Christmas albums to warm those chilly winter days
Canadian musicians are delving into the Christmas classics with a modern twist this season as they spread holiday cheer through several compilations, TV specials and big-name CD re-issues.
Guitar hero Colin James gets things boppin’ and swingin’ with typical verve on his disc, Colin James & The Little Big Band Christmas, a fun collection of traditional and lesser-known tunes that’s sure to warm those chilly winter days.
The celebrated bluesman says he made sure to throw in his personal fave, Christmas Island, as an homage to the yuletide album of the same name by Leon Redbone (reissued by Rounder in 2003).
“Leon Redbone has my favourite Christmas record, bar none,” James declares emphatically, noting that the best holiday discs balance tradition with originality.
“You want to make something that doesn’t ignore the old stuff because there are some great songs there, yet you want to make sure it’s not just a carbon copy of every other record that’s been out as well.’’
James takes his 30-piece orchestra on the road for a Christmas concert tour starting Wednesday in Saskatoon.
Other discs revisit holiday recordings from previous years.
It’s a mish-mash of musical styles on the 12-track Christmas In Canada (EMI), featuring legendary songstress Anne Murray on The Coventry Carol/White Christmas, veteran Susan Aglukark on The First Noel and holiday staple Rita MacNeil with Good King Wenceslas.
Other performers include jazz singer Molly Johnson (Silent Night), East Coast pop group Shaye (Winter Wonderland) and the Toronto Children’s Chorus (The Huron Carol).
Country stars are the focus of A Canadian Country Christmas (Universal), with big-hitters including Shania Twain (God Bless The Child), Jason McCoy (Dear Santa) and George Fox (When December Arrives) singing their modern and traditional favourites.
The 18-track disc also features Doc Walker, Michelle Wright, Terri Clark and George Canyon.
It’s an extra merry season for Canyon, who also releases his first-ever televised variety special, My Song is My Gift: A George Canyon Christmas, Dec. 19 on CBC.