STYLE: MOR / Soft Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 19497-11612 LABEL: Hillsong Music HMACD190 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 EXTRAS: CD Rom RELEASE DATE: 2006-10-31 RRP: £13.00
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Before we get to the music, a word about the packaging. No, I don't mean the glitzy photos of Darlene Zschech and co interspersed with Christmas tree baubles - one gets used to design schmaltz at this time of the year. But to have a sticker on the front of 'Celebrate Christmas' proclaiming "Featuring special guest James Morrison" is outrageous. One wonders how many of us Brits would have excitedly bought a copy thinking the UK pop star had found Christ and was demonstrating the fact by guesting with Hillsong. It turns out THIS James Morrison is an Australian jazz pianist! Authentic Music should be ashamed of themselves for not removing the stickers for the UK market. This album originally came out in 2005 in Australia and features classy Hillsong arrangements of evergreens like "Angels We Have Heard On High", "O Little Town Of Bethlehem", "What Child Is This" and "Hark The Herald Angels Sing". The best tracks are a wonderful gospel-blues version of "Joy To The World" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" transformed into big band swing which would give Denver And The Mile High Orchestra a run for their money and which ironically features that Mr Morrison. The few originals include the Barry Southgate written and sung "Christmas Time Again" but it's not much of a song despite its Cross Rhythms radio exposure. All in all, a pretty mundane Christmas album.
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