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Holiday music is a great tradition for vocal groups everywhere, so it seems a natural choice for a cappella quintet Rockapella. The rock-pop-jazz group that went from cult favorite to national Folgers Coffee phenomenon fills their first Christmas album with the standards you'd expect ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Christmas Song") as well as three originals by member Scott Leonard: "The Hope You Hold," "Christmas Without You," and "Hold Out for Christmas" (a lovely ballad that had been included on their J-Bird debut). While the album as a whole is somewhat conservatively tilted toward jazz and doo-wop sounds, they enjoy a bit of whimsy with "Glow Worm," and fans of big bass Barry Carl will especially enjoy his featured spot on the funkiest track, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." --David Horiuchi
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They took "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," a very pretty song, and mixed in some Glow Worm? In my opinion, this doesn't work at all. And the lyrics on the original tracks... Ouch. Here's a line from "Christmas Without You:"
"I hop on a train to Macy's,
Thinkin I'll just replace these
memories we made together.
But all the memory shelves are bare."
That's right. It does say "memory shelves." This is the kind of Christmas CD you want to put on in the background when people are talking and only half listening. It's very pretty, unless it has your full attention.
In regard to Rockapella's latest - had Scrooge obtained a copy of "Rockapella Christmas" - the ghosts could have stayed home. "Glow Worm" alone would have had the old codger buying Christmas dinner for the whole town. Rockapella produces that kind of joy - without the annoying interference of instruments.
There is something on this CD for everyone. Traditional but far from ordinary arrangements of standards such as "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and the "Christmas Song"; a doo-wop slant on "Silver Bells" and "Winter Wonderland"; and a jazz/swing holidayized version of the classic "Glow Worm". Rockapella continues to deliver wonderful original material - my favorite being the heart wrenching "Christmas Without You" by high tenor and lead on this song, Scott Leonard. Scott's superb phrasing brings to life a man who is going through the motions of the holiday season while longing for a lost love.
One song you have to hear to believe is "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch" - updated and funked up for the new millennium. Barry Carl's unparalleled bass and Jeff Thatcher's uncanny vocal percussion shine on this one.
Each song has chill-producing harmonies that the warmest holiday fireplace won't drive away!
This Christmas CD is talent-packed, varied, surprising, fresh, inspiring and fun - in a word - Rockapella
I'd honestly hoped for more- Rockapella can be brilliant!- but this is well done and enjoyable, though not spectacular.