January 29, 2020

Wham! – Last Christmas: The Soundtrack – Legacy

By Kristi Kates | Dec. 21, 2019

A movie inspired by … ’80s dance-pop outfit Wham!? That’s Last Christmas, a new romantic holiday comedy co-written by Emma Thompson and featuring Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Henry Golding. The soundtrack’s are mostly fun, in a nostalgic sense, and outline much of the plot for the movie (girl meets boy, romance and roadblocks occur), and the album itself represents Wham!’s own trek through their career, from first hit “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” through “Praying for Time,” “Waiting for That Day,” and the namesake title track. ** ½

Eugene Ormandy – Complete Columbia Christmas Albums – Real Gone Music
Ormandy has been conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra for 44 years, and under his direction, the orchestra has earned three Grammy Awards. With this set, Ormandy has applied his deft talents to holiday music, fusing the orchestra with the Temple University Concert Choir (under the direction of Robert Page) for a remarkably emotional take on traditional holiday carols, from “Silent Night” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” to a more contemporary “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” This new edition has also been newly remastered and refreshed with new liner notes and is a perfect background to the holidays. ***

Lincoln Brewster – A Mostly Acoustic Christmas – Integrity Music
With its ’60s-era pop-art album cover and quirky self-produced approach, this offering from Brewster shifts casually from jazz to blues, pop to classic sounds, with the ease of a good friend passing the tray of holiday canapes. Classics like “Jingle Bells” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are included here in an appealing acoustic format, and by the time you get to “Linus and Lucy” — a different take on the familiar instrumental tune from A Charlie Brown Christmas — you’ll be a fan. The only sour notes are the intrusions of electric guitar, which seem out of place in this otherwise engaging set. ** ½

John Legend – A Legendary Christmas – Columbia
Revisiting his 2018 holiday collection, Legend is back with four additional holiday classics for which he sets his smooth vocals over woven remixes of classic and modern sounds in his own distinctive way. Stevie Wonder adds harmonica to “What Christmas Means to Me,” while Esperanza Spalding brings her unique sound to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Legend’s solo takes on “Please Come Home for Christmas” and “This Christmas” are also standouts. The only misstep is “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” with Kelly Clarkson, which is great musically, but awkwardly reworded to be ‘PC’; it should have just been left as the vintage holiday time capsule it’s meant to be. ** ½


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