11/26/2014

Holiday/Rock Review-Hard Rock Classic Christmas-Various Artists

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Label: Legacy Recordings

Christmas music and hard rock are not two genres that people generally think of as going together, but that is about to change. I was even skeptical at first, but it did not take long to have me convinced that hard rock and Christmas make for a wonderful pair.  The Classic Christmas Hard Rock Album features eleven classic Christmas songs, with each being performing by a master of hard rock.  The likes of Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, Ted Nugent, Alex Lifeson, Joe Satraini, and others bring their rock talents to make music magic with a little help from the Christmas Spirit.

If there were any doubts about whether or not hard rock versions of classic Christmas songs could work, then Jeff Beck’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” should burn any and all of those doubts away.  “Amazing Grace” has a great spiritual, holiday atmosphere with some elegant guitar work to really solidify the emotional impact of the song.  Next up is Alex Lifeson’s “The Drummer Boy” and it does a very good job of capturing the solemnness of the traditional sound. “Silent Night / Holy Night Jam” by Joe Satraini is a real treat, as it does a wonderful job of respecting the original sound while putting his own unique touch to it.  It makes for one lively tune.

Steve Vai is brilliant, as usual, on “Christmas Time Is Here.” It is a great guitar lead song, with a crisp rocking sound, and the background instruments are wonderfully used to add a nice touch of Christmas atmosphere.  Steve Lukather’s “The Christmas Song” is a hopping rock song.  It sounds so natural that it leaves you thinking that it was meant to be a hard rock song all along. Stuart Hamm’s “Sleigh Ride” is a pleasant and lively version of a fun classic. It perfectly captures the playfulness of the original.

“O Come All Ye Faithful” is one of the standout songs.  Trevor Rabin probably does the best job at modernizing a Christmas classic.  It is the best of both worlds, with the old and new colliding to make this incredible song.  Nothing is lost from the original and I think that the quality has increased.  Ted Nugent’s
“Deck the Halls” really rocks and rolls with tons of energy.  Following it up is Robin Trower’s reverent version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Rob Halford’s “We Three Kings” makes for a brilliant ending for this hard rock Christmas album.  It comes out blazing and rides that wave all the way to the end.

All in all, The Classic Christmas Hard Rock Album is a great rock album and great Christmas album, as well.  The classic versions that we have grown to love over the years are timeless classics, and these hard rock versions add to their already rich tradition.  These songs might not replace your favorites, but they will give them a run for their money.  This album will definitely add a little spice to any Christmas party, and should be another one to add to the album rotation every year. 

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Amazing Grace, O Come All Ye Faithful, Deck the Halls

Brian McKinnon
November 26, 2014
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

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