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Reviews

Music round-up

Jude Mason

Rejoice! Rejoice!  It's time for another beautifully wrapped package of Christmas Albums, and we are being spoiled this year!

Firstly, the news that made me giddy as a child on Christmas Eve, Sufjan Stevens has another Christmas Box Set.  Silver & Gold, Christmas Songs Vols 6-10 is 5 CDs containing 58 tracks between them. The quirky, hilarious, festive wonderfulness runs the gamut of styles, as you'd expect, from a sparse electronic version of 'Joy To The World', to a 12-minute odyssey called 'The Christmas Unicorn' that slowly builds to incorporate Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' in a staggeringly uplifting moment.  

Rod Stewart has made an instant classic with Merry Christmas, Baby.  It's traditional and warmly jazzy, and his raspy voice is finally at the age it's always longed to be. His 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' is close to perfect, and there are several well placed and nicely chosen duets including with Mary J Blige, Michael BublĂ© and the title track with CeeLo Green, who also includes the song on his own Ceelo's Magic Moments release.  

Where Rod's album is the James Taylor of this year, Ceelo's is the Motown Christmas.  Packed with wonderful, energetic tracks from the soul side of Christmas, it also includes a brilliant take on 'You're a Mean One Mr Grinch', and a song called 'All I Need Is Love', which features The Muppets and incorporates the immortal 'Muh-Nuh-Muh-Nuh'!

The best and most diverse compilation is Holidays Rule with really great tracks from Rufus Wainwright, Irma Thomas, The Punch Brothers and more, and also includes my Christmas track of the year: Paul McCartney's version of 'The Christmas Song' ('Chestnuts roasting…').  I did not think the world needed another version of this song.  I was wrong.  This is definitive.

Also well worth your time are Tinsel & Lights from Tracy Thorn ('River', featuring a brass band, is lovely) Cerys Matthews' 'Baby It's Cold Outside', and Kate Rusby's beautiful folk-Christmas offering from last year,  'While Mortals Sleep'.

Jude Mason