How can millions of fans be wrong?
In the more than 25 years since Mannheim Steamroller first began to release holiday records, millions have bought its music and called it the classic holiday music of our times. Conceived by Chip Davis, the music is a blend of Renaissance-flavored music with plenty of pop music seasoning.
Somehow, that puts this latest album Mannheim Steamroller: Christmas Song in perspective. First of all, there’s no doubt the music is pleasant and soothing, and mainly sticks to the holiday classics. But I must admit that this wouldn’t be an album I would put on my play list for a holiday party or even small gathering.
“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” are both clean, peppy versions of the classic. But there’s something about these renditions – perhaps the jazzy undertones to which others have referred – that makes the songs sound a big cheesy to me. Some critics have likened this version of “Feliz Navidad” to a cheap ringtone. Sadly, I agree. Perhaps the Mannheim Steamroller style just doesn’t suit such traditional songs.
Davis, for those who don’t know, has made a career creating products “for the mind, body and spirit,” according to his bio. “Davis believes that life is about experiences and adding music in conjunction with other senses, like smell, taste and touch you are addressing human feelings that rings accord with all of us.”
That's not to say that Davis' music isn't worth a listen. Actually the best song on the album is “Masters in the Hall” which is a rendition of a classic carol. The original songs written by Davis (“Catching Snowflakes on Your Tongue” and “Traditions of Christmas”) are also interesting numbers that you’ll likely want to hear more than once.
Listening to this album, it seems that Mannheim Steamroller should stick with the originals to stay on a roll.