Friday 02 Dec 2016

Rod Stewart
Jennifer Ramirez

The new album, by Rod Stewart, "Merry Christmas, Baby," features holiday classics such as "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "We Three Kings,' as well as guests from Mary J. Blige to the late Ella Fitzgerald.

December brings it hints of festivity, cheer and a joyous warmth that Christmas compilations try to compact into their covers of classic seasons music. Rod Stewart, whom we have not heard from much since his last compilation "Fly Me To The Moon: The Great American Songbook Vol. V," in 2010, has since switched record labels and has released his first, surprisingly, Christmas album "Merry Christmas, Baby."

Produced by David Foster, the album features quite a number of duets and an original co-written by Stewart titled "Red-Suited Superman." The set includes guest appearances by Cee-Lo Green and Trombone Shorty on the title track, Michael Buble on "Winter Wonderland," Mary J. Blige on "We Three Kings" and saxophonist Dave Koz on "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow," while Stewart says he was "thrilled beyond words" to perform a virtual duet with Ella Fitzgerald on "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?," which also features trumpeter Chris Botti.

By writing a Christmas song of his very own, if it’s successful, he won’t have to hand the royalties over to anyone else, other than himself and his writing team of Foster and Amy Foster. Red-Suited Santa is the original song in question, a medium tempo cheesy ballad that could have been written anytime in the last 50 years. Also on "Merry Christmas, Baby" is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." It was first performed in 1944 by Judy Garland and is still played to this day by one or more of the many artists who’ve covered it during the last 68 years.

That familiarity and staying power is what every writer must strive to produce from any new festive song and I imagine original writers, Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin, left a huge fortune upon their passing. Nonetheless, the duet with Mary J. Blige, "We Three Kings," was pretty good a listen, and molded better than Wonderland, with Blige even outshining Stewart quite a bit with her powerful R&B vocals.

Rod Stewart is the very first of a long line of performers to release an album this Christmas.

He’s upped the ante and put in some effort by bringing in the credible music elite to duet with him including, Cee-Lo Green & Mary J. Blige. The virtual duet with the late Ella Fitzgerald, despite the fact that she died in 1996, is superb. "What Are You Doing On New Year’s Eve?" sounds a little strange in places, although I’d imagine that was at Rod’s request, so as not to be upstaged and outclassed by a country mile. Put into the list are: "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"; "White Christmas"; "Winter Wonderland" and "Silent Night" and this is an album Rod Stewart should be ever so slightly proud of.

The album has thirteen holiday staples range from "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" to the title track, which features Cee Lo Green and Trombone Shorty. Other guests include Mary J. Blige, on "We Three Kings," and Michael Bublé on "Winter Wonderland. Smooth jazz sax ace Dave Koz blows on "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!."

Despite being ‘just another Christmas album’ there’s a commitment to try something different. It’s not just singing to a backing track and it certainly doesn’t sound like karaoke in the slightest.  If you were looking for a fun, slightly different album which still delivers  many of the Christmas classics, then Rod Stewart’s "Merry Christmas, Baby" won’t be the worst buy of the season.

Let Rod do what he does best, and that is to sing and make your heart aflutter. This spectacular CD bundle helps you remind yourself of your obsession with one of the most successful performers of all time. Rod Stewart's new Christmas CD will give you the holiday spirit while he sings some of the most classic songs in his timeless voice.

Jennifer Ramirez, known as Jenny, has reviewed and edited for 5+ years. Originally from Toronto, she grew up performing and competing in rhythmic gymnastics. Jenny enjoys reviewing movies, books and music albums. She describes herself as funny and righteous, with a 'go that extra mile' attitude. Her philosophy is quite simple: try to live life to the fullest Jenny writes that hr passion is books. She reads and reviews current and back-list literary fiction, crime fiction, thrillers, occasionally science fiction, and narrative nonfiction. She also loves music. She's a huge fan of The Maine and All Time Low! Joy is her favorite word and creativity is something she can't live without.

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