trans-siberian orchestra - christmas eve and other stories
Christmas Eve And Other Stories
Lava Records

This is probably the Manheim Steamroller Christmas album Chip Davis would put out if he had too much Christmas cheer. As Christmas CDs go, I find this disc very inspirational, very well played and very different from the normal glut of Christmas muzak that seems to clog the overhead speakers in every department store in the country after Columbus Day. This is the first time I’ve heard an electric guitar used in that way for Christmas tunes.

Okay, first things first. I have a feeling this is something of a soundtrack to a Christmas rock opera, as there are bits of narration and such included between songs in the liner notes. It seems to tell the story of an angel sent to earth to find the meaning of Christmas (or something to that effect). As it stands, I’m not entirely interested in that aspect, it’s the music that grabbed my attention. There’s a fair mix of original songs mixed in with traditional; choral and vocal arrangements intermingling with some well-crafted instrumental segments hither and yon. Some of the standouts are “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” and “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24”, both perfect examples of classical music melded with modern sounds. The second track, “O Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night” is a decent instrumental; “A Star To Follow” is a rather haunting choral arrangement with adult male and children vocals that’s done in a type of round singing. “The Silent Nutcracker” is an acoustic instrumental melding the Nutcracker Suite with Silent Night beautifully. “Good King Joy” is a rendition of Joy To The World with some very soulful blues rock thrown in.

To explain the rating I gave this splendid Christmas CD: as a Christmas CD itself, it would get a “9”, but as something that would be considered with the usual content of Dead, I would have to give it something of a “5”, so the 7.5 would be the curve rating. ‘Christmas Eve And Other Stories’ is a definite must-have for those looking for not-so-traditional Christmas music for the holidays.