27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
The Lost Christmas Eve,
This review is from: The Lost Christmas Eve (Audio CD)
Not saying that I know everything about everything and this whole thing is just my opinion. Last July I met with TSO and auditioned for them. I am on a call back list and will hopefully be going again to play for them in Jan. For the past 2 years I have directed live performances of Xmas Eve and Other Stories and Beethoven's Last night at the University of MA in Lowell. Since first hearing them and then seeing them every year since they began touring, I have been absolutely amazed with everything they do. They have never ceased to amaze me.
Comes in expanded size CD pack with booklet separate from Jewel case. No wonder...it's a really long and well developed story. This album features just about ever member of TSO both from the studio and the road including David Z, Tristan Akavian, Angus Clark, and Jeff Allegue. Also 3 different drummers, 3 keyboardists and 3 different choirs. This incredible vocal and instrumental cast shows how huge and successful TSO has become. The artwork is simply beautiful and layout is identical to previous TSO albums.
Awesome kickin' opener, not as melodious and singable as Boughs of Holly but feature awesome guitar work and great arrangement. Simple yet complex enough to be enjoyed
Lost Christmas Eve
Eerie, ominous yet ho0liday-esuqe somehow. No strings, which would've made it even better. Incredible lyrics and a great opening narrative song. Has an eerie section of a child singing which ads to the wandering ambience that the song creates. I personally would have loved to have hear Jody Ashworth (Beethoven) but J. Mark McVey holds his own very well and delivers this song with power and passion.
A much softer and warmer feeling. This song really feels like the opening to a Broadway show. Michael Lanning reminds me of a Guy Lemmonier. He does very well. This song is not as strong or grabbing as previous TSO vocal songs. Music is so-so, lyrics are very good. This guy is definitely straight from Broadway and it shows in his execution of the vocals. Song stars slower and picks up to a driving "Vienna-esque " feel. Still no strings...L
It is clear thus far that the songs were written solely centered on the lyrics. It sounds at times like the lyrics are too complex and too arduous for the music. Not as verse-chorus-verse based as previous songs
Wizards In Winter
Full instrumental. The song from the opening of the new TSO site. Awesome song with a great heavy feel much more string based. Has a truly Russian-driving feel feels based off of a lost section of the Nutcracker. A bit repetitive but it doesn't matter because it's just that little bit different each time. The music feels more movie-score based than a traditional song that one would sing along with (even though it's an instrumental). Awesome piano lines I must learn at once. Great flying string and guitar work with choirs in background.
Opens with a March feel like Prince of Peace but a bit more energetic. Calmer piece and first children's choir song since Xmas Attic. Vocals are similar to A Star to Follow but with children. O'Neill will never loose his remarkable ability to write rounds especially those centered around children's choir. Great melodic lines with repeating music in background. This prevents the music from distracting the listener from the strong lyrics and vocal performance.
Sounds like an old-style Carol sing-along. A child/male choir mix with light instrumentation. Again, very vocal based. At this point, it has set a completely different feel than the opening album. As enjoyable as these songs are, they're much more background Xmas party music than the opening of the album. At this point, it better get much heavier from here. I appreciate choirs and round and nearly a cappella stuff but TSO is about the rocking Xmas
Ok,. now I'm scared. I'm waiting for Gene Autry to come in singing some old-style Xmas song. This horn quartet sounding piece is a little sequence into the next song. It's very short and rather pointless.
Queen of the Winter Night
Back to the flying piano fingers and heavy guitars and band. It's like a warm bath of TSO. Another instrumental featuring the opening line from Mozart's Don Giovanni. Very cool mix of operatic vocals and pinched-guitars. With lighter but still revved section interspersed within. Definitely imagine "Figaro" going Xmas. And it works more or less. These songs aren't as easy to sing along to or as catchy because they are much more musically involved. There is much more true musical composition so far rather than just chugging the typical I-IV-V with rhyming lyrics above it. After Beethoven, it feels like TSO has taken a much more serious and mature approach to their pieces.
Christmas Nights in Blue
Here we go, the Jazz hits. Sounding like a mean street song lost from Oliver or Annie. Nice gritty vocals provided by James Robert Lewis. Again, great and very involved lyrics and at times the music the music barely holds on. In the style of "The 3 Kings and I" but nowhere near as driving or heavy.
Acoustic guitar and Bass reprise of the main melody heard in the before. Here, the melody is varied and developed. Great acoustic work and performance. I still feel like I'm waiting for the heavy TSO to take the stager. Thus far, the album feels like a warm-up or opening act for TSO. Thus far, it just doesn't have the TSO flare and feel that I've come to love...L
Opens with a cheesy useless poetic line. Then the band comes in full throttle. Same rhythmic line for the first minute or so then the piano and tubular bells take the helm for the melodic line. Definitely could imagine the group just going with a singular rhythmic line (like in the instrumental section of "The Grinch") and letting Al and Bob or Jon take turns going back and forth with improve. From that standpoint, it's a very cool song. Just expect something you can just listen to and enjoy and again, not really hum along to. After a few minutes, it gets much more intense and concentrated and really opens up. Still with the same chordal lines going on underneath, the guitars really show off to the end.
Siberian Sleigh Ride
Starts with a clean guitar line of Jingle Bells. The band comes in with an offbeat feel between the rhythmic guitars and drums. It feels like they are really flying over the top with the fluttering guitar/piano/string fingers to make up for the previous soft and often times dull songs. Again, nothing very recognizable or sing-able. When I listen to instrumentals (especially previous TSO works, Appalachian Snowfall, First Snow, Beethoven etc.) I like to be able to sing along or at least be able to tell which part is coming because of the flow of the song). These songs are preformed extremely well and as I said, the composition is terrific, they just have a much different and unpredictable feel than previous TSO pieces.
What is Christmas
Hmm....was Vangelis visiting the studios this day? Robert Evan (featured on many TSO tours) comes in strong and sure. He has such as great voice and this song does him perfect justice. Again, similar melody repeated under great lyrics. Section B of the song is such pounded chords under a narrative feel. Is he the Grinch? Scrooge? It definitely works, this song is very enjoyable and entertaining. Still very Broadway feeling and I can only imagine what TSO will do with these song when performing them live.
For the Sake of Our Brother
Finally, after no show L on the BLN album, Diamond Daryl Pediford makes a glorious and delicate return to the TSO scene. More like Prince of the Peace but different in enough ways that this song can stand along. The immortal passion and divine dedication to his singing shows more than ever in this piece. I remember seeing this God live, he is probably one of the best live vocalists I have ever seen or heard. He makes it seem so natural and easy, I can only imagine the work he must put into everything that he does. God bless you Daryl!
The Wisdom of Snow
Warming piano opening to another instrumental. Feels much more like the interlude music than Bob provides during TSO shows. Then goes into a piano performance of the opening to the Savatage song "Back to a Reason" no doubt foreshadowing the TSO-treatment that the song will receive later on the album. A complete piano solo and very well performed and quite enjoyable. I can never tell Jon's playing from Bob's and it really doesn't matter cause they're both awesome.
This must have a quite a piece to put together. Piano virtuoso Franz Liszt was known for extremely difficult and heavily demanding passages and composition. So before even listening to it, kudos to TSO for taking it on. When band comes in it beings to take shape and sounds like it could be competent to stand up to the rendition of Tchaikovsky's "Mad Russian's Xmas". The piano is obviously very featured in this and definitely shows upfront the fine musicianship that this band possess. Again, just a listenable track showing how classical music can (with the right arranging mind) be interspersed with rock band lines. It's sound a bit forced at times but then again, I could never do any better and as I said Liszt is quite difficult to work with so I definitely do not hold it against them. Unfortunately, I am not as familiar with Liszt's repertoire as I am with others so I did not recognize much within the song, but it was definitely a great track.
Back to A Reason
Taken from the Savatage (the band that later became TSO) album "Poet's and Madmen". It's such a great song and this vocal treatment certainly does the song justice and I hope Jon oversaw the complete creation and recording of this song. This version is much heavier but not as metal in the Savatage. It's definitely TSO doing a cover of a Savatage song (as odd as that sounds as they are essentially the band. The change in the bridge is perfectly fitting for TSO and probably provides the best vocal/instrumental lines thus far on this album. The song is originally about the cruelty of the world and how a lonely and lost soul put all of its confidence and trust in a single love. This version provides a completely different view and yet retains the power and emotion that the song originally created.
Christmas Bells, Carousels and Time
Darker and almost video game esque orchestra opens this track. All I have to say is...that's it? It's about a minute long and really goes nowhere. Again, they feel they needed a mild transition to the next song. As much as I love the little ditties that TSO puts on their album, often times I expect them (such as this one) to blast into something huge and exciting and they just end...very disappointing.
What Child is This?
Another dark and somber opening with light drums and piano. Opens with the line from the famous carols but them goes into original composition. Gets heavy and again Robert Evan's magnificent vocals are showcased. Once again, repeated chordal and rhythmic pattern under great lyrics. Sensing a pattern on this album? Thus far, this album's lyrics are much better and not as forced to rhyme as the other albums have seemed and not as cheesy as Beethoven's Last Night.
Great bridge section where the music and lyrics truly meet on a level of greatness. It seems finally like the music is supporting the lyrics and vocals rather than barely holding on. When the choir comes in behind the lead vocals it provides a similar feel as to when This Christmas pounds into the heavy and quick section. Probably, the best vocal song on the album. The vocals overall are much more powerful and in-your-face (but not too much) and it feel more like a live show than listening to an album.
O Come All Ye Faithful
Quite brief acoustic instrumental similar to the post scripts on Xmas Eve & Other Stories.
Christmas Cannon Rock
Taken from The Christmas Attic. They first did this version of this song at their show last year. It was definitely an awesome performance. The song is similar enough so that anyone who liked the original will not be disappointed but it is also different enough that anyone who didn't should enjoy this version. I wasn't expecting this be on the album but when I read the track list, I was definitely quite pleased. Great strong vocals provided by Jennifer Calla and again I can close my eyes and feel just like I'm seeing TSO live. This is a truly magical and warming song that stands as one of the strongest vocal/instrumental tracks on the album.
For the closing song, Jennifer Calla takes the duties and this song is a light "Old City Bar" meets "A Final Dream"-esque tune that brings the album to a soothing and dreaming close. I kind of wanted something heavy to end the album like Xmas Eve or Xmas Attic but this a good song in it's vocal lines and light acoustic guitar accompaniment.
The final post script and ultimate ending to the Christmas Trilogy. Another acoustic tribute to one of the greater Christmas Carols that we have all come to love.
Upon finishing the album, I am not as touched and speechless as I was when I first heard the Beethoven or Xmas Attic albums. The Lost Christmas Eve is definitely a very strong album with many great moments. It is just not as concentrated in being something that you can sing along with after a few listens. The instrumentals are not as recognizable as previous ones have been thus I don't feel so "holy crap, I know this song and that' incredible what they did with it". Also, keep in mind, they are only so many traditional Christmas songs out there, and TSO used many if not all of the most recognizable ones on their previous 2 albums so they only had so much left to work with. Not that that's a bad thing, but take it as you will. After waiting 5 years for a new TSO album, I must say I'm a bit disappointed but I certainly love and respect the band and their heaven-sent abilities to capture Christmas and it's truest and often most buried meaning. I am certain that when these songs are performed live, they will be given the energy and show-stopping performances that will truly bring them to live and then maybe I'll completely understand where the band is coming from. . You really have to read the story to understand the songs. Unlike Xmas Eve and Xmas Attic the songs will not stand alone as well if one does not first read the story. The story is absolutely amazing, the lyrics and very strong and powerful, the music gets a bit too Broadway for me at times and the songs (even the instrumental) just don't move me the way previous TSO efforts have. Overall 6 stars out of 10. Or in this case 3 out of 5.
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Initial post: Jun 12, 2012 1:28:24 PM PDT
John D. Price says:
Well, I *DO* sing along. Not that it matters. Great music sometimes isn't that simple. I think I find much more of this music recognizable than the author of this review does. But I've been alive a bit longer, I suspect.
This music speaks to me as music rarely does. It's beautiful, authentic, whimsical, ironic, poignant, and moving. It speaks of losses, sorrows, regrets, longings, loves, joys, and redemption. It's a catapulting sleigh ride that whisks you along for a look at your own shared humanity, your deep down beliefs, hopes, and unfilled places. I love it.
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