Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mannheim Steamroller - Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection (2009)

Mannheim Steamroller - Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection (2009)

If you're new to Mannheim Steamroller, or just a casual fan who doesn't already own all of their CDs, this is a good "greatest hits" collection to get you up to speed. This two disc set offers a solid sampling of previously released material. It omits some essentials, such as "Deck The Halls" and "Silent Night," but those were already included on their previous Christmas compilation disc, so that's actually a good thing.

Steamroller's sound, for those five people out there who still haven't heard of them, runs the gamut from traditional acoustic to highly synthetic. Personally, I think they're at their best when they stick to the acoustic style. Their classic takes on songs like "We Three Kings," "Still Still Still", "O Holy Night" and "Little Town Of Bethlehem" are absolutely beautiful, perfectly capturing the quieter, poignant side of Christmas. But what Mannheim is probably most famous for are their up-tempo synth-pop versions of Christmas songs. Frankly, I find these tend to be a bit more "hit or miss", and definitely more of an acquired taste (I enjoy most of them, but I know plenty of people who get turned off by the highly synthetic, and admittedly cheesy/outdated, sound.) The good news is, this 2 disc collection shows off all of Mannheim's styles, so while you may not like some tracks, you'll certainly find at least a good number of them that you do like.

My only real complaint with this collection is that it offers absolutely nothing new to entice long-time fans, and ultimately comes off as little more than an easy way for the Steamroller to pad its wallet. I understand that this is meant to be a retrospective, but I had hoped for at least a FEW new tracks. As it is, there's simply no reason to buy this if you already own their older albums. The only track that long-time fans might not already have is "My Little Christmas Tree." This was previously only available with a pop-up book that Chip created back in the late 90s. It's a weak track, though, and sounds like it was thrown together one afternoon, so that's not much incentive to shell out money on this set.

Here's hoping Chip returns soon with an all NEW Christmas album (and hey, Chip, go back and listen to your first two Christmas albums if you need some inspiration-- those remain your best efforts to date.)
—Amazon.com

Tracks
Disc: 1
  1. Faeries [From The Nutcracker]
  2. Gagliarda
  3. My Little Christmas Tree
  4. We Three Kings
  5. Joseph Dear Oh Joseph Mine
  6. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  8. Joy To the World
  9. The First Noel
  10. Pat a Pan
  11. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
  12. Cantique De Noel (O Holy Night)

Disc: 2
  1. Traditions of Christmas (Music Box)
  2. Messengers of Christmas
  3. Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming
  4. Winter Wonderland
  5. The Christmas Song
  6. Hark! the Herald Trumpets Sing
  7. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
  8. Above the Northern Lights
  9. Jingle Bells
  10. The Holly and the Ivy
  11. Little Drummer Boy
  12. Still, Still, Still
  13. O' Little Town of Bethlehem

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