fri 23/02/2024

CD: Earth, Wind & Fire - Holiday | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Earth, Wind & Fire - Holiday

CD: Earth, Wind & Fire - Holiday

What does Christmas with the funk legends sound like? Any other day…

It’s alright, good enough for a seasonal office party even

Can Christmas spirit be bottled? Well, there are certainly some songs that can effectively make us drunk on goodwill rather than gin and sherry. Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” and the whole of A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector are two fine examples. Earth, Wind & Fire are the latest to try to distil the essence of Christmas, and it seems to have been a success.

In fact, they must have identified the exact genetic code of festive cheer in order to remove it from nearly every track in this collection of holiday songs with the ruthless efficiency of a Grinch.

Opener “Joy to the World” is the kind of wallpaper funk made for marketing Harvester restaurants. It also has a sleigh bell count of zero, which should be a federal crime for a Christmas song. “Happy Seasons” is a reworked version of 1975’s “Happy Feelin’”, but the liquid bass groove of the original has been replaced by something altogether more polished and brassier, something that you wouldn’t really want to revisit – it's basically the musical equivalent of a well-kept Wetherspoons. If you listen really hard at the end, you might just be able to catch the jingle of bells waaaay back in the mix, but it screams "afterthought" – really, really quietly.

It’s as if all the Christmas clichés are serving life imprisonment along with Phil Spector

Thankfully, the nailed-down melody of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” means that Christmas is granted a pardon no matter the treatment. There are bells aplenty, but also a cloying string part and the sort of keyboard sound favoured by the mid-80s Al Jarreau. At this stage though, I’ll take what I can get.

“Winter Wonderland” is next, although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was “Boogie Wonderland” from the introduction. To say they’ve fiddled with the harmonic structures is like pointing out that Wagner can go on a bit. The same goes for pretty much all the rest of the songs here, save “The Drummer Boy” which tinkers in a mildly successful way, lending an African feel to the drums and deciding, controversially, to stick to something vaguely approaching the tune throughout. Thankfully, “Jingle Bell Rock” survives almost intact, too; but “Sleigh Ride”… oh dear God, NOT ONE JINGLE OF A SLEIGH BELL. ON A SONG CALLED "SLEIGH RIDE"!

Look, it’s alright, it's fine – good enough for a seasonal office party even – but a Christmas album with bells on would have been nice. It’s as if all the Christmas clichés are serving life imprisonment along with Phil Spector. And a Christmas album without clichés is like a figgy pudding without figs. Served as a starter.

To say they’ve fiddled with the harmonic structures is like pointing out that Wagner can go on a bit

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Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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