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All I Want For Christmas... 3 CDs Of Music Cheese!
Now That's What I Call Christmas
Member Name: cazkins
Now That's What I Call Christmas
Advantages: Plenty of tracks giving a good variety, some classics, some fresh takes on songs, reasonable price
Disadvantages: You'll never get everything you want & nothing you don't unfortunately
'Now' CDs are very popular, or at least they were back in the day, perhaps slightly less so now. They're renowned for bringing together compilations of much-loved tunes for certain years or occasions, and this year they've released a Christmas mix to rival the competition. If you browse Amazon for inspiration you'll find heaps of Christmas CDs, all claiming to have the best hits on them. It's almost impossible to decide which is best if you're looking to buy just one as they feature different songs; whilst one may have some great tunes it's missing a few of your favourites, but when another has your favourites it offers very little else. Now Christmas does quite well in bringing a good variety to the box set, and whilst I'd say it's one of the more extensive and varied options out there, it still misses a couple I would have liked to see to have made it the best.
This comprises of 3 CDs with 63 songs in total : 20 on the first CD, 22 on the second and 21 on the third. It claims to be 'packed full of festive anthems', making it the 'ultimate accompaniment to Christmas Day sat around the tree'. It also features some tunes that haven't previously been featured on a Now album, such as 'Last Christmas' by Wham. Whilst the three CDs aren't actually defined with a set genre / theme, there is some kind of rough category to be seen through each. Also, whilst most are well-known or old/new takes on traditionally 'Christmas' songs, not all are, but are rather associated with xmas and are often heard at this time of the year (ie. 2000 Miles, which I wouldn't really say is traditional or exclusively Christmas).
The first CD features a mix of what you'd probably class as 70s/80s golden favourites, with one or two exceptions. Tracks like Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard, Mary's Boy Child by Boney M, Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade and Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby & David Bowie. We skip out the overly traditional and head in to chart hits of the earlier days that are still remembered now, so of course there are also the festive favourites of The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York, John Lennon & Yoko - Happy Xmas (War Is Over), and Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?. The tempo is mixed but still quite upbeat without too much in the way of the slower tempo, more depressing melodies. What I found strange amongst this mix was track 15, Not Tonight Santa, by Girls Aloud. I didn't even recall this song before so I wouldn't say it's a popular hit but having them in the middle of so many of the more renowned older artists/hits seems wrong somehow.
CD 2 seems to jump back a bit earlier to more of the 'Golden Oldies' of the 50s/60s, so it's quite cheesy in parts but also very recognisable. Tracks by Bing Crosby (White Christmas), Doris Day (Winter Wonderland), Elvis Presley (Blue Christmas), Frank Sinatra (Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas) and Frank Sinatra (I'll Be Home For Christmas) give this a classic A-List vibe with big names in music history. They're also, like I've already said, still very recognisable and traditional in their own sense because they're frequently played at Christmas. Then we get more upbeat, lively tracks, such as 'Frosty The Snowman' by Jackson 5, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree' by Brenda Lee and Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! By Dean Martin, mixing the tempo up a bit. Another slightly odd inclusion here is probably that by Kylie Minogue (Santa Baby), even though I quite like that track, but it gives the CD a little more variety.
Disc 3 brings us on to more of a diverse mix of tracks from different time frames and tempos. I'll admit that there were some names and songs I didn't recognise, but there were also some interesting ones that I was pleased to discover. For those that want a more eclectic mix, you should find something here, including Il Divo (O Holy Night), Sinead O'Connor's haunting version of Silent Night, Cliff Richard (uh-oh, 'Saviour's Day' just had to get in there!), East 17 (Stay Another Day), Aled Jones (guess which one?), Band Aid 20 and a little bit of Abba (Happy New Year). I'm not too keen on a lot on the third CD but as I said, it's nice to have a bit of a change and get introduced to a few new things too.
For those that want a run down, here are the track listings (sorry it's so long, but here's the evidence there are plenty of tunes!) :
1. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John & Yoko And The Plastic Ono Band With The Harlem Community Choir
2. Fairytale Of New York - The Pogues Feat. Kirsty MacColl
3. Last Christmas - Wham!
4. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Wizzard
5. Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade
6. Driving Home For Christmas -Chris Rea
7. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid
8. I Believe In Father Christmas - Greg Lake
9. Mistletoe And Wine - Cliff Richard
10. Lonely This Christmas - Mud
11. Mary's Boy Child / Oh My Lord - Boney M
12. Stop The Cavalry - Jona Lewie
13. Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin' Stevens
14. Step Into Christmas - Elton John
15. Not Tonight Santa - Girls Aloud
16. Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney
17. 2000 Miles - Pretenders
18. The Power Of Love - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
19. Christmas Lights - Coldplay
20. Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby & David Bowie
1. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
3. It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year - Andy Williams
4. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Dean Martin
5. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) - Nat King Cole Trio
6. Winter Wonderland - Doris Day
7. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra
8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - The Crystals
9. Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes
10. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
11. Frosty The Snowman - The Jackson 5
12. Never Do a Tango With An Eskimo - Alma Cogan
13. Santa Baby - Kylie Minogue
14. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Ronettes
15. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Crystals
16. Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys
17. Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) - Adam Faith
18. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Dean Martin
19. Silver Bells - Jim Reeves
20. O Little Town Of Bethlehem - Burl Ives
21. The Little Town That Santa Claus Forgot - Nat King Cole
22. I'll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams) - Frank Sinatra
1. When A Child Is Born - Johnny Mathis
2. A Spaceman Came Travelling - Chris De Burgh
3. O Holy Night - Il Divo
4. Silent Night - Sinead O'Connor
5. In The Bleak Mid Winter - Bert Jansch
6. Gaudete - Steeleye Span
7. In Dulci Jubilo - Mike Oldfield
8. Saviour's Day - Cliff Richard
9. Walking In The Air - Aled Jones
10. A Winter's Tale - David Essex
11. Stay Another Day - East 17
12. December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas) -George Michael
13. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Lady Antebellum
14. Happy This Christmas - Mick Hucknall
15. Ring Out Solstice Bells - Jethro Tull
16. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
17. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid 20
18. We Wish You A Merry Christmas - The Weavers
19. The Twelve Days Of Christmas - The Spinners
20. Auld Lang Syne - Andy Stewart
21. Happy New Year - Abba
I would probably say overall that this CD set gives enough that there should be something for everybody, and the mix means that it won't be boring because it doesn't stay at one tempo, or one time frame or one atmosphere throughout. There are so many versions of 'classics' that it's hard to know which to pick and it's obviously down to personal preference, but at least with this CD there's a variety of older and newer takes on tracks.
What's missing? I would say anything too childish or gimmicky, so if you're wanting something the kids can enjoy and they're expecting some Bob The Builder then they may be disappointed. There isn't much in the way of new tracks either; newer artists featured tend to do covers of more traditional or well-known pieces. I was actually saddened to find Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas' wasn't featured, but you can't have everything!
For the money, I would argue that this is fairly good value because you're getting three CDs packed with tracks and there's not much in the way of filler (ie songs never before heard of). You could spend more on a single CD of the 'best hits' and not get as much variety, or buy a couple of CDs and spend three times as much just to get the songs / styles you want.
Would I recommend? It's a great starting point for Christmas song inspiration if you're wanting to create a playlist of your own in a mix-and-match fashion, but it's also one I'd actually give a thumbs up to for purchasing at Christmas in comparison to other similar CDs/collections. There's a good enough that there should be something for everyone, enough tracks that you won't have to replay one CD over and over again, there are some good versions of songs you may not have come across before and it's not badly priced either.
CD Box Set released 2012
Selling on Amazon for £10.99 (box set)
[Also reviewed by me, gothic_moon, on Ciao]
Summary: One of the better variety-giving options out there for festive tunes