Every once in awhile an album will be released that will leave you scratching your head. It will be an album that generally is not only not expected but some might argue completely unnecessary.
So, REO Speedwagon doing a Christmas album? You've got to be kidding me, right? What's next a Bob Dylan Chri- oh wait not him too!
Upon further consideration, why not? I mean there have been some downright BAD interpretations of Christmas classics over the years. So why not REO Speedwagon putting an arena rock spin on some of the holiday's best?
After I suspended my disbelief, I decided to give this Christmas album a shot. First off, I'm disappointed that REO didn't record this sooner... like twenty-five to thirty years ago when they were at the peak of their success and Kevin Cronin's singing voice was still intact. In all fairness, Cronin's voice is still passable. He could still sing circles around me and heck even a handful of his contemporaries whose voices haven't aged as well... That being said his voice isn't what it once was. And listening to these arrangements, I can't help but wonder how much better this Christmas album might have sounded with a younger Kevin Cronin at the peak of his talents and abilities.
Of all the tracks on this collection, Cronin's voice sounds best on The White Snows of Winter. He doesn't really sound bad on any of the songs, but at the same time he doesn't quite sound as good as he once did.
Some of the other stand-out tracks include REO's power-ballad treatment of Silent Night and Angels We Have Heard On High.
The one moment that could have been omitted was Cronin making reference to those "funky" gentlemen in God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Granted, on a journey as long as the one the three wise men embarked upon with limited access to water, I'm guessing they were indeed "funky" but I don't believe that's the context that Cronin was referring to in the album's single lapse.
Other than that lapse, this Christmas release is in addition to being rather unexpected is moderately enjoyable and completely unoffensive. Which, for a Christmas album, is a good thing.
Not So Silent Night (Amazon.com)
REO Speedwagon (Official Site)
REO Speedwagon (Wikipedia)
Kevin Cronin (Official Site)
Kevin Cronin (Wikipedia)
Neal Doughty (Official Site)
Neal Doughty (Wikipedia)
Bruce Hall (Official Site)
Bruce Hall (Wikipedia)
Dave Amato (Wikipedia)
Bryan Hitt (Wikipedia)