Christmas Time Again

Lynyrd Skynyrd

CMC International Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


There are some artists who just shouldn't dare to try and record albums of Christmas music.

It's not that they don't have the talent or that their musical styles would clash with the traditional holiday sounds. It's just that, well, some groups just can't cut the proverbial mustard when it comes to the Christmas tuneage - remember that stinkburger from Ringo Starr? I'm still washing the taste of that one out of my mouth a year later.

As much as it pains me to do so, I have to now lump Lynyrd Skynyrd into this category. Their first stab at a Yuletide album, Christmas Time Again, is about as fitting as a hubcap on a tractor.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Let me state, on the record, that calling this a Lynyrd Skynyrd disc is a bit of a sham, for two main reasons. First is the absence of bassist Leon Wilkeson anywhere on this disc - which, actually, could have been the smartest thing Wilkeson could have done. (Mike Brignardello handles the bass chores for the bulk of this album.) Second, two cuts don't even feature Skynyrd at all; 38 Special and the Charlie Daniels Band each contribute one song to this disc. (I have less of a problem with this, actually; all the bands are so closely tied together that such a collaboration is almost natural.)

The resulting sound for Skynyrd is, well, unnatural. It almost feels like Johnny Van Zant and crew just weren't comfortable with the material on this disc (including, surprisingly, the original tracks). Van Zant sounds a bit out of place covering Eddie C. Campbell's "Santa's Messin' With The Kid," and as touching as the song probably is for the band members, "Mama's Song" doesn't distinguish itself as being anything special. And frankly, the less said about "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'," the better.

This isn't to say that everything on Christmas Time Again is atrocious. The keyboard duet between Billy Powell and Bill Cuomo on "Greensleeves" is very pretty, and I would have liked to have heard more moments like this throughout the disc (which clocks in at just 36 minutes). Likewise, "Run Run Rudolph" does seem to be a more natural fit for the band, though I do miss the Southern twang that I'd normally hear on a Lynyrd Skynyrd release.

The two guest contributions, sadly, don't light up the musical tree any brighter. 38 Special's "Hallelujah, It's Christmas" doesn't really sound like them, and it comes off a bit unnatural. Charlie Daniels does a little better of a job on "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," but even it can't really save this disc.

I absolutely hate saying anything negative about Lynyrd Skynyrd, but in the case of Christmas Time Again, I'm afraid I have to. This is just an ill-conceived disc, even if the intentions were good, and it should be relegated to the back of the cabinet with your choice of fruitcake.

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.