1984 / American Gramaphone Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
The first of the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums, this one is a lot of fun, too. A bit more traditional than “A Fresh Aire Christmas”, this album has a lot of arrangements that could be from The Renaissance. Harp, lute, hammered dulcimer, and clavichord join more contemporary instruments in stylings that are sometimes classical and other times modern. A rollicking “Deck the Halls” opens the album. Its fast tempo and heart-thumping bass line let you know right away that this Christmas album isn’t going to take itself too seriously! This is definitely a modern arrangement, and it is gregarious to the fullest degree. “We Three Kings”, “Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella”, and “Coventry Carol” sound ancient with mostly acoustic instruments. Next comes a rock and roll “Good King Wenceslas” with plenty of voltage powering the instruments! The next four “olde English”pieces comprise the “Christmas Sweet” played in a style and instrumentation befitting that era. The rocking version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is possibly my favorite Christmas recording of all time. It is totally infectious and commands me to hit “replay” every time it gets near the end. Full of joy and fun, this is what I think Christmas should feel like at least a few times during the season! “Stille Nacht” closes out the CD on a soothing and peaceful note. This is a great Christmas album, and I highly recommend it.
May 5, 1984