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Music Review: Wilson Phillips – Christmas In Harmony

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Wilson Phillips burst upon the music scene in 1990 with their self-titled debut album. Not only did it reach number two on the United States album charts, it also produced five top twelve singles, three of which reached number one.

They certainly had the right pedigree for stardom. Carnie and Wendy Wilson are the daughters of Brian Wilson and Chynna is the daughter of Michelle and John Phillips.

Wilson Phillips has split and reunited a couple of times and not been prolific in the studio. Their latest release is only their fourth studio album as a trio in the last 20 years.

Wendy and Carnie Wilson released their own holiday album in 1993. Now the three members of Wilson Phillips have entered the studio together and produced a new Christmas album.

Christmas In Harmony is a Christmas release that works. It combines several original compositions with a group of lighter secular tunesand a few traditional hymns to create a nice mix. Their famous harmonies are still present, providing the foundation for their music. They wisely brought back producer Glen Ballard, who had worked with them during their most popular period.

“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”and “Sleigh Ride” are reminiscent of the best of the sixties girl groups. They even manage to pull off the over-recorded “Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night.”

“Warm Lovin’ Christmastime,” written by Ron Bonfiglio, who is Carnie Wilson’s husband, and “Christmastime,” written by Chynna Phillips and Ballard, are both fine additions to the holiday season catalogue of songs. The best of the original compositions is “Joy.” It was a group effort written by Wilson Phillips, Bonfiglio, Ballard, Danny Knutson, and Scott Campbell. The vocals soar and come together in perfect harmony.

The album ends with the short Brian Wilson composition (he also arranged the track) “Our Prayer.”  It presents the beauty of their voices a cappella style.

The only miss is the first track. “I Wish It Could Be Christmas” was written by Roy Wood for his group Wizzard, which was a style about as different from Wilson Phillips as can be. They just could not make the song completely fit their style.

Wilson Phillips is not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They have wisely created an excellent and sophisticated pop-type holiday album which reflects the strengths of their vocals, both individually and together. Christmas In Harmony is a nice light listen and a fine addition to the season.

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