Most bands that have been around for a number of years are likely to have made an album of holiday music. Earth, Wind and Fire made this one as part of the “Classic Christmas” collection. It is definitely a mixed bag! Some of the songs fit their funky style and some simply do not.
“Joy To the World” starts things out well with an exuberant choir and sassy horns truly making things joyous, but other traditional hymns do not fare so well. The very traditional renditions of “Away in A Manger” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are pretty, but not in any way extraordinary. The same is true of “The First Noel,” but here the drums are a bit intrusive as well. While the horns are tasty, the funky version of “What Child Is This?” just sounds weird. That song was never intended to be performed this way.
The less traditional but still familiar songs fare better. The new arrangements suit the band’s style and give the songs a fresh feel. “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride, “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “The Little Drummer Boy” all sound like the Earth, Wind and Fire that fans have known and loved for nearly half a century. “Snow,” a lesser-known traditional song, is quirky but fun.
The original tunes are mostly fun. Probably the best track on the album is “December,” which is a remake of the band’s hit, “September,” and works very well. It will make any fan nostalgic for dance floors and disco balls. “Gather Round” also has that nostalgic appeal. “Get Your Hump On For Christmas” is definitely not for sharing during family holiday time, but for a late night party with lots of eggnog, it will do just fine.
The last three originals, “I Aked For A Miracle (God Gave Me You),” “Open Your Heart to Love,” and “One World,” are all sweet, smooth, jazzy soulful numbers.
The bottom line is that most of the album works very well, but the album would have been excellent without the traditional hymns, with the exception of “Joy to The World.” Some songs just don’t fit this group’s style. But with 16 tracks and only four songs that don’t really fit, this is still a great way to put some funk in your Christmas repertoire.
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