A Very Special Christmas 3

Various Artists

A&M, 1997

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


With the third installment of the hugely popular Very Special Christmas franchise, things were shaken up quite a bit. Gone were the ballads by the likes of Wilson Phillips, Extreme, and others, replaced by a more alternative and hip-hop kind of feel.

This is probably the most eclectic of all the records, but that also makes it one of the best. Only this could have Sting doing a very kid-friendly “I Saw Three Ships” alongside No Doubt doing “Oi To The World,” a Vandals cover and one of their last ‘original’ tracks before they went all pop and lost all credibility. “Oi” has ended up becoming kind of a Christmas standard at this point, heard on Xmas Muzak all across the country.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Not everything here is a winner, though. You can skip the overloaded “Santa Baby.” It was never one of my favorites in the first place, but the addition of Rev. Run, Puff Daddy, Mase, and Snoop Dogg (not to mention numerous others) just drags the proceedings down a notch. Meanwhile, Sheryl Crow singing “Blue Christmas” is just unnecessary and isn’t even notable.

But something like The Smashing Pumpkins’ orchestral “Christmastime” and Blues Traveler’s last great song “Christmas” are just great Xmas songs that leave you with a nice warm feeling after repeated listens. And who could forget Steve Winwood doing “Christmas Is Now Drawing Near at Hand” or Chris Cornell’s first released solo track, a take on “Ave Maria” with backing by Eleven? There’s even some stuff for the older folks, like Enya and Natalie Merchant. All in all, there is a lot here for all different music fans, and that’s the sign of a really good Christmas album.

They continued making Very Special Christmas albums over the next couple of years, but this remained the last great one before it was overtaken by crap and unoriginality. So take these songs, share them with friends and family, and get that warm feeling in your chest whenever you hear a really good Christmas song.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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