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What I Really Want for Christmas
     

What I Really Want for Christmas

by Brian Wilson
 

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As he proved when guiding the Beach Boys through their classic Christmas album some four decades back, Brian Wilson has a wonderful feel for the holiday -- not just the sounds but the sense of wonder that bubbles up when one lets down one's guard. This collection is awash in that guileless feeling, expressed equally in the warm, mellifluous

Overview

As he proved when guiding the Beach Boys through their classic Christmas album some four decades back, Brian Wilson has a wonderful feel for the holiday -- not just the sounds but the sense of wonder that bubbles up when one lets down one's guard. This collection is awash in that guileless feeling, expressed equally in the warm, mellifluous versions of familiar hymns like "Silent Night" and "The First Noel" (the latter wrapped in a music-box melody that imparts a homespun feel so palpable that you can almost smell the eggnog) and in a brace of lively new compositions. The title track, one of the more poignant songs to come out of the Wilson camp in some time, is awash in hopeful spirituality -- think Lennon's "Happy Xmas" transliterated to the new millennium -- and arcing melodies. "Christmasey," co-written by Jimmy Webb, conveys a similar mood, thanks to ornate vocal arrangements and a lyric that captures the count-down-the-minutes enthusiasm that shepherds the holiday season into the lives of young 'uns. The most purely entertaining interludes, though, are those that find Brian recapturing the sound and spirit of his earliest days on the scene -- notably re-recordings of "Little Saint Nick" and "The Man with All the Toys," two anchors from the aforementioned Beach Boys classic. A charming soundtrack to any holiday party, for sure, and a way to extend the spirit well past the 12 days.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
The format for single-artist Christmas albums has remained static nearly since the dawn of the LP: a popular artist reprises his sound of the moment in a Christmas setting, sometimes mixing sacred material with secular, but always generating a time capsule that rarely holds up to repeated listenings. The Beach Boys recorded one of the best rock Christmas records of all time, and contributed an even rarer thing than a good holiday album -- a new composition to add to the canon in "Little Saint Nick." Brian Wilson's first solo Christmas album (although he did attempt a second Beach Boys edition in the mid-'70s) was recorded with the same group that made his 2004 SMiLE LP, and it shows the influence of that record. The two new songs are intriguing because each pairs Wilson with a great rock lyricist. The first, "What I Really Want for Christmas," finds Bernie Taupin thrusting some fine sentiments into a very SMiLE-like melody. The other is the odd title "Christmasey," written with Jimmy Webb, a bright song with a kinetic power that makes it the highlight of the record. Surprisingly, Wilson doesn't shy away from the sacred material -- in fact, nearly half of the songs are hymns -- and sings multiple verses of "Hark the Herald Angels" and "O Holy Night" like he's reading straight from the hymnbook (except for the excellent new vocal arrangement he writes for the beginning and outro of the former). Wilson's oddly emphatic vocals don't quite suit the Christmas concept, but the arrangements and treatments are very good; the long instrument list and sound will be familiar to Beach Boys fans who have long since memorized the credits on Pet Sounds and SMiLE. Only two choices are puzzling: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" definitely doesn't benefit from a backbeat, and things get a bit confused on "The Man with All the Toys" when the band essays a single line from "O Come All Ye Faithful" ("let every heart prepare him room") and the listener starts wondering whether they're still talking about Santa Claus. One nice fillip for Beach Boys fans is how Wilson consciously swipes the beginning of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" (long recognized as his favorite song) for the bonus track "On Christmas Day."

Product Details

Release Date:
08/26/2008
Label:
Sbme Special Mkts.
UPC:
0886973170427
catalogNumber:
731704
Rank:
14931

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Brian Wilson   Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals
Scott Bennett   Organ,Piano,Glockenspiel,Vocals,Vibes
Jim Hines   Drums
Peter Kent   Violin
Bob Lizik   Bass,Bass Guitar
Carol Robbins   Harp
John Yoakum   Oboe,Baritone Saxophone
Karen Elaine Bakunin   Viola
Darian Sahanaja   Organ,Piano,Glockenspiel,Vocals,Vibes
Nick Walusko   Guitar,Vocals
Jeffrey Foskett   Guitar,Vocals,sleigh bells
Paul Mertens   Flute,Harmonica,Saxophone
Robbie Hioki   Trombone,Bass Trombone
Probyn Gregory   Guitar,Trumpet,Flugelhorn,French Horn,Vocals
Nelson Bragg   Percussion,Vocals
Sharon Jackson   Violin
Taylor Mills   Vocals
Paul Von Mertens   Flute,Harmonica,Saxophone
Nicky "Wonder" Walusko   Guitar,Vocals
Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick   Cello
Robbie Hioti   Trombone,Bass Trombone
Shannon Jackson   Violin

Technical Credits

Felix Mendelssohn   Composer
Brian Wilson   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Mike Love   Composer
Jimmy Webb   Composer
Mark Linett   Engineer
Mark London   Art Direction
Bernie Taupin   Composer
Charles Wesley   Composer
Steve Stanley   Graphic Design
Traditional   Composer
Paul VonMertnes   Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements

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