Top critical review
Stay for the instrumental stuff, leave for the vocals
on July 12, 2010
This is an "updated" version of the Vice Guaraldi classics, focusing on the Christmas-themed music from Peanuts. A mixed bag, as others have suggested. I'm no purist, so I'm fine with the updated stuff with a more "modern" sound, but it's not the thing for everybody. Benoit is, as always, wonderful, and the opening track, Christmas Is Coming, is superb- it's jazzy, it's up tempo, and it just works. The other instrumental stuff works well for the most part- I could have used a more "jazzy" sounding sax closer to the original with Koz's version of Linus and Lucy, and The Rippington's version of Red Baron was a nice update with, what I would assume is, Russ Freeman on guitar.
Onto the vocals- Vanessa Williams' song is nice, but it's nothing too exciting for my tastes, Brian McKnight is technically adept, but his version of Christmas Time Is Here is sort of boring. Toni Braxton does Most Wondeful Time of the Year, but she sounds like she's whining and quivering as she always does, so I'll pass on that. Finally to the worst track of them all by far. I'm not sure who allowed Chaka Khan's version of The Christmas Song to even be included on this album, but whoever it was ensured that the whole CD would be tainted with her terrible vocals. In fact, she is so terrible here, it's the main reason I came to write a review at all. She sounds drunk, she's slurring the vocals, she's horribly off key and off tempo, and I'm sorry, but I never want to hear a version of the song where we get, "e-rrrr-body know" instead of "everybody knows..."!! I was waiting for the crunk version of the song to kick in or something. Maybe they should have sobered her up before placing a mic in front of her face? This horrendous track should have been listened to once, and it should have been immediately decided it was being scrapped. Leaving it on really does taint what is, generally, a good CD.