himmel hoch, yet be somewhat at a loss with the motet and Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis by Jacobus Clemens non Papa, a composer beloved by early music specialists but not exactly a household name for lay listeners. However, the a cappella performances are consistently beautiful and soothing throughout, and the quietly joyous mood of the music fits the album's title perfectly. The 12-voice choir's blend is well-balanced and transparent, and the ambience of All Hallow's Church, Gospel Oak, London gives an ideal resonance for the group's small size and close miking.