thu 09/07/2020

CD: Rod Stewart - Merry Christmas Baby | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Rod Stewart - Merry Christmas Baby

CD: Rod Stewart - Merry Christmas Baby

Husky-voiced institution serves up warm and cosy, if predictable, yuletide fare

Rod: jazz and glitter

The best Christmas songs are a bit like the best decorations: more glittery than tasteful. Merry Christmas Baby's tracks may have a jazzy sheen but deep down they fit that bill. Its cover photo – Rod dressed in a white pimp-suit in front of a snowy bauble-laden tree - says all you need to know about what sort of crooning he's been up to here.

This is the kind of music you might expect to hear coming out of the speakers in an upmarket department store. That's no criticism. Who wouldn't enjoy a well-executed mix of warm and fuzzy easy-listening seasonal standards and carols? Vocally there’s the trademark mix of silk and gravel and the arrangements are lovely and cosy. The problem is how to justify this record when there’s so much similar material around. And, in truth, there really isn’t much to distinguish the likes of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", “Santa Claus is Coming to Town" or “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” from hundreds of other versions.

Elsewhere, however, Rod seeks help from his friends to mix things up. Cee Lo Green puts a pair of low slung trousers on “Merry Christmas, Baby” and the voice of Ella Fitzgerald lends “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” a shade of bluesy class. Michael Bublé's singing, however, on “Winter Wonderland” is excessively cheesy and Mary J Blige belts out “We Three Kings" as if auditioning for a new Sister Act movie. But, season of good will and all that, at least they fit the mood. Only one moment slightly jars: “What Child is This?” sung to the tune of "Greensleeves". If this is an attempt to class things up, it’s unnecessary. For the most part, however, Merry Christmas Baby is a jolly, if inessential seasonal listen.

It's the kind of music you might expect to hear coming out of the speakers in an upmarket department store

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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